Best bang for a start-up budget

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DBDJ

New Member
My question is, with about $1,000 budget, what should I buy to upgrade or add to what I already have to kick off a new business.

A little background first...

A year or two back I started buying intelligent lighting to use in my music sychronized Christmas display. This led to overbuying and I ended up setting up a disco in the basement for the kids and thier friends to justify (to the wife) all the stuff I had collected. I cobbled together some old speakers, boomboxes and an FM transmitter and got enough bass to move the sound active units when I didn't have them programmed. Basically, the lights were great but the sound...

So, off I went again and started picking up a few things here and there. I had a new job with a little extra income and this led to a new collection of stuff I didn't really need.

At this point, I imagine all those with experience are rolling thier eyes and groaning about another amature jumping in over their head...please bear with me. I am trying *not* to be a bad example in the industry.

Now to the present day. I am temporarily unemployed with time on my hands. I have another friend who is unemployed who formerly was a DJ in college. Buddy number three is the CFO for a private club that has all kinds of events going on at different times. Putting this together, we decided to give it a run. The business is mine. I will put my out-of-work friend to work as muscle and stand in MC/DJ as necessary. My friend at the club will get us a few events that normally wouldn't have lights and or music so we can get our feet wet. The club will pay a nominal amount so my unemployed friend can keep eating. Our first event is coming up in May. It's a club member's kids party. It will be 2-3 hours of games, music, dancing, etc. They have an entertainer that they hired last year that is coming again. We will be setting up lights and sound to make it a bit bigger production.

Ultimately, I would like to build a reputable business that I can hand off to my son and/or daughter in 5-6 years when they are 18.

So, to the question at hand. I have a tax refund that I can justify $1,000 out of to get this going. I already have a second phone line to dedicate and I already have a domain registered and am working on the website myself. Additional marketing will be word of mouth for the time being. My current inventory of gear is as follows:

(2) Mackie SRM350V2 (powered)
(2) Podium Pro-Audio PP1502A (Powered 15" 2-way)
(2) Gemini GX150 (8" powered 2-way)
(1) Technical Pro Bass-1801 (18" powered sub)

(1) American DJ SDJ2 MP3 player/mixer
(1) Numark Fusion 111 CD/mixer system

(6) Chauvet Intimidator 1.2 scanners
(2) Chauvet Q-Spot 152 moving heads
(3) American DJ Swivel Beam rollers
(1) Chauvet Insignia 1.0 roller
(1) American DJ Double roller
(2) Chauvet SX Extream moonflowers
(1) Chauvet Abyss
(1) American DJ Foxfire
(2) Double derbys
(1) American DJ Mace
(1) Chauvet Cosmos
(3) misc moonflowers
(1) Martin Juggler
(1) Chauvet Vue III
(5) Chauvet LED Splash
(2) Chauvet LED Jr
(2) Eliminator LED Par
(1) American DJ Par 36 Led
(1) 36" Mirror Ball with 2 pin spots
(1) Four tunnel red/green laser (not FDA compliant - won't use)
(1) Two tunnel red/green laser (same as above)
(4) 36 Watt flat panel LED wash fixtures

(3) Fog machines - 1200 Watt, 2 with DMX control

(6) Light trees
(1) 10' Truss
(2) Speaker stands
(2) DMX controllers
Lot of dimmer packs, chase controllers, on/off relay packs, cables, spare lamps, etc. Also, a SKB 6 over 2 DJ rack and two large road cases.

And, yes about 90% of this is set up in my basement and running. My kids think it's pretty cool. :cool:

Right now I run straight from the ADJ SDJ2 to the powered PA's. The sound is great - for a basement. The sub is huge, heavy and fairly disappointing in sound. It will probably be returned or sold. The other PA's generally probably aren't up to par for the long term, but they are what I have to start with.

My plan is to limit the start up to younger kid events, small parties, etc so I can provide respectable service with what I have. As I am able to generate income, I will reinvest to get to a level where I can do larger dances, proms, etc. I want to stay away from renting gear if I can as I suspect the nearest location to do this will be at least 30 miles from where I am located. I would rather save and build than spend money on rentals. This will also limit the event size and prevent me from getting over my head on what I can handle.

So where is the best bang for my buck with my $1K? I expect it to be in upgrading my sound equipment, but sad to say that I don't know much about how to achieve "good" sound. Some of my thoughts include:

Powered sub (must be under 75 lbs)
Better/additonal powered PA's (Tapco looks promising)
Driverack PX
Power conditioner
Mixer
Crossover
Backup MP3 player
Approved Lasers
Hazer
Trailer (currently have a full size van, buddy has a pickup)
Bags for lighting, speakers or stands

I want to stick with powered PA's and I want to keep things a lightweight as possible. I already have a Rock-n-Roller budgeted for. I could (and probably should) sell off some of the lighting to get money, but I would rather not.

Sorry for the novel, but I would appreciate any and all ideas. I know that there is not a single right answer. I am open to both new and used gear. If you know a source for what you recommend, please let me know. As I am asking for help here, I would prefer to spend my money here.

Thanks in advance,
Derrick
 

Ken Heath

Super Moderator...da-ta-daaa!!!
Staff member
First of all, congrats for wanting to make things better before venturing any further!

:)

Unfortunately, $1k ain't a whole lot of cash for a whole system, but you can make a SUBstantial difference in your sound quality...

That said, I'm partial to the B-52 Matrix-1000 and Matrix-2000 systems. Excellent bang for the buck and multiple systems can be easily daisy chained for larger events.

http://www.b52pro.com/models/Matrix1000v2.html

http://www.b52pro.com/models/Matrix2000.html

I'd keep the Mackies, (and perhaps the Gemini's), for patio and side room fill and get the other stuff listed on eBay or Craigslist.
 
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GaryBonaducci

New Member
It seems to me you have adequate equipment to start up. (And I'm talking about taking small gigs... No proms or weddings. ;) ) Perhaps you still need an EQ to balance the sound for various room conditions, cases for your audio equipment, extension cords and a skirted table for a professional presentation? You might need to be a registered business before getting referrals from some venues, and that will incur many little expenses such as registration fees, getting a PO Box, legal advertising, business cards, accounting software and so forth. This might be well worth the effort because then you'll be able to write-off your equipment purchases. I'd spend the remaining money ensuring your music library is large enough to handle such events. The kind of business you're going after can often call for a wide music selection because of the variety of clients and their guests you'll be performing for.

Another option ...sort of tongue-in-cheek, but also half-serious considering the importance of income in your situation... is to ditch the mobile idea. Simply throw house parties and charge five bucks at the door. ;)
 
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Conanski

Active Member
By the sounds of it your big deficiency is a quality subwoofer, sell off all the speakers except the Mackies and buy a 1501 and you'll have a decent and compact system, you can upgrade these to something more powerful once you get rolling and have some cash. Next pick out the better quality scanners and moving heads(everything with DMX) to keep for larger events, and ditch all the non LED S&Ps. The 36" mirrorball seems a bit overkill too, it's probably hard to transport, I have a 12" that does a great job using a pair of scanners to illuminate it. The theme is to keep things portable and energy efficient since you never know how much reliable AC power you'll have at a venue. Keep it simple and rack and prewire as much as possible to minimize you setup/teardown time, it'll increase your rate of return. Good luck.
 

polarsounds

In Self-Imposed Exile
I'd agree the subwoofer is the weak link. Don't expect to shake the place too much for $1,000 with a single powered sub, but there are some good options near your stated weight limit at your price range.

AudioPyle offered several options near your weight and price range when I shopped around and I ended up ordering from there. There are several quality vendors on this site who stand behind their products and have given me solid advice and service before and after the sale.

The advice to make certain you've got your business license (if required), business cards, music library, etc. is also very good advice. Adding $1,000 in legally-obtained music is not difficult to do. ;)
 

BillESC

Member
Although I'm a long time Mackie dealer, I can't recommend the purchase of a SWA 1501 sub. The current crop coming out of China have a very high failure rate.

I believe you'll be better served looking for a used EV SbA760 which should come within your budget.
 

DBDJ

New Member
Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Please keep them coming.

... is to ditch the mobile idea. Simply throw house parties and charge five bucks at the door. ;)
This has got to be my favorite! Gotta say, from my perspective (43 yo, married 20 yrs, 2 kids) that's thinking out of the box. Probably won't go over too well here in small town middle America, or with the wife, but it's still a great idea. Twenty years ago, maybe...but I digress.

So far, it's looking like a sub or a matched sub/pa set. I'm guessing from the suggestions that I may be unrealistic to expect to keep the weight down. This is a concern if I or my friend needs to go somewhere solo. I can drag something out of the van, but getting it back in may be rough. The sub I have is about 100 lbs, but it's not so much the weight as it is the size of the beast. I can't get my arms around it to reach both handles and I don't have enough leverage to lift it from one side.

This is probably a dumb question, but am I better off spending the whole amount on a single sub or trying to find something lower cost that might be respectable and add a Driverack to try to get the best out of it?

I realize that analogously I am asking guys who drive Ferraris if I should buy a Camaro or Mustang. Keep in mind that currently I'm riding a bike.

-Derrick
 

DBDJ

New Member
I forgot to mention that I have the business aspects already accounted for. I am in the process of getting my LLC registered with the state, I will get business cards, I am checking on liability and I have budgeted to add to the music collection.

Gary brought these up and I didn't mean glaze over them.

He also brought up a skirted table. I don't have one and was planning on using whatever is available at the venue. I would like this to look as professional as possible, but I also have to deal with the budget I have. This is why I am seeking to determine if the best is to spend it all on a sub.

A pleasing set up with crappy sound or great sound with a crappy set-up or mediocre all around...

I hate to limit my business opportinities, but I think I need to based upon what equipment I have.

-Derrick
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
My question is, with about $1,000 budget, what should I buy to upgrade or add to what I already have to kick off a new business.
(2) Mackie SRM350V2 (powered)
(2) Podium Pro-Audio PP1502A (Powered 15" 2-way)
(2) Gemini GX150 (8" powered 2-way)
(1) Technical Pro Bass-1801 (18" powered sub)

I want to stick with powered PA's and I want to keep things a lightweight as possible. I already have a Rock-n-Roller budgeted for. I could (and probably should) sell off some of the lighting to get money, but I would rather not.
point #1: you can have the best lightshow in the world but if your sound system wont cut it, your done. (no one hires a DJ to to justwatch a lightshow)
point #2: Your lightshow will easily impress any amount of kids.. Your sound.. not so much..
point #3: Besides the mackies, non of your tops are considered high end, and non of them match.. BUT, you can probably live with that for awhile..
What you need to concentrate on is your low end..
point #4: You need low end, but a loud, lightweight, Active subwoofer are NOT cheap. You should take a serious look at passive subwoofers and matching amp.. You can probably find some nice subs new, and probably a pretty sweet system used (but not abused)
(get the active subwoofer AFTER you have all matching tops)
 
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DBDJ

New Member
What you need to concentrate on is your low end..
point #4: You need low end, but a loud, lightweight, Active subwoofer are NOT cheap. You should take a serious look at passive subwoofers and matching amp.. You can probably find some nice subs new, and probably a pretty sweet system used (but not abused)
(get the active subwoofer AFTER you have all matching tops)
You make very good points. Can I get more bang for my buck with a passive sub and matching amp? The idea of either having some $$ left over, or getting better quality for the price is attractive.

My initial impression was that a quality amp and passive sub really doesn't come much cheaper that an active sub. Would I also need a crossover? If you have a specific recommendation for the set-up, please let me know.

Thanks,
Derrick
 

Ken Heath

Super Moderator...da-ta-daaa!!!
Staff member
Derrick,

Except for stairs, (which are always a pain with large cabinets), loading the Matrix's, (Matrii???), into a van is very easy for one person...

For the Matrix-1000 which loads with the satellites attached, (Note: get a better strap at Home Depot for a few bucks), you roll it up to the doorsill, rotate it up on it's side, grab it by the wheels and right on in on it's side.

The Matrix-2000 loads the satellites seperately, so for it I keep rolling the sub right over onto it's face so it rides wheels up.

Add in a pair of Frankenstands to lift the satellites up to listening level and you've got one easy-on-the-roadie set-up!
 

BillESC

Member
You can get a high quality passive sub and amp with your proposed budget and you will be able, later on, to add a second sub to run off of the same amp. This would probably be your best and most cost effective approach.

I'm home now so I can't offer specifics, but shoot me an email and I'd be happy to reply with some options on Monday from the office.
 

WaydeWest

Person of interest
Why the push for a sub?
If he's not doing a prom or a teen dance, he could certainly get by most other events (even weddings) with a better set of tops.

And, just curious...you don't mention a mic. Do you have one? You can certainly start with a wired mic, but like I said, just curious.
 
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Scott

Senior Member?? Bwahaha!
The Matrix is an excellent system. I've had the 2000 series for three years now and it has been great. It can be a bear trying to load it up yourself.
If you notice the term under your name, it reads Junior Member. Mine says Senior Member. Notice that I have modified that term to reflect that I, by no means consider myself a senior member. I just can't keep my mouth shut on this board. The more you post, the higher your member status, even if you are just blurting out pure jibberish. With out digressing any further, I just wanted to offer some humble advice from a fellow DJ who in the not so distant past was using some really less than flashy gear.
The gear you have at your disposal, there are a lot of DJ's in my market that would kill for it. You relate yourself to comming into a Ferrari store with a Bike. NEWSFLASH, the gear you have is much better than what I (and I'm willing to bet most others here) started out with. Really what you are truly lacking in right now is you music library and presentation/MC skills. Stay away from Illegal download sites like Limewire and others. These may seem like a great alternative but will hurt you in the long run.
Find a mentor in your area who can help groom you into becoming a great MC for a large group and especially weddings. Running a houseparty and controlling the pace and tone of a wedding are 2 complete different animals. There are many great people on this board who would be willing to do that, myself included. You may not want advice from me since I'm usually considered a hack every since I offered to bake the brides wedding cake... damn, there I go digressing again. What area are you in? I'm sure there is someone who may be close to you and willing to help. Mainly because there are so many like you who are just starting out and do not come to an area like this to ask advice with a willingness to learn. They usually go out and try to wing it, which ultimatley reflects bad on our industry. Presentation is far more important that what kind of gear you are using. When you ask someone what their favorite movie is they can tell you what and why it is. Ask them what kind if camera or audio was used, they look at you like a dog hearing distant whistle. As long as your work space is kept in order and clean they won't have a clue if you are using high end or low end gear. All they will know is that you rocked the party all night long.

As I leave this thread let me leave you with this: The gear you have will get you through for quite a while. Start off with small events that you can earn a little jingle in your pocket. Prioritize your gear upgrades and when you get enough jingle, use it to buy your upgrades as you see fit. But do find a coach/mentor to guide you through this wacky way to earn a living called DJing.

OBTW: If after they have taught you how to become a really good host/MC and you decide to undercut their prices, you will find a horse head in your bed. Just kidding... No I'm not:confused:;)

Good luck.
Scott
 

DBDJ

New Member
Checking back in; couple of quick answers:

Ken: The Matrix units are attractive. Matched, powered system in budget. I could unload some of what I have and free up a little more money for other things. Looked closer and saw the sub is on casters which would be a big help. Still concerned about the weight.

Gary: I'm in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin: town of about 12,000 about 30 miles west of Milwaukee and 60 miles east of Madison. I will update my profile when I have a chance.

Bill: I will follow up with an e-mail per your recommendation.

Wayde: Your question about the sub resonates with me. Don't get me wrong, I know that I could use some respectable bottom end, but is this the best initial expenditure? What is your recommendation?
I do have mic's - two wired and two wireless. Not high quality, but I feel they could do for now. For the immediate future, I plan to keep the MC portion of the gigs to a minimum.

Thanks to all for the help so far. The IRS says I should have my funds in no more than 8 days. First gig will be 1-May. I will probably do this kid event with what I have. My friend said I can have the room the night before to set up and play with the sound to see what I can do. I'm really looking forward to it.

Derrick
 

DBDJ

New Member
As I leave this thread let me leave you with this: The gear you have will get you through for quite a while. Start off with small events that you can earn a little jingle in your pocket. Prioritize your gear upgrades and when you get enough jingle, use it to buy your upgrades as you see fit. But do find a coach/mentor to guide you through this wacky way to earn a living called DJing.

OBTW: If after they have taught you how to become a really good host/MC and you decide to undercut their prices, you will find a horse head in your bed. Just kidding... No I'm not:confused:;)

Good luck.
Scott

Scott: Thanks for the gear input and, most of all, for the advice and encouragement. More than anything, I don't want to disappoint people who are hiring me for an event that is important to them. I'm not some touchy-feely sentimental sap, but times are tough right now. I really don't want to eff-up somebody's happy gathering by not meeting or exceeding my end of the agreement. This is why I need as many opinoins as I can get. I want to make certain that I have done my due diligence and covered as many weaknesses as possible.

Thanks again for the help.

Derrick
 

Scott

Senior Member?? Bwahaha!
Gary: I'm in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin: town of about 12,000 about 30 miles west of Milwaukee and 60 miles east of Madison.
Wow, at first I thought you said you worked at a Conoco gas station! That town name looks like some had a mouthful of marshmellows and peanut butter when the named it.:D

But what do I know? I live in Florida where we have a Ichetucknee, Withlacoochee and a lovely little town called Red Dick.
 

djohnson573

New Member
Derrick,

As a fellow Christmas light enthusiast (PlanetChristmas), please allow me to point you in a different direction to see if you are interested. Check out http://www.billfitzmaurice.com/T39.html You could build 2-14" cabs (47 lbs each), plus amp, plus crossover for $1,000 and have an awesome sounding systems with the tops you already have. Feel free to PM me for additional details.

Dennis
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
Why the push for a sub?
If he's not doing a prom or a teen dance, he could certainly get by most other events (even weddings) with a better set of tops.
.
Why push for the sub? because he has a much better chance at getting into school dances then weddings.. not saying you don't need "skilz's" to do a school dance VS a wedding, but with his lightshow and a good loud system it can compensate somewhat :)

Weddings? 3/4 of his equipment is useless for most weddings.. (in my opinion) add to the fact most weddings require a much higher level of MC duties, doing school dances make a lot more sense..

simply.. school/teen dances require good bottom end. So a sub (or two) would be his best "return on investment".

but that just my humble opinion.. :)
 
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