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How to save money when making audio purchases?

Member for

19 years 2 months
It's plain to see that not too many of us have all the money we need. We all face constraints when it comes to funding our passion, recording.

How do all of you deal with this? Where do you cut corners with your investment in audio? By now, I am pretty sure you all know my preferences but I am really interested in learning what yours are. ??? I hope this topic can shed some light on the advantages and pitfalls of equipment purchasing for everyone ... Please discuss ...


Member for

21 years

Member Fri, 12/17/2004 - 08:43
"Ask for discounts- many times they will give them to ya- if you don't ask you'll never get'em"

I'll echo this. I don't just ask for discounts, however, I suggest a price, every time, and make it clear that if they hit the price, I'm buying right then and there. The price I quote is minimally the lowest price that is WIDELY available online for "A" stock, and usually below that. (Don't bother with oddball low prices, they're almost always gray market, refurbished, or otherwise problematic.) Two things to note: bargaining usually only works with commissioned salespeople (who still have to get permission from management), and you better be ready to buy - don't waste their time. If you spend time bargaining, get a great price, then don't buy, well, you tell me what that makes you ...

It helps a lot to always work with the same salesman. I work almost exclusively through the audio department head at one store, whether the purchase is audio or not. For example, I've bought percussion stuff, guitars, etc. through him as well as audio equipment. I don't buy so much as a pick in that store without going through him and he knows it. I get excellent prices on everything. Most recent - SM57 for $70. (plus there's a rebate available, yielding an end cost of $60)

The relationship is important - not just because the salesman knows you're a commissions when you happen to walk in the door, but because he'll feed you information and deals. For example, I've bought equipment that was special-ordered for another, major customer, who has decided not to keep what he ordered (they accomodate him because of the $$ he spends). I bought my Onyx 1640 for not much more than the normal discounted price for a 1620 when he decided the board was too big, for example. I also get called when new things come in, notified in advance of sales, and get more candid opinions of equipment quality and reliability (rather than the company line). It will also get you marginally better trade-in, but don't expect a whole lot there as used equipment margins are thin as it is.

Know what the salesman's, store's, and manager's hot buttons are. Example, this store is a second-level store in a large chain. Because of that, they don't get a lot of higher-end equipment. This is the manager's first store as a full manager. The audio dept. manager is a working musician with his own studio and does live engineering work as well. Between the two of them, they have a vested interest in getting more interesting equipment in the store. The manager, because the store will only be allocated high-end equipment if he sells it (raising the store's profile and his), the dept. manager because he then has access at employee discounts to stuff he's interested in, and gets to use the demos. My discounts are the happy result of knowing other people's interests and working with them.

Be holistic. There are some things that can't be discounted as much as you'd like for a variety of reasons. If you are getting fantastic prices and service for lots of things, don't get PO'd over paying retail for a few - and BUY THEM THERE anyway. (It is in your own interest to know firmly when the pricing issue is real or BS, however.) This is a relationship issue and the store won't miss the point. Think about it - how much would you invest in a relationship that was entirely one-way?

You have to know what's going on in the industry and with manufacturers of interest where it pertains to you, because opportunities are created when models change, where overstock situations exist, and when competition suddenly drops the popularity of competing equipment. There are stocks of the TC-Electronic M-One for example that can be had CHEAP since the advent of the XL version. The older model is perfectly usable for many purposes. It it fits yours, you've got a deal (I bet you could work it to, oh, $150 with some effort).

In regard to the last paragraph, you get more attention from the store, especially management, when you bring them information they don't have yet. I gave them a heads-up on the (then) upcoming MOTU traveler, for example, and they started discounting the 828 early (after confirming with MOTU, of course). Create value for them and they're more likely to give it back to you.

Shopping is an art!

Member for

1 year 3 months

Albert Wed, 08/17/2005 - 15:07
Developing a long term relationship with a dealer/salesperson is great thing. I've done that, having bought most of my gear from one place for the last 20 years. Believe me, after a while your loyalty will most certainly be rewarded with great prices, and you'll have someone who will probably also be willing to give you some unbiased advice as well. The trick is to find the right person in the first place.

Ebay is useful for certain things, and I have bought a *ton* of gear from eBay sellers in the past few years. However, I feel the general quality and honesty of sellers is going down, and I'm having more and more problem transactions. The feedback system is somewhat broken because few people are willing to give negative feedback, knowing that the revenge negative feedback will mess them up in return. I'm at the point with eBay where I am considering only bidding on items in my local area that I can pick up in person and pay cash for. And even then it is easy to get burned, as I know from experience as well. eBay for me is now just for items that are out of production and impossible to get new.

Nothing beats buying new from a dealer who will take care of you if there is a problem.

Member for

18 years 5 months

golli Mon, 08/02/2004 - 18:30
Exelent posts. I'm with you on not being the first to jump on a platform.
Having few, but "multipurpose" gadgets seems to be the most sensible solution for me. Since I'm digitally based, I would see this rule implemented by buying better converters and a good word clock.

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 11/27/2007 - 08:38
Please help the balance of trade and buy good used gear locally from a reputable shop or individual when you know it will do the job. Your grandchildren will thank you for it if you explain to them why it was important for you to do your best to keep more of your $ in the local and the country.

Or do like so many of us have done and build it yourself; live sound speaker boxes are easy!

Keeping on regardless

Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 12/29/2004 - 11:19
midiwhale wrote: Silly question 101,
what is B&H's url ?
many thanks.

Sorry, I should have elaborated since theres probably alot of companies named B&H. This is the one we're referring to. They run a really huge retail store in NY City (cameras, electronics, optics, audio eqpt, etc...).... but you can also order online or via mail-order.

link removed

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 05/23/2005 - 11:08
using logic express instead of pro.
using a single stereo input instead of 8 and recording part by part. (until i can afford an 8 channel interface)
got a shure 57 beta for 90$ off ebay (best deal of my life!). even when i get thousand dollar condensers and such, ill STILL use this mic for the rest of my life.
bought an 800$ amp in a pawn shop for 300$ that has a great tone for solid state.

but i record in my living room not my bedroom, although when i move i will be recording in my bedroom.

Member for

21 years

Guest Sun, 10/03/2004 - 11:20
magomi cable

dancetheirdance wrote: [quote=idiophone]I've found that making my own cable saves tons of money - even if I use the good stuff.

Buying prepackaged cables at GC is a big rip. You have to get good at soldering, but that's a great skill to have anyway.

i have to agree, i've been making my own mic cables lately with mogami and neutrik connectors and i'v been saving a lot. i also am starting to build my own snakes and such.
where can i order the magoni cable from? And of course the neutrik ends also?
I already know how to soder
that would save me a pile of $$$$$!!!!!

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 12/20/2004 - 23:21

If a product can double its value in one month, it goes in my studio!

If owning a FAntom X keyboard allows me to take in 2000.00 plus a profit of 20000.000 in 30 days it was worth my investment. If not I would consider staying with your usual gear. FACT: Normal people listen to mp3s at 56k thru a stereo 1/8 inch adapter feeding a cassette shell in a tape deck with the bass on +5 no highs and crappy mids from hell with blown subs!!! Only Gearwhores lust over what guitar was used with what strings...dont believe me...go up to 10 people at random on the street and say SMPTE...and see how many are aware of it....better yet QUANTIZE-I have had much fun with people trying to tell me what that!

verdict people like good music, and dont know squat about gear

Member for

11 years 4 months

Dr.Bob Mon, 12/27/2010 - 10:56
eBay has definitely helped me with my audio purchases. My setup would've cost probably 3 or 4 times as much if it wasn't for eBay. If you know what to look for, it can really help. Researching what you're gonna buy also helps, and finding older cheaper models that may have been better is usually where I start.

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 08/03/2004 - 05:01
If you wait for a product to be discontinued or superseded it's a sure fire way to save big $. The thing is it still works and should do the job you want it to do, it don't stop working because it's been superseded. Good example is the Digidesign Digi001, it has been discontinued and replaced by the 002 and 002R and PT LE 6.4 is the last software update that supports this hardware, BUT it still works and if you find one you'll get it for a song.

I think we're extremely lucky at the moment to have so many manufacturers making similar products or similar use devices at least. The more competition there is out there the lower the prices go as the makers compete with each other. This was not the case even only 3-4 years ago. :D

Member for

10 years 9 months

steinmanisk Wed, 12/15/2010 - 15:27
In my opinion, the best option is taking your time. When a new and exciting piece of equipment comes out, don't just go grabbing it for the full price. Wait until someone who has paid a full price becomes tired of it, realizes that he doesn't use it anymore and so on. This is how I recently bought a practically new Marshall JVM410 guitar amp head for a little less than $600. Pretty cool, huh?

Ebay too is an excellent option. Also, if you see a phenomenal piece for a great price, don't be scared of borrowing money. Owing money to somebody is not the best thing in the world, but in this case it's really worth it.

Member for

16 years 5 months

moinho Mon, 05/09/2005 - 02:50
kingfrog wrote: Mix down in your bedroom...the bed and drapes are a cheap but effective bass trap.......vocals can be recorded minus room echo there as well .

Kingfrog, you're the man! Now this is what I call cutting on audio equipment costs, by using my bed as a piece of audio equipment.

I'm about to setup my new pair of BM5As in my bedroom because I had the feeling it sounded somehow "more clean" - now I know why!