Americans are wired to want it now, to want something for nothing, to think about the short term at the expense of the long-term.  Agree?

Maybe I'm crazy.  I know that the best gear costs more than the cheapest gear, but hear me out on this one.

The other day, I realized that I use equipment, some of which is 20 years old, and that works perfectly.  Over the course of 20 years, obsolescence takes its toll on electronics, but lots of pieces still work.  I have a friend with a Roland Vocoder from 1985 and a Roland SDE-1000 digital delay.  He might even have an original Alesis Midiverb and Midifex.  How about SM58 microphones and Atlas MS20 microphone stands from 1983, circa 1990 Beyerdynamic M300 and M201 microphones and GST500 boom stands?  They all work.

Where buying good stuff  really pays off is...

...with cables, snakes, stands, and accessories.  That stuff doesn't become obsolete in terms of technology.  Frequently, we'll get a call from someone who wants the "6 boom stands for $99.99" deal or the "$4.99 microphone cable" that they've seen elsewhere.  We've sold these, but I always warn people that they're not made very well and that they might break in a year or less, and not be very dependable along the way.

If I think about it, it's likely that I'd make more money in the long run selling you the "6 stands for $99.99" deal every year or two than I would to sell you 6 K&M boom stands now and maybe 6 more in 15 years.  I'd probably also make more selling you a dozen junky microphone cables every couple years than to sell you a dozen Rapco Pro Mic cables today at $32.99 each.

Let's do the math to see what happens.  Six K&M 21080B stands will cost you about $450 today.  Six of the "6 for $99.99 stands" might cost you $100 every two years, if the price stays the same from now until 2025.  That's $800 - and extra $250 over what the good stands would have cost to begin with.  And you'll have better stands to boot.

How about cables?  Assume that ultra-cheap cables will also last two years, and I'm going to pretend that the quality of the wire and connectors doesn't have an effect on performance.  That's $2.50 per cable per year.  Buy a dozen cables for $60 and do that seven more times over the next 15 years.  You've spent $480, if the price doesn't change.  Now, buy 12 of the Rapco professional microphone cables with Neutrik connectors and premium wire at $32.99 each.  That'll cost about $400 today and (if you don't lose them) those will last for 15-20 years.  You've saved another $80 and enjoyed better performance all the way along.

Better equipment costs more up front, but it almost always costs less in the long run.  I've had a Toyota Land Cruiser for over 8 years.  I bought it used, but was more expensive with 50,000 miles than some new SUVs.  People thought that I had lost my mind.  Interestingly, today it's worth more than the 2002 SUVs that I might have bought new; and it runs better, drives more smoothly, is quieter, has better paint, a nicer interior, and sturdier sheet metal.  Plus, I'm confident that I could drive it another 100,000 miles.  Right now, it's the least expensive vehicle I've ever owned on a per month basis, and it's only getting cheaper (repairs included).  The dealer who services it has another customer who is ready to cross the 400,000 mile marker in an identical model.

Buy better gear, and save money; but you have to think long-term.  Admit it; 15 years isn't as long as you think.


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