Dave Horn

Dave Horn

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I've been vindicated - at last!  Well, not really.  It's just that when you see others writing about the same topics that you think are important that you realize that you're right.  Or maybe that two of you are wrong.  Whatever the case, earlier this week, I read an article written by a system design professional about how to buy sound and video equipment, and we think alike.

For the last few years, I've been strongly encouraging our clients that there's a hidden cost to low prices.  Some companies make equipment overseas and have no service parts in the United States (not to mention no service facilities).  Lots of equipment that we used to fix is now disposable.  Worse is equipment that's just junk to start with.  Cheap gear is made with inferior components with relaxed tolerances and offers significantly more potential for failure.

Maybe I'm old, or maybe I'm just getting smarter, but saving money isn't the key to getting the right piece of equipment.  As my colleague wrote, buy your gear like the professionals do - buy the right product in order to assure reliable performance.  There's simply no way to cut corners and get great results.  And those results are what counts when everyone expects what's essentially perfection week in and week out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010 05:22 PM

Wireless Microphones - the Switch is On!

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What a week!

I'm shocked at how many people waited to see whether the FCC would really sound the death knell for 700MHZ wireless microphones.  Last week, it did. As of June 10, 2010, it will be technically illegal to use wireless microphones in the range of 698-806MHZ.  Worse than illegality, as new 4G wireless services are unveiled, your wireless microphones will simply become unreliable due to interference.

This week, people started calling to discuss their options.  We have churches with 32, 24, 16, 10, 8 and just a couple wireless microphones all scrambling to replace their 700MHZ systems with new systems that will be out of the way of the coming onslaught from 4G wireless services. Testing by the wireless companies is occurring right now, and many of our clients have called to say that their existing wireless systems worked one week and didn't the next.

If you are getting new interference on your 700MHZ wireless microphone, the it's very likely that you must stop using your wireless microphone immediately (even if prior to June 10, 2010).

Click here for more information.

Earlier this week, with the FCC deadline firmly established, Shure restarted its rebates for the exchange of 700MHZ wireless for new units in the 400, 500 and 600MHZ ranges.  Expect Audio-Technica and others to follow.  None of these companies want to be left out when it comes to selling you a new wireless microphone system.

I can't emphasize enough that now is the time to replace your 700MHZ wireless systems.  Please don't think that it's a good idea to keep playing wait-and-see.  It's not.  One of these days, your wireless microphones will become useless from outside interference.  Right now, you have a last chance to receive something for your existing wireless microphones.  After June, 10, 2010, your units will be worthless, except to third-world countries and the mission field.  They will have no resale value in the United States.

I can hear you thinking - "Dave, you told us that the rebates would end in June 2009, and in September 2009, and in December 2009 - and now they're being run again from January 20, 2010 through June 10, 2010.  I have still have time."

Yes, you do, but there's no reason for Shure, Audio-Technica and others to keep extending the exchange rebates since the FCC has firmly established the end of the game for 700MHZ systems.

For more information that you may have wanted to know and for every answer that the FCC thinks needs to be answered, click here.

To see if your wireless microphone operates on the 700 MHz band, simply click on the name of the manufacturer and see if your model is listed.  This listing even tells you whether your unit can be tuned to a different frequency that will be legal after June 10, 2010.  Unfortunately, most can't be retuned.

FCC Listing of Wireless Microphone Manufacturers

If you have questions about your next steps, please call, and please call soon.  I am working on quotes for five different churches today.  I expect that things will be very busy in the world of wireless microphones between now and June 10.

Monday, January 18, 2010 02:56 PM

No more 700MHZ wireless microphones per the FCC

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It happened.

On Friday, January 15, 2010, the FCC commissioners ruled that it's time to vacate your 700MHZ wireless microphones.  We've known that this day has been coming for the past couple years, and it hasn't been clear if or when the use of the 698-806MHZ frequency range would become illegal, but the deadline has been set.  You have until June 12, 2010 (one year from the full DTV transition that occurred in 2009) to make other arrangements for wireless microphones in that range. Some users opted to take a wait and see approach, and its your prerogative to continue to do so.

Over the weekend, we received a call from another client whose wireless microphones just started to act up.  If you're using wireless systems with frequencies between 698-806MHZ, reliable service will become a thing of the past, and operation of those devices illegal.  The wireless companies like Sprint, AT&T and Verizon paid billions of dollars for use of the airwaves and the new 4G services are coming sooner than later and device testing is upon us right now.

If you'd like to see the text of the announcement, please click here.  Or if you have questions or help making the transition to new frequencies, please call us at 800-747-7301.  We still have a rebate deal in place to help offset the cost.

Friday, January 08, 2010 11:00 AM

Make the most of your tech budget!

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Everyday, I help people just like you with the use and application of technology in the worship and presentation environments. That’s what I do.   Not surprisingly, the topic of conversation often turns to business and the economy.

What I’m hearing is that despite the economic downturn, that virtually everyone still has needs for the products we offer, but that budgets are tight. That makes it doubly important to make sure that you’re buying the right equipment.

With over 18 years in this chair, plus another 8 or so making my living in the business, I have a pretty good idea of what you need, and the results you hope to get.

Results are what’s important. A microphone is not a microphone is not a microphone, and the same goes for speakers, amplifiers, wireless microphones, video projectors, etc. So how do you know what to buy?

It’s hard to be sure that you’re getting equipment that you’ll be pleased with. Talking through the decision can help. For years, I have resisted printing a catalog and having an ecommerce website – still hoping to talk with you in person, so that you get what you need and so that we don’t end up with lots of used gear on the returns shelf.  We get virtually no returns because we know what works.

As a volunteer youth worker at my own church, I understand that you only have one shot to make it right. And I know what it's like to have to make something work with limited funds.

The other day, I had a conversation with a college buddy who’s a youth pastor at a church in Michigan. He complimented me on the fact that his youth room sound system was better than “the $40,000 system in the sanctuary that they still can’t get to sound right.”  He didn’t spend a fortune on his youth room system (and we didn't install the one in the sanctuary), but we were very selective in making sure that each piece fit his needs and his overall budget.

I’ll do the same for you.

Monday, December 21, 2009 11:07 AM

A Quiet Week, and a Thank You

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We always joke that if we could get a full month of sales in December that it would be our best month of the year.  Depending upon the calendar, we generally sell briskly for 2-3 weeks and then all goes silent as Christmas productions are finished, school music programs wrap up and as people begin to focus on Christmas itself and other holidays.  Friday was our first day of silence this season.

Through the end of the year, there are still plenty of rebate offers and other specials that are reason enough to get ready for 2010 a little bit early, but we understand that most of us like the downtime around the Christmas holiday.

If we can be helpful, please call.  Depending on how active the phones are, we expect to be around most days other than Christmas Eve Day (open until Noon or so), Christmas, New Year's Eve Day (until Noon or so), and New Year's Day.

If we don't hear from you again until 2010, have a very blessed Christmas and a fantastic New Year's Day!

Thank you for another good year in 2009!  I appreciate your business very much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 01:50 PM

Listen with your eyes.

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Listen with my what?

One of the most important lessons that I've learned is to make sure that I listen with my eyes.  In a nutshell, audio, video and lighting technicians need to pay attention.  Listening involves hearing, but it also involves seeing, in order to make sure that everyone and everything is heard well.

Whether it's something simple like making sure that the pastor's microphone is on when he starts to speak or something subtle like adjusting the sound in such a way that people can actually hear the guitar part, it's important that you listen by watching.

Next time you mix, look around.  I'll bet you find that at least one person that's playing notes or singing a part that isn't being heard, and that he's doing something really cool that you'd like to hear.

Mixing well isn't just about knowing how to use the technology; it's about art, too.  Part of creating good art is making sure that you paint with a full palette.

 

Friday, December 04, 2009 06:53 PM

What I've learned the hard way about buying.

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I really enjoy buying things, and I like to think that I've discovered something that no one else knows about.  I'm the classic "early adopter" and the one who has to have the perfect tool for every job.  It's the way I'm wired.

Everyday, I'm inundated by offers to "Buy One, Get One Free," to "Save $500 if you respond before midnight" or "Get 25% Off Your Entire Order," or whatever the special is.  I have to read them all.  I'm drawn to a good sales pitch.

I have to be careful to make sure that the "new" or "special" or "discovered" product is right. Will it do what I want it to do?  Will it be reliable?  Is it as good as the sales pitch promises? Will I have time to use it?  Do I have the ability to use it?

I'll let you in on a little secret.  From time to time, I buy the wrong product.  Whether it's a softball bat, a new pair of shoes, an investment newsletter, or a Christmas gift for someone else, I buy stuff that I wish that I hadn't - and I waste money doing it.

I've learned the hard way that a good deal is only a good deal, if the product does what you need it to do.  Getting the "right product" sounds simple, if you've ever "done your research" and still bought the wrong product, you know that it's not.

My hope is that you'll find Geartechs.com to be a different place - a place of discovery and a place where you can buy products, but also a place where you learn about how to use them and about how others use them in the real world.

We want to help you discover the right products the first time - those that meet your needs and your budget.

Thanks for joining us in our journey toward making this site a resource for you.  We are working everyday to make it better. If you ever have a question, please don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call.

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