Dave Malekpour is president of Rockland, Mass.,-based Professional Audio Design, a supplier of new and used audio equipment, including both large- and small-format consoles. PAD is also the exclusive U.S. agent for certified pre-owned SSLs, and provides factory-trained technicians who can rework the desks. Recently, PAD has supplied pre-owned SSL G Plus consoles to Cherokee and Music Grinder Studios in Los Angeles, as well as a Neve VR60 with Flying Faders to Bennett Studios in Englewood, N.J., and, in the San Francisco Bay Area, a vintage API to bassist Les Claypool of Primus.
“From our position, we see everything — new and used — that's out there,” Malekpour comments. “Because in today's market, there are so many kinds of studios, when we get a call from someone who's looking for a console, I try to help them fully understand the goal of their studio. For example, we have clients who do original music composition for high-profile television ads. They're set up like a traditional recording studio, putting instruments and vocalists through a console, but they don't necessarily have to please customers who are buying studio time. Then there are commercial studios that make their living selling time to whoever wants to come in, with a lot of that time bought by producers and engineers who drive the choice of where to work.
“The console is still, in most cases, the primary part of a recording studio. It's where everything is brought together and the work surface that everybody gathers around. We'll see people who put in a Sony DMX-R100 or a Mackie D8B, but they'll put it into some kind of giant console-type surface because that's what people are comfortable with. It's not just about making an impression; it's that there are four or five people who all need to be involved in decision-making. They need a place to sit and be a part of it.”
The next step is getting the options you need for the money you have to spend. “The question should be, ‘How am I going to be working?’” Malekpour continues. “'Do I work all-digital, in which case a small digital console may be really useful, or am I recording a lot of microphones and instruments where I want some musical coloration'? Typically, in a DAW environment, people are buying lots of front-end equipment. But, instead of buying tons of outboard preamps and EQs, an alternative might be to find a good, used analog console.
“We also have customers who have a 9000 J studio who want to create a second room. Because of budget constraints, or because they don't want to compete with their main room, a pre-owned 4000 G Plus can be a great environment. It provides a comfort factor; people understand how to get around on it and they know what the end-results will sound like. Having equipment that people are familiar with is definitely a driving factor in the used market.
“A program like ours gives people a particularly good reason to buy a second-hand console. If you buy one that's been serviced or even upgraded, with all the kinks worked out, and you can get a warranty, it's the best of both worlds.
“It's not going to be as cheap as buying something off eBay, but some of those things you buy ‘as is’ will become nightmares for a long time to come. There's a lot of attractiveness when you see something going for five percent of what it was originally. Chances are, though, parts are unobtainable, the price of them is very high or working on those consoles is very difficult due to the way they were manufactured.”
Malekpour is confident that large-format consoles aren't going to disappear anytime soon: “Analog consoles can have extremely long residual value; some of the ones we're selling today are from the early '80s and people still want them. We have finance companies that will only do three years on some digital products, but we can get five-year leases on analog consoles that are 10 years old.”