How do you justify new purchases?

Do you set guidelines for yourself?

"After this project, you get a new toy/tool"?

Or, "Because of this new project, you get a new toy/tool"?

Or do you have strict boundaries about what new tools you allow into your arsenal?


Budget yourself, man, because it can get out of hand if you're not careful.

I keep a prioritized list of gear/software that I want to acquire and put aside a block of money each month towards that list. When that stashed money is equal to or greater than the next item, ith gets bought. If I come across some ridiculous deal that is too good to pass up, I'll grab it regardless of position on the list. Of course, I still stay within my budgeting parameters, so it pushes back purchase dates of items at the top of the list.

It's prioritized based on how useful it will be for my work; taking into consideration both the work I'm doing now, and what work I expect to be (or want to be) doing in the future.


My gear purchases are usually motivated by a project, so I am reinvesting equipment rental funds from that project... And I have slowly become far more clear about differentiating between needs and wants, and also what equipment retains its value and what doesn't...

But I also usually reward myself at the end of an important project with a musical instrument of some kind, as I like the idea of that instrument being associated with the project e.g. my double bass = Perfect Strangers, my Korg SV1 = The Orator etc etc...


For me, new stuff finds its way to my studio in one of three ways:

  • Someone offers it to me for a good prize I can't resist.
  • I find something by chance I can't resist and I can afford it.
  • I really need it for some reason or another. Now.

My style as a designer is not based on influence from other medias as such, though I do find inspiration (influence=borrowing from, inspiration=fanning your creative flame. Often used together) in, for example, the music of Skinny Puppy and Art Of Noise, the movies of Lynch and Pasolini, or paintings of Dalí or Gieger, I base my works mostly in psychology, technology and nature. In pretty much that order. For me that means I often finds maybe a new overdrive at a fleamarket or perhaps someone gives me a nice new crappy microphone with a special character I haven't seen before. To be hypothetical; This microphone might have a rough character that may sound horrible on voices, but enhances the transients of me cracking a regular stick of celery to the point it sounds like someone ripping open a human skull with it's bare hands. I've never thought about that sound that way before, but now I have a new method I might adopt into more applications, ergo influencing my daily work tremendously. And it was free.

I have lots of stuff I've gotten this way. I am in many ways very impulsive when it comes to my work, and enjoy letting randomness and hap show me new and better ways to do things, as long as it doesn't sink me in any way.

But most things I buy I really need for specific applications. Take for example my first Sennheiser MKH 40. I felt restricted with my 416, so I figured out what I needed and brought it. Same with my Dolby Media Meter plugin, I needed to accurately tell what level to normalize a project in for the Dolby DD-decoder settings, so I got this. Or my K-Tek boom, I sometimes work in pretty hazardous areas, so I had to find a boom that's easy to work with and extremely durable for many reasons... The list can go on forever, but the point is, I always buy stuff for a good reason. Be it a great deal or something lacking, I never reward myself with gear. That's very important to me as I have very high demands on myself, and the stuff I consider acceptable as tools often cost an arm and a leg, and buying expensive stuff without really needing it might very well mean not being able to buy vital equipment to raise the level for the next gig.

My philosophy is to buy the few best pieces of gear I can find, no matter the cost, and make the most of it rather than more and cheaper stuff that sounds "fairly okay", and as much cheap crap with limited but useful uses I possible can put my paws on, only accepting the middle segment if I get it practically for free.


I;ve said this before in another answer about going debt. I think it still applies: One of the rules i've learned to follow is this: "Will spending this amount of money, on that piece of gear, allow me to work better/faster/for other people/projects? If the answer is yes and you have the money reserved, do it. If in doubt, wait for better times.

In other words, i only buy stuff i really need and almost never treat myself on gear. Maybe in a future time of luxury i will, but for now i save up for what's needed most, like Shaun said.

I must admit that at this moment i'm doubting between buying a new laptop or an extra mkh60 for a very good price. Buying both is not an option... Question is which piece of gear is needed most right now... I'm leaning towards laptop.

It's always difficult i think, so just take your time and never buy on impulse, unless you're loaded with money and 80+years old :)


The greatest asset and piece of gear is the mind and experience.

  • 2
    So you're a philosopher, eh? No tools ever. Just 4'33 on repeat. – MtL Oct 4 '11 at 1:12
  • It seems like a wise way to look at it is to invest in gear/plugins that contribute to your income and then to have your income contribute to that gear/plugins. On the other hand, I'd say that getting something that is more fun than functional can contribute just as much or more to income. – ChrisSound Oct 4 '11 at 6:31

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