Now that you understand the mind-boggling quantity of products available
for digital audio, it’s time to shop for them. Here are some tips to make
your shopping trip successful.
Plan your budget in advance: Plenty of inexpensive options are
available to you, so don’t be afraid to budget before you shop.
Try before you buy: Download software demos, get hands-on experi-
ence at your local music store, and check out training sessions and get
practical experience with hardware and software at music technology
conferences and music store events.
Demand personal attention: Many retail (or even online) stores
have knowledgeable, working musicians on staff. They should also
know which products to avoid because they’ll see returns from unsatis-
fied customers. Make sure you can ask questions and get intelligent
answers. If you can’t, go elsewhere.
Check return policies on hardware: It’s happened to the best of us:
a product we thought was going to sound fabulous turned out to be
extremely poor quality. Unfortunately, software usually can’t be
returned because of piracy concerns.
Check maintenance policies: Before you agree to a retailer’s
“extended service plan,” find out what the manufacturer’s warranty is.
Retailers are required by U.S. law to tell you. Then, make sure you
read the fine print of any extended options.
Save the receipts, and add insurance: You’ll need receipts for
rebates and returns, tax purposes, and insurance. Audio equipment can
be a significant tax deduction if it’s related to your profession. Even if
it’s a hobby, you can record hobby expenses on your income tax in the
United States. Additionally, since warranties and extended service plans
don’t cover theft or damage, you can often cover your gear under your
existing home insurance (if the gear is at home) and/or personal property
insurance (when you’re on the road). Bring receipts to your insurance
company and find out what it will cover.
Get ready to download: Aside from online shareware and freeware,
commercial software is sometimes cheaper without the box. And even
if you buy boxed software or hardware, check online for updates—the
CD is rarely the latest release.
2: C
Where to Buy
Retail sales outlets
Guitar Center
Sam Ash
for retail store,
for online sales)
Fully-staffed online
resellers who provide
sales advice include:
Full Compass
Kelly Music &

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