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How much money is invested concert sound systems?


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Clair design/ builds their own cabinets w/ JBL OEM drivers. I'm sure with their economy of scales, the I-5 box costs waaaaaaaaaaaay under $10k

 

 

I'll bet they end up with ~$5k per box however, as there's considerable labor, materials (they don't use cheap plywood and there's a fair amount of bracing and some internal steel/aluminum, there's fly hardware, powder coated and backed grilles, top of the line Neo drivers that cost >$500 each at dealer cost, connector panels, casterboards, covers, finish (2 part catalyzed urathane or epoxy... no Duratex crap for them), engineering and safety certification costs including destructive testing, design and development and performance testing, etc.

 

Making your own cabinet of that quality is very difficult to do economically which is why most companies find it better (and often cheaper) to buy off the shelf these days.

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$5000 for just that PA for a single day? That sounds really high. You sure that didn't include staging, lights, and labor? The last system I spec'd was roughly comparable to that and it came in at around $900/day (for 8 days) and that included a tech.


-Dan.

 

 

When you rent for an 8 day block, right off the top I would expect at least a 50% discount off of the daily rate of a 1 day deal. We also don't know what the load-in and out conditions are, how much labor was provided, if there was flying of the PA involved and who provided the rigging/riggers, how long they needed to be there for (may have had to load in the day before, had limited site access, couldn't load out until after the main show ended, etc) and what the transportation conditions were. If they were on tour and traveling with the show as a self contained adjunct, there would have been milage and travel days cost built into the $5k.

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I'll bet they end up with ~$5k per box however, as there's considerable labor, materials (they don't use cheap plywood and there's a fair amount of bracing and some internal steel/aluminum, there's fly hardware, powder coated and backed grilles, top of the line Neo drivers that cost >$500 each at dealer cost, connector panels, casterboards, covers, finish (2 part catalyzed urathane or epoxy... no Duratex crap for them), engineering and safety certification costs including destructive testing, design and development and performance testing, etc.


Making your own cabinet of that quality is very difficult to do economically which is why most companies find it better (and often cheaper) to buy off the shelf these days.

 

 

Don't forget Clair Global is one of, if not THE worlds largest touring company. And one of the worlds largest enclosure manufacturers. They probably come close to producing as many cabinets as JBL does every year. And EAW, D&B, Nexo just to name a few all purchase speakers from suppliers as well. Clair doesn't pay the prices for drivers you pay, I'm sure it's significantly less. And even if it is $5k a box, which Im sure it's close too, that's still wellllllll south of $10k

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But as I mentioned in the thread when I said $10K, that was list price which no one pays. I expect Clair has enough buying power to get those very EAWs for $6K a box (just guessing but 40% off sounds right for large purchases to me.) Besides all this, the cost of boxes probably does not represent the bulk of the costs for a large system. I expect amps, console, snakes, flying gear, safety equipment, transportation, casing, etc is still a huge part of the cost. I haven't verified any of this, but can say that of the $70K I spent, less than $12K is boxes. $58K was the rest of it all (including lighting.)

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$5000 for just that PA for a single day? That sounds really high. You sure that didn't include staging, lights, and labor? The last system I spec'd was roughly comparable to that and it came in at around $900/day (for 8 days) and that included a tech.



Sure, but that's about what you'd pay for a box like that.


And I wonder how much economy of scale they actually enjoy. Sure, they're a big SR provider, but this is still a small industry; they're only one provider, and they only build boxes for themselves. If you're trying to minimize your per-box expenses (and I'm not saying they are), that's not the way to do it.


-Dan.

 

 

The sound guy told me that it was for the whole tour from the way he talked it was just in those speakers alone, I am figureing he was also includeing the subs as well, as far as the lighting goes , I didnt ask about that , and the stageing was the arena's stage, they used about half of the stage and we used the other half.

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Don't forget Clair Global is one of, if not THE worlds largest touring company. And one of the worlds largest enclosure manufacturers. They probably come close to producing as many cabinets as JBL does every year. And EAW, D&B, Nexo just to name a few all purchase speakers from suppliers as well. Clair doesn't pay the prices for drivers you pay, I'm sure it's significantly less. And even if it is $5k a box, which Im sure it's close too, that's still wellllllll south of $10k

 

 

If you think that Clair builds that many boxes, you have no idea how large JBL really is. I bet JBL builds more boxes in a couple of days than Clair builds in a year.

 

They will pay dealer cost minus whatever extra deal they have, but it's still a significant amount... maybe they get 10% off of end column butthat's still a large number.

 

At $5k per box, it's going to compare to many boxes in that price range ($5k - $7.5k) but for Clair the advantage is in part the mystique of propriatary boxes designed by some really good engineers (yes they have some real engineers there too) that fit a particular touring style. They have other boxes as well for other needs.

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Equipment is only part of the equition. You have to store it, move it (53' trailers), set it up (stage hands), maintain it and make an ROI after all is said and done. After all that you still don't have a PA to use at the local coffee house.

 

 

This is very true and a BIG part of the cost of any sound system (large or small, it still is a factor in the equation).

 

As for rent costs. I know the provider we use charges somewhere in the ballpark of $12k-$15k for a 2500 seat room (racks & stacks only). This includes all of the labor for the hang and at least one system tech. The price of course goes down for more days (the labor gets divided over more days) and goes up if there are time constraints and they have to hire more labor to expidite the in or out. This shows how much labor can figure into the end cost.

 

If they're providing FOH, monitors and all of the trimmings, it can easily be more than $25k for the day.

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What happens to all of these assets (custom cabs, amps, custom staging etc.) after the tour is finished?

 

Well... I suspect generally it goes out on another tour.

 

I have some ex-Clair stuff... Judging by the airline and truck freight stickers on the road cases... the capitalization cost of the gear was probably a drop in the bucket compared to the shipping costs this gear incurred during it's life-cycle... and it seems like it's prime-time life cycle was typically approx. 20 years.

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Well... I suspect generally it goes out on another tour.


I have some ex-Clair stuff... Judging by the airline and truck freight stickers on the road cases... the capitalization cost of the gear was probably a drop in the bucket compared to the shipping costs this gear incurred during it's life-cycle... and it seems like it's prime-time life cycle was typically approx. 20 years.

 

 

I think Mark makes a good and valid point. Quality gear, although expensive, will perform for years and years thereby offering a respectable ROI.

 

Much of the gear in my rental department is over thirty years in service and still providing a capital return every year. That's how you make money.

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Don't alot of places have a sound system in place? I saw 38 Special at the Davis & Elkins College in their gym, believe it or not, in October. The school provided the sound system and it sounded absolutely great. When a band plays a place like the State Theater in Cleveland they use the venue's sound system. When I worked at the Agora many years ago and acts like Bowie, Springsteen, Rungren, anybody who played there used the venue's system which was already in place and used by every band that played there.

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Most venues don't have any real budget for a system these days. Those that do still quite often run into different rider requirements.

 

The folk club I used to mix a lot at has a very nice installed system. One national act a few years ago required them to put in something else because the BE insisted on a stereo system, in a room (thrust stage) where stereo didn't really make any sense. And after all that trouble and expense (some of the existing cabinets had to pulled down from their flown positions) the BE left all his panpots at dead center.

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Holy Shite!!!! That is a sound system!!!
:eek:
If I read it correctly they do it like the Stones did on their tour; they have three identical systems including staging, lighting etc.. One in use, one in transport and one being set up at the next gig. No wonder tickets are expensive!

 

Funny to think what the Beatles were using on their US tour compared, to what it has evolved to.

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Don't alot of places have a sound system in place? I saw 38 Special at the Davis & Elkins College in their gym, believe it or not, in October. The school provided the sound system and it sounded absolutely great. When a band plays a place like the State Theater in Cleveland they use the venue's sound system. When I worked at the Agora many years ago and acts like Bowie, Springsteen, Rungren, anybody who played there used the venue's system which was already in place and used by every band that played there.

 

 

Some do, some dont. Some acts might prefer what they are used to and travel with it, some will require rented in gear that meets their desires/wants/needs and some will use house systems if up to the task.

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Don't alot of places have a sound system in place?

 

 

Many do and this can reduce the cost of doing multiple shows considerably. The one drawback is, as stated, sometimes your system doesn't meet rider requirments and must be suplanted (all or in part) by the groups own or other rented equipment. In doing a lot of mid level national acts, our house system is fully adequate for 85% of the shows (I won't count little things like 1 specialty mic, processor or specialized back line ). Occasionaly a group travels with everything and our system is put away for the day. If possible we try and use our installed split snake but do have provisions for an unobtrusive & safe snake run if needed. We even have a couple of portable transformers (I believe 300 & 400 A 3 phase) if they have their own power distro. As the current system ages though it is becoming less and less rider friendly.

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I think Mark makes a good and valid point. Quality gear, although expensive, will perform for years and years thereby offering a respectable ROI.


Much of the gear in my rental department is over thirty years in service and still providing a capital return every year. That's how you make money.

 

 

The way the big companies (Clair) handle this is to buy the new toys and the hot new speakers for their A-list tours... then when it's no longer the latest & greatest it goes out with the B-list tours, then later the C-list tours or whoever likes the way those beastly old speakers stack up by the stage or whatever.

 

In other words, you can't really make (much) money off building huge systems for U2. You make a lot of money with the older gear on the smaller tours, because that gear is already paid for. You also have a training ground for techs who might prove good enough for the huge shows.

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