The Buying Waiting Game

by Ben Stowe, CTS

With the bevy of new products unveiled at NAMM in January, once again I get the same questions via e-mail, Facebook and chat boards.

“Should I buy the…now or wait for the price to come down?”  “What do you think will replace the…?”  “Do you think I should get…or wait for…?”

Buy Gear Like Other Business Purchases

It seems to me that a blog is the perfect place to expound my opinion on the subject for the public record. Further, it seems appropriate that this is the PRO mobile DJ blog, which leads me to assume that most readers are DJing to make money. While many of us love gear, myself included, and may DJ for the love of it, I think we should treat gear like any other business purchase.

This means my answer(s) to the question(s) are basically the same. If the equipment offers a benefit to your business, and you can make a return on the investment in it, then you should get it.

Should you wait for an emerging new technology? It depends. When I started in this industry nearly 20 years ago, CDs were the emerging technology (although invented nearly 10 years before that). On the very near horizon of technology was the digital audio file. The MP3 ISO/IEC standard was published in 1993, and the WAV file a few years before that. Many DJs who migrated to the CD standard are likely now operating with one of the digital audio file formats. The recent explosion of MIDI controllers has made that format more attractive than ever.

If You Wait Too Long At The Station, You’ll Miss The Train

Was moving to CD in the 90s the wrong move for them? Probably not. It was a reliable, accepted standard and they likely performed at hundreds or thousands of events with CDs. Waiting for digital audio files to become practical may have cost them their entire career.

The same applies to waiting for a price to come down. While prices do often decrease as technology becomes more mainstream, that isn’t always the case.

The current global economic balance suggests that prices will probably increase in 2012, riding the tide of a middle class growth in China and the increase in transportation costs. Does that mean now is the time to buy whatever you can?

Not necessarily. It’s a question of balance. If you can implement the gear into your show and make money with it now, then now is the time. Waiting may cost you a position in the market, but being the first may require patience for a new trend to catch on.

Amortize the Cost of New Equipment

I encourage you to amortize the cost of the equipment over it’s anticipated life and the number of events you will perform in that time. This will help you determine how it fits into your business plan.

As an example, assume you were to spend $1,500 on a pair of loudspeakers, you do 26 gigs per year, and you plan to replace those loudspeakers in 5 years. That pair of loudspeakers amortizes out to $11.53 per show.

You can adjust the numbers to suit your application, but the variables remain the same. The price of the equipment will vary, as will the length of time you intend to own it before replacement, but the outcome of the calculation will help you determine it’s place in your overall plan.

Ben Stowe, CTS Sound & Lighting Guru

Ben Stowe serves the AV industry as the President of NLFX Professional, an industry leading supplier of sound, lighting and video systems, a role he has maintained since founding the company in 1993. Ben’s AV installs have been featured in almost every major industry trade magazine. He has assisted lighting manufacturers with product R&D, as well as contributing to the DJ industry through presentations at trade shows and articles for magazines in the U.S. and Europe. Ben holds an electrical license as well as other certifications and accreditations, including the most widely recognized one in the AV industry, the InfoComm CTS. Ben’s highly praised “Event Lighting” DVD is available at To watch a promotional video about it click here. To contact him email

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