When it comes to discussing the intricacies and power of sound and music, my first instinct is to turn to those who live it. What follows is an interview with Robert Mainiero, the CEO of Andover Audio, a boutique audio engineering firm that develops products for the automotive, teleconferencing, casino gaming and home theatre industries.
Describe the core of your career.
My career has always been driven by my passion for music. As a kid I studied music and, even though it was my dream, I realized around high school that I just didn’t have the chops to make it as a professional. My other passion was electronics and so I decided, and was fortunate enough, to combine my two passions into what’s been a long-lasting career.
What job taught you the most and why?
Early in my career, I was a roadie for a relatively renowned band touring the West Coast. I learned what it took to create a terrific music experience. You must understand how instruments sound in their most natural state and be able to recreate as accurate a reproduction as possible. This lesson has carried me in my efforts to honor music and make it sound great.
Who or what company has been your most interesting client?
I can’t name names, but it would be an American motorcycle company. They tasked us with taking an incredibly hostile environment for music and making it a beautiful soundstage. We had to take into consideration extreme weather, temperature, speed, wind and ambient conditions while producing linear sound that enhanced a rider’s experience. The technical challenges were ridiculous which made the outcome that much more rewarding.
What has been your company’s most forward-thinking concept?
We designed a portable music system. It was a very high performance sound system, contained in a very small carry case. It was forward thinking because it was simple in concept. Everyone wanted quality music on the go. You opened the carry case, took satellite speakers and a small amplifier out while leaving a small subwoofer in the case. So simple. You opened the case, took all the stuff out, and you had a fully functioning, very high performance audio system. It was a big success; some users include James Taylor, Mick Fleetwood, and Britney Spears. We found, among musicians, the most important function of the system was that they could take it with them to any studio and have a consistent point of reference for sound.
What has been the most creative speaker implementation project?
Personally, in a 1975 Volkswagen Bug with friends. We built a shelf behind the tiny backseat and installed speakers from underneath. This was before automotive audio technology ever existed.
Professionally, at the Boston Museum of Science. We were tasked with installing audio in a space that had many different exhibits. We personalized the audio to each specific exhibit and designed the speaker layout of each in such a way that it kept the sound contained. We used an acoustic/electronic steering program to create a near field experience. This allowed for different audio messaging in different areas to be happening at the same time without disrupting each other.
Most unexpected place you’ve put a speaker?
A flush mounted, full-range, coaxial speaker placed in the ceiling of our shower stall. Listening to music while shaving is terrific!
What are your three principles for client management and joint success?
Rigorous honesty and transparency.
Always try to come in on budget.
Be the best at after sales or installation service. Bottom line: be available when the stuff breaks.
Talk about your feelings regarding the power of sound and music.
Music has the power to evoke emotion, memory, environment, mood and communication. You hear a song and you can place an exact experience or time associated with that song. It’s international, universal and certainly soothes the savage beast.
Do you have a personal example of where music or sound transformed an experience?
The film The Deer Hunter. The songs used reinforced the time and the sound effects elevated the message. Without either the film would have been a completely different experience.
Favorite artist and song?
A complete and totally impossibility to answer.