As a performer or musician knows, having the right professional audio equipment is essential to performing live and working in a recording environment. Pro audio selections such as microphones,, speakers,, mixers,, and more can shape the sound, quality, and overall nature of a performance or recording. Therefore, selecting the right audio is critical to a performer’s success.
Shopping for professional audio equipment online can be one of the quicker and easier ways to purchase these devices when approached with the right information in hand. The online marketplace provides an expansive resource for pro audio consumers in terms of providing large catalogues of items as well as valuable information on audio equipment. Before starting this process, consumers can benefit from understanding the basics of professional audio equipment, in addition to being aware of certain tips that can refine the online purchasing process. Consumers can also enhance their experience online by familiarising themselves with how the online auction site eBay can make the process of purchasing professional audio equipment relatively easy.
The Basics of Professional Audio Equipment
Before shopping for professional audio equipment online, it can benefit consumers to have an idea of some of the basics of pro audio. By gaining a grasp of the different types of equipment involved, their features, and their applications in live and recording settings, a consumer can make the right product selections.
Microphones fall under three main categories, two of which are often used in live music and one that is typically restricted to recording environments. Understanding each of these microphone types and their advantages is essential when buying and compiling professional audio equipment.
Dynamic microphones are often used in concerts and with PA systems. They have a very sturdy form factor and are highly resistant to feedback, allowing a performer to deliver a lot of volume confidently. They also do not require phantom power or batteries. A dynamic microphone in the recording space is often used for close-up recording of vocal and instrumental performances and may be used in certain drum set-ups as well.
Condenser microphones are more likely to be used in a recording studio than on stage. These microphones are known for their sensitivity and smooth frequency response. They require phantom power and batteries. Condenser microphones are good at picking up overall sound, as when recording a choir for example. They are also often leveraged to get detail in an acoustic performance, such as with a guitar.
Ribbon microphones are the most delicate of the three types of microphones and, as such, are typically only used in studio settings. While a ribbon microphone has a very delicate acoustical system, its electrical design is quite basic and requires no active circuitry.
Audio mixers are console devices that allow the consumer to input a signal from a microphone or electric instrument, process that signal, and then output it to a recorder or amplification device. Audio mixers can come in both analogue and digital versions. Audio mixers typically feature three sections: a channel input strip, a series of master controls, and audio level metering.
The channel input strip is the section of a mixer where a musician can insert various mono and stereo inputs from an instrument or mike. In the master control section of an audio mixer, users can begin to change and tailor a signal by adjusting factors such as the equalisation of a sound and the level of each channel. The various channels are then combined, and overall level metering is applied to further refine the signal before sending it out to an external speaker or recording device.
Signal Processors and Effects
Signal processors and effects are tools that can be used to modulate the sound of a vocal performance or instrument. Common audio equipment in this category include distortion units, filters, modulators, pitch adjusters, and time-based effects such as delays and reverbs. Many musicians consider this type of audio equipment to be essential in developing their own unique sound. These effects can be used in a studio environment to completely transform a musician’s sound from its live performance standards.
Amplifiers include either rack-mounted devices which process a signal for eventual amplification or a PA speaker device that projects a sound from a microphone or electric instrument. A preamplifier or preamp precedes an amp in the signal chain often and preps the signal for eventual amplification. It can help boost the signal and can also reduce noise interference in the sound chain.
Recorders are either digital or analogue machines which allow a musician to capture a performance for posterity. Popular options include portable studios which resemble a small audio mixer and have multiple channel inputs and basic signal controls. Recorders can also be rack-mounted and used as part of a live setup.
Samplers and Sequencers
Much of modern music, including dance music, pop, hip hop, and rap, involved the use of samplers and sequencers.. These devices turn an audio signal into a discrete signal that can then be manipulated, edited, and arranged into a series of sounds. These devices are digital and can store a bank of individual signals for quick access and use at any time during a performance or when recording.
Tips for Shopping Online for Professional Audio Equipment
The online shopping experience can benefit greatly from a consumer adhering to a few recommended tips. These tips range from exploring alternative equipment to proactively researching and engaging the marketplace.
Explore Analogue Equipment
Despite the influx of digital recording devices on to the marketplace, many musicians still value analogue recording equipment. The online retail world is a great space for exploring analogue recording equipment. Items such as a reel-to-reel tape recorder can give recordings an entirely distinct sound, while an analogue mixer can provide a musician with a true-to-life end product. Consumers can find vintage items or explore some newly manufactured versions of these classic recording devices.
Assess the Specifications Thoroughly
When purchasing electronics online, it is important that consumers take the time to thoroughly investigate the technical specifications of a piece of equipment. Consumers should review the specs of an item in detail and seek to confirm particularly relevant specs with a seller. For example, with amplifiers and speakers,, details such as power handling or impedance can have a direct effect on an entire pro audio setup and its sound. Such details should be confirmed before purchase in order to ensure satisfaction with the product.
Communicate Proactively with Vendors
Whether confirming specifications or just asking for an opinion, communicating with merchants is a critical element of the online shopping process. Consumers should take the time to engage with a vendor whenever possible. Vendors of electronics are often very knowledgeable and can provide a useful framework for selecting and purchasing a piece of audio equipment. Sellers can also advise a consumer on certain aspects of a device’s performance and whether it can work effectively in certain applications. Being proactive about communicating with a vendor online can be an informative and helpful way to zero in on a choice and ensure that one finds the right item.
Read Reviews to Get Perspective
Other musicians may have much to say with regards to the playability, tone, and performance characteristics of a piece of audio equipment. Look for the opinions and feedback of other professionals to help refine a choice. Articles, forums, discussion boards, and even offline publications can give consumers a healthy perspective on a piece of audio equipment. Other professionals can have extensive live experience with a microphone, for example, and provide a consumer with detailed information as to a microphone’s gain, feedback tendencies, and more. Consumers shopping online can benefit from feedback submitted online from other customers and music professionals.
Consider Buying Second-Hand
Pro audio equipment is often sold in used condition online, providing a secondary marketplace in which consumers can explore options. Pro audio equipment tends to be well cared for by previous owners and can often remain in good condition after years of use. The sellers vending second-hand pro audio can also have a very informed perspective on the equipment, since they have likely spent time utilising it in one scenario or another. The second-hand marketplace is also a good resource for vintage equipment and replacement parts for vintage pieces of gear.
Buying Professional Audio Equipment on eBay
A great resource for professional audio equipment online is the auction site, eBay.. On this website, consumers can peruse both new and used pro audio equipment from a wide array of sellers. The site also offers an easy-to-use search interface which allows you to quickly initiate the purchasing process.
Once you are on eBay, you may begin a search by entering a term in the search bar on the site. eBay brings up listings related to that keyword. If you want to view the overall pro audio marketplace, enter a general term such as "professional audio&". If you have a specific item in mind, use a narrower keyword term, such as "Sony speakers&", or use the advanced search option on the site to obtain more relevant listings.
On eBay, it is very easy to communicate with sellers and evaluate their products and practices. Take the time to visit a seller’s page and look through past auctions and the feedback which other consumers have submitted. You can also communicate directly with a seller to confirm an item’s specifications and help you finalise your choice.
Buying professional audio equipment online can be an easy and efficient process with an informed and proactive approach. Consumers in the market for professional audio equipment can have a much more streamlined shopping experience if they take the time to familiarise themselves with the many products that make up professional audio. Consumers are also well advised to be proactive by assessing the specifications on devices as they explore the options.
The online auction site eBay offers a rather comprehensive catalogue of choices for the pro audio consumer. On eBay, a consumer can enter a search term to immediately begin looking through the site’s offerings. With the added benefit of direct communication with sellers, eBay gives consumers a thorough and user-friendly way to shop for pro audio. The many functionalities in the website provide a streamlined purchasing process that results in the acquisition of the audio equipment one needs to complement a recording environment.