Is it a Red Flag if a Audio, Video, Lighting Equipment Dealer Only Sells One Brand?

buyers guide gear May 23, 2024

When you're looking to purchase audio, video, or lighting equipment, you might not think to check if the dealer or installer is a dealer for more than 1 brand of the item you're buying, but it's actually a really good idea.

It can quickly expose whether or not you're getting a fair price on the AVL equipment you're purchasing.


Simply put, any time you're going to purchase AVL equipment - whether through a retailer or an installer, you want to make sure the party on the other hand has YOUR best interests in mind, not their best interest in making the largest commission.  In most cases, it's a red flag if they only sell one brand of a particular product!

Why Brand Diversity Matters

One pitfall in buying AVL equipment is buying from someone who isn't a dealer for many brands - if you look at their website or line card and don't see multiple brands for the type of product that you are purchasing - RUN! - especially if it's an expensive item!

When it comes to choosing the right piece of AVL gear for your needs, one of the first things to do is either:

a) work with an expert who can make their best recommendation to you


b) dig through spec sheets and reviews yourself to make your choice.

It's a bit of a sliding scale...if you have some knowledge or expertise in the type of gear you're buying, then you can probably make a solid, informed decision. 

But, if you do have access to an expert to consult without the price of the product going up significantly, then it may make a lot of sense to ask and see if there is anything else on the market that you weren't aware of! 

You never know when you're going to find the perfect fit from a brand or product line you weren't aware of!

Why It's a Bad Sign If Your Vendor Only Sells 1 Brand or Family of Brands

It's fairly commonplace to encounter dealers that really only sell 1 brand of any particular type of product.  They'll tell you things like "We only sell this brand because then we can focus all of our attention on building you the best system", or something like that, but the truth is, if a vendor doesn't have multiple brands under their roof, they probably aren't considering all of the options, and this can often lead to really big problems.

What happens if there isn't a really good product for your needs under the brand they sell (or even the brand they primarily sell)? Will that retailer or installer let you know about options from other brands that are a better fit for your needs?

What's going to happen - and we can say this with confidence because we see it often - is that you're going to be sold a speaker, light, console, or whatever AV equipment it is, and that product really isn't going to be an amazing fit for your needs.  But, your dealer will walk away with their profit thanks to either having negotiated special rates with one brand (to be exclusive), or simply because they aren't big enough to offer multiple brands.

Either way, it's not good.  Your chances of being sold something that really doesn't fit your needs is pretty high!

What's the Solution?

If you're faced with a quote from a vendor that only sells one brand, or who won't do a fair comparison for you, then you've got a couple of options.

First, you can be your own comparer (is that even a word?), and go get some quotes/opinions elsewhere so that you can see some different products that may meet your needs.

The only bad part about that approach is that you don't get an expert, unbiased opinion unless you're an expert.   You could also pay an expert for their advice if the purchase is large enough, as the savings in making sure you get the RIGHT product may outweigh the cost of the consultation.

The better solution is to partner with a retailer or vendor that not only has multiple brands of each type of product, but one who isn't afraid to give you unbiased advice and opinions on what would be the best solution for your needs.

That's where we really excel - at Learn Stage Lighting GEAR / Above AVL - we carry many brands, and multiple brands for each type of item so that we can give you our best opinion and recommendation, and help you compare prices. 

Our staff isn't on commission, and we often find that the highest priced product isn't the best fit and aren't afraid to say so.   Add items to your cart and request a quote TODAY or use our Contact page to get ahold of us if you're not sure what make/model of product you need.  We LOVE to help - and if you need a 1-to-1 Zoom call, we do those too, and they're free when you purchase!

What About Companies That Sell Their Own Branded Equipment?

Last, but not least, there are a number of "self-branded" companies out there offering their own house brand of lights, sound, and even video equipment.  Sometimes it's sneaky and they use a different brand name than their name, sometimes they don't.

But either way - be careful!  While the products they offer CAN be a good buy, we often see companies like this recommending ONLY their products, even when a different manufacturer's product may be a WAY better fit and price. 

We're not saying to NEVER use house brands, but if a company isn't a dealer for major brands as well, be wary.  While it's not guaranteed that the products will be lower quality or a bad fit, it's definitely a situation that we see often.  There are a few "house brands" out there that advertise heavily and have really poor reliability 2-3 years in.  We don't want you to buy that and be surprised when your investment in new gear ends up being very short term!

The best case in situations like these is to find someone who sells both house brands and major brands - as long as they give the major brands a fair comparison!  

The biggest problem with this approach is that they won't have access to thousands of possible products to fit your application if they only sell their own brand.  And often, this leads to a bad fit in product being sold - so always, always compare to name brands to make sure you're getting what you need.  Watch review videos, check manuals, and make sure the house-branded product you're getting will meet your needs.

And then, you can get back to making great events!


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