Reply To: Prices keep falling on us

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dcongdon
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I agree. Most of the gear you listed are well established products with defined market positioning. Feature changes for these products are minimal. A 2007 USA Stratocaster is pretty similar to a 2014 version…maybe a slightly different lacquer or pickup wound. Each product has an set of qualities that are more valuable unchanged. That is essentially where the analog mixer market is at. It will be interesting to see where the analog mixer value settles once the digital market balances out.

For digital mixers, the market separation was pretty clear early-on with budget mixers like the studiolive foregoing motorized faders and routing flexibility. Competitors entered the game and quickly ate into Presonus’ market value with moving faders and nicer preamps. I’m no authority on the matter…but it seems like we now have 4 strata of digital mixers forming: ipad-mixers (DL1608, TouchMix-16, Stagescape M20D), small format, motorized mixers (QU, Si Expression, X32, etc), Advanced routing (GLD, Si Performer, M200-i, M32, Pro1, QL5, etc), and tour grade (iLive, Vi, Pro2+, CL5, sc48, etc). I still don’t know where to place the Studiolive… probably with the iPad mixers.

As we all know, the X32 was a shock to many of us because of the shear number of professional features at the price point. Really, the price difference is simply to make up for the brand’s reputation and reliability. For some, it makes the liability a worthwhile investment. Many of us who have adopted A&H products value a more respected manufacturer with a proven track record. We sell that reputation and depend on its reliability. I’m sure you are the same way. But as a freelance engineer, I am first to acknowledge that I keep a couple brands in stock to account for the various projects I am hired for. Sometimes you need bells and whistles, sometimes a workhorse…and sometimes you need cheap functionality.
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I think we’ll find a clearer picture in a year or two (crossing my fingers). Major changes will slow down and give way to basic firmware updates. It really depends when the next tour-grade feature is made available to low/mid range products. Maybe 192k, complete crossover DSP in the mixer, built-in routers or networking, or wireless stage boxes. Who knows. That will probably usher in the 2.0 models and product value upheaval. Again, I don’t expect that for a couple years unless a manufacturer wants to make a splash into the market. For now, any adjustments appear to be temporary incentives or attempts to stay competitive in the market.

A final thought…
In many ways, I see the digital mixer market much like the guitar amp/fx simulation explosion in the last decade. Everyone was amazed with Line 6 amp modeling… until the next year’s model came out. They were cool tools for solo musicians, but a horrible investment. A classic tube amp with traditional fx pedals would hold their value more than a computer-based simulator. The difference in our situation is that a digital mixer not only simulates an analog mixer, it can now offer us features previously impossible to achieve with analog. I think the digital mixing platform is here to stay…it just isn’t fully matured.