Conferences are speaking and listening events, which means it requires the best audio equipment. This way, every attendee will hear every speech or presentation clearly. Still, you might be wondering, is it best to buy your own sound gear or opt for an audio equipment rental?
In this post, we will answer this question to help you decide what’s best for your event. We will also give you additional tips to make sure you’re going to make the right decision. Let’s get started!
Renting vs. Buying Conference Audio Equipment
Many event planners like you are usually torn between a conference equipment rental and investing in their own. For us, the right choice actually depends on what you need.
But first, let us give you a quick rundown of the advantages of disadvantages of each one.
Renting Pros and Cons
Renting is the usual choice for conferences. After all, it will be convenient for you if there’s just one provider who will supply all your needed audio equipment. Whether this is the right choice or not, you should weigh the following:
• Access to a massive inventory. The main benefit you’ll enjoy when renting is you’ll access the latest audio equipment in the market. Also, AV rental providers usually have large inventories that can accommodate big conferences.
• Lower costs. Compared to buying, renting audio visual equipment is definitely more affordable. Most companies offer a daily rate, which is way, way lower than the retail price of the audio equipment. Also, you don’t have to deal with extra fees for maintenance, storage, and hiring in-house technicians.
• Perfect for small conferences. If you’re only hosting a small conference, it might be more practical if you just rent video conference equipment. In this case, purchasing is usually unnecessary.
• Limited availability. The main downside of equipment rental is the possibly limited availability. This is especially true if you’re hosting a conference during peak season. In that case, you might find it hard to find quality options.
• Rental costs may accumulate. If you host large conferences regularly, the rental cost may add up eventually. In the long run, the rental fees may be enough for you to explore rent-to-own sound system options.
Buying Pros and Cons
For the most part, it’s not common for event planners to buy their own sound equipment. Besides, it’s not cheap to get these pieces of equipment. Also, the expenses are not one-time.
Still, buying might be a good decision in some situations. Here are the points that can help you decide:
• Full control. When you buy your own equipment, you have full control over its use, operation, and ownership. You don’t have to worry about late return penalties from rental companies.
• Perfect for recurring events. If you’re hosting recurring conferences and other events, rent-to-own audio equipment might be a good choice. It’s like an installment program where you pay monthly fees until you’ve fully paid for the equipment. But if you have the budget, you can buy the equipment upfront.
• Guaranteed availability. By buying your own sound equipment, you won’t have to worry about peak seasons in rental companies. You’ll always have the equipment at your disposal.
• It’s expensive. Buying your own equipment is a massive investment. You’ll have to shell out hundreds and thousands of dollars in one go. Although there are rent-to-own sound systems, the overall cost can still be overwhelming, especially for small to mid-sized events.
• Sound technology is ever-changing. One of the biggest downsides of buying your audio gear is that it will depreciate over time. After some years, it will no longer be on par with the latest sound technology used in events. In that case, you’ll be forced to upgrade, which spells further expenses on your part
Factors to Consider Before Buying or Renting Audio Equipment
When it comes to audiovisual for events, sound is always king. And if you’re unsure whether to buy or simply rent, the following aspects can help you decide:
1. Conference Requirements
First, ask yourself, what does my conference really need? You have to consider factors like your venue, the crowd size, and the activities you plan to do. Also, if you need a complex audio setup, it might be worth considering buying your own rig.
2. Event Frequency
This is probably the biggest deciding factor in whether you should buy or rent your sound equipment. If you’re hosting conferences on a consistent basis, then purchasing might be a wise investment. This way, you’ll have your needed audio gear without the need to coordinate rentals all the time.
Your budget is another important consideration when deciding whether to buy or rent the equipment. You should assess whether you can afford the purchase or if it’s best to rent in the meantime. Aside from the equipment itself, you should also budget for future upgrades, which we discussed below.
4. Future Upgrades
As we’ve mentioned, the costs don’t stop right after purchasing your audio equipment. You have to think about future upgrades to keep up with the changing event sound technology. Also, you may need to scale up your equipment if you plan to host bigger conferences in the future.
Audio equipment is often heavy and bulky, which means it’s not easy to transport from venue to venue. With an audio rental, the AV company will take care of the delivery and pickup to save you from the hassle.
On the other hand, if you decide to buy the equipment, you’re on your own when it comes to logistics. You may invest in an in-house team and a truck to manage your equipment. All these can be expensive in the long run.
6. Technical Support
Setting up and operating sound systems in an event is a very technical job. You need a licensed technician to oversee your audio department to ensure that your conference will go on without a hitch.
When buying your equipment, you’ll also need to hire in-house technicians. This means you have to pay for their salaries, benefits, and other expenses as an employer.
To be fair, you also have the option to outsource manpower. But since they don’t use your equipment on a regular basis, they may not maximize their full potential during the event.
Meanwhile, when you opt for rentals, you’ll have easy access to technical support. The AV company can send an on-site team to set up and operate the equipment you rented. Since the gear and technicians came from the same company, you’re assured that they are well-versed in how to use the equipment.
Owning audio equipment also comes with the responsibility of maintenance. You have to think about storage, repairs, and overall upkeep to ensure that the equipment will be in top shape for every conference.
You should know that maintenance translates to additional costs. This is something you can totally avoid if you decide to rent the equipment instead. It will be the AV company’s responsibility to care for their equipment. In turn, you can hold them accountable in case their equipment malfunctions – all without an added expense.
Which One Is Best for Your Conference?
The decision to buy or rent your audio equipment all depends on your needs, budget, and technical expertise. It’s important that you think about these aspects carefully, especially if you’re leaning toward making a purchase.
When in doubt, it’s always best to rent for the meantime. This way, you’ll also have an idea about what types of equipment you’ll need. It will also let you have a firsthand experience of the equipment’s features and quality.
Also, if you have a small conference, buying may not be a wise move. Most small events operate on a limited budget and purchasing audio equipment isn’t a practical option.
Meanwhile, if you hold large conferences and make a good profit from them, investing in your equipment can be ideal. Just make sure that you also factor in maintenance, logistics, and technical support when setting a budget.
When it comes to choosing between renting or buying conference audio equipment, the answer all depends on your needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer since each conference is different and every event planner has their own priorities.
It’s always best to assess your resources, needs, and long-term goals before buying your own equipment. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a sound engineer to see if it’s worth buying or renting sound equipment for your events.