Dec 25th 2017 by AgencyAgent • 19 Questions • 7108 Points
Our short bio: Austrian Audio GmbH is a new audio company dealing with research & development of acoustic products, mainly microphones and headphones, but also highly sophisticated measurement systems and ODM developments. We’re all professionals that have spent a major part of our lives within the audio industry, both on the professional and the lifestyle side of the business. What ties us together is the vision to improve the performance of products by listening to people who actually use them and paying attention to the details. Within the team we can look back at more than 300 years of combined audio development experience. The team – currently 22 people - almost completely consists of former employees of AKG Acoustics, who’s Vienna headquarters closed its doors June 30th 2017.
Possible topics of interest to you in which we have expertise:
• The closure of AKG • Audio Engineering • Mechanical, Acoustics, Software, Firmware, Electronic and Test & Measurement Engineering • Starting and running a business in Vienna, Austria • Life and Christmas Markets in Vienna! Bring 'em on! We're going to answer questions until the New Year and endeavor to address the technical and engineering oriented ones as a priority. Let's keep this going until 2018!
Did Harman/Samsung decide to close AKG down, or was it just your hq? What product(s) is your new company planning on producing? Will your main focus be consumer level, like headphones, or back to pro users?
Ive got to do research now, I one day wanted to get the AKG pro drum mic kit.
Thanks for taking time to answer questions!
The AKG brand built up tremendous value over the past 70 years. The brand lives on. The AKG office and factory in Vienna was closed. A handful of years earlier, the entirety of the Consumer product line was consolidated under the control of Harman Consumer. This happened at every brand. We lost a bunch of fine folk but some are still with us at Austrian Audio.
We're working on full Consumer and Professional product lines. We plan to debut in the higher-end of those markets and then offer a broader set of options across the board. We've also got B2B and ODM business projects that have been humming along nicely for a few months at this point. There's a lot going on.
That pro drum kit is a good one and of quite good value. The d12VR is under-appreciated on the market except by those that have used them. I'm rather fond of that mic.
What will be the first product you will release?
It will be awesome. Thanks.😎
Actually, in the development timeline, our first product will be a B2B test system that is being sold to high-end and high-volume manufacturers so that they can test equipment that they make in a modern and reliable fashion. One of the legs of our business plan is a healthy B2B component that brings our Test & Measurement expertise to the outside world.
How were you contacted? I had a lady call me after seeing my resume to offer me a job with the CIA, but I wasn't allowed to tell anyone that I worked for them. She said that I would have to go to a training facility in Texas (I think, can't really remember). Hands down the weirdest phone call I've ever gotten.
There is something very strange about this AMA. OP is ignoring all the interesting questions and shit posting all others... I have to say I’m enjoying it. I’m a bit confused why a company that is planning on starting by making only research grade testing hardware is doing an AMA in this fashion- or at all. But anyways- I use AKG C414s as room mics for my tracking studio. Should we expect a drop in quality in mics made after Samsung buyout?
Same. I applied online and then got a phone call. I wasn't expecting it and sounded like a complete idiot when it caught me out of the blue. I straight up asked at one point, "So like wait, this is for the CIA right?" There was some dead silence for a few seconds after that where she probably considered her life choices before continuing on.
As to the what is going to happen to Harman/AKG after being acquired by Samsung: we simply have no visibility into that future. The only thing that we know for certain is that the Harman/AKG workforce was decimated.
The good news is that Austrian Audio GmbH is now utilizing its full capacities to develop compelling microphone and headphone products with the goal of producing as much of the constituent components (plus final assembly and QC) right here in Vienna. Our current product roadmap has our 1st two condenser mics projected to be made here in our facility with our own capsules that are made in-house. We're rather serious about this goal and we think that the market is there for it.
On a scale from Archer to James Bond, how sexy is the CIA's work in real life?
The AKG K701 open-back headphones are the best I've ever owned. The mids are extremely clean and the highs very crisp. A well-produced record through those almost sounds like it's appearing before your eyes.
Can you explain what made those particular headphones kick so much ass?
Will pose this inquiry to our Acoustics team in the morning and then get back to you.
For the security clearance background check, do they just forego the character interviews of your friends and family to keep the whole thing secret? Or did they get interviewed under the assumption you were applying to Pizza Planet?
Is there a next big thing (like, really big) in audio in your opinion? ELI5
Smart question. Love it. They didn't do the greatest job I can tell you that much. I'm from the country, rural with amish and trailer parks, so anytime you pull up to either of these types of homes in a black SUV, in a black suit, with a clipboard, and start asking questions about my being trustworthy...well, it definitely makes people suspicious. Oh, and also, "I'm from the government. Doug's applying for a position with a government." was a really horrible explanation to give my friend while he was milking cows that day. Thanks dudes.
Miniaturization (as always, ever smaller...), integration into monolithic structures. Be sure to investigate MEMS technology. It’s everywhere and nobody even notices AND that’s how it should be. Beam-Steering and Forming Deeper integration into existing tech belongs here too.
How much of a disconnect is there between the political parties and intelligence? Do they step on each others' toes?
Are you guys hiring? I live in Vienna but I wanna learn and do a different job and I will do anything lol
You mean like domestic US political parties? Or communist parties vying for supremacy worldwide?
Can you answer Social Media inquiries? The current guy is kind of “iffy”. 🤷🏻♂️
Shoot us a CV and let’s talk! Contact info on our webpage: austrian.audio
How did you get into the CIA? Have you seen some things that you never thought you'd see or that you couldn't believe you were seeing? (I'm not talking about aliens specifically, but aliens definitely fall under this 😂)
Are Vienna sausages in Vienna different from Vienna sausages in the states?
Ha. Yeah, what has been seen cannot be unseen, right? I got into the CIA by applying online. Yep, just go on over to their website and it's all right there.
As for things I never thought I would see -- sure, I saw a lot of wacky shit go down in a bunch of foreign countries but it was never supernatural by any means. At least I didn't think so. I'm in Nevada now though and have probably seen more weird shit on the ET Highway than my career in the Agency. But then I guess that's all kind of related in a way when I really think about it...
Yes, the ones in Vienna are made from actual food. 🤯
Is there a lot of bad blood between different govt organizations? IE FBI, CIA, Homeland? You always hear tabloid like rumors of power struggles between them?
Sure you guys made AKG and not AK-47S?
Yeah I think there is -- but to what extent at this point I don't know. It's the federal government and everyone has their own little rice bowls and unfortunately that bleeds into the IC and LEF as well. So I think its to be expected and will likely continue.
We shoot impulse responses not bullets.
During your job at the CIA, were you ever in a situation where you feared for your life? If yes, how did you manage to get out of it? (Yeah, I watch too much 24 and Homeland. :))
What do you think tech companies entering the market (Google Home Max, Apple HomePod)? With machine learning and beamforming and such, they bring a lot of tech that has to be hard for audio companies to develop.
- Will those technologies materially improve sound quality at the budget / mid-tier levels?
- How much does a speaker/headphone company need to invest in the tech / firmware / processig side of product development (qualitatively... not looking for €’s)
- What’s the next significant advance we’ll see in speaker or headphone design? Is there room for innovation in electromechanical side?
PS: I’m still enjoyig my k702’s many years later, and am sad to see AKG go.
Ha. I haven't seen much 24 but of course I know what it's about so that's cool. I saw the first episode of Homeland and that wasn't bad either but I've come to learn over the past 18 months that a lot of people view that show as "highly accurate" which is just silly. As for fearing for my life, yeah, the first time you do anything dangerous you are pretty scared and amped up. But then you get used to it, like sky diving or competing in martial arts, and you begin to adapt and get used to things being dangerous eventually becoming the norm, or at the very least, not as scary as they were previously.
Good stuff for me to run by the real engineers on staff. I’ll do so in the morning. It could be just me (combined with the fact that it is 1AM over here) but I’d like to ask for more clarity on question #2 in your list. Are you referring to investment of time expressed as a percentage? Will discuss with the team later today.
I have an older person who works for me who claims to have been a CIA agent and has quite incredible stories about it.
I think he is lying about the whole thing, but I can't prove it. Anything you can recommend?
Are you restricted due to the AKG patents?
Oh man! Did you ask me this question via PM earlier in the year by chance??? I recognize your handle. Because I have an answer for you.
As much as by any existing patent at any other company. We are developing all of our product lines from scratch with our cumulative 335 years of engineering & design experience.
What kind of work and education experience is required to be employed at your company?
Fuck yeah man! I answered that question for a Video AMA I did this past summer but we never aired it. I have it on one of my hard drives. Let me find it during lunch and I will post that shit on youtube for you.
Judging by the previous answers to questions: very little!
In actuality, it depends upon the position, the desired skillset and (above all) the person applying for the job.
We hire and develop talent that can get the job done at a high level of excellence whilst knowing how to make the perfect Glühwein on cold Winter nights.
Which is best; Skullcandy or Beats by Dre?
Brother, more than a lot. I'm currently in Nevada. What would you like to know?
I work in farming around the area, my crew has stayed inside of that clown motel and the inside is painted just as extravagantly as the inside.
Some of the fields I farm are right next to a Military base which unmarked passenger jets fly to and from Las Vegas multiple times a day, rumored to be carrying military scientists.
So just to clarify, you guys are here to develop consumer products? Any chance we will see pro audio products from you guys that hail from the glory days of AKG from 60-70s? The world needs new CK12 capsules and duo dynamic capsule microphones.
StainedTeabag - I probably drove on your land yesterday. Sorry about that. Generally speaking, they don't sell patches at the Nellis BX based entirely on rumors...
Pro, Consumer, B2B and ODM. That’s the name of our game(s).
We won’t repeat the past. That’s certain. There are so many companies doing retreads, clones, incremental revisions...sheesh, not for us, dankeschön. Our 1st products will be where we think these kind of products should be regarding sound quality and feature set for this day and age.
Let me ask this: if you were to design a new handheld & high-quality dynamic mic, what would you like to see? Features & price point.
375 is a trip! I loved driving on that road. It is no wonder Area 51 is so far tucked away there. I look forward to going back, camping out and doing a little bit of metal detecting out there.
There is a hot spring just after the ET Highway sign!
Do you see any value in the technology being developed by the Australian company 'Audio Pixels'? They are developing a MEMS 'speaker' that reproduces sound without any need for traditional loudspeaker componentry like coils, cones and enclosures. Does it sound like vaporware or a legitimate innovation?
I haven't looked past the first click of that address but I can state that there is a big current and future market for MEMS. There are challenges (Physics don't play, son!) presented to any given topology and implementation and MEMS certainly has some difficult challenges as required SPL and other demands increase. Linearity is another.
I'll run this past a particular engineer on our team that has deep experience in developing MEMS-Tech before I stick my neck out further on the matter. I'll post back here.
I'm from New Mexico and saw what the internet seems to refer to as the tr-3b, any thoughts?
First off, I have a few pairs of AKG headphones, big fan, sorry to see them close. When it comes to consumer grade amplifiers would you still say tube is better than solid state? I have a McIntosh C 26 Solid State preamp with a MC 2125 Amp and really dig it.
Ummmmmm I just took a photo of a dude's license plate at the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, NV yesterday that had a license plate that read "Skunkworks: My TR-3B is in the shop." You can't make this shit up. I'll send you the photo in a second. Let me upload it to imgur or something for you.
I would say that it all depends upon the capabilities of the designer/engineer and the percentage of his/her design goals being met given a price point. Topology doesn’t determine the subjective ‘awesomeness’ of a design. And we must always be vigilant in remembering that the easiest person to fool is ourselves. That’s one of the great things about the scientific method: a built-in bias toward disconfirmation.
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do? Suspend its operations, will the weevil delay?
Also what is your favorite food?
Do all dacs sound the same?
Perfect day on the calendar to ask me questions about James Jesus Angleton. Also perfect because I have T.S. Eliot's book of poems on cats here in Nevada with me. So you're 2/2.
My favorite food is taco bell. All of it. And now you're 3/3.
If an audiophile plays test tones in the woods is there anyone to hear the sound of all the date requests that have said "No."?
Do you think Snowden has been compromised by Russia? What do you think about the new Android app Haven released by him? It is open source, but do you think it is a way for Russia to collect information after US govt booted Kaspersky (what do you think about the Kaspersky situation, btw?) and they must have been able to sneak in a hard-to-find backdoor?
Good question on Snowden. I saw he did an AMA the other day sounding the alarm about Congress trying to sneak mass surveillance into law or something...and then it didn't happen. So I'm not sure what he's up to these days. I'm not familiar with his new App but I would think that if it's attached to his name, and meant for journalists or whistleblowers like Signal or Tor, then it's probably very likely already at the top of the list for cracking and bypassing.
Oh hell yes. I ordered your book last week so unfortunately it isn't here yet, but here are some questions:
- Is being a Case Officer basically off limits for individuals who don't have an aptitude for foreign languages?
- What are the physical requirements like?
- Would you compare the intensity of the Farm to that of Special Forces training, or is it a different kind of intense?
- Were you ever asked to do something morally unconscionable and had to do it for the mission? If you can share, what?
- How difficult was the transition to civilian life from years with the agency?
- Silly question - have you seen Burn Notice? Any accuracy?
- I wanted to be a CIA Officer for years, figured that those who end up doing it are the smartest, most physically fit, and mentally strong people there are to make it through the process - ended up becoming an Air Force Officer instead. Is this the case or did I sell myself short?
- I once heard James Olson, a former chief of counterintelligence, tell a story about his time in. He essentially told us that he has many friends sitting in prisons overseas for espionage and all knowledge of them has been denied. Is this still a frequent reality?
Thanks in advance.
No, but it definitely helps to have studied a foreign language before you apply. Not at all mandatory, but entirely helpful.
Well I haven't went through Selection or the Q course but I've known plenty of dudes who have that can attest it's no walk in the park. The Farm is incredibly intense as well but its not like you're getting hosed down with water while you do bicycle kicks in the air at any point.
No, but then understand that it was largely on me to run my own operation so if it was morally unconscionable I wouldn't have put myself in that situation to begin with.
I am still transitioning and its getting easier every day. I was still pretty paranoid about even uttering the letters C-I-A after I first got out but I've been coming around with the help of tv shows like Scandal and Get Smart.
I haven't seen Burn Notice but I heard its about a field guy who gets "disavowed" whatever that means.
I don't know but I think you could still apply if you meet their age requirements. I don't know what their cutoff is these days but you should look it up and apply!
I've heard there's a lot of people locked up in the 4 Seasons in Riyadh and all knowledge of them has been denied but I'm not sure what else James Olson might have been referring to.
What does a former CIA Officer turned NYT Bestselling author do to keep busy these days?
I've been pretty busy throughout 2017 because I get bored very easily. I made a tv show for Discovery channel at the top of the year and then edited it in New York most of the summer. Now I'm in Nevada working on a story with a buddy of mine about the alien highway and the recent UFO disclosures by the pentagon. Because, you know it's, "All the Small Things", that are the most interesting. (Hope you see what I did there.)
You look homeless. Is everything going okay or are you working undercover?
Yes, it's called blending in. That photo was taken at a tavern in my hometown.
Former intel officer here from one of the three letter agencies. If I put in a collection requirement, did anyone ever actually consider it, or did you all decide for yourself what bureaucracies to target for source development? It was all incredibly opaque to us, and to be honest, it felt like a missed opportunity that there were so many layers between intel collectors and intel users (at least for those of us who were outside Langley).
Good morning goodmorningfuture - yeah for real. I was a core collector in the field so I felt the same way sometimes like "WTF did they do with that report?" It can be entirely frustrating can't it? Those layers between collector and user are there for a reason, obviously, and I fully understand why but it fucking sucks being in the dark. I am guessing you quit or retired so can I ask what you're doing now?
I recall your first AMA, and thoroughly enjoyed your responses, stories, and the stories that they brought on.
So what does a fellow like yourself do after you're out? It's not like you can go back doing sneaky shit; do you go a private security firm? Open your own woodshop? Paint miniatures? Get baked and browse Reddit (heyo)?
Boboblah780 - Roger that, buddy.
Are you retired for good or is there a dubious yet legal way of "reactivating" you?
Retired for good. Only way to reactivate me is if Bubbins were to be kidnapped by Albanian sex traffickers.
Do you ever worry you are violating any NDAs (Non disclosure agreements) you’ve signed?
Anybody ever ask you anything a little TOO specific about any classified where you felt compelled to report it?
I have my cover rolled back so I am allowed to talk about general shit as well as whatever they cleared for my book. Which is a lot. So, no, I don't worry about saying anything I shouldn't. And yeah, anytime you meet any journalist looking for a story they 100% of the time ask ridiculously compartmentalized and top secret questions to see if you are stupid enough to answer them. And based on some of their reporting, there truly are people out there dumb enough to provide them with answers.
Do you see us being able to stop what's been set in motion as far as active measures using Social Media, and do you think that we'll be able to repair the damage that's already been done?
No, no I don't. This is a great question Disco_Drew. I sincerely hope it creates a long thread to follow. Regarding social media, you ask me specifically if we'll be able to repair the damage that has already been done? By damage, I am going to go ahead and assume you mean the gigantic web that it has created linking people together in such a way they never imagined and then are shocked to find out that Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc has recommended a fellow undercover person to them even though they thought their profile was entirely private? Yeahhhhhhhhhh...there's this notion within the IC and Tier 1 community that you need to hide in the open and for you to not have a Facebook page is weirder and might flag you to a foreign service. I am here to tell you it's not. And I think we are only in our infancy of understanding that in terms of protecting one's cover. Which gives me a headache.
If you were in a literal food fight to the death what food would you choose as your weapon?
I feel like this is one question that's going to stay unanswered, but... How do you feel about the way prisoners were/are tortured by CIA in Abu Ghraib?
P.S.: I wish I had a cat like yours, Bubbins is beautiful.
Nope. I'll field that one. I think it was horrendous and unacceptable. That was actually the 327th MP and Tom Pappas who were responsible though at Abu Ghraib. I think he's a civilian SIS now actually...so, you know, might be worth requesting an AMA of him.
I’m assuming you still keep in contact with some of the current operatives? What is the consensus around the bureau about our president?
I get asked about what my former colleagues think about the president a lot as well as what they think about a variety of other things. The truth is, unless they are former colleagues that are now out in the open with their cover rolled back, I do not maintain contact with active officers. It wouldn't be good for either of us. So, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I don't know what the current consensus is for those who are still doing it every day.
As a cyber engineering student in college, what Can I do that would help me get in to this kind of government work?
You mean, CIA specifically?
How many lists am I on for commenting on Reddit?
Edit: I also read and write in Russian hinthintnudgenudge
Hi Mr. Laux! I have a few questions for you, so I apologize in advance if I ask too many (I have a tendency to do that). I'm a high school senior who wants to do ROTC in college, then do either the Army Reserve or National Guard. I'm very interested in becoming a case officer, so I'd like to ask some questions, please.
How does a person become a case officer?
What is it like being a case officer? How much do you get to go out and do things, as opposed to working behind a desk?
Is there a good MOS to choose that would help me become a CIA case officer?
Should I try to learn a foreign language?
Is it hard to have a family or relationship while working as a case officer?
Merry Christmas, sir! Thank you for taking the time to do this IAmA.
Hello ThatTexas_Guy - thanks for the questions. I get these a lot via PM so I'm glad you're asking.
You can become a case officer by applying online at the Agency's website. That's the first step of course but it is the only way to begin the process so don't believe a lot of mountebanks out there who try to sell you on the lie that they can get you in through the back door, or they know somebody who knows somebody, or they will help you develop some killer resume like you're applying to grad school. Nope. Apply online.
It's a really fun job and the field operations are incomparable to any other experience I have had in life. Having said that, you're asking how much time was spent on a desk? My answer to that would be this: the more you do in the field, the more you have to sit down and document what you did in the field. So, bottom line, if you're a high speed ops guy always out in the field, you're going to be high speed ops guy typing it all up at some point as well.
Don't know on the MOS front. I could tell you work in intelligence but it's not really going to give you that much of a leg up when you switch over to intelligence ran by a civilian organization a la CIA.
You 100% should try and learn a foreign language...and you should travel overseas as much as possible. (Not just with your unit.)
Yes, it is very hard to have a family and/or relationship. It's the hardest part of the job -- at least it was for me -- and why I chose to write about it extensively in my book even when a lot of outside commentators were telling me to leave it out.
Merry Christmas to you too! Thanks for taking the time to read it.
Have you traveled outside of the US since publishing your book? If so, do foreign intelligence services still keep tabs on you given your background?
I have traveled overseas and yes, all countries keep tabs on former intelligence officers -- but given that I'm a known quantity I'm the least of their worries.
What is the most annoying this that Spy films/stories always get wrong about real covert operations? A lot of what I have seen is that real espionage is similar to hacking, where it actually is a lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen, only for nothing to happen.
That's easy. The number one most annoying thing to someone working at the CIA is to call them a CIA Agent. They are called officers. FBI has agents. And it's really awesome when you have to speak with journalists and you ask them explicitly not to refer to you as an agent and it's in the title headline. "Young CIA Agent Kid Spills Secrets So You'll Clickbait This Link 9/11 9/11 9/11 ISIS"
i got a strange one for you ..
heard a 14 year old paid a special trip to the CIA HQ back in 84 because of a remote viewing program ?
had his photo taken and it hangs on the wall of the directors office ? .
i know his name but wont say it on this forum because its outlandish to suggest a person with a "biblical" name can be real ? ..
Can't say I have heard of that one but since you mention 1984, here's a fun link someone sent me recently about an official meeting the CIA had with a "remote viewer" in the same year. So I don't know, seems like weird shit was going down back then.
Thanks for doing this. What progress, if any, do you think the United States has made in winning the war on Christmas?
What is your cat up to?
Thanks for the question. I think drones have really helped to win that war worldwide. So, I would advocate an increase in spending on drones. Jeremy Scahill I am sure would agree.
My cat is back in Ohio with my parents. Which also means he's probably eating too much tuna because that's how they ply him to come out from wherever he's hiding. So, yeah, probably a diet on the horizon for Bubbins in 2018.