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The Best of the Best. can anyone afford it?

I was at a concert the other night. It was held outdoors, There was a sound company and a recording company doing the recording. The person doing the recording had the most amazing setup for recording I have ever seen. It was all in flight cases and the amount and quality of the equipment just really blew me away. I saw some very exotic mic pre-amps, a custom patch panel, lots of high end converters and a very nice board that also looked all custom with engraved channel strips. He also had a flight case full of microphones all of which looked EXPENSIVE. The equipment all looked like it has been taken out of a show room that morning. There was not a scratch, dent or any dirt on any of his stuff. His direct boxes and snakes were also all custom and all the boxes looked like you could run a truck over them and not have them harmed in the least. I tried to talk to hI'm but he was not too talkative and seemed very busy the whole time I watched him. ( if this was anyone on this board I am sorry I was bothering you)

I bring this up because I wonder if there is enough money anywhere in remote recording to justify this type of expenditure for equipment. There had to be well over 150 grand just sitting there. This was a small folk concert done with regional performers.

Just wondering. .


JoeH Thu, 05/31/2007 - 07:29
Yeah, it sounds like either the guy takes extremely good care of his gear, or it's brand new, or....he doesn't get out much.

I recall not too long ago when the "Down from the Mountain" Tour was out, as a followup to the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" success. I caught their act here in Phila. at the Academy of music, and was blown away by the mics being used. (All vintage ribbons & LD mics; Neumanns, RCA, etc.) Backstage, I heard it was all rental stuff, from someone's high-end stock, and it was a deliberate move to make it all look and sound authentic. (In my opinion, it worked, big time! Great venue, great music, great musicians, and GREAT mics.)

As for what I take out there days, I don't think my gear is all that special anymore (perhaps it was at one time, a few years back, when laptop & digital multitrack was new), but I do still see a lot of bad stuff when I go into certain places, and I still get stares from the burnouts and old road-dogs when I show up with the new (audiophile) stuff. It ranges from awe to hostility, depending on the context.

Just last night, we were doing an audio & video shoot to document/archive (for DVD) a local Gilbert & Sullivan performance by a local troupe at a well known outdoor summer venue. I was told I couldn't put up any extra mics, and was assured I could have splits and feeds from the main sound board for the audio end. (Yeah, yeah, I can see you're already shaking your heads now reading this! :roll: )

As you can imagine, the sound system was far less than I expected, although to everyone else there, it was "Good". The crew was very helpful and cooperative, but they were swamped with tricky, intermittant wireless lavs on the cast all night, barely effective PZM's across the front of the stage, and about a dozen or so AKG 1000 and 2000 mics on the orchestra in the pit. (GAD!!!!) Not a smidge of reverb or treatment to the live (extremely dead) outdoor sound, and the whole mix was glorious (dull) mono. As for Aux sends, there was ONE available. (So much for getting a stereo mix of the orchestra and the rest of the lav's post-fader!) In the end, we got a single, mono, post-everything mix from their not-so-old Soundcraft 36 input console. Hoooo-eeeee. Fortunately, the audio portion probably won't be used, if at all, plus we put all three cameras on "manual" microphone level, and had each op make sure there was a nice clean level going to tape, just in case we need more.

At many of these kinds of situations, a quick look at the tired, beat up audio gear gives away a lot of the story: pieces of gear gaffed to each other, wiring looms moved around and never sorted out, tired and sullen audio techs who have long past their prime, etc. (I'm not knocking anyone who works hard for their living, but you can probably imagine the kind of situation I mean.....underpaid people who can't get work elsewhere, who eventually just do the best they can, with the inferior gear they're handed. Eventually, it grinds them down, and they end up just doing the bare mimimum to get by, while 90% of the audience doesn't know the difference anyway.

By contrast, outside contractor folks who come in with bright & shiny, cutting edge recording rigs are either met with scorn or awe. I'm always holding my breath until the moment we actually get connected to any existing house system or crew. You never know what's going to be waiting for you, but you hope for the best until proven otherwise.

mdemeyer Fri, 06/01/2007 - 23:09

Glad you got good results with CaseCAD (I'm the guy who rocks, I guess :D ). For the amount we all have invested in gear, I believe it's worth the extra to pack it safely. And I gives me some kind if geeky pleasure to see it all tucked in so neatly...

For others - http:// - no commercial affiliation, just a satisfied customer.


Pro Audio Guest Mon, 05/28/2007 - 08:05
I am always very worried when the equipment looks brand new. Still, if dude had fun, that is his playtime.

We are slaving for over 25 years to field an impressive and reliable set-up. I love how most things (except the mics) looks real beat. It's all in excellent repair, it just looks used and beat.

Oh the places we've been. . .

Cucco Mon, 05/28/2007 - 11:23
There's definitely money to be had. The question is - how much??

I don't take anywhere near $150K on site with me, but I do take 4 Pelican 1610 cases, 2 Pelican 1510 cases (which probably all could be run over by tanks and survive) as well as 2 to 4 SKB Rack cases (varying in size) holding mic pres, HD24s, converters, LCD monitors, etc. Everything we use cable-wise is custom including custom-made Monster Cable snakes (I know there are varied opinions on MC stuff, but it is pretty darned good, plus the people that snoop around peaking at gear always get a kick out of seeing Monster's logo on custom snakes that they KNOW cost more than their first car...)as well as several of my own brew.

I'll also state for the record, that even my oldest piece of gear looks almost ready for the show room. I know your logic Plush - kinda like if you see a person's Bible and it looks brand new... I just don't let ANYONE touch the gear (not even staff or even my wife) until they've had the "lecture" from me as well as been properly trained on how to handle the gear. Plus, everything has it's place in crates and most everything fits snugly in custom foam. (BTW - who ever recommended CaseCAD - THANKS!!! You rock! I've gotten a piece from them recently and though it was pricey, I will DEFINITELY be ordering more from them!)

The trick to me doing all of this (without even going into debt) is to turn the studio money back around into the studio. I hope to eventually retire from my day job (actually, with the way things are working out, it looks like it will happen in about 9 years!) and then do the recording thing full time. By that point, I want to have invested as much as I can into the studio without having any debt or overhead. That way, any money earned (or most of it - there are obviously some consumable items and upgrades and hired help, etc) is money kept.

As Sheet states - we do it for the love, not for the money. Of course, you of all people know that.

Cheers -


Cucco Mon, 05/28/2007 - 11:27
Cucco wrote:
I don't take anywhere near $150K on site with me,

Actually...I just did some quick math with the Windows calculator. I apparently take around $41,500 on site to most "larger" gigs. (Full orchestra/Full Chorus, Multi-Session/Multi-Day recordings).

Hmmm...I guess I have to update my insurance. I'm only covered for $25K of off-premises loss.