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Author Topic: Starting out  (Read 4954 times)

Nater

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Starting out
« on: April 28, 2004, 12:27:40 am »

I have for a while debated starting a on the side business in audio and lighting. I understand that I will have to start from the bottom and work up and build as I go. Between Friends and contacts who i have earned the respect of in the last 5 years I am able to get equipment for the most part to cover small events and gigs. However my desire is not rely on them (of course not) down the road. As a start up where should i start for buying equipment for a sound rig? my budget is really small about $300 dollars a month that i can spend out of my earnings at my normal job. at the present time I have a Behringer Eurodesk MX3282A mixer. Input please  Cool
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Nater

Rain Jaudon

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2004, 01:38:32 am »

Before you invest your pay check into a system, do you have work lined up?  Or potential clients who have stated they have work for you if you can get a system?
Otherwise, Id go work for a band or venue that already has a system.
Learn that system, improve it if needed, and jobs will certainly spring from that foundation.  

(If working a house system or local gigs with a few bands is what you want to do)

Thats my advice.  With your monthly budget, maybe put together a small "toolbox" rack.  Nice effects unit, couple of EQs, Compressors, gates.  That way you can walk into anyone's existing system and bypass any sub standard gear they have and patch yours in. (thats only if you want to buy more gear)

Feel free to let us know more about the work you have done or want to do.  Might direct us better with some advice.

Rain


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drumguy

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2004, 01:48:41 am »

I am not answering this question, i would like to add on to it. I do sound for some bands that have mainly small gigs,100-200 people max. I have toyed around with the idea of starting a smaller audio business. I do not want anything big, probably a max of covering 500 people. But i do not know how or where i could start. I have no equipment at the moment, but could build a mediocre system pretty reasonable for about 5 grand (I think)by using e bay and some music stores that i have dealt with in the past. I have figured out from reading the other threads around here that 5 g's is not enough money for a good system.

That is not my question. My question is how could i get started in the business. First off, i know, get a system. Not a good one, just one that will do to start off. After i pay it off, i can upgrade.

I have looked in the study hall and read up and learned a lot. But questions like how much to charge, other materials to read up on. My ideal thing would be to buy a book to learn everything about everything from set up to final mix. I know a good bit and consider myself a pretty good mixer, but there is a lot that i still do not know. Main place i get confused is when hooking everything up.

If anyone could direct me to something else besides the study hall, i will read and learn. Also, if its possible, just give me a little background on how you started and stuff.

Thanks.
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Matt

Ray Abbitt

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Re: Starting out (Long Reply)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2004, 03:11:49 am »

drumguy wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 06:48

I am not answering this question, i would like to add on to it. I do sound for some bands that have mainly small gigs,100-200 people max. I have toyed around with the idea of starting a smaller audio business. I do not want anything big, probably a max of covering 500 people. But i do not know how or where i could start. I have no equipment at the moment, but could build a mediocre system pretty reasonable for about 5 grand (I think)by using e bay and some music stores that i have dealt with in the past. I have figured out from reading the other threads around here that 5 g's is not enough money for a good system.
Now if this was the main lab board, I'd probably get shot for saying this, but as long as you realise the limitations you actually can build a pretty decent sounding system for around 5 grand. It won't make it for 500 people out doors, and all bets are off if you work with metal or punk bands though.
Quote:

That is not my question. My question is how could i get started in the business. First off, i know, get a system. Not a good one, just one that will do to start off. After i pay it off, i can upgrade.
That's pretty much how I started off. The important thing to do is to make sure as much as possible is still usable as you upgrade.

You should be able to pick up an A&H Mixwizard or a Soundcraft Spirit FX16 for well under $1000. Either one is a good clean sounding board, and even if (when) you need to move up to more channels or more auxes you will still find it useful for smaller gigs.

Pick up a pair of Peavey SP2X's and a pair of the Peavey 15 inch monitors. You should be able to get all 4 (2 mains, 2 monitors) used for well under $1000. Depending on what kind of jobs you are doing you will probably want a couple of subs. Peavey makes some decent single 18 subs, so does Yamaha. They aren't real expensive and you won't be shaking walls with them, but they will take some of the load off the 15's in the mains if you are running kick drum, bass, or keyboards throught the system. Buy em right and you can sell them a couple years later for what you paid for them.

Get the Behringer CX3400 active crossover. It's cheap and it works. Keep it in the rack as a backup when you upgrade to dsp some time down the road--or use it for biamped monitors.

For power, go with Crown CE series, QSC RMX series or Peavey. Use a CE1000, RMX1450 or PV950 for the highs (horns), a CE2000, RMX1850HD or PV2600 for the 15's, and another CE2000, RMX1850HD or PV2600 for subs and monitors. There are newer designs out there that are lighter, smaller and put out more power, but if you shop right you will have a hard time getting more (reliable) power for less money. When you upgrade you can look at getting more of the same, or sell them to the local bar band.

Microphones. Depends on what you are doing. You probably will need a half dozen decent vocal mics. Either CAD C195's (at around $60 each) or Sennheiser 835's (3 for $200) will pretty much work anyplace you would normally see SM58's. And they sound better. You probably need a handful of SM57's for everything but vocals. Figure around $80 each for however many you need. You will probably need a couple of direct boxes. For that you can get away with Behringer or Rolls.

Take what's left and buy mic stands, racks and cables. And a 31 band equalizer for the monitors. (You can live quite happily without one for the mains if everything else is right to begin with.) I would probably be looking for a good deal on a DBX 1231 if it was me. I usually make sure I've got a decent CD player in the rack too. (Dual well DJ type--but you don't need one with all the bells and whistles--I've used an old Neumark CDN22 for years.) Oh, and get a cable tester. Either the Swizz Army one or the Behringer look alike.
Quote:

I have looked in the study hall and read up and learned a lot. But questions like how much to charge, other materials to read up on. My ideal thing would be to buy a book to learn everything about everything from set up to final mix. I know a good bit and consider myself a pretty good mixer, but there is a lot that i still do not know. Main place i get confused is when hooking everything up.

Get the Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook.
Quote:

If anyone could direct me to something else besides the study hall, i will read and learn. Also, if its possible, just give me a little background on how you started and stuff.

Start small and work with somebody that is already established if at all possible. I've been playing with this stuff since the 60's, starting with a console radio and a crystal mic. Kind of got out of it until a few years ago when my daughter got interested in drama in middle school. As a parent volunteer, I ended up pretty much running the sound for all of their productions (mostly because at first I was the only one who could figure out how to hook their system up). From there, it kind of built. Worked for a couple of the local dance studios for their recitals and shows, first with rented equipment, then supplemented (and eventually replaced) it with my own, which I bought mostly off of eBay or local want ads. The system I described above is about what I had a year ago. (I didn't mention wireless mics--both handheld and bodypack because a lot of the work I do uses them, you may not need them. I've also got a couple of RNC compressors that I occasionally insert on a channel, but I could easily live without them)

I'm at the point now of upgrading quite a bit because I've been asked to do too many jobs that I can't handle without renting additional equipment. And at this point it will pay for itself before the summer is over. I need a new board (I'm running out of inputs sometimes) which will probably be a GL2200-32 (which next round of upgrades will end up being a monitor board), new mains (probably half a dozen Yorkville U-15's), new subs (I'm building Lab Subs), more monitors and of course the new speakers will need additional power.

As to what I said about upgrading without losing your original investment, my FX16 will still be used on smaller jobs. The Yamaha subs are already sold (for what I paid for them). The Peavey mains I could easily sell, but may hold onto for a while as part of a "B" system. The Crown amps will be supplemented with more amps, but will still be used.

-ray

Thanks. [/quote]
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Ray Abbitt

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Re: Starting out (Long Reply)
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2004, 03:57:28 am »

For the sake of completeness:
Items I forgot in my last post:
1. Snake--I've got two. An old Conquest (cost me $75 at MusicGoRound because it had a couple of bad connectors) and a Peavey 16*4 which cost me $100 on eBay because it said Peavey. If and when I need more, I'll go multi-pin, but I'll probably buy EWI from Mark Hellinger and add my own multis because it is cheaper than buying raw cable.

2. Power cables. (Also known as extension cords.) These are a necessary evil. Even if/when you get a real distro, there are way too many venues where it isn't going to help a bit. Buy 10/3 or 12/3 SO by the roll at Home Depot or equivalent and make your own. When you get tired of fighting that heavy stuff, go to Harbor Frieght and buy 12/3 cords. Sometimes they even have them in colors other than orange. Then lay them out on asphalt in the sun for a while for them to limber up and coil them over/under and they will be a lot easier to handle in the future. Get a couple of 15 and a couple of 20 amp twist-lock to Edison adapters. Hide them or lock them up. Sooner or later you will need them.

The following may not count as part of your initial investment, but they will add up and are just as necessary.

3. Transportation. For the last couple of years I've carried my entire system in an open pickup truck. The weather here permits it. Encroaching age does not. Unloading that truck at 3 or 4 in the morning after 10 or 12 hours of setup, rehearsal and shows is a killer. The trailer cost $3500 and is backed up solidly against my garage door until I can rest and unload it. Nuff said.

4. Gaff tape. MUST HAVE! Don't let anybody use duct tape on your equipment. Use the rest of the roll to tape up the guilty party.

5. Batteries. 9 volt and AA (These are for your use--not for the guitar player who forgot to turn off his wireless or tuner--if you absolutely feel you must let him have one--charge him $10 because it's going to cost you more than that if you have to send somebody out for batteries.)

6. Maglites. Note the plural. Two are readily at hand and are NOT loaned to anybody. The extras are LOCKED in the glove compartment of your car or otherwise secured.

7. Everything I forgot. It costs twice as much when you have to send somebody running for it.

-ray
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Ken Dowell

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2004, 10:26:41 am »

Just my 2 cents:
I too just recently started a SR/Lighting business(2 years old  now) after a long absence from the scene. I started out mixing for local acts on a walk in basis in 1977. For many years, a lot of the acts wanted me to have my own system and they would hire me and my system for their shows. I toyed with the idea for a while but never "took the plunge". Of course after marriage/kids, I took a few years off from walk in's. One of the members of an earlier band I worked with called me out of the blue and there I was back to mixing on a rental system again. After about 4-5 years the act broke up. In that time I was with them, I purchased some rack gear that I would bring to shows. i.e. compressors, delay, eq's.(Some of the rental racks were a little shabby) I also purchased my own board.(First one was a custom build 24 channel Peavey I bought from a local sound company for about $500) Second board is a GL2200 24 channel I bought on e-bay for $1400. I still have both and they are in great condition. When the act broke up and I still had all this equipment, I made the decision to start out my own. I still had some contacts with some acts still needing sound, so I set out to build a system for 200-500 per.for inside shows. But like you, were do I start? I was a little ahead of the game with a good rack and good board. I guess this is more of a "don't do this" post.
Buy "good" amps and speakers from the start. (QSC RMX, Crown CE etc. amps; JBL, Yorkville, EV speakers)If you buy lower end components, you end up working hard with the system to get a clean sound. To get to my point,(wheew!) do your homework "before" you invest and you will save a lot of headaches later. There are many books, video's and forum's that will help with what you want to do. Go out and see some of the rental sound company's setup's and talk to the tech. Most system tech's (if they have the time) will be more than happy to help you spec. a good system for your budget. Rabbitt hit all the components/cabling, just my two cents.

Ken
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Ken Dowell

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drumguy

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2004, 02:36:13 pm »

thanks for all the advice. Its just what i was lookin for.

My thinking - maybe purchase effects rack, mixer, mics ( i already have 2 58's, 5 57's, and a set of AKG drum mics(but i use them personally and don't want anyone to break them)). So i was thinking of buying effects and board, running it with the band's systems that i use just to show them what i can do and seeing how they like all of it. Then going with speakers, amps, snake, cabling, and the rest.

What do you think about this? Also, do you contract that if they break something, then they buy it, or do you eat the cost of it. Ex. Punk band slamming mic down after a song, or drummer hitting a tom mic.

Also how much do you charge, like what rate per hour or per gig, for the basic system that rabbit said?

Thanks again.
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Matt

Fred Garrett

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2004, 03:29:18 pm »

My first partner and I started out in the fall of 91'.  We were in college and we had lots of friends in bands, and were helping them so we started a "business" just for fun.  In the beginning we worked summer jobs and each scraped up about $5K worth of gear over 2 summers of day job work.  We then officially began running college bars for $100 night.  The first system wasn't too bad, but it was a mix of good and bad.  The things you don't want to skimp on are mics and amps. Mics and amps last a long,long time( I don't mean durability, I mean acceptability). Especially mics.  This means that you don't have to buy them twice. We learned a lot in the first few months (i.e. we blew a lot of stuff up in the first few months), but we got better.  Within a year our price had gone up to $150, business was booming, and that business was quickly funding the growth of the system.   We basically reivested everything back into gear (ah, the joys of being a student!).  To make a long story short, in 6 years, we had 5 rigs and were the biggest company in our area.  I couldn't believe it!(thought we were still doing college bars and Frat houses mostly).

My main points:
- Don't skimp on amps and mics because good ones are useful no matter how big you get

- Never double book a gig or fail to show up! (bad news travels faster than good news and bands never forget)

- always remember : It's a party for them, but a business for you.

- Don't be afraid to walk away from a potential gig that you don't think you can handle.  Taking a gig you can't pull off is way more damaging than the referal you give to someone who can.

HTH
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Ray Abbitt

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2004, 07:50:42 pm »

drumguy wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 19:36

thanks for all the advice. Its just what i was lookin for.

My thinking - maybe purchase effects rack, mixer, mics ( i already have 2 58's, 5 57's, and a set of AKG drum mics(but i use them personally and don't want anyone to break them)). So i was thinking of buying effects and board, running it with the band's systems that i use just to show them what i can do and seeing how they like all of it. Then going with speakers, amps, snake, cabling, and the rest.
The mixer won't do much without amps, speakers and cabling. The average bar band or small venue installed system is usually much more limited by poor sounding underpowered speakers than by poor quality mixers.

As far as effects go, you really don't need all that much. Until you get the rest of the sound under control, you shouldn't even be using any other than a good graphic eq for the wedges. Once you get the rest of it under control, both the MixWizard and FX16 have decent built-in reverbs if you really need them. Compression? You might want it on the drums (but if the drums are tuned and miced correctly you don't really have to have it and if the rest of the system isn't up to snuff, it will make things worse.) On vocals? Train the singer instead. (Seriously! I occasionally use one more as a limiter than compressor with inexperienced vocalists, but it isn't an absolute necessity by any means.)

The mics are important, and you have a pretty reasonable start there. As far as worrying about your drum mics, being a drummer you should have less trouble with properly mounting them, both from the standpoint of knowing how to keep them out of harms way and knowing how they should sound. I'm not a drummer, my 17 yo daughter and her drum teacher have had to educate me.    

Quote:

What do you think about this? Also, do you contract that if they break something, then they buy it, or do you eat the cost of it. Ex. Punk band slamming mic down after a song, or drummer hitting a tom mic.
I can't give you a good firm answer as far as breakage goes. It depends on the circumstances. My contract says that intentionally abused equipment will be replaced at full list price which covers the case of the punk band or rap "artist" who slams down the mic or decides to dance on the wedges. (I also supply known or suspected abusive artists with "disposable" mics--cheap Sampsons--they don't sound all that bad and at around $10 a piece I can afford to lose one every now and then. If they want better, I get a full deposit for the price of the mic before it comes out of the case.) As far as the drummer hitting the tom mic, or the singer upsetting his mic stand, well, it hasn't happened all that often and as long as it is accidental, it is part of the cost of doing business. I do have a couple of specialty items like Countryman E6 earset mics and wireless bodypacks that I handle a little differently (usually making the user aware of the cost of these items ensures that they will be more than reasonably careful with them and I haven't actually had any problems-yet).
Quote:

Also how much do you charge, like what rate per hour or per gig, for the basic system that rabbit said?
Boy are you going to get a lot of different answers on this one. You might want to take a look at this thread http://srforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/147/0/509261bbb6 267d3052f126c6f9356da7 on the main lab forum.

It depends somewhat on where you are. I'm about 50 miles east of San Francisco in a relatively small (about 60,000) town. My minimum to go out the door is $250. (Well, that isn't exactly true because I do some low cost or free jobs for a couple of the local schools and a couple of non-profit organisations.) From there, it depends on additional equipment needed, length of the job, distance from my base, and of course the cutomer's attitude.

-ray
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Tim Padrick

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Re: Starting out
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2004, 09:36:25 pm »

I think a lot of it depends on what you'll be able to get per night.  In my town $250 per night is about tops for sound and lights.  The lights aren't much (4 cans per side) but two of the systems would cost over $30,000 to replace with new gear at street price.  That's not a very good return even if you are working every weekend.
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