Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Celebrating 41 Venice Style - a very long post

The first birthday I had in the blogosphere was in 2006. I had celebrated nine days early with tickets to see Bryan Adams at the Saddledome.

In 2007 I spent the day at the pottery studio, according to the blog post, " making a mess of myself".

In 2008 I reflected on how much I admire those with drive and ambition to accomplish their dreams.

In 2009 I observed Viagra being advertised at an all-ages hockey game.

In 2010 I was on the ferry between Naniamo and Vancouver. It was the year of the delectable coconut cream pie adventures - not to mention... my big 4-0.

This year was different, yet again.

Back in October I noticed that a very nice mixing console was "on sale", of sorts, at Axe where my industry friend Dwayne works. When a showroom piece has been on display for a year or longer, it goes into what they call the Dutch Auction. The retail price is reduced by 5% each week, until it sells.

I got excited. Not just... excited, but ecstatically excited. You see, in the world of professional audio there are all different grades of equipment. The world in which I live, professionally, is commonly served by "mid-market" equipment; that is, equipment priced in the middle of the market. It's commercial grade stuff that's acceptably reliable, sounds great and is priced suitably; not inexpensive, and not out-of-this-world unattainable. The console that went on sale is leaps and bounds above mid-market.

Most people I know drive a car of some description. To draw a parallel, the mid-market equipment I speak of (Mackie, Numark, Tascam, Soundcraft) is really great stuff, comparable to a Honda, Toyota or Nissan. The low end equipment (Behringer, Gemeni, Peavey) is great for those who want to get their feet wet in the pro end of things without spending a lot of money. My experience with these low-end products however, has been quite literally equipment failure BEFORE the expiration of the warranty period. After a horrific experience last July I will NEVER again purchase a Behringer product, and after a very frustrating system installation in January using Peavey product, I will likely never again buy it either. This is equipment comparable to a Ford Pinto: it blows up if you bump it.

Now... the BMW or Mercedes of mixing consoles, at the top of the market is Midas. They're designed in Britain, not the U.S., built in Germany, not China. The board on sale was their entry level 28-channel Venice. Not many people in the Calgary market own one, mostly based on price. You see, a mid-market board with its features is relatively affordable and reasonably reliable.

A Midas will do what every other mixing console on the planet will do, but it does it with finesse. It's like the difference between a Mac and a PC. PCs work great, they're affordable and somewhat reliable. Macs do much the same thing, are generally more reliable but have all the little operational refinements that make them a simple joy to operate.

I'm sure if Mac were to build a mixing console, it would be a Midas.

I've been harping on about price, so perhaps I should clarify something: I normally wouldn't look at a Midas. It's WAY out of my price range. In need of a console, I would naturally look at a comparable Mackie. I have the utmost respect for Mackie - they're an amazing mixer.


Back in October, I started dreaming about the Midas when I saw it could possibly be within my grasp. I consulted Dwayne who was excited to see my interest. Of course, in October the price had barely moved. The big orange tag had only a couple entries reflecting a price I still could not justify, let alone afford. As the weeks went by, Dwayne too became more and more excited for me.

I decided, for the sake of my sanity, that I wouldn't get too excited about it for fear that someone could walk in at any time and grab it from under my nose. I told Dwayne that I would play the "Midas Lottery". I would set a date, far into the future, and IF it were still available, I would buy it on that date.

I decided on my birthday at the end of January

Come January, I could hardly contain my excitement at the prospect: it was still in the showroom!

Come my birthday, it was sitting there, simply waiting for me to bundle it up and take it home! For the months of anticipation, and a little of Dwayne's "encouragement", we felt an official photo was in order.


After one of the other salesmen snapped the photo for us, I jokingly (but not really) asked Dwayne if, because it was my birthday, the $250.00 steel stand it was sitting on would be included...

His words?

"Uh... not today."

We returned to Dwayne's office to complete the paperwork and to figure out just how much I'd saved. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $6502.84. (A comparable Mackie (the Honda) is $2400.00, a comparable Behringer (the Pinto) is $1100.00. I won't tell you what I paid for it, but I realized the other day that it cost me less than moving a girlfriend across the country.

While we sat and congratulated ourselves on the results of our combined efforts, the fellow who took the photo returned to Dwayne's office. Dwayne excused himself briefly only to return with a big grin on his face:

"The stand, my boy, is yours!", he said.

"Um... for why?", I inquired.

It turned out that the stand had come with the board as part of the display promotion. It didn't exist on the store's inventory, therefore it was to go with the console.

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me...

Further celebration continued at the pottery studio that night. As luck would have it, they decided to have a pot luck supper that very evening. I took a bottle of scotch (don't think I didn't have one with Dwayne first, though!) to celebrate.



Sadly, a road case wasn't included in the the deal, so I went shopping. An eBay deal out of British Columbia got me a case designed for a Mackie, but the Midas fit... at the Behringer price! The day the case arrived by Fed-Ex, I snapped a few pics:

Oh, and one more thing: Dwayne dropped a bombshell on me that day. Apparently, and it pains me to publish this, Behringer has bought Midas.


It turns out I bought from the last generation of Midas boards before the buyout. My friend Sharon would say,

"Happy Claps!!"

I figure the sale is going to run the quality of the Midas into the ground, but Dwayne says it may just raise the quality standard of the Behringer product. With the 25th anniversary of my company fast approaching, the Midas represents in my world, an increase in the quality standard of what we will be doing.

One night last month I couldn't sleep, so i got up and tinkered away at the Mac. I created this, which I circulated to my industry friends with the tag, "Sad really, the irony."


Anvilcloud said...

Congratulations Dave. If you can operate that thing, you must be a genius. Loved the line about moving the girlfriend.

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About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.