New Gear: Need vs. Want


By Dave Austin, “Music Professor”

Everyone who attended the Mobile Beat in Las Vegas recently is still buzzing – particularly about all the dazzling new high tech gear that was on display at the trade show.  And why not?  The trade show ranks high on the list of the most attended and exciting events of the year for mobile DJs.

If you’ve not had an opportunity to attend, you probably should seriously consider investing some money and time to do so.  It provides an opportunity for serious professional education, personally meeting some of the people you’ve only heard or read about, some great partying, and of course, walking around the trade show floor, gawking at all the newest and greatest.

Which brings me to the point of this month’s writing:  I’ll be the first to admit I’m something of a gear-head, and given the money, I’d probably own a semi-truck load of the newest gear.  However, practicality – and the lack of unlimited funds – forbids me from going wild at the trade show.

It does bring up a sobering thought.  How much gear do we really need?  Obviously, if you’re a multi-op you’ll likely need far more equipment that the single operator.  But…you may be like me and are sometimes stricken with the overwhelming urge to jump in and buy that fancy light effect, that “gee whiz” controller or other items of the latest gear.  I admit there have been occasions at which I have done exactly what I’m advising you not to do, but I seriously try to be very prudent when the urge strikes me.  After all, I operate my business to earn a profit and pay my bills.  Having a great time doing it is a perk.

Here’s the question, however:  DO YOU REALLY NEED IT or do you just want it?  You may be like me as I can always create some justifications for making a new gear purchase.  That’s why I have a standing rule:  rather than jumping in and buying something, I try to think about it for a few days and determine if I truly need it.  Now, I’m not talking about those situations where we have to suddenly replace a piece of necessary equipment which has failed, gotten damaged, etc.  Those kinds of things happen and we may have no other choice than to drop some bucks on the spot.  And, there are times when we’ve had a particular item for a long time, and even though it may still work fine, we decide we truly need to upgrade or modernize.  If I may be permitted a personal example:  Recently, I’ve been considering my current EV wired speaker system.  I’m thinking I might want to replace it with a new wireless system.  Here’s my thoughts on this question:  my present system operates and sounds fine.  It is compact, highly dependable – and, it is paid for.  Other than the convenience of not having to run wiring to my speakers, what would be the advantage(s) of purchasing a new system?  Would a new system sound any better?  (Only slightly, perhaps.)    Would it be smaller, lighter, easier to transport and handle?  (No.)  Would it allow me to make more net revenue from my events?  (No!)  So, considering those things, I cannot justify dropping several thousand dollars for a new wireless speaker system.

Here’s a true fact which some of us fail to realize:  With few exceptions, the client really doesn’t care if you have the absolute latest lights or controller, or whether your speakers are wireless.  If your gear does the job, meets their needs and leaves them a satisfied customer, you probably don’t need new stuff!  In this case, it may be safely observed that new gear does nothing other than drain your wallet and feed your ego.

With an appreciative nod to those innovative equipment developers and manufacturers, they are well aware that “bells and whistles” sell, so they are constantly trying to convince us that the stuff we bought only a short while ago is out of date and needs to be replaced.  As an example, a controller “controls” our music, makes handling and mixing music easier.  However, one has to ask, do all those blinking colored LEDs help it do those tasks any better?  The look great, but in reality, they likely perform the same function as is on our older model which has those “boring” white illuminators.

Okay, I know there are some who may disagree with me and accuse me of just being cheap.  That fine as we’re all entitled to our opinions.  If you have the funds to stay atop the latest equipment fads, lucky you!  However, most of us are not so fortunate and are compelled to manage our resources efficiently.  So when it comes to all that glitzy new gear, let’s keep our heads on straight and use our good sense.  Purchase what we need when we need it should be our guide.  It’s okay to splurge once in a while and treat ourselves, but as a daily rule, keep your money where it belongs – in your own pocket to take care of your family, paying your necessary bills on time and setting aside some for the future or those unexpected emergencies.


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