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Thread April 23, 2016 editorial: comments

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1 April 23, 2016 editorial: comments

Seduced by a Bargain

Everybody likes a good deal. In the world of musical equipment and instruments, sometimes a bargain price makes it possible to afford a type of item that would otherwise be out of reach. It’s also satisfying to feel like you did well price wise — it seems like you’re beating the system — even if that’s frequently an illusion. But often, in our quest for a good deal, we end up with something that’s only of average quality (or worse), and we soon we wish we hadn’t bought it.

Almost without exception, I’ve never regretted waiting until I could afford a quality product or instrument, Whether it’s guitar, a computer, or an audio interface, there are usually good reasons why an item costs more. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter if the mic preamps and converters on that interface are only of average quality, or that that acoustic guitar has a laminated top instead of a solid one — “they’ll still sound pretty good,” we rationalize. But after we’ve made the purchase, we realize that we were fooling ourselves.

That’s not to say that one shouldn’t look for products that offer both quality and low price, because sometimes you can find them. A case in point are two classic Shure mics, the SM58 and the SM57. These mics have remained industry standards for decades, thanks to solid build quality and great sound, yet both only cost a little over $100. Yes, you can find higher-end mics to use for live vocals instead of a 58, or for miking guitar cabinets and snare drums instead of a 57. But the Shure mics’ ubiquitous use by professionals worldwide is a good indication that you’ll never regret buying them.

The flip side of that — to continue with the mic example — is that if you try to go the bargain route for a vocal condenser microphone, you may very well end up disappointed down the road. When you’re getting only mediocre results, you may realize that if you’d waited, saved more money and eventually gotten a quality mic such as an AKG C-414 or Mojave Audio MA-300 or something equivalent, it would have been the wiser choice.

I realize that the money issue is one that can’t be ignored. If faced with buying something passable that you have an immediate need for, or waiting to save for a better one, sometimes you have to go for the lower-priced item out of necessity. I’m also not encouraging anyone to go into serious debt in order to get a better piece of gear. My point is simply that if you can hold out for quality, you’ll rarely go wrong.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I had many occasions in the past where I was seduced by the “bargain” aspect of something and later regretted it. How about you?

2
I agree generally with these sentiments though sometimes the results of saving for that great bit of gear can be somewhat disappointing, not neccessarily because the gear is at fault but that the expectations of the user are. For example I saved and splashed out nearly £800 on an SE Electronics Gemini II Dual Tube Condenser mic - a big heavy beast with it's own power supply and glowing valves. I thought this would turn me into Frank Sinatra, but I was in for a rude awakening when I had to face up to the fact that I was just not a great singer!

Interestingly I often found I got better results from my cheapy Chinese Superlux CMH8A condenser. Which goes to show that sometimes, especially when it comes to mics, that different mics suit different voices, so it's always wise to try before you buy. Even Bono uses a Shure Beta 58 dynamic mic for a lot of his recordings, and as mentioned, that's as cheap as chips!
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Quote:
Interestingly I often found I got better results from my cheapy Chinese Superlux CMH8A condenser. Which goes to show that sometimes, especially when it comes to mics, that different mics suit different voices, so it's always wise to try before you buy. Even Bono uses a Shure Beta 58 dynamic mic for a lot of his recordings, and as mentioned, that's as cheap as chips!

Good point. There's more to buying a mic than just it's price. It does have to work for your voice. But as a general rule you get what you pay for with mics.
4
I had a guitar instructor and he always instructed me to go with the better product as "it only hurts once" instead of every time you use it

www.deberney.com

Deb Erney

www.deberney.com

www.youtube.com/daerney

 

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Quote:
I had a guitar instructor and he always instructed me to go with the better product as "it only hurts once" instead of every time you use it

That's a great way to put it. Thanks! :bravo:
6
I agree that you shouldn't always go for the cheapest gear, but I don't see what that has to do with finding the best deal.

For example, I got an amazing deal on a guitar pedal that's normally 200 bucks. But during Black Friday it was a hundred bucks brand new. The key is having patience and not rushing, but still looking for the best deal instead of buying full price (if possible).

Another example: my amp is a tubemeister 36. Normally they cost around 1000 bucks, but I got one used in great condition for 500 simply because the guy had to get rid of it. Before then I was using amplitude.

Just gotta know your gear and have self-control, but then jump on it once you KNOW you're getting a great deal. But one things for sure: if possible, NEVER get something just because it's cheap.
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Quote:
I agree that you shouldn't always go for the cheapest gear, but I don't see what that has to do with finding the best deal.

What I was talking about (perhaps it wasn't as clearly stated as it should have been) was "bargains" in the sense of gear that's the same generic type, but a cheaper make and model. For example, if someone were to buy a Behringer chorus pedal rather than a Boss Chorus, because it was cheaper. He or she might consider that to be a bargain at the time of purchase, but would likely not be happy with the pedal in the long run. Of course, there's nothing wrong with getting a good deal, if the gear is of quality.