The number of portable churches is increasing. I’m talking about churches that rent building space for their services. Ten years ago, I worked at such a church and our equipment cases were huge plastic tubs and the case for the mixing unit. Plastic containers are wrong for gear storage for a variety of reasons. Before you run out and grab the cheapest cases you can find, let’s explore more in the case for cases.
Audio cases are used for a variety of reasons;
- Protect gear from damage such as being dropped or slammed into a wall.
- Protect gear from rain/moisture
- Protect gear from dust and other environmental contaminants
- Provide easy access to panels and inputs/output for quick setup without removing gear from case (such as rack cases)
- Use as shelving / counter space such as mixer cases where the mixer stays in the bottom of the case.
- Ultimately, increase the life of your equipment
I’ve used cases that seemed ideal at first but quickly became liabilities for both the protection of the gear and the safety of the load-in / load-out crews. When it comes right down to it, you want cases that will;
- Protect your gear as listed above
- Have secure locking mechanisms (twist to secure)
- Have wheels (casters) that will hold up to abuse
- Have quality handles that won’t break on your when you are lifting 200 pounds over your toes.
- Have top-notch hinges
- Be rock-solid
Two months ago, I was helping a band move in their gear for a conference at a hotel. The mixer was almost a total loss. The mixer case is made by a consumer-grade case company commonly used by musicians. The plastic case had no internal bracing and therefore, as I found out, the case lid locks didn’t work. “Oh, so that’s why they had it wrapped with a bungee cord.”
Which case companies should I avoid?
There are a variety of case companies that provide good products at the consumer-grade level. They serve a need but let me put this idea before you. When looking at those cases, ask yourself this question; “if I had to protect a chicken egg on a cross-country trip, which of these cases would I trust?” Oh, and by the way, you’re the hen that laid the egg. You should quickly see that consumer-grade (musician-grade) cases aren’t up to the task.
What case companies should I use?
The first piece of crucial information you need to know about high quality pro audio cases is that you get what you pay for. That being said, if your church is hauling out a $5,000 digital mixer plus other electronics and gear then spend the money to protect that gear. With that in mind, let’s go shopping.
In my quest to find the highest quality cases, I went to the pro’s. I asked those in the pro audio industry, who live and die by their gear, “What cases do you use?”
Here’s what they use;
- L&M Case Co.
- R&R Cases
- Classic cases
- US Cases (resellers)
- Spectrum Cases
- AZ-CASES (in case you are in Poland)
* Quite a few recommended L&M, R&R, and StageGear, but given the demands on cases they only told me trusted (proven) case companies they used, which are all included here.
Which types of cases should I get?
Only you know the right cases for your needs. The web sites above showcase a variety of cases which include;
- Mixer cases
- Rack unit cases
- Audio equipment storage cases
- Lighting cases
- Computer (laptop and desktop) cases
- Custom cases
Additionally, when working with case companies, they can help you determine which cases will meet your needs. Finding a case company in your area can also help with this aspect.
Why would I use a custom equipment case?
Custom cases are great because you can move gear like modules. For example, let’s say you have portable lighting units that go on the right and left sides of the stage. Why have one box with all your canisters and one with your lighting cables. Get a custom case that works for the lights and the cables for the left side and a duplicate case for the right side. Audio setups are not the same and by going the route of custom cases, you can speed up your load-in and load-out time.
In the end, don’t think of your cases as a means of moving your gear from one place to another. Think of your cases as insurance. Think of your cases as a means to faster load-in’s and load-out’s. Think of your cases as one of your most important pieces of equipment.
Question(s): What’s been your experience with cases? What stories can you share?
*images fromL&M Case Co.