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Interview: Marcin Zimny, Tommex

Marcin Zimny from Polish Integrator Tommex spoke to James McGrath about his six years of working in the AV industry, and the rewarding challenges he has faced and those he is yet to find.

With over six years working in the AV industry, the manager of the Wroclaw branch of integrator Tommex discusses the challenges of the industry.
How did you first become involved in the audiovisual industry?
 I have been in the industry for five or six years now, and prior to that I studied at the university of technology in Wroclaw. The course itself was electronics and telecommunications, and I majored in acoustics – and it is that specialisation which has had most bearing on what I do today. What I’m doing at Tommex now is related to my education, which is why I enjoy it so much. The business is so varied, what with the live side of the work being like a rock and roll thing and then you get the more serious audio installations. The work is always changing and challenging. I’m glad I chose what I did at university, otherwise I might not be in the position I’m in today. My interest in acoustics will always be there because experiencing quality sound is something I enjoy, especially the well-made systems you come across in concert venues and live music events. How did you come to join Tommex?Around four years ago I found out about the company and in particular the size of it. Most similar companies have one office that serves as its headquarters, whereas Tommex has offices all around Poland – I was very impressed by the size of the operation. At the time I worked for a small audio business that dealt with small installations, but I saw an opportunity: Tommex didn’t have an office in Wroclaw back then. I decided I wanted to become part of something bigger and better and work with the leading brands, so a colleague and I emailed the owner Tomasz ?ebrowski with a proposal to set up here in Wroclaw. To my surprise he said: “OK guys, I’ll be in Wroclaw in two weeks to talk about details.” One month later, and we had the office set up. What technologies and applications does Tommex specialise in?One aspect to our solutions that we are proud of is the combination of voice evacuation systems and pro audio systems. Companies used to have issues with too many loudspeakers when they required an installation of both systems.We’re able to remedy this by to unifying the technology and speaker systems for both voice evacuation and audio so the number of speakers is reduced and it reduces installation times and cost.Companies want to save money and we’re able to help them do that with the solutions we provide. Our experience working in offices, sports venues, cultural houses, live venues and theatres means that we have a solution for almost any application. Combined with the great range of brands we supply, such as Community, Dynacord, G+M Elektronik and more, we can design and supply the necessary system to achieve great results for almost any venue. How would you describe the current state of the Polish installation market?The one word that springs to mind is ‘growing’. There has been a significant increase in the modernisation of cultural houses. This is happening throughout Poland, and as part of those renovations, new audio systems are installed. But it’s not only there where we’re seeing growth: concert halls, cinemas, sports venues and stadiums are all project areas on the rise. As a company we’re able to supply more than just an audio system into these venues. We provide a quality package that ensures the building adheres to fire safety regulations for voice evacuation, especially as in Poland these are much stricter than the elsewhere in Europe. We have to rigorously test our systems and devices against things like temperature so they meet all fire regulations. We also ensure that acoustic parameters like intelligibility and SPL stay consistent even when the system is pushed to extremes. What’s your favourite project you’ve been a part of?Actually, it’s one of our latest projects, the Centennial Hall in Wroclaw, for number of reasons. Firstly it’s under UNESCO protection so it wasn’t a case of placing loudspeakers where we wished to, but where we were allowed.Loudspeakers had to be installed to the lower part of the magnificent dome as the central area was off limits. We played around with the positions of the loudspeakers and used a combination of different Community devices to achieve the desired acoustic solution.We also had to combine the voice evacuation systems with the pro audio system, so entertainment could be provided for performances as well as for tourists who are presented with a show on arrival; this required both audio and video, with sound delivered from four directions. On top of that, we had to work to a very tight deadline and have all the renovation work finished in August because an event for the Polish presidency of the European Union was due to be held there in September. Many compromises were made, deadlines met and obstacles overcome – and this is why I enjoyed the project so much. It is those challenges that make my job so satisfying. What’s changed most significantly during your career?The industry continues to change all the time. But a few years ago the shift from analogue to digital started and ever since then digital audio has become more interesting. Especially digital networking is fascinating. At first it was CobraNet, than Dante showed up. But now Dante has developed even more, and audio over Ethernet is changing really fast. Now the systems are more secure and have increased protection against failure. This gives us a lot to think about and opens up new opportunities. Another area that has changed is Class D amplifiers; they are improving all the time. They offer improved efficiency, more power yet are contained in enclosures, which is fantastic for installers and suppliers. Also DSP processor technology is always improving, for example powerful DSP processors which can be used in amplifiers. I feel these are the most significant things affecting the industry today. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?We’ll that’s a good question. I’ve been part of many projects, but I’m always looking to further my experience. Experience has to be one of the most important things in the audio business in acoustics; there are many things that can’t be calculated and experience is vital. More and more experience is what I’m aiming for; becoming part of more of projects to understand audio even more. IE