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Larry Kaltenbach

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About Larry Kaltenbach

  • Birthday January 1

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  • Location
    Oakland, NJ
  • About
    EFP Location Sound since 1987. Additionally, sound for corporate meetings, videoconferences and webcasts. Arena sound mixing for pro sports teams.

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  1. Something we should all use in our rate-negotiating tool set is the matter of inflation-- just to keep what we've got at this point. I'll admit, this is a tricky one, as discussing this with a potential or existing client or other departments may come off sounding like whining. But, to get a sense of what I'm talking about, a depressing sense, go to the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator website at https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm Before you go to the site, down a few cocktails, wait for them to kick in, then enter some of your past rates from years ago. I just entered my average day rate I was making in 1995, doing this same work -- I know, I'm a dope for doing this for so long ; ) -- and the resulting rate I have to charge in 2017, just to keep pace with inflation since then, is $559.46. So, effectively, the daily premium, or raise, I now charge for 22 years of experience since 1995 is a whopping $40.54, at my labor rate of $600. Yes, the gear now adds $150+ per day, but I had an FP32 back then, 2 wireless, a 416 and some Trams-- I now have around 100K in gear that constantly needs repairs, upgrading, insuring, customizing, packing, unpacking, re-packing, constantly searching for where gear X, Y or Z has disappeared to... a much more stressful and complicated mess. I have to do a lot of live shows now because that's where there's volume work, along with the stress-- there's no multiple-takes and 100% of the sound is heard by the audience-- everything has to work, always, on-time and mis-cues aren't an option. That's stress-- and we should be compensated for it. On those shows I do add a $100 labor premium. See, didn't that sound like a bunch of whining? I'm just justifying why my rate is completely reasonable, since it's pretty much what I charged two decades ago. The fact that we increasingly find ourselves having to justify our reasonable rates is a drag. And, yes, I do like using italics.
  2. I received via the good old United States Postal Service the letter below from student Amanda at the Hardyston Middle School in New Jersey. Sound Mixer Marc Hoppe in NJ suggested the idea of posting this here on jwsound for a cross country and global perspective. I'll be mailing a written response, but it would be great if I could direct Amanda here to jwsound to see responses from members. Here's Amanda's letter: Dear Mr. Kaltenbach, In researching many different careers, I have found the occupation of being a sound technician most interesting. Ever since I was a child, music has been an experience to me. When I entered the sixth grade, I applied for working the sound board for the school's play. From prior knowledge, several responsibilities have to be taken including working with microphones and sound boards. Having a great interest, I would like to understand more about this occupation from a professional's perspective. A professional's perspective would provide advice and wise tips to follow for reaching the profession. This would be amazing to hear about the life of a genuine sound technician. I already know some things about the work of sound technician. Sound technicians are paid thousands of dollars each year for working. Sometimes, sound technicians travel from place to place to accomplish their assignments. To learn a little bit more about the job of a sound technician, there are a few questions to be answered. What is most interesting thing about your profession? What is the ideal description of your job? What programs or classes should be taken to enter this career? If you answer these questions for me, I would be pleased. Ideally, I wish I can receive your consideration in this letter. I hope I receive a response from you soon. The best way to follow into your footsteps is by having my questions answered. The first question would help me still have an interest in the future. An ideal job description would make me comprehend goals that have to be accomplished. The final question can help me decide my future classes in high school and college. Without your consideration, I would be lost and in a difficult situation. Sincerely, Amanda So guys and gals, think you can help Amanda out? A very brief explanation of your particular line of work, with some example titles of what you've worked on would be great. Go ahead, name drop! Then, focus on answering the two remaining questions: - What is most interesting about your profession? - What programs, classes or other means should be taken to enter the sound profession? Thanks!
  3. Interesting you mention Sound Devices' 788t scenario, Constantin. In my mulling this question over I wondered why SD hasn't moved into wireless products. They certainly entered the video recording arena with great success.
  4. Marc W-- I've been meaning to thank you for the all-time-classic Sound Mixer Hell. I've shown it to colleagues so many times the past two years or so to, in a light-hearted way, point out what you mention above-- that sense of entitlement that the RED had created. Paradigm shifting and disruptive technologies can create some very devoted fans who tend to eschew all sorts of prior production "norms", including budgeting-- and this can come off looking like entitlement. But can you blame them? They're "creative" types that shatter norms-- many of them are the people that dream up the projects that keep us busy. I am resentful when providing quotes to these types, having to explain why 8 wireless mics cost X to rent from me. However, I do feel lucky for every call I get-- many of my clients new and old are finding ways to either eliminate me entirely or seek discounts. The concept of ever raising my rate again to keep pace with inflation? Out of the question-- those days are over. Anyone here unaffected by technologies' budgetary impact should consider themselves fortunate -- lest they come off looking entitled, including manufacturers and retailers. Many of us pre-paradigm-shift-old-schoolers are getting squeezed, and we don't function in a vacuum. Thankfully, many of the "new paradigm" shoots I work on are actually enjoyable projects. If I had to work the same way for the past 25 years... ugh... Out with the stuffy old ways-- but, please, no more budget cutting!
  5. Yikes, I feel like a trouble-maker having asked this question. I'm not sure if that means my having asked was a good thing or not. This makes me think back to one of my more memorable moments in my career. Back around 2000 I worked at ABC's The View as their RF tech, placing IFB's and mics (some cheap Sony's, BTW) on the hosts and guests. One day Dolly Parton was on, and her assistants, a bit over zealous to help me wire Dolly up managed to burst upon her trademark one-button tight jacket, unleashing... Well, I was PO'ed enough, with about 60 seconds to air, to ask everyone around me, "Ok, are you happy?" Dolly calmed the mayhem stating, "Ok, everybody just calm down". I think that's what we need to do here, at least on the Lectro/Larry F/politics front. The responses thus far make it pretty clear we can all mostly agree on one thing... the answer to the question, and this is "No, current pro wireless aren't too expensive". For those wondering what happened with Dolly... A staff wardrobe person sewed the jacket shut real quick and out onto set she walked.
  6. Anyone interested in all of my BLOCK 26 wireless, for 80% of the current new street price?
  7. I threw this question of current pro wireless pricing out there in a somewhat generic sense in hopes of seeing a diversity (couldn't resist) of responses. In just over 24 hours there's already a wealth of diverse thought put into the question. Thanks to those who responded already. I'll put my follow-up two cents in, putting some thought to some responses... RE: John Blankenship's "If you're underpricing your services, then the best wireless are too expensive -- if you're charging proper rates, they're not." Myself, I charge the going rate of $650-$850 in the NYC market for mid-level work (everything falling outside of low-budget and features/episodic/commercials), and can not afford the "best" wireless. For me "best" would be the new Zaxcom line, based on size, weight and feature set. To replace my 9 Lectros (why would I unless the FCC takes away my frequency blocks?) I would have to spend about $36,000. Unless I was exclusively doing features, episodic or commercials I would never make all of my money back on them, let alone turn a profit on them. Several people here pointed out that many production items like tripods, lights and lenses haven't dropped much, if any, in price. Unfortunately, many production managers don't seem to be accounting for those costs. I'm going to try using the tripod/lights/lens points in future deal negotiations. RE: Afewmoreyears comment, "If Sound Devices can adjust pricing with such a big leap in Technology, packaging and usefulness, why not our Radio mic companies.... I think at least on long established systems, there should be some reduction, but easy for me to say." Valid point. Sound Devices seems to have dropped disruptive technology into the recorder market with the 970 at $4500 street, with 64 tracks of capability. I'm not a feature, episodic, or reality guy, but I don't need to be one to see that the 970 is going to take away some mixer/recorder sales from other manufacturers currently dominating those markets. It's the 970 that made me think, "Wow, if only wireless were disrupted like THAT". RE : Jay Rose stating, "Compare that to how many professional radios get sold every year. Development costs per unit are significant, and there's a lot of hand assembly / short-run machining. Our favorite radio companies -- which are tiny, particularly when compared to Panny and Sony -- have to charge what they do just to stay in business." I wonder how a small company like Teradek turns out exceptionally good wireless video transmitter/receiver devices at about $2,500 each, about half the cost of competing devices. It can't be because of economy-of-scale; I don't see may cam ops or production companies with Teradeks, let alone multiples of them in their kit, like we see with wireless mics. Yet, there they are, in business, selling units. I suppose Teradek has leveraged general advancements in electronics, that benefit all manufacturers and users of all electronic devices, to turn out these devices. Perhaps they do it with "cheap" overseas labor. Could Teradek pull off the same trick with wireless mics? Like several people here stated, there's tools for every budget and type of production. Down the road, if and when the FCC forces my hand into re-buying a perfectly functional bunch of products, my wireless mics, I'm probably going to have to buy some not-as-robust, not as reliable, not-as-good-sounding replacements to serve the increasingly unrealistic budget expectations of my mid-level clients. Unless, of course, some disruptive product comes along. Or, I buy some 2014-era high-end wireless used. For the end-user, there will always be a way to work this out, which unfortunately isn't so good for the established manufacturers or retailers looking to sell new product.
  8. I'm seeing all the latest pro wireless mic offerings advertised in the header here on jw, and pondering what the jw community, including manufacturers, retailers, and end users think about wireless pricing relative to a few developments in the production world: a) the fact that video camera pricing have dropped and keep dropping dramatically while offering buyers astounding image quality improvements and new features the impact item (a) above has had on production budgets, particularly the pressures it has placed on sound professionals to offer more gear and labor for lower and lower prices. c) Other items I haven't thought of but I'm sure the jw community has Thanks.
  9. Hi Kevin, I don't post much on jw (or any "social media" type places for that matter) but you struck a nerve here with me, after I just read a truly sound-unappreciative posting for work from a guy offering $175/day for a boom/A2 in the NY area. I've been working in the sound biz in the NYC market for 25 years. The only way I moved up to "better" jobs, which is almost universally understood to mean "higher paying", was twofold... First, if you truly know your stuff, can hustle when necessary, and spread yourself around working in a bunch of places, "paying some dues", others will spot your talent and want to work with you. Among those that begin relying on you will be some generous folks who will throw some large opportunities your way, which you'll think you can't handle, but they do. Seize those extremely generous gifts of opportunity, being willing to take on the risk of more responsibility. It will likely scare the s&it out of you on set (I've been on few gigs where I had to try to contain my shaking, and stop myself from bolting off set and driving away) but you will get through it. I'd be nowhere in this biz had it not been for those that pushed me into great opportunities. Once you've got a few of those, "Wow, I did it!" experiences under your belt move onto step 2, which is... Stop accepting "lower paying" jobs. Working less and making more is a good thing, even though the sense of "slowness" will bother you a bit. You simply can't be available for and handful of good gigs if you're tied up working on a mountain of low-paying crappy ones. This is a business first, art second. Good luck, Larry
  10. Thank you to those that have responded with an email. I have several names and numbers at this point and have this gig covered. Thanks.
  11. Have to UN-RSVP due to a plumbing crisis. With my luck, on a holiday weekend to boot, I bet all the NYC tri-state plumbers are having their Meet III somewhere in Brooklyn as well. No, wait-- with what they charge-- it's probably at the Waldorf. I hear they have over 150 champagnes on the menu there.
  12. Hi, I have a likely-to-happen project on tap I'll be recording/mixing for the month of July 2013 and I'm looking for a boom op / A2. Locations include Manhattan, Northern NJ and Brooklyn, NY. Email me at broadcastsound@yahoo.com if interested in finding out further details. Thanks, Larry
  13. Full profile, equipment list, credits, clips and rates at stonetowermedia.com. Or, just call 201-677-0940 to discuss your project and get a quote. Thanks!
  14. Full profile, equipment list, credits, clips and rates at stonetowermedia.com. Or, just call 201-677-0940 to discuss your project needs and to get a quote. Thanks!
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