Why Playing Favorites With AVL Gear Can Cause Major Delays
Loyalty. That word can bring up warm feelings of commitment, trust, and dependability.
But in the world of live event production, brand loyalty can mean performers and production managers prefer to stick with certain AVL gear even when it’s more difficult or more expensive to get.
People can be very brand-specific when it comes to mics, consoles, speakers, and other AVL gear. In audio specifically, PAs and consoles can be like a religion.
But because of the supply chain challenges facing AVL equipment manufacturing, many manufacturers are struggling to maintain product availability. So how does this affect those of you putting on live events, and will it interfere with the quality of your shows?
Below is our take on AVL gear preference and why clients may want to consider alternative brands in light of current constraints.
What Happened to the AVL Gear You Love?
For as long as CTS has been in the industry, clients have come to us with brand loyalty for all kinds of AVL gear. D&B, L’Acoustics, or JBL speakers; Yamaha or DiGiCo consoles; and Shure wireless and in-ear mics are some of the top requests we see.
Everyone has a reason for their favorite equipment brands. A positive experience, familiarity, glowing reviews, or a recommendation from a trusted source can instill a strong preference for certain equipment.
And in the past, client preference was king. If you wanted a brand, you got that brand. But then live events came to a halt in 2020, and the supply chain experienced the first in a series of major disruptions.
When the world began to open back up, people were so happy to be holding live events again that they didn’t care what PA, switcher, or console they were using. As long as it let them perform, it was fine.
Fast forward to now: Live events are back on all over the country, and clients are starting to look for their favorite AVL gear again. Unfortunately, though people can once again gather for concerts and performances, the supply chain remains mired in difficulty — and it has changed the landscape of AVL gear.
Chip shortages, lack of raw materials, and shipping delays are all hampering AVL equipment manufacturing and delivery. Extended quarantine shutdowns were much longer in some countries than what we saw in the U.S., further inhibiting production. And the war in Ukraine has affected supplies from Russia and the Baltic states.
Equipment options are now limited across most manufacturers. Out of the three major brands in the PA world, for example, JBL is the only one that currently has inventory and can fill orders. Other major manufacturers have variable lead times, and availability can change suddenly.
How To Roll With Supply Chain Changes
Even before the supply chain issues began, CTS favored the AVL gear that typically made appearances on most performers’ tech riders: Yamaha, JBL, and Martin, for example. These PAs, lighting fixtures, and consoles are reputable products that consistently deliver performance. We’ve been using them with great results for years.
However, they aren’t the “sexy” fixtures or boutique PAs that performers or production managers sometimes want. Two years ago, we could get this other equipment whenever we needed to, but today that’s not necessarily the case. Specific AVL gear may be hard to find, prohibitively expensive, or completely unavailable today.
Strive for Outcomes Over Brands
The good news is that being unable to get your preferred AVL gear doesn’t have to negatively impact your event. In reality, top-line products all work at about the same level. So that flashy boutique console may sound exciting, but the reliable choice gets the job done just as well. And many of those trusted products are available right now, when others aren’t.
To protect your shows and avoid delays and expenses associated with extended equipment lead times and lack of availability, the best strategy to take right now is two-fold:
- Be open to AVL gear outside of your preferred brand.
- Make sure you have an AVL partner who can deliver your desired outcomes, regardless of the brands they use to do it.
With all the constraints on supply, no one knows what AVL gear will be available at any given time. Instead of going to great lengths to obtain a preferred brand, prioritize finding an AVL partner who can meet your needs with equipment that’s readily available.
Find an AVL Partner Who Matches Your Needs
Given the unpredictable availability of AVL equipment today, it may be time to shift your focus from accessing your favorite gear to choosing an AVL team who knows enough about the actual tech to find good substitutes for your preferred brands. If your top concern is the outcome of your event — versus the equipment you use to get there — then CTS could be a good partner for you.
CTS has been in the live events business for 38 years. We’ve seen brand favorites come and go, but we’ve never let a client’s vision suffer because a certain piece of AVL gear wasn’t available.
Under the current circumstances, we recommend trying something new. You might just find your loyalty was never actually with the brand, but with the performance.