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pro audio gear investments

What pieces of gear would be the best investment?


MadMax Wed, 09/13/2006 - 20:29
audiokid wrote: What pieces of gear would be the best investment?

I am SERIOUSLY asking myself that exact same question right now...

Some of the obvious answers are in the better named microphones and pre's.

After that, I'm really beginning to wonder.

I think large format consoles are questionable investments right now. Granted they aren't likely to be totally worthless hunks of metal in 10 years, but I'm not sure if they'll still be retaining the value that they have enjoyed for the last 20 years. My guess is that in 10 years, they will be going for less than half of what they are today,

Medium frame consoles are already similar... My console is 6 years old and is blue booked at roughly 25% of the original price.

Pro-sumer grade consoles... Naw, why bother. They loose 50% of their value when you pay for em... and 10% more when you open the box.

Digital consoles/worksurfaces... the obsolesence is built-in just like it is in any computer gear.

Maybe some of the higher end compressors and limiters will hold their value. Heck, I see 160XT's going for $250 and more on eBay. Manley's, Fairchilds, GML's and API's are fetching REAL money.

Not meaning to be pessimistic or bleak in my outlook, just being realistic.

As far as what we, as studio owners, need to invest in to be as profitable (Now ain't THAT statement a real hoot!?!) as possible... the handwriting is probably on the wall... digital or die... unfortunately.

Alsihad is the current front runner by a HUGE margin. Is there better... yup. Is there any real competitor... nope, or at least none that I can see making enough in-roads to take enough of the installed base to be accepted as the alternate "defacto" standard. Nor do I see that the industry players are willing to commit or even talk about any genuine format compatability, so that exchanges between manufactures' is a reality.

I'm actually re-thinking my stance of going hybrid, to going all PT with a few choice pre's and comps.

Talking about this very subject last night with a mate, we made a couple of observations;

If you buy a large format analog console, the good thing is... you've got a large format analog console. The bad thing is... you've got a large format analog console.

The point is, if you invest $100K in a console, you don't have a "storage" medium (tape, hd recorder, etc), AD/DA converters or anything else... you've just got a big ol' console.

If you invest that same $100k in Alsihad, you have a complete pro-level studio... worksurface, AD/DA, storage, processing & effects.

If you assign a value of $25k to each of those pieces, you can pay for and justify $25k worth of trade-up investment much easier than you can a $25k maintenance and repair budget for the big console.

Sorry for the ramble, but what an appropriate topic to see at this "crossroads" point for my own investment.


audiokid Wed, 09/13/2006 - 21:54
MadMax, we are on the same page.

After 5 years of reading this site I am pretty sure its mics and pre's. All the rest will be developed and re developed for computers. Its a no brainer that the "entire" world will be online transferring music back and forth. I have a feeling CD's won't exists and either will the cost to buy music. Music will be a lure for some product. Its frightening but interesting too.

What gear has kept its value all along? What mics and pre's are going to be the ones?

hueseph Wed, 09/13/2006 - 22:00
The world is already transferring audio files back and forth over the www. The unfortunate thing is that the majority of them are hacks (edit: musical hacks not the pirate kind.)like me :lol: I suppose the next thing beyond mics and pres would be a decent interface and converters. As for a single thing. I don't if there is a single best investment. Too many variables.

MadMax Thu, 09/14/2006 - 04:36
IMHO, the single best investment is a great sounding room/medium sized facility. There are so few of the larger rooms that are available anymore, in terms of affordability at price point. Look at all of the large format facilities that have closed over the last 5 years! Those were almost all great sounding rooms.

So, I think the investment risk is better managed when your exposure is limited to a medium sized facility that doesn't require as heavily of a managed debt of a 6-10 room complex. I think the days of the big room/big cash are going to be even more limited... to the national's under contract to their label.

e.g. 1 room facility with a couple of iso's and a solid CR. Go with a decent lounge, high speed network, high speed internet w/ftp and VOIP. Leaner and meaner are the watch words as I see it. We have to be affordable enough to attract outside work. How can you do that when your minimum monthly's put you at $125/Hr? To be attractive/cost efficient, you've gotta be in the sub $75/hour range... otherwise, they'll just stay home and work on their computer in their bedroom that sounds like poo, but doesn't cost them but $10-15/hour. (Of course, their time investment is 5-7 times greater, but that's another discussion altogether!)

As I think we all have recognized, mic's are the next best investments... Here's my INCOMPLETE off the top of my head essentials;
Any Neuman, Coles, Gefell, Schoeps, DPA, AEA, Royer
Shure - SM57, SM58, Beta 52, SM7 - Workhorses
AKG - D112, 414, C3000
RCA - 77's and 74's
Senheiser - 421
Crown - PZM
AT - 4033

Great River, Langevin, API, Neve, GML, Chandler, Avalon, Melinnea, Lavry, Pendulum, Groove Tubes, Prism, Drawmer, DW Fearn, Hardy

Fairchild, Urei, UA, API, WAVES, Drawmer, Smart, Fearn, FMR, Pendulum, Cranesong, Empirical, dbx (160, 165 Series), Manley, Roll, GML, SSL

Again, this are my "off the top of my head" lists, so there's plenty of items not on em', as there are quite a few "boutique" shops out there that have some EXCELLENT gear and I just don't know about em'.

I dunno about the media thing... Even though we're beginning to be a truly "On Line Society", people are still wanting to have a physical product... Look at the sales of blank media!

I have one "aquaintence" that downloads absolute butt-loads of legal and "shared" audio files. This "aquaintence" then burns dozens of CD's as either throw away items for parties or for traveling music.

So, where it all shakes out in another 2-3 years is indeed scary as hell, but like you, I'm interested in being there when the dust begins to settle.

What's on your lists?