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PA rental rates in the summer

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by rockstardave, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    I'm sound guru at a few small outdoor music festivals (500 people) throughout the summer. My current system is too small now, so we've thought about renting. Then I thought, why not just buy it?

    I've got mixers and mics, but i'm curious about sound rentals. I called a few of my local places, but before I say their quotes, I'd like to hear about your area. Here's the list:

    all this is for a 4-day rental-

    (2) 2x15" boxes
    (4) 18" subs
    amps to comfortably run both
    crossover, eq, and compressor

    what would this cost you??

    ps - i am in Buffalo NY
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Depends on the quality of the gear, how well it is maintained and who I am renting from. There are a lot of sound rental companies around here that treat their equipment the same as a used pizza box. They leave their equipment out in the rain at events, the speaker boxes look like they have been though WWII twice and the electronics is beat to he11 and one channel may or may not work. It also depends on what part of the country you are in. Equipment usually rents for more on the coasts and less in the heartland.

    You get what you pay for IMHO. If I really need the best then I know who to go to since I worked for them for years and I know how they treat their equipment. I also know that they will not rent to anyone and they check over their gear before it goes out and when it comes back in. They are the kind of place that is harder and harder to find.

    Can you tell us the names of the equipment you are renting? Name brand equipment like EV or EAW or dbx or Yamaha will probably rent for more than Behringer or DOD.

    Best of luck!
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Ditto what Thomas said.

    Racks and stacks rent considerably different than a full PA... including whether the rental company is gonna load your truck off their dock, or whether they have to drop the gear at the venue.

    What about power distribution and cables?

    You mention an outboard rack with "crossover, eq, and compressor"... if you're strictly talking about for racks and stacks, then those are likely things like Driverack's, Protea, etc, right?

    If you're talking about FOH/Mon processing, then that gets into additional rental of outboard gear.

    Sorry to not be able to give you a definitive answer, but the rates for EAW, Meyer, EV, Mackie and JBL all are going to be different.

    Not only that, but the rental company should be willing to work with you to hold the gear out for your long term rental... or they might even be willing to let you lease/rent the gear for say.... 3 months. If they do, you should get a better rate than just straight up one time rentals.

    As far as rental vs. purchase...

    The rule of thumb I've always used is based upon a rental rate of 5%... of course, rates vary all over the place, but when you rent tools and such, that's the typical rate.

    So, if you'll need the gear enough, rental just doesn't make sense unless cash flow is an issue.

    Does this help at all?
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I wasn't going to post since the numbers I am familiar with are out of date and were for the kind of crap rented to frat houses for parties. But, if my memory is correct Max's figure of 5% of retail cost per night was about the going rate back then.

    If this is only an annual gig, I would think the rent/buy calculation is pretty simple. Is storage is free and plentiful? Do you have other opportunities (like a dozen per year) to use or rent out the equipment? You know the drill (and maybe have ignored the rational calculation as often as I have).
  5. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    lets say its for bottom/middle of the line stuff... JRX equivilents. certainly not EAW stuff.

    like i said, all i need would be the boxes, amps, drive rack stuff (eq, comp, xover). again, all bottom/middle of the line. i never mentioned power, so i dont know where that came from. also, i did mention its a few times (4 or 5) throughout the summer that i'll need this gear

    i am in Buffalo NY, and most places around here say about $300 for the weekend.

    now tell me your prices in your location
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    aha... power... OK, that came from the mid-line/high end stuff we rent... 30Amp 3phase, 50 Amp 2phase stuff... thus the need for a power distro.

    We don't carry any of the bottom/mid level gear, so now I'm gonna be pretty useless to ya'.

    I sold all my small format stuff a few years back, and only really deal with medium/large format... but back about 6-8 years ago I'd rent a pair of EV's and a pair of subs with amps/driverack/distro/cables and all for about $200-$250 to friends. So, that $300 might be a decent price.
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I think the price you were quoted is going to be pretty universal. That's about what it would be for a short-term rental here in western PA. There's a music store in Pgh, that rents to local bands on a monthly basis and it's only slightly more than the weekend price. So you might want to see if they'll negotiate a better price by the month or even for the whole summer festival season.

    To purchase JRX stacks, plus decent affordable amps, plus driverack gets you in for about $6k at typical street pricing. The $300 dollar figure you were quoted bears out the 5% rule.

    So it comes down to economics. Are you willing and able to tie up $6000 which you will recover over next 20 jobs that you don't have to pay rental fees? If you only need the bigger set-up 4-5 per year it will be roughly 5 years before you recoup the whole $6k. Every year after that is gravy assuming there are no major expenses along the way. [FYI low-end cabinets with plastic horns do not like to be dropped] You could probably negotiate a better purchase price for the whole package, and that would change the math in your favor.

    There's another way to look at this, since you're augmenting an existing system.

    Will it enhance the rentability of your system on a regular basis and allow you charge a little more per gig?

    If you purchase them, can you comfortably haul 6 more speaker boxes and another amp rack?

    Does this additional gear give you enough stuff to put together another smaller system that you could rent separately?

    Do you have enough mixers, mics / DIs , stands, cables, monitors, FOH effects, snakes, etc. -van/truck/trailer and more importantly - someone you could trust with a second system?

    It just makes your payback timeframe a little more attractive - but will proportionally increase the headache factor.

    Good luck.
  8. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    oh, i should mention that i work for a major music retailer and could purchase a similar system (a pair of 2x15" and 1x18", amps, drive rack) for about $1900.

    also, i do not have a great place to store, nor transport them. not without a friend who has a small bus.

    finally - this will not augment my system, but probably replace my system. (or at very least be an additional system)

    does that change anything?
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Well that changes the math considerably. My estimate was based on MAP pricing for JBL, Crest, and dbx speakers, amps, and crossover proc. 4 subs, 2 fullrange cabs, and 3 amps. At $1900 you're not talking about those manufacturers, or they're pretty thoroughly used. But I were you and this was my bread & butter, I'd buy rather than rent.

    I wouldn't pay $300 to rent gear I could buy for $1900.
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Jebus, I don't know... $1900 for all that?

    Even AT dealer invoicing, I'd be afraid that it'd all be ready to toss in the dumper after a coupla' gigs... unless that's used gear that you're talking about.

    Maybe I've just gotten spoiled on large format....

    But IIRC, even my T55's were $750 ea. new.

    Then too, think about your rep if you take a seriously under rated system out... just sayin'...
  11. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    i can get a knock-off brand, which i DO fully trust - since i work at the store that manufactures and sells them. not only do they sound very nice, but they're dirt cheap. if anything happens, i can just swap them out at the store.

    it's not the actual JBL stuff like i said. if i were to use actual JRX series speakers, the 1900 would turn into $2300. still a great deal. but i AM talking about actual Crown amps (xls 602 and 802) and actual DBX processing.

    employee discounts baby, thats what i'm saying.
  12. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    oh also - would everyone else agree that $300 is about right for a 4-day rental for this size of system?
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    You've got it all figured out, so grab your checkbook and go stimulate the economy.

    I don't think your numbers add up for 6 cabs, 3 amps, & a driverack. But hey, what do I know? - I'm just looking at the pricelists.

    Back to the economics: A couple grand isn't that big of an investment if you've got work lined up to offset the initial hit. Brother Max is swimming in the deep end of the pool and I'm not exactly in the shallow end myself, and I can tell you to get pro-quality (tech rider-friendly) results you'll be dropping between four and five digits per speaker cabinet.
  14. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    no no, not 6 cabs... 4 cabs. (2) 2x15" and (2) 18". marginal difference.

    i dont think i'll be dropping that kind of money. this is just for small festivals, because none of my other friends / contacts have a system on hand for a 500-1000 person event.

    is there a durability improvement with a higher-end brand like EAW? or will it mostly be an audible difference? the size and weight scares me a lot from some of the higher-end manufacturers as well.
  15. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Pro-caliber gear offers both, better sound quality, and durability. The biggest difference is sheer brute force. The power handling and real-world useable output of a pro-level PA is what makes them so expensive. To feel the kick drum and park the lead vocal right in your face from 100 yards away takes a level of power that would turn an entry level speaker inside out. Pro gear is usually heavy too, because it's built like a tank. It has to be, to take the punishment of being trucked all over creation and the rough handling it gets along the way.
  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Basically what everyone is telling you is that "you get what you pay for" $1900 may seem like a sweet deal UNTIL after the third or forth use the equipment breaks down or is unusable.

    Higher end speaker boxes are made out of plywood with metal horns and the speakers are attached to the boxes with "T" nuts and bolts. Low end boxes are made out of Medium Density Particle Board and the speakers are simply screwed to the MDPB which means that they will come apart if you happen to rough handle the cabinets even one time. The lower end equipment is not designed for road use and will work fine in a fixed installation or with minimum moving.

    There is a reason that equipment like EV and EAW costs what it does. The same goes for control electronics although if you have to scrimp this would probably be the place to do it. Amplifiers are another place that you should not scrimp. Some inexpensive amplifiers do not have the protection that higher quality amps have and you could find yourself with DC on the output of the amp or the whole output fried because someone plugged too many speakers into the amplifier and it had no overload protection. Also many cheaper amplifiers are not rated for continuous use so an all day festival they may start to die one after the other. I think you need to figure out, as others have told you, what your REAL costs versus REAL expenses and plan to get what works and works well for what you are doing.

    Best of luck!
  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    This isn't necessarily for the rockstar gurus, but I thought I would throw this in to benefit any of the young bucks who might stumble across this thread and think they can get into the festival game and make some "easy money" - I wish there were an audio emoticon for maniacal laughter.

    But first, to add to Tom's good advice on the topic of "continuous use" typical at festivals. Don't skimp on quality or quantity of amps. People tend to put up more speaker boxes because it looks more impressive and then neglect to add additional amps - thinking their amp will run all day at 2 ohms. Running your amps at 2 ohms; is never a good idea in my book. The amp will run at a noticeably higher temperature at 2 ohms;. It may tolerate that for a short time, but few amps will perform well all day running at such a low impedence. [possible exceptions being amps that cost more than a sensible car]

    Manufacturers dangle that 2 ohms; spec out there so that shoppers will think 'more watts per dollar'. You can theoretically run those amps at 2 ohms, but there are serious trade-offs.

    A) It will stress the amp's internal components (transformers, filter caps, ceramic resistors, output transistors) and shorten their life span.
    B) It will make the amp run hotter, which really wastes much of that alleged power increase.
    C) The watts you gain on paper, don't translate to much of a real-world increase in volume - if any.
    D) Speakers don't like it either. They will sound much clearer and better defined if the amp and speaker are allowed to operate at a higher impedence. [research damping factor and slew rate] It's all about accurately controlling the movement of the voice-coil. Speakers paralleled down to 2 ohms sound much harsher.

    For some reason when people think about putting on an outdoor show, they always picture that idyllic best case scenario. Kicking back in the sunshine, beverage of your choice, listening to some good live music. It's a beautiful image, but not always how these things unfold on the day(s) of the show.

    Outdoor jobs involve a completely different set of problems you need to be prepared for:

    LOW-VOLTAGE - outdoor facilities often have very long cable runs, resulting in low line voltage, which will dramatically lower the output of your amps and the fidelity of all your other gear too. Or there's the ever exciting world of generator power. If you're lucky enough to be working with a pro-caliber generator truck it's a thing of beauty. Anything less might have you gnashing your teeth all day long as the voltage fluctuates all over the place. A big-time generator truck will make that worry-free, (unless you're the one writing the check). Those boys don't come cheap.

    RAIN/PROMOTERS - promoters and event organizers almost NEVER want to move their event indoors, even if they have a contingency plan to do so. And rain-dates are seldom as successful as the original advertised date, so they will push hard to do the gig outdoors rain or shine. If you're under contract, the show must go on. *If you feel it's unsafe to do so, you have to be prepared to stand your ground and be ready to fight to move it indoors OR be prepared to be sued if you pack it in and go home. If they are being unreasonable, sometimes it's the only smart thing to do. Stage lights, mic stands, electric guitars, and all that wiring - they're all just begging to be struck by lightning. And lightning sucks! - ain't that right Max? It is lethal, unpredictable, and undiscriminating. Even if you're not hit directly, it's another way to lose a lot of your investment in a hurry. Grounded outlets, Power conditioners, surge protectors, ground fault interuptors - are even more essential outdoors.

    TARPS - no matter how perfectly clear the skies are, and no matter if the weatherman says 0% chance of rain, be ready to batten down the hatches in a hurry. If your region is experiencing a drought, just set up a PA system outside, outdoor PAs are the ultimate rainmakers. If you're not prepared, you could be going home from the job with a truckload of ruined equipment. Rather than making any money, you'll be money out of pocket to repair and replace things. Mics, speakers, amps, mixers - none of them like any amount of water. Those cute little canopy things are nice, but won't keep your gear from getting a good misting - even if it's just a light straight down rain. You need to be prepared for a good sideways rain accompanied by some wind. So have tarps for the mix-position, tarps for the stacks, tarps for the amps, tarps to protect the stage-gear. Your monitor wedges are sitting there with their own funnel just waiting to catch some rain and ruin the horn drivers. It doesn't take much rain to trash your horns and even a light mist will accumulate. Tarps are the cheapest insurance you can have. And they don't do you any good at home, or even in the truck. Put them in place, so all you have to do is flip them up over the gear and tie them down on a moment's notice. There won't be time to rig something once it has started to rain. The musicians will be scrambling around the stage trying to protect their investment too. Makeshift stages, never have adequate stairs, so you'll all be in each other's way. I know some festival guys who completely cover their stacks with tarps - rain or shine and then try to compensate for the tarp covering the speakers with their EQ. I'm not a fan of the sound, but you do what you gotta do. Make sure you cover the snake's stagebox too, it's sitting there usually connectors to the sky. Do whatever you gotta do to keep that thing dry. If it's a 2 minute rain shower and your stagebox got soaked - you're done until it is thoroughly dried. If you're doing the outdoor show thing, taking along a blow-dryer isn't a bad idea just incase something like that does get wet. NOTE: If your gear does get soaked, do not get in a big hurry to power it back up "just to see if it still works". Impatience here will be very expensive. Take it home, use fans, use hair dryers, disassemble as needed. Let it dry for SEVERAL DAYS before you even think about running electricity through it.

    SHADE - OK, so you got lucky and it's not raining (yet). Do whatever it takes to protect your gear from direct sunlight. Again the cute little canopy is only going to protect you from the straight down mid-day sun. Mid-morning and later in the day you'll be wishing for some flaps on the side of your canopy. Tarps are your friend here too.

    FANS - on a warm sunny day the ambient air temperature is already significantly higher than any normal club date. Run a big box fan through your amp rack to help them stay cool. I know, I know your amps have their own fans - trust me this will make a big difference in their internal temperature. Do the fans in the amps want the airflow front to back or back to front? By the way, when was the last time you cleaned the filters on your amps fans? If your amps have filters, give them a good cleaning before and after the outdoor gig - maybe even during.

    SHOVEL - if the venue doesn't have conduit in place, dig a little trench 3-4 inches deep and bury your snake and other cables to the mix-position. It's a huge pain, but better than having everyone tripping over, stepping on, and driving over your cables.

    TOWELS & RAGS - for shade, soaking up water, and wiping off that filthy bunch of cables you just pulled back out of the muddy trench.

    Day one is over, oh yeah.... TARPS again... once the sun goes down dew will cling to all those things that were toasty warm during the day (even as the last band(s) are playing). And by morning everything will be covered in dew, including you.

    SECURITY - it's well documented that alcohol can make things look more attractive, that includes all your nice shiny boxes. Day one is behind you and now you can either load everything back in the truck and drive home - or leave your system set-up overnight. Serious venues will provide uniformed security throughout the night to guard your investment. If not...

    You were prepared to camp out right? Yep, easy money.....

    <cue hysterical laughter again>

    Remember kids, don't try this at home!
  18. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Rain and outdoor gigs, just tons of fun. I remember a gig in Ohio where it went from sunny to monsoon in about 45 minutes. We got the gear down in triple time but putting it back up at the next stop of the tour took an extra eight hours because everything just gets yanked and stowed no rhyme or reason. We started there very early and just barely made the curtain.
  19. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    In Scotland, you can forgo the fans and tarps for the purposes of blocking sunlight but you'll need DOUBLE the tarps to fight back the inevitable rain.

    Basically you need a whole other flight-case containing a thousand square metres of thick tarp (and poles), some towels, and a powered fan?

    Also remember that when you're outside you'll typically need more oomph in your amps to cover the loss of volume caused by the lack of walls.
  20. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    An interesting turn on the subject gents... but yeah... I can dig it.

    The other thing that no one likes to talk about.... EVER... is a good first aide kit. Blisters, cuts, twisted ankles, etc...

    Then the real big nasty... lightning.

    Establish an inclement weather policy... someone to watch the weather, listen to NOAA, sumpin'. Then, when bad weather approaches, use the 30/30 rule.

    30 seconds (or less) from flash to bang; SHUT IT DOWN!
    Then wait 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning before turning it back on.

    If you are caught in the weather, get the hell away from anything as high or higher than the average trees around you. ESPECIALLY truss, electrical lines or anything of substantial metal content. Get in a vehicle and do not touch the metal in the vehicle.

    If you cannot get in a building or vehicle, crouch down on the balls of your feet and only touch your fingers on the ground. This will minimize the surface area you are exposing to the ground discharge path of a potential strike.

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