close up of audio equipment
By: Doug On: August 22, 2016 In: Conferences Comments: 0

When you need to organize audio equipment for a conference presentation, you may wonder whether you should buy the equipment you need or rent it. There are pros and cons for both options, but it can be hard to ignore all the noise and determine what best suits your needs.

When deciding whether to rent or buy audio equipment, you need to consider a number of factors, including cost, your technical capability and your current and future needs.

Is Renting Audio Equipment Simpler . . .

Renting audio equipment can ultimately result in fewer hassles. By renting, you don’t have to worry about finding storage space for your equipment when you’re not using it. And companies that rent equipment can usually transport it to the venue where it’s needed so you don’t have to worry about lugging heavy speakers around either. They may also be able to set up the equipment and operate it.

Renting audio equipment can also lead to fewer headaches in the long-term. You won’t be on the hook for any routine maintenance fees or stuck with a piece of out-of-date equipment that you’ll need to upgrade or replace later.

. . . Or More Troublesome?

Of course, renting audio equipment can sometimes be prohibitive. Obviously, rental fees can add up, but there are other costs to consider. You may end up needing equipment for longer than what you originally planned, resulting in extra fees you might not have budgeted for.

Renting also means a bit less flexibility in staging events on short notice, since you’ll need time to arrange the services of your rental company. This can make trying to organize a quick meeting or presentation more difficult.

Is Buying Audio Equipment Empowering . . .

If you decide to buy audio equipment, you won’t have to worry about arranging rentals with outside providers and paying fees every time you need to make a presentation. Buying your own gear means only paying once up front and being able to use the equipment you need whenever it’s required.

This is especially true if you buy versatile items that can be reused and put to multiple purposes, such as microphones or PA systems. Assuming you use the equipment often enough, it will eventually pay for itself in the form of rental costs you no longer need to worry about.

. . . Or Is It Limiting?

Of course, if you buy audio equipment, it means you’re responsible for its storage and upkeep. And to make the most of your investment, you’re obligated to use that equipment. This is great when the gear is equal to the task at hand, but when your needs aren’t met by the equipment you’ve got, it hampers your flexibility.

This could be a problem if you have a guest speaker who’s accustomed to using equipment you don’t have, for instance, or if your equipment isn’t compatible with a potential venue.

So Should You Buy or Rent?

There’s no easy answer to whether you’re better served by a purchase or a rental. Take these factors into consideration before you decide whether to buy or rent your audio equipment:

  • Versatility of the equipment — If it can be used for multiple projects, it may be worth buying. On the other hand, specialized, single-function equipment tends to be more suited to renting.
  • Your future needs — If you’re certain you’ll be using the same piece of gear again and again, you should consider buying it. If it’s just going to gather dust on your warehouse shelf, it might be best to rent it only when you need it
  • Your technical expertise — If you’re inexperienced in setting up and operating audio equipment and don’t have a technician readily available, you may be better off renting — the peace of mind that comes with an expert technician is highly valuable, and they can save you time to boot.
  • The equipment’s shelf-life — Some pieces of equipment stay useful for decades, while others need to be upgraded every few months or years. Consider the cost against the lifespan of the equipment — frequently-updated models might be worth renting as opposed to buying.

In many instances, you’ll be best served with a little bit of both: buy the gear you know you’ll use often, and rent what you need to fill in the gaps. By taking into account your current and future needs and capabilities, along with your budget, you’ll be able to determine whether you should rent or buy the audio equipment you require.

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