Al McKinna’s audio credentials are impressive. His career in product management at Avid, in both Live Sound and Audio Hardware, mark him out as a leading audio industry professional. An in-depth understanding of business strategy allied to product development saw him working at the forefront of Avid’s VENUE brand of digital live audio production systems, overseeing thirty major product releases and achieving two patents. Most recently, as Director of Audio Hardware at Avid, he led Product Management for Pro Tools systems, Control Surfaces and Live Sound. As Head of Product at Optimal Audio, he is responsible for creating a future product development strategy for the company, that aligns with, and remains true to, the brand’s original vision for removing the often unnecessarily complex nature of commercial audio.
Although on the face of it, the transition from professional to commercial audio might seem to be a straightforward step, Al is fully aware of the subtle but clear differences between the two sectors, so when he joined the Optimal Audio team, he was determined to set aside any preconceptions:
“I have a skillset in designing high-end professional audio products. Coming into Optimal Audio, I was able to bring expertise in product management and of leading a successful business in pro audio to design a product strategy that works for our customers in the commercial audio space.
“What I didn’t want to do was come in with a lot of preconceived ideas. This is a fresh space for me, and so I set out to learn as much as I could and not make assumptions. The worst thing I could have done was enter this new space assuming I would make all the right choices based on my experience. Optimal Audio is an exciting fresh new brand, introducing a new perspective on commercial audio. Inspired by this, I took fresh approach to my role.”
With the Optimal Audio ecosystem well and truly launched into the market, Al looks at the next step:
“I was employed to provide a product strategy for the future of the company that delivers the visions and business goals set out by Dom Harter. The launch of Optimal Audio was very successful – the team had a compelling vision for the ecosystem and were poised to get the first series of controllers, amplifiers and loudspeakers out into the world. I was honoured to be given a position with this highly talented group of people set to establish positive change in the installation, use and audience-experience of commercial audio.
“My job role in that team is to take a dispassionate look at the market, identify the opportunity for innovation and growth, determine our path forward and work with engineering manager Matt Rowe and team to deliver on an inspiring roadmap.”
Al McKinna’s place in the Optimal Audio team reflects the brand’s determination to look outside the immediate surroundings of the commercial audio sector to find the talent that can help propel its mission to deliver high quality solutions that are simple to install and operate. Bringing fresh perspectives to the sector lies at the heart of the Optimal Audio plan, and the exchange of ideas between expert team members from a diverse set of backgrounds has seen swift progress. As Al focuses on overseeing future strategy, he sums things up:
“I’m motivated to ensure that Optimal Audio products are perfectly positioned for our customers in commercial audio. Drawing on my background of developing successful products in the pro-audio sphere, and combining that experience with a ‘first principles’ approach to commercial settings, is the essence of my role in helping Optimal Audio to become an established market-leader .”
With our full ecosystem of products shipping early this year, 2022 is the year for Optimal Audio – and am honoured to be a part of it!