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Friday, August 25, 2006

What a week!

This week has been a wild ride!  We had a large conference at work for regional planning that required audio and AV in 6 rooms across 2 days and all at once.  On top of that I have been investigating options for a new sound console for the theatre to attempt to bring us into the present.  That's where the real fun began

Earlier this week I sent out some requests for quotes and have been amazed by the responses I am getting back. I asked for a basic digital console spec (Almost all of them do the same things) with a console controlled digital core. If they couldn't come up with a digital core they had to provide an alternative with an analogue core and costings.

Here's a little exercise in contrasting and comparing:

Company A - a well known but small market share provider of digital consoles. These guys want to sell me a desk, What ever it takes, how ever they can, they want to sell me their product.

They know that we have a limited budget and large amounts of beauracracy to contend with on our end. But they have presented 3 or 4 options already, that give us power when talking to the higher ups.

This small company, can't get me a desk in my venue to demo. So, they are willing to fly me down to Melbourne, put me up for a night, and give me two days of training on their system while we work out options and pricing etc.

Company B - Returned an email with a forward from their console suppliers stating:
"No one is installing digital consoles in venues"
Except ME apparently

"Wait for 12 months until some other options arrive on the market"
I have to buy this financial year and am losing work to outside production companies because our desk is substandard

"Digital snakes are useless because no one elses' equipment will interface with them"
Anyone coming to our venue who is bringing their own FOH desk, will almost 99% of the time be bringing their entire rig. I have worked in a venue with ample in-house cores and patching, and not once in the 4 years I was there did a touring show use our snake.

"Digital desks are only used by touring artists who have one engineer, it takes too long to train"
I mix 90% of the shows where we provide production in house, 5% are touring engineers where we provide production (And who I always run through the system as set up and help them until they are happy anyway), and the other 5% are bringing complete production and don't use any of our in house gear.

The other companies all seem to be either stalling for their latest and greatest, unreleased and untested in the real world, systems to come out. Call me gun shy, but my very first venue gig had one of the first Allen & Heath ML5000's in Australia. For 2 years we fixed problem after problem with it. Yes the desk is a great desk.....now, and I would use one anyday, but I don't want to have to explain to my boss that a show went bad because I was beta testing the expensive piece of gear that I told him would be perfect for our venue.

Not one of the providers apart from company A has provided an alternative to my spec, or even called me to ask anymore than what my budget was.

What happened to people wanting to get their products out in the marketplace? Are the big console manufacturers so content that they have it all sewn up that they can't be bothered making the effort anymore?

It truly astounded me that there were people who supposedly want my business who not only wanted to tell me that I was wrong for asking for what I need, but then continued to say that they would not supply a quote for any other option that might meet my requirements,  even though I specified that I was open to options.

On the upside, I got told by a local theatre company that they will be using us for their entire production requirements for their musical this year.  This is a great thing for our venue as it's the first time in 3 years where we have had a tech department that was not only capable of providing the full needs for a large musical, but that the community clients have been open to us even giving them a quote.

I'm really looking forward to the show as it's been a while since I have mixed a musical, and the challenges that come with that are hard but enjoyable.  Also it will allow us to showcase our abilities to other community clients and prove to them that we can not only give them a professional result, but that we can do it cheaper and with less hassle than external production companies.

With this production under our belt, and hopefully good reviews and feedback from the clients, I hope to be able to go to Council and push for more funding to expand our capabilities and provide for an even wider range of services for our clients. 

I think it's going to be a fun 12 months or so with this new job :)

On the non-work side of life, I'm hoping to get the final mixing done for The Laundromats latest album.  The live gig was really great fun to record, and the final product is going to be a great CD with plenty of belly laughs.  Keep checking back here and I'll let you know how the mixing goes and when it is available for purchase.


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