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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => The Basement => Topic started by: Steve Litscher on June 12, 2019, 11:39:14 am

Title: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Steve Litscher on June 12, 2019, 11:39:14 am
I have a pending opportunity to go on a North American tour, doing FOH. Details are still being finalized, but I'm contemplating a few things and would appreciate any suggestions or ideas/thoughts.

A really, really good friend of mine plays in the opening band, and their gear is good, but not great. They'll get some tour support (FOH console provided, catering, pay, etc), but are largely on their own in-terms of monitors (all IEM), vocal mics, and whatnot.

After I sold/closed my production company, I kept *just enough* stuff to do small gigs and whatnot.

The gear that I currently own and would take out on the tour consists of:

QTY 2 = ULXD4Q with UA844 combiners
QTY 6 = ULXD2 handhelds with various capsules
QTY 1 = SBRC with 4 SB-AX modules and SB900a batteries
QTY 2 = PSM900 IEM systems with P9RA+ receivers

I'd be covered with mics, no problem (they only need 3 vocal mics). Their current IEM systems run the gamut - mixed brands, models, etc., so I was thinking about adding more PSM900 rigs. Would make everything nice and consistent and would be easier to RF coordinate.

So, here's my quandary - do I rent 5 more PSM900 rigs for the tour, or purchase them myself? I'd also need to source another SBRC with charging modules, and two of the PA421 combiners for the IEM stuff, because I'd much prefer a nice, neat rack and fewer antennas.

If things go well, I'd probably have an opportunity to do more touring with them, which may lend an advantage to the purchase side of things.

What's the typical going rate for rentals on things like this? Any preferred vendors to work with? Anything I should look for/ask for?

I haven't really done any long-term rentals before... only a little cross-renting with local folks.

Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Dave Pluke on June 12, 2019, 01:08:15 pm

What's the typical going rate for rentals on things like this? Any preferred vendors to work with?

Clearwing is just down the road from you.  Might be small potatoes for them, but worth a conversation.

As to the Rent vs Buy conundrum, the first question to ask is whether, at the end of this tour, you want to have possession of this gear or you want to drop it off and be done.  The former pretty much makes its own decision, based simply on the numbers.  The latter might mean you convince the band to purchase the gear to own or they just write it off as a touring expense.

The wireless situation would *seem* to be stable for the anticipated lifecycle of this equipment, so at least there's not a pending risk of obsolescence.
 

Dave
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Lyle Williams on June 12, 2019, 03:39:33 pm
It may be cheaper to buy and sell then to long-term rent.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on June 12, 2019, 04:23:20 pm
Have the band buy the gear. That way they can use it after they get done with the tour and it's not on you balance sheet nor is is up to you to put out the cash to purchase it.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Lyle Williams on June 13, 2019, 01:29:29 am
...but then provision of this gear it's not a service you can charge for.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Brian Bolly on June 13, 2019, 08:00:00 am
I have a pending opportunity to go on a North American tour, doing FOH. Details are still being finalized, but I'm contemplating a few things and would appreciate any suggestions or ideas/thoughts.

A really, really good friend of mine plays in the opening band, and their gear is good, but not great. They'll get some tour support (FOH console provided, catering, pay, etc), but are largely on their own in-terms of monitors (all IEM), vocal mics, and whatnot.

After I sold/closed my production company, I kept *just enough* stuff to do small gigs and whatnot.

The gear that I currently own and would take out on the tour consists of:

QTY 2 = ULXD4Q with UA844 combiners
QTY 6 = ULXD2 handhelds with various capsules
QTY 1 = SBRC with 4 SB-AX modules and SB900a batteries
QTY 2 = PSM900 IEM systems with P9RA+ receivers

I'd be covered with mics, no problem (they only need 3 vocal mics). Their current IEM systems run the gamut - mixed brands, models, etc., so I was thinking about adding more PSM900 rigs. Would make everything nice and consistent and would be easier to RF coordinate.

So, here's my quandary - do I rent 5 more PSM900 rigs for the tour, or purchase them myself? I'd also need to source another SBRC with charging modules, and two of the PA421 combiners for the IEM stuff, because I'd much prefer a nice, neat rack and fewer antennas.

If things go well, I'd probably have an opportunity to do more touring with them, which may lend an advantage to the purchase side of things.

What's the typical going rate for rentals on things like this? Any preferred vendors to work with? Anything I should look for/ask for?

I haven't really done any long-term rentals before... only a little cross-renting with local folks.

Steve, after having a rental company that does one-off rentals, the rate for tours on gear will probably disappoint you from an ROI perspective.  That said, it's you as the operator and your people as the artist, so at least you know how the gear is getting handled.  The ultimate question as others have indicated is whether you want to end up with the gear at the end of the tour, whether it be to own or resell.  If the band needs the gear on a regular basis, I agree with recommending that they purchase (and be responsible) for it.  And if that's the case, you may want to consider the P10R packs with the P9T transmitter, or even complete PSM1000 systems altogether. 

The other thing that you have to strongly consider for touring is the packaging.  Are you doing van and trailer, bus and truck, fly dates, or some combo thereof?  If you're FOH it sounds as if you may be handling some of the PM duties as well, so you'll want to make sure ALL of it is ready for the necessary transport, including closely looking at weights if you're doing fly dates.  Fly pack cases from Void Racks, Circle Three Designs, or even SKB can save you a lot of headache if planes are involved.

One item I want to point out is in your discussion of PSM900s, you mention buying two PA421.  I'd skip that and look at the other offerings in the market that give you 8 outputs such as the PA821, or new offerings from RF Venue and Professional Wireless that were announced at InfoComm yesterday.  PWS also is showing a short-length helical that is slightly less forward gain, but a wider pattern, which is perfect for IEM use.

A second item is the rechargeable battery systems.  While I agree that it would be great to save the disposables, if you don't have a place to reliably leave them plugged in and charging constantly post-show, it's kind of not worth it.  You don't want to be dragging a rack into your hotel room every night (or even onto the bus lounge) just to charge your batteries.

If you're dragging a mic pack and even stands, consider investing in a quick release system for the clips (Atlas LO2BE or OnStage QK2B).  Every second you can save to set up and/or clear the deck (which is why I suggested dropping from 2x 4-ch combiners to 1x 8ch which also means a single antenna) is seconds you'll get back that you may need elsewhere when the day doesn't go exactly as planned.

Build looms (this includes guitar pedal boards), have drop snakes, label and color code everything.  The name of the game is quick and easy to identify, deploy and strike.

One final note - make sure you write down every piece of gear, every cable, every serial number and description possible for everything you take/send out on the road.  We've all seen the horror story posts here.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Steve Litscher on June 13, 2019, 11:16:41 am
Thanks for the great info, Brian - this is extremely helpful, and (thankfully) I'm doing most of the things as suggested (looms, drop snakes, color coding, full serials/inventory). What's the saying about a blind squirrel finding a nut every so often? :D

The tour would be bus/truck for the vast majority. There *might* be a fly date or two, but it hasn't been confirmed. As it is, I've drastically downsized and lightened my rigs - I have 2 SKB flyracks that weigh-in under 70-lbs.

Good point on the rechargeable SBRC... it might make more sense to go AA on everything for this tour. And, those SBRC are shockingly heavy (and deep), so I could save some space and weight, and just buy a brick or two of AA batteries.

My reasoning for choosing 421 over 821 has to do with AC power. The 821 doesn't appear to supply power to the PSMs (from what I could see)... so, I'd have to deal with 8 of Shure's lovely AC bricks in my relatively small flyracks. Admittedly, I don't know a ton about the RF Venue or Professional Wireless units, so I may have to take a look into those.

Is there a demonstrative improvement with the P10R over the P9RA+? Just curious, as I've seen people recommend going P9T with P10R packs, and wondered what the advantage may be.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: brian maddox on June 13, 2019, 07:52:07 pm
...
Is there a demonstrative improvement with the P10R over the P9RA+? Just curious, as I've seen people recommend going P9T with P10R packs, and wondered what the advantage may be.

Yes.  P10R is a True Diversity receiver with 2 separate physical antennas.  Basically totally eliminates the dropouts on stage that the P9R can suffer from even when you do everything right just doe to simple multipath interference.  I've used both.  A lot.  It makes a significant difference.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Luke Geis on June 14, 2019, 03:07:55 pm
When it comes to wireless product, I always suggest renting from a local vendor. This will ensure that you have the best wireless RF range for the area you are in. Never any fun having RF that you can't get a clean noise floor on because your band is the one that the TV station across the street is walking all over you.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: John P. Farrell on June 15, 2019, 02:25:39 pm
When it comes to wireless product, I always suggest renting from a local vendor. This will ensure that you have the best wireless RF range for the area you are in. Never any fun having RF that you can't get a clean noise floor on because your band is the one that the TV station across the street is walking all over you.

Renting a different RF rig every night is a nightmare IMO.  I don't want to troubleshoot a rig everyday, that leaves too much margin for error on the rental providers and no consistency at my gig.  I've not seen any major tour approach it that way either. 

Every continent is a different story, and major vendors will have you all set when you cross the ocean.  I usually have the foreign RF vendors pull my licenses for me too.

JF
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Luke Geis on June 15, 2019, 06:02:25 pm
I would hope that you are playing at least a few shows in an area before moving to another state or country. Nationwide and other vendors have delivery and shipping options that can suit most needs. If you are going to be in the So-Cal. area for instance and you will have 5 shows up the state and your WhiteSpace calc shows that the 400mhz. range is your best bet, you can rent from Nationwide and then ship it back when you finish that leg. Then as you go onto Colorado or something where 900mhz is better to use, then you can have another rental delivered to the first venue and do your thing.

Most of the companies like VER and Nationwide deliver the product with networking and all the fun stuff built into the rack. If you are an engineer worth your salt ( which most will by the time they get to touring ) you will have WWB set up with a saved profile ready to load up at the next gig. My experience is perhaps different, but I just know that I have been to more than a couple places over the years with owned RF that did not play well with the local Whitespace usage. Imagine doing a scan and having an RF noise floor that is setting right around -65 to -70 across your entire bandwidth!!!! And then to boot your Whitespace calc says you technically can't use any of the frequencies that you're on. Shure, Sennheiser, and all the other vendors have Whitespace lists specifically for the purpose of making sure you get the best RF you can have for your desired area. I have done shows by airports where RF stability has been impossible due to so much RF crap going on. I have done shows where the secret service just shows up and takes over the whole place without consulting first. Nothing like having things pretty well settled and then all of a sudden your taking hits like a fish in a barrel. There is no such thing as a one for all RF product that works 100% in all venues. Most touring acts at the A national level will have all the logistics figured out ahead of time and have things like which RF band to use in which venues planned into the tour. At least if I were the systems engineer I would be sure that was factored into my pull list.
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: Eric Snodgrass on June 15, 2019, 09:46:49 pm
I would consider rechargeable batteries, especially if this is a bus-and-truck tour.  You should have AC power on the bus and that bus should be on some kind of shore power during the day when you are doing load-in/sound check. 
I would purchase 2 sets of rechargeables and rotate them out every day.  Keep one set charging on the bus overnight. 
Title: Re: North American Tour... rent? buy?
Post by: John P. Farrell on June 18, 2019, 04:26:22 pm
There is no such thing as a one for all RF product that works 100% in all venues.

I've had great luck with Axient, but YMMV.  It'll tune across all the available bandwidth in the US and the closest to that statement being true.

Nothing ever works 100% of the time, agreed there!

I like to think I'm worth my salt, and have certainly toured with lots of A list acts that have people with many more grains than I do.  We all have carried RF in our trucks as waiting for show-stopping deliveries from VER (with potential for for non working set ups or incomplete pulls) isn't in the cards.  The racks are built and tested at Sound Image or Clair or SES and yes we have a plan going into all areas, however I still have yet to see any major production rent RF on a gig to gig basis, minus one offs, fly dates, and broadcast/corporate gigs.

Anyway, for the amount of gear the OP is asking about I doubt any of this comes into play.  I'd be a fan of renting for the entire run.  Also definitely can recommend the Shure rechargeables, They've been awesome over a few years in the Axient, ULXD, and PSM1000 rigs I've toured with.   I wanted to hate rechargeable batteries based on older nicad offerings but they have been rock solid.

JF