For a regional sound company, as in any growing business with significant hardware costs, equipment purchases can really affect cash flow and strain the budget.
The challenge is to make smart choices and stay within a set budget without compromising quality - a course being navigated by Spider Ranch Productions Owner/Founder Alex Moran.
With a office/warehouse in South San Francisco and another warehouse at the original Spider Ranch in Pescadero, CA, Moran has taken this once small regional sound company to the next step by servicing more corporate, installation and live concert accounts.
Spider Ranch has partnered with other production companies in Northern California to produce larger arena events and street fairs.
While still planning to continue these strategic partnerships, the objective was to prepare the company to do larger shows independently. To do so, more horsepower was needed.
Moran figured that his existing main concert rig gave Spider Ranch Productions the capacity to produce live events in a range of 8,000-10,000 people. The goal for acquiring new gear was to increase that capacity to 20,000.
In order to take the business to the next level a sensible plan was needed before money was spent.
First was the task of defining all equipment requirements, second a budget was put together for each of the major components in the signal line.
Loudspeakers would be a huge investment, but luckily Moran had a solid relationship with McCauley Sound who was already committed to helping Spider Ranch Productions grow.
The main PA expansion was covered with the addition of 16 McCauley MLA6 cabinets and 8 MS6 subwoofers.
Some of the Spider Ranch line array inventory from McCauley Sound (click to enlarge)
Choosing the power amplifiers involved not only cost of the amps themselves but also the expenses of new snakes, input/output panels, and other ancillary gear that could add another $7,000 to $10,000 to a tight budget.
Ideally the new amps would also have digital control and loudspeaker management features, but they still needed to work seamlessly with the analog components in the existing system. The only viable budgetary option was to somehow integrate new digital-management amps with the current analog amp inventory.
A couple years prior, Moran had purchased a Dolby Lake Processor. “It was the best processor on the market at that time – it did what I needed and more,” he notes.
As an added bonus, the processors were outfitted with Dante – Audinate’s digital audio networking technology, and Moran soon got up to speed on Dante’s capabilities and how it could be used to get greater control of a system.
He also realized that Dante could control the analog amps and the preferred new digital-management amps. “I didn’t realize how easy and inexpensive interfacing the amps was going to be until it was all put together,” he says.