Famed for his deliciously daft product demos, Martin Traut talks to Dave Robinson as he leaves Dynacord after nearly 35 years
Martin Traut, a familiar face at EVI Audio in Straubing and at Prolight + Sound shows in Frankfurt, has just taken retirement after 34 years. He joined Dynacord as a sales representative in March 1982, and has since occupied the roles of export director, marketing director, business line director and senior product manager, while Dynacord ownership shifted several times.
Traut has always been a showman of sorts, and is legendary for his (dangerous!) power amplifier stunts featuring heavy duty tools. On the cusp of his departure from his beloved Dynacord, we asked him twelve final questions…
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years?
During my career I experienced (and survived) four major changes. The first was from the German private company Dynacord to MARK IV Audio, which was private but US-based and somewhat structured like a stock-exchange-company. The next change was to EVI Audio and becoming a bond-financed enterprise, which lead to the merger with Telex, still remaining bond-financed. And finally back to a private German owner, Bosch. This was finally the biggest change as all of us had to learn structuring ourselves according to the processes of a huge, excellently organised industrial company.
You worked for many years as export manager: what experiences (can you recall from those times?
I always had multiple responsibilities in marketing and sales. Export was one of the biggest challenges and most likely also the most interesting one, as you have to deal with many cultures and very different habits and expectations. However, one of the most difficult periods was the time, when Electro-Voice and Altec European distribution was consolidated with Dynacord in Straubing – all under my responsibility.
What has impressed you most about the industry?
I do not know any other industry that really is [so] rock’n’roll. The harder you work, the more fun and pleasure you have. Professional audio simply grooves! It's amazing!
What is your proudest moment?
The moment right now. At my farewell party, I felt how well I was integrated and accepted by a great team of people. I have the feeling, they will miss me as I know I already miss them, too.
What are the top three pieces of equipment Dynacord has produced?
Many of the Dynacord products are jewels. Linear Precision and PowerH amplifiers, the PowerMate and the Cobra System might stand as perfect examples for a very high level of innovation, performance and reliability.
Of which product can you most say, “That was mine, I designed/created/made that”?
Dynacord products are always the result of great teamwork. None of them is a single-person creation. But to answer your question: With the ADDone we had the first product that was designed with a different procedure: once the hardware was defined, I wrote the operating manual in every detail and the engineers designed the software according to this structure.
What do you think the pro-audio industry needs to do to improve?
Today's products tend to be feature packed like never before. This also happens in pro audio. The industry intensively needs to care about usability and really work to identify the customer's requirements and needs in order to provide problem solutions. Make sure that audio remains fun and does not turn into pain.
Did you have any anecdotes from Musikmesse/Prolight + Sound?
There are too many to just mention one. It's always the people....
Tell us about the legendary ‘Hausmesse’ demos: who had the idea of powering a jackhammer with a powermate/PowerH power amplifier?
The jackhammer was needed to have something bigger and more challenging as the PowerH amplifiers deliver an impressive lot of both voltage and current. So I looked for a real "bastard" and I found it in the Bosch power tools portfolio..!
And the angle-grinder?
It all started with an angle grinder to demo the stability of power amplifiers. At the first glance it just looks funny or crazy but it technically makes a lot of sense to test your amplifier driving a power tool: it represents the most ugly load for an audio amplifier with its high in-rush current and being an inductive and capacitive load at the same time. The good thing about it: Dynacord amplifiers always survive such raw tests and people remember it forever. I did it a couple of hundred times in presentations and academies...
Any other personal highlights you would like to share?
Yes, my wife suffered most from the time-consuming requirements of my job and she never stopped supporting me. You should know this as well and join me thanking her!
What will you do in your retirement?
Well, I want to keep on enjoying life...