Posted 26 December 2011 - 12:59 AM
To be honest, there is an aphorism about both having cake and eating it - if you want the features and reliability of nice comms, you have to pay for them, and unless your school is willing to bite the bullet and spend money now to save later, you're better off just hiring. Even if they are willing to invest, if you're only doing 4 shows a year, Stage will hire you a six way kit for £45 per day, let's assume 16 show days a year = £720 + VAT to hire which doesn't even buy you a Canford base station. Granted, Canford kit is pretty tough and can last for many years, but you'd need it to last for at least five years just to break even wrt the hire cost, and longer still if you're paying less than SLX list price for your hire (likely, if you're sticking it onto a larger hire order). On the other hand, buying your own stuff mitigates the risk of WL turning around and saying "sorry guys, all our cans are on hire because it's Panto season/someone needed 30 ways of comms on their show/another customer dropped them off a cliff".
The disadvantage to the cheap buy solution is that it's likely to get trashed, especially with inexperienced users such as in schools. At PLASA this year I was looking at various intercom options for a touring show, and Canford showed me a Series 2 Tecpro pack that had been drop-tested at 20ft onto their warehouse floor. Said pack was still functional with minor cosmetic damage. I then spoke to another comms manufacturer, who claimed to be more robust than Canford because their packs are made of steel and rubber, not plastic, and cheaper too. I asked the rep if I could drop one of their packs from chest height onto the carpeted floor of their stand, he assented, I dropped the pack and the front panel exploded in a shower of broken buttons. This is a condition that could easily be replicated ("sorry guys, I got my pack caught on a set piece and it fell down") in a working environment. QED.
Incidentally, the reason I haven't named the manufacturer is that the look of disbelief on the rep's face was so pitiful to behold that I feel sorry for the guy. Needless to say, we didn't take his kit on tour.