Chris Robinson

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A Tribute to Chris Robinson

As many of you know, Chris Robinson is retiring at the end of March after a career that spans more than 28 years with HARMAN. How do you begin to frame up such an amazing body of work from a man who was a mentor, a teacher, a collaborator and, most importantly, a trusted friend and colleague? Well, you start at the beginning.

Chris began his career with HARMAN in December of 1993. In the early part of his tenure, he managed the Audioaccess brand of distributed home audio systems before moving on to roles with the HARMAN Specialty Group and as a leader for technical support with Madrigal Audio Laboratories, which at the time was the parent organization of our Mark Levinson brand, among others. Chris was there at the beginning of JBL Synthesis and would go on to be involved with that brand for his entire HARMAN career. As a specialist, Chris helped to drive our technical expertise around system calibrations in the field. He would later expand his role to become the training lead for all of our premium brands (JBL Synthesis, Mark Levinson, Revel and Lexicon) when they were moved under the Harman High-Performance Audio Video (HPAV) umbrella in 2009.

HPAV was the precursor to our current Luxury Audio business unit which today includes the JBL Synthesis, Mark Levinson, Revel, Lexicon and Arcam brands as well as all specialty audio loudspeakers and electronics under the JBL brand. For many years, Chris led our in-person Luxury Audio Academy sessions where dealers and distributors could be immersed in two-day training sessions educating them on the science and art behind our products. After leading these sessions in locations around the world, Chris took on the role of creating our online e-learning tool which allows us to train thousands of people around the world and in multiple languages. Today, our Luxury Audio e-learning program is one of the best in the industry, with a robust curriculum library and an ever-growing list of students taking our courses to learn more about our products and audio topics in general.

Throughout his entire career, Chris has maintained a strong global network of people within the industry – something that grew with each and every training session he led or demonstration event he hosted. His outgoing personality, friendly demeanor, extensive technical expertise, passion for the brands, and willingness to share his knowledge made him a well-known figure all throughout the audio industry. While his time with HARMAN has come to end, he leaves us in a better place and positioned to carry on his work for future generations.

To help celebrate his retirement, we wanted to share a few words from some of the people who know him the best.

Mark Levinson N05105

David Tovissi, VP & GM - HARMAN Luxury Audio
I first met Chris over 20 years ago when I was working at Sound Advice and subsequently Tweeter Home Entertainment. They were one of the first hybrid retailers that had committed to install JBL Synthesis theaters in their showrooms. Chris would come to the market and train our salespeople and our installers on the benefits of the JBL Synthesis solutions.

Fast forward to 2019, when I first joined HARMAN, I was excited to see that Chris was still with the company. His role had expanded beyond Technical Sales Training since I last met him. Chris was now managing the HARMAN Luxury Audio Academies, held multiple times a year at our Northridge California, Center of Acoustic Excellence facility. I remember vividly the first time I sat in the back of the class auditing one of the Luxury Audio Academies during my first couple of months on the job. I could see that Chris was still as passionate about his craft as ever. I also looked around the classroom and counted about 12 people in attendance. I thought to myself, how can we allow more internal and external customers experience our training. After the academy was completed, I spoke with Chris about creating a platform that would allow us to train people all over the world leveraging the Internet. Tasked with that challenge, Chris and I met with Training Allies, known now as Cogent360 to determine how we could create a platform that would allow us to create and host content on a dedicated learning management system (LMS). Later that year, we launched HARMAN Luxury Audio University and posted our first e-learning module.

Today, thanks to Chris’s leadership, our HARMAN Luxury Audio University LMS and partners’ sites boasts over 40 e-learning courses and additional resources available to 5,000 enrolled learners. We will definitively miss Chris and we wish him continued success in his new role as an active grandpa.

Mark Levinson ML-50
Mark Levinson ML-50

Jim Garrett, Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning – HARMAN Luxury Audio
Chris has been a part of my entire career at HARMAN and it is weird to think about him not being here going forward. During the twelve years we’ve been coworkers, we have traveled around the world together spreading the gospel of our brands and products. Our shared passion for what we do has made us good friends beyond just at work. Chris has never met a stranger and it has always made for lasting memories of our travels.

I have wonderful recollections of the shows and events we have done over the years and the wonderful places and people we have met along the way. There are countless stories I could tell about our time together. So many of them come to mind and each one makes me smile and laugh as I think back about them. I like the fact that I always learned something from every interaction we’ve had, whether it was about our brands and products, or just about life in general. Chris is leaving a big vacancy behind, but I wish him well in the next stage of his journey. I know he has plenty of things he’ll be doing to help make the world around him a better place.

Mark Levinson ML-50
Mark Levinson ML-50

Patrick Gaffney, Sr. Sales Manager - HARMAN Luxury Audio
One of my most memorable and unique times with Chris was spent on “the truck” which was the rolling showroom in a tractor trailer where we had an Ultima2/Mark Levinson display on one side and a Synthesis system on the other. We spent so much time on that truck that is was like a traveling rock band. Many cities, many miles, many memories. The years were 2009-2011 when we were managed by Harman Pro.

In 2010, somewhere in the U.S., Chris and I closed the truck for the day, cracked a beer from the bar, and sat down in the Synthesis theater where we played the scene from the new Star Trek movie (released in 2009) where they parachute jump from the ship in outer space to earth. It was a great scene we used at the time. Chris and I ended up watching the entire movie until 11 p.m. or maybe midnight (?) in a dealer’s parking lot, in the truck, and after the movie Chris sits forward in his chair and says “this system is f****’n awesome! Why would anyone buy anything other than Synthesis?!"

Bes Nievera Jr., Music Direct
In our working time together, Chris brought to the table what I’ve sought in a mentor to bridge the relationship between Brand Partner and retailer, and with the same passion I currently share with our customers. The knowledge he amassed in his brilliant career coupled with his warm and engaging style has yet to be duplicated by anyone I’ve known over my four-decade tenure. Perhaps that’s why I posted this after attending Harman’s Training Academy to show my appreciation for Chris: Friendships can take many forms and build over time. This one took minutes. My very best to you, good sir.

Mark Levinson ML-50

JBL 4305P Studio Monitor

JBL 4305P Studio Monitor

Soraya Kukucka, Manager, Product Marketing – HARMAN International
I have had the pleasure of working with Chris Robinson for the past nine years, but more so than that, I have the honor of calling him a true friend. Chris effortlessly wove all his product knowledge and audio industry experience into his role and was always more than happy to share all that information with others. He is kind, generous, gracious, smart and by far one of the funniest people I have come across. His contributions to the Luxury Audio team will be reaped for years to come. He will be missed by all as he enters his retirement, but we are all better people to have known and worked with him. He is a true gem.


Eric Leicht, President - AV Partners
Chris is such an amazing person. I started working with him when we both joined Harman in ’93. We worked many a trade show, rep and dealer trainings and always had a blast working with the various Harman CI brands, from: Fosgate, Harman Video and Audioaccess (now all defunct) to the Luxury brands of today. When I left HARMAN to start AV Partners in 2004, Chris was instrumental in helping us to get our business off the ground and took a personal interest in helping us at every opportunity.

The funny thing is that in almost 30 years of working with Chris, I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument. Chris always seems to find the win-win in any scenario without any need for conflict. And there is no one I would rather have a beer with after a long day of meetings and doing demos in: Vegas, Dallas, Denver, wherever. I will definitely miss working with Chris. He is one of those kind people who always has something good to say. In a modern corporate environment that can be very territorial and politicized, Chris manages to step across department boundaries and establish friendship and collaboration everywhere he goes. We need more people like him in the world today.

Floyd Toole, President – Acoustical consulting, teaching writing
Chris was always a gracious host at the Northridge “academy” sessions, and I thank him for inviting me to join them. Although retired, I liked the opportunity to spread the knowledge of our research - it is something uniquely HARMAN. He was a believer in the science and showed it, which helped to put our audiences into a receptive frame of mind. Some of our visitors were initially skeptical, thinking that they were going to get just another version of marketing showbiz. They got lots of product information and demonstrations as well, but it was helpful for them to understand from the get-go that there were reasons why things were done the way they were. The good sounds they experienced were not accidental.

I will miss these sessions but am left with many happy memories.

So, Chris, the best of luck in your future endeavors. Stay well.


Kevin Kent, Global Product Line Manager – HARMAN Luxury Audio
Chris is a wonderful teacher, manager, leader and friend. Working with Chris has been integral to my career at Harman. Traveling together and the day-to-day interactions always made for interesting, amusing and memorable experiences. I will be forever grateful for his mentorship and professional guidance. I only hope I can return the favor sometime in the future.


Sam Scialdone, Sales Manager – HARMAN Luxury Audio
Chris had a way of making everyone comfortable, no matter where they were from or how much knowledge they brought.

I believe people thought better of HARMAN because Chris was the face of Harman for so many people. The academies felt relaxed, friendly and classy. People left them feeling that this was HARMAN.

He never talked down to anyone and his casual style was easy to embrace. In a world of technology, he made it easy to understand and he was believable. I don’t think anyone thought he was making things up, even if he was. What a treasure!

A treasure is exactly what Chris Robinson is and we are so lucky to have worked with him through the years. He has truly made an indelible imprint that will live on in the halls of HARMAN. We wish him the happiest days ahead with his beautiful family.