The Decision To Repair Or Replace Sound Reinforcement Gear

Another touring season is winding down. The gear has been hustled in and out of the trucks, up and down the ramps and suffered through the mud and dust and rain, and well, frankly, some of it’s looking a little tired.

At least the super glue held that knob on the compressor through the summer and there were enough working snake channels left for the last big festival. But now it’s time to take inventory and decide what has some life left in it and what needs to be upgraded before the next season.

Some off-season maintenance and evaluations are a given. We always do impedance tests and sweep all the drivers in all of the loudspeakers to make sure that there are no mysterious buzzes, rattles or silences.

Every inch of cabling gets inspected and repaired. The consoles get their pots, switches and faders cleaned.

Microphones get their windscreens cleaned and their frequency response and output levels checked. Wood gets painted and cases get casters and handles as needed.

It all begs the question: How do you make the decision to replace instead of repair? When is it time to invest in new gear? For some companies the answer is only when you absolutely must.

We all get attached to our favorite toys; we know how to tweak them for optimum performance and how they behave in different applications. They get to be like an old pair of jeans, a little worn but oh so comfortable.

But these days if you operate your sound company like a hobby, that’s just what it will become. Thus the need for a business strategy for equipment investment and amortization.

Do you know how long it will take to break even on that new console? Do you factor the price of maintenance and eventual replacement into your show costs? Have you developed a mechanism for selling off old gear and replacing it with new?

If not, you might be slowly working your way out of business.

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