Meet the HARMAN Luxury Audio Team
Name: Joe Jagenow
Position/Job Title: Principal Mechanical Engineer
With HARMAN Since 2021
With Meet The HARMAN Luxury Team, our goal is for you to get to know us better. In each edition we feature a different member of the team, and this month it’s Joe Jagenow, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Mark Levinson.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
I will be designing and developing products for the Mark Levinson brand of luxury audio products. My role involves 3D CAD modeling for parts and assemblies, documenting bill of materials, developing product and part specifications, generating industrial designs, and coordinating with suppliers to get our products manufactured.
What did you study in school? Did you always imagine yourself doing something like what you’re doing now, or did the fates just take you in that direction?
I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. When I was growing up in metro Detroit, I always thought that I would have a career in the automotive industry. However, once I started listening to music and playing guitar towards the end of high school, my interests shifted to the pursuit of recorded sound and high fidelity audio reproduction.
How did your career path lead you to HARMAN?
After college I worked for several medical device companies, which ultimately brought me to California in 2006, but I found that I just wasn’t thrilled to come to work every day. I decided to study recording engineering at Long Beach City College, became a sound intern at KCRW in Santa Monica, and secured a job building vacuum tube condenser microphones with Manley Labs. This experience led me to a role as a mechanical engineer with Line 6 in Calabasas, which combined my passion for musical instruments with my education and career background. Later I worked with Apple, which was my introduction to luxury consumer products, as well as several startup companies. When I was offered the opportunity to work with luxury audio equipment for a company as renowned as HARMAN, it was an easy decision to come on board with the team!
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
I have learned that planning and hard work at the front end of the product development process can help prevent delays down the road. Challenges with suppliers are inevitable if you are rushing to meet a deadline, so it pays to try and solve design challenges early and engage with your suppliers as soon as possible.
Any other advice you would offer people just starting out in this industry?
Work hard, follow your passions, and engage with more experienced industry veterans. If you are presented with the opportunity to combine your passion and your career, you should take it!
What are you most proud of in your life?
I have two young sons, a toddler named Wyatt and an infant named Levi, and am most proud of being a father! Raising children is no doubt challenging, but watching them learn and grow continues to amaze me, and I learn from them all the time.
When did you first realize you had a passion for music or audio? Was there any one song, band or movie that did it for you?
I saw the video for “Paradise City” by Guns ‘N’ Roses sometime in the late 80s on MTV (anyone remember when they actually played music videos?), and I was absolutely hooked on music from that day forth. I recorded the video with my Dad’s VCR so I could watch it over and over. I went to Harmony House and bought a cassette single of the song, found a portable cassette player in my parents’ basement, which I proceeded to carry everywhere.
What current technology impresses you the most?
I think that collision detection and driver-assist technology in automobiles is really impressive. I feel that this tech will significantly reduce the number of driving accidents and deaths once it is more widely implemented.
What’s your favorite music genre?
I have a particular affection for Detroit soul music, including of course Motown. I have discovered that there were hundreds of independent record labels and recording studios operating in Detroit in the late ’60s that produced some absolutely amazing soul music, best heard on 7-inch 45 rpm singles.
The desert island question, of course. If you were marooned for eternity and could listen to only three albums, what would they be?
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself.
Prior to the pandemic, I was playing guitar in an 8-piece soul band. I really miss playing live music in a room with a group of talented musicians.