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APRIL, 2000

EQUIPPING YOUR STUDIO PROFESSIONALLY BUT INEXPENSIVELY

BY ROBERT DENNIS

Joe Morgan is going to his computer every half-hour to see if it has arrived.  When it does, he will have to get right on it.  His rent  payment and food budget for next month may well depend on how he handles himself over the next 72 hours.  Every month on the first its the same thing - take delivery and act fast.
Joe is a vintage equipment dealer.  Every month waits for the Internet posting of the month's Pro Audio Marketplace issue.  He'll quickly find the best bargains in the used equipment listings and make an offer, as fast as he can (usually within 72 hours).  He takes delivery, marks up the equipment and re-sells it for as much as 100% more than he paid.  As a matter of fact you may see his ad in the next issue.  Sometimes he has to clean up or work on the equipment, but often he does little more than just mark it up.  He has other sources for finding used equipment to sell, but Pro Audio Marketplace is a main source for him.
Since 1992, Pro Audio Marketplace has been in the business of listing used audio equipment for sale.  They are almost a "secret" to the average home recordist but well-known to many professionals.   PAM charges a modest fee of $25-$30 per year for using the listings, either as a buyer or as a seller.  They take no commissions.  If you make only a one or two small  purchases/sales a year, you'll most likely come out ahead.  Issues are mailed and posted online.  The online posting happens the first of the month, plus or minus 1-2 days.
Should I buy Used Equipment?
If you carefully shop, the purchase of used professional gear can make you have the maximum bang for the buck.  Instead of buying the cheapest new gear, buying better-quality equipment with much of its useful life left in it can be real smart.  Let me fill you in on one of my experiences:
It was 1977 and my partner and I were in our second  year of running our own studio.  We really needed a new console to do serious sessions.  We were good at engineering but without new equipment we would loose ground fast in the very competitive Detroit-area market.  We were 16 track at the time and one studio had already installed a 24 track system.  New consoles   (of the class we needed) started at $65,000 and new 24 tracks started at $50,000.  We probably couldn't get financing for over $100,000 of improvements, let alone try to keep up with the monthly payments. 
We found out that Eastern Sound Studios in Toronto was selling their API console and Ampex 24 track machine for $25,000 (for both!).   This was unbelievable!  We wanted to know why it was so cheap.  The original price of this equipment was $200,000 + and the equipment was 10 years old and in excellent condition.  This was premium equipment was still found in many world-class   studios.   We found out that the studio's accounting department had depreciated the equipment that much and if they sold it for more than they had on the books it would cause big tax problems. 
We got the equipment and within months we became the leading studio in the area.  Soon we had George Clinton booked for 18 hours a day, 6 days a week doing gold records and needed a second studio, quick-like.  By 1988 we bought an SSL, brand new, for significantly over $200,000, made possible by the business that we generated with the old equipment.  All of this was possible because of a super bargain purchase of used equipment (plus our sweat and talent, of course).
By the early 90's we had logged over 50,000 recording hours on this equipment and sold the two items for $26,000.  We made $1000 profit after using the stuff for over 12 years.  The console got sold to a dealer that was happy with the price he paid.
Aren't Transactions Tricky?
When you buy equipment there's always the possibility of getting nothing in return for a sending a check out in advance.  Many PAM readers use a 3rd party "escrow" type service to assure that they actually receive the equipment and it is as represented.  Dave, who runs PAS, said this about transactions, in an e-mail:
"Hello REQ:
We have been telling those that ask about escrow services to check out 2 different sites that we're aware of: www.tradesafe.com  & www.iescrow.com.  A few subscribers have had good things to say about tradesafe.com.
In general we let our subscribers know that there are hundreds of transactions taking place through our publications each month & we have had so few complaints lodged in the last 8 years that it's almost nil. I can't remember when the last time a subscriber had any major problem over a transaction done through the publication. Certainly it's been at least 2 years or more & the few complaints we've had have all been minor communication problems that we're all solved with a phone call or 2.
We seem to have been blessed with a great close-knit community of professional-acting people using the mag. And because we have a database of info (name, address, phone/fax/email/complaints against that individual, if any, etc) about all of our subscribers, there is much less of a feeling of doing a transaction with a complete stranger with no recourse, such as may be the case when dealing with others through newsgroups, etc....
All of this info & more is available on our site at www.proaudiomarketplace.com/trans.htm   Hope this helps. --Dave
Other lists Compared to PAM:
Pro Audio Marketplace is not the only list that can be used to buy used equipment, but it is one of the best, partially for the reasons stated by Dave (sellers have to register with the site).   A lot of retailers take in used equipment as trade-ins or take it to re-sell for a commission.   One major retailer has quite a large web site devoted to used equipment.   There is not a problem with this except that a dealer always has to make something out of it, usually meaning higher prices.
Listed below is what I consider the big find in the April 2000 issue of Pro Audio Marketplace.  It's a big ticket item and probably not what you are in the market for.  With PAM you have to be patient, waiting for what you want to come up or you can place a "Wanted" ad. 
Custom Neve 8108 56 ch w/direct outputs & fader swap, 48 mic inputs, 48 bus expanded TT patch bay w/approx 100 TT patch cables, Necam II automation, 2 spare modules, spare parts, extra switches, all studio mic panels, wire, & connectors included, etc, $37,500 if purchased & moved by April 15, 2000. Santana’s album "Supernatural," winner of 8 Grammys was recorded on a Neve 8108. Ocean Studios 818/841-3647 oceaninc@earthlink.net  (CA) [reprinted with PAM permission]
Special Deal For Registered REQ Subscribers
Pro Audio Marketplace has arranged for REQ registered subscribers to get a special deal of one extra month for free,  If you are a registered subscriber and want a PAM subscription, go to the REQ-PAM Subscribe page instead of the subscribe page on the PAM site.   If you are not a registered subscriber, get your free REQ subscription.
Each month, within 72 hours of the publication we will be posting our "best bargain" find on the latest PAM issue.  You will find this feature on the REQ Tip Of The Week Page.

Copyright 2000, by Robert Dennis, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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