Star Tech are Reaching for Stars and Guitars
The days of the PA guy with the truck may be over, or are they? Yes they are hard to find these days but perhaps they have just grown into boutique production companies, or been tagged and tested “EOR, do not use” (EOR = Embittered Old Roadie).
One of the new generation of non-EOR companies is Melbourne sound and lighting company
Star Tech Entertainment Technologies. Starting in 1999, originally as a PA-owning band, it didn’t take long for guitar-playing PA owner Daniel Thomas to realise which side of the mixing desk his butter and future livelihood was on. No matter how crowded an industry, there’s always room for a good operator with the right product. This is especially true for Star Tech, as they commenced business at a time when many PA operators were getting out.
Daniel Thomas and co-founder Danny Phillips migrated from
to try their luck in Melbourne and like most people starting out, they would have gone straight home if they realised how tough it was going to be. By 2000 they had established a foothold in the dwindling cover band scene and six years later they are thriving and getting a taste of the big acts with more to action come.
Popular Melbourne Cover Band, Adam-12: From cover bands to the original acts, it’s all the same production these days.
Richard Clapton shows who wrote the covers and how they should be played.
One key to their success was making some really astute equipment buying decisions at the start of the gear buying arms race. “We still use pretty much everything we ever bought”, comments Daniel. “It’s false economy to buy everything twice, we bought the right gear from the start and it has hung in there, long after it had paid for itself”. This strategy allowed Star Tech to build an inventory of solid pro gear with a long life expectancy. Each piece of equipment paid for the next purchase with little or no redundancy.
One of those insightful decisions at the start was buying RCF. “The RCF boxes paid for the Nexo boxes and we have never had to sell anything. The RCF boxes just keep running and working. The Nexo gear paid for more Nexo. Now the old RCF gear is paying for new RCF gear”, says Daniel.
Gear versatility was the priority of every purchase. “The RCF Art boxes were our ultimate small ‘Lego PA’”, says Daniel. “First used as FOH boxes and then as fold back wedges. They never broke down, went thermal and were often cross-hired to other PA companies. They are the standard of the rental industry”.
Five sends of RCF Art powered boxes make a fast and compact monitor set up with almost flat EQ.
Since the cover band days Star Tech have logged an impressive list of original acts and corporate customers. Variety such as Ben Lee, Spider Bait, Sarah McLeod, Area 7, Diesel, Thirsty Merc and a number of permanent installations have kept the guys busy.
Tidy racks make for reliable operation and quick set up.
Star Tech’s speaker inventory is now mainly Nexo PS15s and RCF Art Series powered boxes. Throw in some sub-bass boxes and a few horn-loaded boxes for the bigger gigs and you have a super-versatile selection of quality, compact shows that can be rigged to almost any configuration. The company’s latest acquisition was a quantity of the new RCF Art 322a powered boxes, (high powered, that is). When asked how they are going, Daniel replies with some quotable quotes when he used them as foldback monitors.
Nudist Funk Orchestra and K-O: "The 322a is nearly as flat as the Nexo PS range and almost as loud, a very good compromise when budget is the issue" - Will Burston FOH Engineer. “Chapo thinks they are great, too, having used them for hardcore and metal bands at Switch. They even asked him to turn them down”. Not bad for a plastic box, but it doesn’t stop there. The Art 322a makes a ‘killer’ FOH box with, or without the optional powered sub-bass. The 12” model puts out like a 15” and the 15” model? Well, that sounds like a 15” too, but with more whack!
A record shop promo featuring Davey Lane (ex You Am I). PS15” FOH and the new RCF 322a for monitors… "Finally a powered box that will cut it for small touring stuff", says Tony (FOH Engineer)
Here are a couple more Star Tech shows. The smaller ones get the RCF boxes and the bigger ones get Nexo. When Richard Clapton commented about the new Nexo PS15 foldback, "Wow, how much are those things, I want some?" Richard asked Gman (Greg Harris FOH engineer), who replied, "Ralph they are worth more than your ears, mate". If only they were around in the 70s, there would be more grumpy old rockers with hearing.
The Circus ain’t all lion tamers and girls on the trapeze.
The Circus in 2005, the animals are on the outside.
Set up for Area 7: An “EOR” leaves to complain about the late drink rider. Brass players love the RCF Art boxes because they reproduce acoustic instruments so accurately.
Lighting is an important part of the Star Tech inventory: even sound guys do it these days.
Daniel summed up the success of his business in a tough market this way, “Thoughtful purchases of the right gear and providing good service. Build a customer base that is hiring you for your skill and organisation, not the lowest price and you can’t lose”. He forgot to mention a few years of hard work, too.
RCF Art Series
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