Meet the Team
David H. Kawakami – General Manager
Over his long career at Sony, David specialized in the application of technologies to Sony’s entertainment businesses, Sony Music and Sony Pictures. After working on the standardization of DVD-Video, he moved immediately into exploring what could be achieved using the expanded DVD disc capacity for pure audio applications. At the time, David was already promoting higher resolution recording technologies like Super Bit Mapping (SBM) with Ayataka Nishio, the brilliant young engineer who had invented it. On a whirlwind tour of U.S. studios to promote SBM, Nishio-san shared his idea for using one-bit delta-sigma modulation at very high sampling rates to record music with unprecedented quality. Seeing promise in ‘One-Bit’ as they called it, David continued to help Nishio-san refine and develop the technology by getting feedback from the “golden ears” in the music industry.
Encouraged by the positive feedback they received, Sony renamed the technology Direct Stream Digital (DSD) and joined with Philips to propose it as the digital encoding technology for Super Audio CD (SACD). David was asked to oversee the launch of SACD outside of Japan and immediately set about finding the talent he needed to promote the format to the music industry and audiophiles. His first hire was Gus Skinas, with whom he had worked in Sony’s pro audio division. Later Dr. Demery who had worked on SACD at Philips joined Sony after his move to the U.S. Now that the opportunity to raise the bar for hi-res audio has presented itself again in the form of the Model One Headphone System, David immediately contacted his former hi-res colleagues and proposed working together once more.
With the addition of John Garrison, another Sony colleague and longtime consulting partner, the management team of Sonoma Acoustics LLC was complete, making it truly a dream organization to carry on the Sonoma tradition for uncompromised audio quality.
John Garrison – Operations Manager
John Garrison brings the Sonoma Acoustics team the broad sales, operations, and management perspective gained with senior level roles at Sony, AT&T Wireless, Amazon, and Samsung.
Relevant accomplishments include providing the sales and operational oversight resulting in Samsung’s 4-fold growth in U.S. sales, and structuring Amazon’s first outsourced logistics relationships to support Amazon’s wireless sales platform.
As the business development leader of wireless start-up GreatCall, John’s distribution strategy, multi-channel sales network, and new partner channels built an $80 million business in two years. With know-how in high-growth enterprises, John formed Garrison Group LLC (with partner David Kawakami) offering business development services for technology start-ups.
In addition to delivering business planning and strategic introductions for venture-capital backed tech entrepreneurs, the Garrison Group team established the baseline manufacturing relationships for the launch of Sirius (satellite entertainment service). Now, as a founding member of Sonoma Acoustics, John brings his deep business acumen to the Model One Headphone System launch effort by overseeing the financial, sales and logistical operations at Sonoma Acoustics, LLC.
Gus Skinas – Pro Audio Marketing Manager
Few people in professional audio have not met, been helped by or learned something from Gus Skinas at one time or another. When Sony and Philips introduced the Compact Disc in 1982, Sony tapped Gus to teach artists, producers, recording and mastering engineers how to navigate the brave new world of digital audio. Many years later when Sony and Philips teamed up again to introduce the Super Audio CD (SACD), Sony once more turned to Gus to educate the creative community on the benefits of recording using Direct Stream Digital (DSD), the revolutionary digital encoding technology on which SACD is based. The tool Gus uses to teach people about DSD is the Sonoma Workstation, a system he helped develop in a secret “skunk” works in San Francisco. It was a crash program that Gus accelerated by making it a collaborative effort between the engineers developing the workstation and the music professionals who were actually trying to make recordings on it.
In 2004, Gus established the Super Audio Center (SAC) in Boulder, Colorado, USA to support the deployment of Sonoma Workstations in the production of hi-res music recordings for release on SACD. With literally thousands of hi-res music recordings to his credit, Gus has made the Sonoma name synonymous with the pursuit of audio quality that is without compromise. Today, as a founding member of Sonoma Acoustics, Gus is using his SAC facility as a test bed for the Model One Headphone System, making it truly a product from one of the pioneers of High-Res Audio.
Dr. Andrew Demery – Consumer Marketing Manager
Welsh by birth, Andrew ‘Dem’ Demery was educated in the U.K., where he received his PhD in Wideband UHF Radio Propagation in 1989. In the same year, he was scouted by Philips Electronics and moved to the Netherlands to work at the headquarters of Philips Research, aka the renowned ‘Natlab’. There he worked initially on packet data protocols within the emerging GSM digital cellular communication system, focusing on applications related to road transport telematics.
A quintessential audiophile, when Philips asked whether he would be interested in joining a team to work on the development and launch of SACD with Sony, Dem jumped at the chance to combine his life-long passion for music with his interest in high-resolution recording and reproduction technology. His group developed an experimental eight-channel DSD recorder that was used to make the world’s first multichannel DSD recordings which would be used to demonstrate the surround sound capabilities of SACD. After leaving Philips in 2001 to join his fiancée in Northern California, Sony immediately recruited Dem for its newly formed Sonoma Workstation development project in San Francisco. There he proved to be an invaluable link between the development engineers in Sony’s “skunk” works and Gus Skinas in the field who was constantly traveling to support high-resolution recording sessions with the fledgling workstation.
Like Gus, Dem learned how valuable a collaborative design process is when the goal is to produce audio systems that are optimized for both the recording and playback of high-resolution music. Now, as a founding member of the Sonoma Acoustics team, he is applying his knowledge of what goes into making great high-resolution recordings to the design of the Model One Headphone so that it is optimized in every way for hi-res music listening.
David Walstra – Regional Manager, EU
Managing Sonoma Acoustics activities in Europe, Amsterdam-based David Walstra has impeccable hi-res audio credentials. After graduating with an Ing. degree (=BSc) in telecommunications and digital signal processing (DSP) from the Christelijke Hogere Technische School, Hilversum, NL, and further DSP studies at the University of Eindhoven, NL, David started his career in the audio engineering department of Polygram International, at that time the music label of Philips Electronics. With this grounding in music production, he then moved to Switzerland to join Willy Studer AG, the world’s premier manufacturer of high quality analog tape recording systems. David was then drafted by Sony Corporation — which was building out its worldwide digital audio infrastructure in support of the Compact Disc — for positions at pro audio divisions in Basingstoke, UK and Atsugi, Japan.
Over his 20-year career with Sony, David would hold many positions in both professional and consumer divisions, including spearheading industry standardization efforts in Europe for the Super Audio CD (SACD) and Blu-Ray Disc formats. During his time as head of the SACD project in Europe, he was responsible for supporting SACD title production with Sonoma Digital Audio Workstations.
After leaving Sony in 2009, David has remained active in hi-res audio initiatives as an executive with Auro Technologies NV, Belgium, HiFiStreams B.V., the Netherlands and as the European representative of PrimeSeat, a new DSD download service being developed by the Internet Initiative Japan. Since 2012, David has been a guest lecturer at the University of Applied Science, International Business and Management in Amsterdam.