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I work sound on small corporate/commercial shoots as a side gig, I am wondering what type of investments I should be making.


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Hello all,

 

I primarily work in other aspects of production. Sound work is just a side gig I do once or twice a month on relatively small/simple corporate, commercial, and the occasional documentary shoots. It is not necessarily a position I market myself as or have ambitions of growth/career within it. But I do enjoy it! 

 

I preface all that to ask a question about gear investment. I currently use a basic Mix-Pre 6 rig. I rarely ever have to handle more than 4 mics, usually just 2 or 3. Awhile ago, a sound mixer friend of mine was selling his 633 and offered it to me for an outrageously generous discount, so I took it! I had some basic experience with it and it was just a too good of a deal to pass up. However, it's mostly just been sitting in my gear room unused for months. It is in no way rigged out and I just haven't been motivated to commit financially to rigging the 633 out (pre-amps, power/batteries, wireless systems, etc.) when my current package has been doing just fine. Now, I may have some gigs coming up that will actually require a slightly more robust setup. I rented a Mix-Pre 10ii from a friend recently for a job and it solved all my problems. More inputs without the need for a huge financial commitment. So I am most likely upgrading my package to a MixPre 10 or similar level mixer. I'm currently debating selling the 633 that I have only used once or twice. 

 

I love working sound for these type of shoots, but I don't have plans anytime soon to be a sound mixer on a tv show or big film shoots. I understand the necessity of all the top of the line gear and why it's expensive. I guess my question stems from realizing I didn't need the 633 in the first place but I bought it out of excitement in having professional level sound gear. And now the little bit of guilt of leaving it unused and potentially selling it. But even though I don't have plans to be a top of the line sound mixer soon, I'm wondering if it might still be smart to keep top of the line gear like the 633? 

 

Even though I'm not a full time sound recordist, I browse these forums very often for insight so thanks for the input and sorry for any rambling!

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Hi Thomas, it's hard for anyone but yourself to say what your specific needs are. But reading your post, I would recommend renting gear for those sporadic gigs. Only buy equipment when the amount of work justifies investing in anything. Why throw money at something that then mostly sits "unused for months"...? As an investment, gear should pay for itself, and then start generating rental income as soon as possible.

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Owning equipment is a business decision. When purchasing gear, the 2 main questions I ask myself are:
1. Does this make me a better mixer or eliminate a stress point in my workflow?

2. Will this piece of equipment get paid off in a reasonable period of time and then continue to give me income (cash-on-cash return) 

 

If I can't make a justifiable excuse for either (hopefully both) criteria, then I'll just rent the gear I need.

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More or less no one on this list buys gear that they don't intend to use professionally, if not now then soon.  For a soundie doing small jobs the decisions about when and how to upgrade are often far from clear, so you might want to spreadsheet your jobs from last few years in terms of # of inputs/tracks needed, # of wirelesses, how much monitoring (Comtek etc), what was the timecode usage, how many cameras you had to feed in what way, did you need playback or other extra gear and so on.  For me that revealed trends in what was actually getting used, what sort of gigs I seemed to be getting and what sort I wasn't getting any more (so did not need to equip for them).  Armed with this sort of info you can then engage your intuition about where your career is heading...!

 

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When I worked in the corporate world, if a fixed asset could show a payback in 12 months or less approval to purchase it typically happened.  I generally have applied that same criteria to my own purchases.

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I haven't gotten full earn-out of most of my new gear in 12 months probably ever, maybe getting close after a few years.  But a lot of gear is what a rental-house-owning-friend of mine describes as "the ante".  You want to play?  You have to ante-up.  This is why big ticket items like mixer-recorders might not ever earn-out for a soundie until you sell them, but more minor, cheaper things that can be charged extra for like Comteks/IFBs, playback gear etc can make their cost back faster.  At my friend's video equipment rental house the most profitable vs cost items were client-viewing type monitors and accessories for DSLRs and GoPros, lenses+support, batteries etc etc..

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I use both occasionally. 6 series recorders every once in a while if production has it in-house and prefers it, whilst I do majority of my work on a Mixpre10. I have a 6 as well, but found the quasi dual media and balanced output to be something I used every once in a while. But the main reason why I often pick the 10 over the 6 is that I have only got the mixassist plugin purchased for the 10 and it was a long time that you couldn't do sound reports on the 6 (but that is appearently added in latest firmware).

 

If you find yourself writing notes its nice to have the 633s phrase list, its easier to change monitor mode, the faders are smoother and easier to change if you need to have a one handed operation and you have mixassist/daugan without the need to buy a separate plugin. XLR out might be convenient if you want to feed cameras with sound.

 

Its "heavy" tho. I swore over a production last week that insisted to use their kit. I rather be a lite bit crippled and save my back.

 

20220726_231844.jpg

Vs

VideoCapture_20220726-232435.jpg

 

Not sure about exact numbers, but it felt like a few times heavier when the bag is taken into account as well. I guess it could also be useful to think if you can put the bag down during your gigs or it has to be worn when you make a decision about which recorder to bring.

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/22/2022 at 5:30 AM, Thomas Farmer said:

I preface all that to ask a question about gear investment. I currently use a basic Mix-Pre 6 rig. I rarely ever have to handle more than 4 mics, usually just 2 or 3. Awhile ago, a sound mixer friend of mine was selling his 633 and offered it to me for an outrageously generous discount, so I took it! I had some basic experience with it and it was just a too good of a deal to pass up. However, it's mostly just been sitting in my gear room unused for months. It is in no way rigged out and I just haven't been motivated to commit financially to rigging the 633 out (pre-amps, power/batteries, wireless systems, etc.) when my current package has been doing just fine. Now, I may have some gigs coming up that will actually require a slightly more robust setup. I rented a Mix-Pre 10ii from a friend recently for a job and it solved all my problems. More inputs without the need for a huge financial commitment. So I am most likely upgrading my package to a MixPre 10 or similar level mixer. I'm currently debating selling the 633 that I have only used once or twice. 

I'd go for the 633 you've already got instead. 

The advantages of the MixPre10 are:

Easier to get (and cheaper) control surfaces. (doesn't matter to you)

More channels. (doesn't matter to you)

More preamps. (hmm... kinda useful, but presuming you're getting professional grade wireless with line level outputs, then this isn't so important. Even just one each of a Lectro SR & UCR211 would be "good enough" -ish , and get you by in a lightweight/compact-ish package. And if your other wireless are prosumer/consumer grade, such as G3 wireless, then your set up would be: Boom Ch1, 1st G3 Ch2, 2nd G3 Ch3, Lectro SR Ch4 & Ch5, UCR211 Ch6. That way you're making full use of your preamps, and using your wireless with line level outputs for the second half of your inputs)

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