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Everything You Need To Know About Investing In A New Loudspeaker System

A thorough look at the many factors to take into account...

By Jeffrey Cox August 28, 2014

It’s a good time to invest in a new loudspeaker system. The economy is stabilizing and clients who had pulled back on events are showing signs of life.

Your inventory is tired and may be outdated. The new technologies are genuinely impressive. Better yet, manufacturers are chomping at the bit to get you into a new system.

You’re in the catbird seat (thank you, Red Barber), but there’s a lot to consider this time around. So get a cup of coffee, and walk through this with me.

If you’re in the middle of a deal, or even if your new system was just delivered, it’s not too late to consider much of this as well.

Patience is perhaps the single most important factor. There’s much to do and it will be time well spent as you consider your investment.

Start with a budget and a checklist. Understanding just how much you have to spend and where the limit is will be essential when the last “add-ons” are thrown at you. Beyond the loudspeakers you must remember amps, cases, racks, covers, cabling, motors, steel, and even a new laptop or tablet.

Then there’s the marketing you should do as a company owner. Don’t just leave it to the manufacturer to market your system. You’ll be disappointed.

You have to have a plan and a budget to do your own regional or national work. Get out there and let people know you’re in the game. This costs money too. So define this part of your budget and remember that it could be another 20 percent. Most importantly, proceed with patience and diligence.

System Aproach?
Here’s an interesting conundrum. Should you purchase everything from the same manufacturer? Let’s break it down. When it comes to “mains and subs,” I’m a strong advocate of those being from the same guys.

If it’s a well designed “system” there are performance considerations that are intrinsic to the products, most notably, crossover designs that optimize the combined behavior under a variety of applications.

Certainly size, truck pack, “look,” cabling compatibility and rigging (does the sub array require a different bumper?) are additional reasons to match mains to subs.

What I’m referring to is the larger view: front fill, off-stage fill and delay. Here’s where a pro and con discussion can ensue. Best case is a manufacturer has a “sonic signature” that’s inherent across their product line, so working with products that come from another camp can be problematic. But, it’s not uncommon for companies to not define a sonic footprint. Big mistake.

What if your coverage requirements for off-stage fill aren’t inherent in what you are being offered as a solution? Ninety degrees horizontal is often too narrow for shed out fill, so is there a 100- or 110-degree solution? What about vertical coverage requirements? Is there a dedicated down fill for the mains, or is it just a supplemental set of enclosures from the catalog?

Pro and con discussions may lie here if the ancillary products aren’t what you’d hoped or what you need; or if they even have them at all. Remember, you’re investing in more than this set of boxes; you’re investing in the potential of broad-scope growth and the consistent integration of other products through that growth.

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