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Author Topic: Need help for expansion plan from current PA  (Read 5984 times)

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2023, 05:11:44 PM »

Not what you want to hear, but the Mackie "thump" is named for the satisfying sound it makes when it lands in the bin.  I had the displeasure of mixing a "Nashville act you've heard of" through a set of them with companion subwoofers and it was.... a struggle trying to properly represent the artist.  I'm not one to immediately blame the tools provided to me, but the recording was good, the mix was as the aritst wanted to be presented (proportionately), but the loudspeakers were not up to the task at hand.

In general, throwing more money at more, inadequate products is not a winning strategy.  Pursuing scalability, while interesting from an academic aspect, is largely a Don Quixote exercise.

My suggestion is to eventually sell off your Thumps and replace them with loudspeakers with greater output and better pattern control, that will cover most of audience geometries and genres you encounter routinely.  For anything that requires more/larger/heavier, HIRE it in and make it a line item on the invoice to your client.  When you book the gear, arrange to have it delivered and set up, and taken down and removed, too.  Then add 20% to the vendor invoice to get the amount you charge your client for that extra equipment and service.

This alleviates the need to store, transport, warehouse, and maintain less used, heavy, expensive loudspeakers and accessories (rigging, special cables, lifts or stands, etc).  It will let you audition different systems to guage client reactions and to form your own opinions about different brands and models for possible future purchase.

Do not buy 3 mini line array elements and put them on a sub.  Really, don't do it.  As was pointed out, the amount of money involved would buy a pair of really nice point source loudspeakers and make things easier, too.

Finally, if you need more help to load in/out or operate your gigs and can't afford the help, you're not charging enough for your services.  Call around and ask your competitors (in another town, if you have to) and ask what they charge for a hypothetical gig.  If it's more than you charge, you're probably leaving money on the table; if it's less, hire them to do your gigs and pocket the difference and be able to do another show on your own at the same time.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2023, 06:58:50 PM »

+1 on Tim's comments.

More Mackie Thumps means dragging more gear and NOT improving anything. You might get slightly more output, but you can do WAY better with better boxes.

A 70lb box or a 100lb box really is no different. If it's up stairs, both REQUIRE a 2 man lift. Period. No exceptions.  It's foolish to provide that service alone as back injuries are a real thing.  My company policy is anything over 60lbs cannot be lifted alone.  Rolling a sub across the ground and tipping it off of a dolly is acceptable, but the truck needs a ramp or a lift. If the client books a cheaper venue upstairs, well, great. The price for production WILL be higher to move gear on stairs.  And it can be a lot depending on how much gear needs to go.

Using 3 line array boxes on subs is fine - IF you already have the boxes and use them as larger arrays.  But, if that's your end game plan, point source boxes are a much much better option.  Faster to deploy, easier to configure, much cheaper, and well, yeah, other than the 'look' of an array, just overall better.

If there is an option to hire out production from a reputable company, that simplifies everything.  Getting someone else to finance the gear, maintain it, find the labor, transport the stuff, set it up, take it down and store it at the end of the show AND you get 20% markup is the easy route in the business.  Now it doesn't matter what the gear costs and you can get the EXACT gear needed for your particular show. You're guaranteed a profit at the end of the night whereas the company with the gear may end up with unexpected expenses and not.
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Brian Jojade

Scott Holtzman

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2023, 05:58:31 AM »

+1 on Tim's comments.



If there is an option to hire out production from a reputable company, that simplifies everything.  Getting someone else to finance the gear, maintain it, find the labor, transport the stuff, set it up, take it down and store it at the end of the show AND you get 20% markup is the easy route in the business.  Now it doesn't matter what the gear costs and you can get the EXACT gear needed for your particular show. You're guaranteed a profit at the end of the night whereas the company with the gear may end up with unexpected expenses and not.


Brian is not kidding.  I am doing less and less gigs and renting out more.  The techs love it, they know our gear is well maintained and we don't carry junk. 


As far as a line array,  moving from 6 boxes to enough to cover a decent outdoor amphitheater flown is a huge step up.  Flyware, lifts, motors or chain falls it all adds up fast and you need to keep good crew busy to deploy it.  Meanwhile you have a 150k investment that sits in the warehouse more than you would want.  The point source stuff on other hand is constantly in demand and I have quite a bit.  I am thinking of getting a few small vans and trailers so I can offer true one source packages for the rentals.



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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Brian Jojade

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2023, 01:59:00 PM »

As far as a line array,  moving from 6 boxes to enough to cover a decent outdoor amphitheater flown is a huge step up.  Flyware, lifts, motors or chain falls it all adds up fast and you need to keep good crew busy to deploy it.  Meanwhile you have a 150k investment that sits in the warehouse more than you would want.  The point source stuff on other hand is constantly in demand and I have quite a bit.  I am thinking of getting a few small vans and trailers so I can offer true one source packages for the rentals.

Exactly correct.  If you're set up for big shows you can occasionally scale that gear down a for the smaller show but the profitability if you do it too often just isn't there.  It's fine as a 'fill in' for your calendar dates.

If you're only occasionally doing big shows, you're going to have a heck of a time paying for all of the gear needed to do those shows.  It's hard enough to turn a profit if the gear is working continuously.  If it's sitting in a warehouse somewhere, it's losing money.
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Steve-White

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2023, 04:38:24 PM »

Not what you want to hear, but the Mackie "thump" is named for the satisfying sound it makes when it lands in the bin.  I had the displeasure of mixing a "Nashville act you've heard of" through a set of them with companion subwoofers and it was.... a struggle trying to properly represent the artist.  I'm not one to immediately blame the tools provided to me, but the recording was good, the mix was as the aritst wanted to be presented (proportionately), but the loudspeakers were not up to the task at hand.

In general, throwing more money at more, inadequate products is not a winning strategy.  Pursuing scalability, while interesting from an academic aspect, is largely a Don Quixote exercise.

My suggestion is to eventually sell off your Thumps and replace them with loudspeakers with greater output and better pattern control, that will cover most of audience geometries and genres you encounter routinely.  For anything that requires more/larger/heavier, HIRE it in and make it a line item on the invoice to your client.  When you book the gear, arrange to have it delivered and set up, and taken down and removed, too.  Then add 20% to the vendor invoice to get the amount you charge your client for that extra equipment and service.

This alleviates the need to store, transport, warehouse, and maintain less used, heavy, expensive loudspeakers and accessories (rigging, special cables, lifts or stands, etc).  It will let you audition different systems to guage client reactions and to form your own opinions about different brands and models for possible future purchase.

Do not buy 3 mini line array elements and put them on a sub.  Really, don't do it.  As was pointed out, the amount of money involved would buy a pair of really nice point source loudspeakers and make things easier, too.

Finally, if you need more help to load in/out or operate your gigs and can't afford the help, you're not charging enough for your services.  Call around and ask your competitors (in another town, if you have to) and ask what they charge for a hypothetical gig.  If it's more than you charge, you're probably leaving money on the table; if it's less, hire them to do your gigs and pocket the difference and be able to do another show on your own at the same time.

For the OP - Janne.

This is the best advisement on this thread.  This is the "right" and "proper" perspective from which to determine your best path forward.

This isn't about pattern control on array elements -vs- point source yet often times threads devolve into that debate.

As well as you articulated your situation - you have been at it long enough and are developing a perspective that will ultimately lead you to success in this field.

When I did the initial concept for a "return" to pro audio after a 25 year gap I gave consideration to a whole host of different things from when I first started out.

Basing on past experience in being a small regional provider, much like where you currently are at one point led me to a basic system philosophy.  Adding to my past experience was the fact that I did the self-employed in sound and lighting for 10 years and during that time when the phone rang ~99% of the time I took the job and cobbled together whatever I needed to get it done.  That meant some rental gear, demo out gear from local sound retailer, and borrow from other guys I worked with.  Exchanging equipment and services was a regular thing and what it took for survival back then.

Getting back to my point:  Lego's was the concept.  A system that cold be scaled and has maximum versatility - a DJ show, Political speech outdoors, High School Graduation in stadium, Fashion show, club or ballroom concert (War, Ronnie Montrose, Southern Pacific, Will to Power, Robin Trower, Guns 'N Roses just before they broke out of clubs).

Versatility and scalability.  Monitors all have pole cups in them and make dandy side fills delays in a large room fashion shows.  Mains are all array elements, yep I'm breaking the laws of physics and don't really care - (I maintain a vigilant watch over my shoulder for the "Point Source Police" so they don't sneak up behind me).  What works is what works regardless of online opinions - they pole mount, ground stack or hang and sound great.  One per side pole mount for a wedding ceremony, 2x per side truss hang and floor subs for DJ dance system and up to 8x per side hangs for reinforcement systems - all with subs except for speech only.

I am also in violation of the dbx Driverack Prime Online Directive and have 6x PA2's, 3x VENU360's in the inventory - along with the Ashly processing.

There is some great advisement on this thread, process it all and then head down the path.
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Mike Pyle

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2023, 05:36:17 PM »

In the USA for the price of 3 HDL6 and a flybar you can buy a Meyer X40.
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Steve-White

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2023, 06:17:57 PM »

In the USA for the price of 3 HDL6 and a flybar you can buy a Meyer X40.

I would have thought an X40 would be much heavier than the advertised 52 lbs.  Pretty impressive.  I like the choice of 110x50 or 70x50 rotatable horn.  If you're headed to a PS solution that's looks to be a nice one.
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Rob Timmerman

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2023, 06:19:52 PM »

And just to put some numbers behind this, here are some MAPP SPL plots comparing the Meyer X40 against a 3-box hang of LINA (which is comparable in size to the HDL-6).  Both setups are on crank stands to cover a 300' area outdoors.  The X40 is about 3dB behind the LINA rig.
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Janne Lepola

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2023, 07:45:48 PM »

For the OP - Janne.

This is the best advisement on this thread.  This is the "right" and "proper" perspective from which to determine your best path forward.

At the time being, I agree, this has been the best advice on this thread by far.

My feeling is that even though I knew I might be asking from wrong group of individuals (from professionals) I still hoped to get answers which also valued the perspective of the original situation. It's easy to state that "you can't get anything good running without putting $$$ to equipment and having stuff which profils every sound engineers daydreams. Have some respect to what you are doing, and also steer away from bad decisions!". I know that no-one has said anything like this, but I'm just trying to avoid this kind of feedback.

I simply feel that people may have missed my point, even though I tried to be clear on it ever since original message. If I'v been doing shows with Mackie setup, It's more likely that I'm not currently running fancy theaters and restaurants throwing weekly professional live bands. What I'm doing is scraping all those leftovers, which do not have that much money to put into game, as they are not earning much themselves. Bands are self-funding themselves to get to play, or individuals are trying to throw unforgettable birthdays with marginal budgets.

I'm not the only small regional provider here. There are others, some which have bit nicer setups than what I'm using, maybe some with HK lines and others with low end DB. Still, all the suppliers are amateurs with maximum of 8k on their equipment. The question I was representing was "how to scale with limited resources" and optionally "would it be possible to scale with saving lots of $$$ by multiplying current sub-line". Yes, I do agree that this probably ain't the way to go, as my ears are bleeding a bit as well as yours (and mine are bleeding from my own experience). Still, it's kind of like asking a question from guitar enthusiast: "how can you play that piece of ... which cost only $250, as it doesn't have good pickups and the neck is pure trash". His answer would likely be "well, I'v had dozen gigs a year and I guess I'm doing fine, but I'd like to somehow expand and buy $600 guitar, so that someday I can buy one that has the features of $2000 one, maybe even earn something from playing!".

As I stated, I have managed with Mackie setup for a year, even though I'm not satisfied with quality, not by far. That's why I came to ask for help. Still, my customers have been happy with services at the price range to this day. And still, I have the hunger to get to the next level. What that level can be with the limited budget is the main question: Should I upgrade the just tops with ~$8000 and double the Mackies at the time being for-about-nothing, so that I can expand within couple of years with better subs? Or should I get two pieces of 8004 right away? Err... Wonder if those are enough? Maybe I should get four pieces of 15" drivers, such as TTS15? Well, anyway, Point-source TTW4A must be the answer, as those should provide better sound quality... But damn, are they loud enough for what I'm heading towards? How about if I want to scale within couple of years? I guess I should probably go with HDL6s after all, so that I don't have to switch tops all again. But the sound quality on off-axis.... Damn...

It's been suggested that I should rent equipment for larger events, when I don't have sufficient equipment to provide. Good thinking, except that my *current* customers are not willing to pay enough so that I'd be able to rent anything. That sector is one step up the ladder, and it's being held by local professional company. They get to charge minimum of $1-2k for single event, while I'd be charging just about 20-25% of that from the leftovers, which they wouldn't event want to supply.

My business has been, and will be (at the time being), self monetized, meaning that I'm putting earnings from day job towards growing my business. It's not about whether I'm getting paid enough from gigs for the next three years or so. It's about getting my business up, making contacts from jobs and learning & enjoying from what I'm doing, while being able to supply something that I can stand behind when challenged or questioned. This is where I need you help, to figure out what is the compromise that I should take with the limited resources in order to scale within the next five years.

I feel that Steve was the first to really comprehend my situation and my endgame. I do appreciate all different perspectives that have been provided, but Steve's message is the first one which gave better overall tips. Some of these already overlapped with my business plan. That's why I feel that Steve understood what I'm facing and that's why I feel that his suggestions are more meaningful to me.

Still, I would love to get different suggestions and visions, which I'd be able to evaluate. I'm really intrigued with TTW4A tops, as they might be something I'd been looking for, but at the same time I wouldn't want to give up on the option of getting my line array base initialized. Please, keep opinions coming, but please try to explain also the technical reasoning behind opinions. That kind of feedback is worth more than gold to me.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2023, 07:54:51 PM by Janne Lepola »
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2023, 11:00:53 PM »

In the USA for the price of 3 HDL6 and a flybar you can buy a Meyer X40.


Which is an amazing speaker.  The Meyer will know your socks off.


The new RCF NX9's look awful tempting too.  NX932's  and 9004 subs. 


That's quite the rig.  For a lot less money the Yamaha DZR's and DXS-XLF subs are also high value high output. 


I have a pile of QSC KW and Yamaha DSR.  Right now I am seriously considering selling it all and consolidating down to 2 NX945's 6 9004's and 4 932's .  That would cover the vast majority of my gigs.  I still have 6 JBL VRX932-LA's with flybars, all cased up, processing, amps and 4 STX 828S subs.  That's my screaming outside rig.  I also still have access to my Muse 210LA system (a medium format line array)  with all the flyware and 8 Meyer 650R2 subs powered by 4 LabGruppen amps.  That rig is sitting right in the same warehouse. 
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

Ghost Audio Visual Solutions, LLC
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Need help for expansion plan from current PA
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2023, 11:00:53 PM »


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