Best Low Budget Lighting Consoles

gafftaper

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Ok, we keep dancing around this one. Let's have it out once and for all.

You've got about $3000 to spend and you need a reliable console. What are you going to buy?
NSI, Zero88, Dove, EDI, Colortran, Lightronics, Strand 100/200/301 series, P.C. based, ETC Smart Fade, Leprechaun...

Rules:
-You ARE NOT allowed to answer ETC Express/Expression/Obsession or Strand 300/500 (you only have $3000 to spend!).
-You ARE NOT allowed to answer USED Express or Strand 300.
-No Bashing or flame wars... stay on topic. (Yes Van you can say you don't trust NSI and tell us why, but I want to focus on the products you DO like and why.)
-Focus on ease of use, reliability, and feature bang for the buck.
 
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stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
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Charlotte
I am going with ETC SmartFade. Talking to my local dealer, once they are available in a few weeks, he says he can sell me the SmartFade ML for about $2,100.
 
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soundlight

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For a purely conventional rig, Colortran Encore (used if necessary to meet price requriement) with NEW backup batteries. Great desk, but you've gotta have a fresh battery in before a show.

For an ML rig, Smartfade ML.

For a festival conventional rig, not theater, where it's all busked, Smartfade 24/96.
 
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If you don't mind a PC interface, you can get a mid range desktop from Dell for $600 and Martin Light Jockey (1 universe) for approx $1500 to $2000. Light Jockey is still the best stand alone software for DMX operation (IMO).

If you want a physical console, definitely go with the SmartFade ML. It should go for about $2300ish with a dealer that is willing to extend you a discount.

I would also recommend getting a small UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) ($50-$75) to use with the desk or PC. Always a good idea with any sound or lighting console.
 

Dave123

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Sep 9, 2005
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Asheville, NC
I've been using Bluelite X1 (Innovateshowcontrols.com) for a while now, it's software. I had a smaller budget and I'm am actually very happy about that now. I feel like I made a great choice. Bluelite is very easy to use and their support is top notch! It's definitely worth a look.

The one universe hardware is $400, you can get a laptop for under $1000 and then all you really need is a cheap 24 channel DMX in board. I went with a $200 chauvet 24 channel.
I definitely get more flexibility than with most $2000 boards I looked at. I highly recommend it.
Another bonus with using software is I can program in the van between gigs.

I can not really compare it to Light Jockey because I've only used it once very briefly.
 

JustinPBrunei

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brunei
would you mind trying used console?
i think you can get a lightjockey for a pretty good price.
there's a usb dongle sell post on the martin Lj forum.
but i'm not sure if it's still available.

might want to consider chamsys magicQ pc.
yes it's alittle over budget.
but it can do anythin from small event to big concerts.
there's a huge option to advance it too
like wireless lan dmx box. visual direct control with thumbnail on screen.
control more universe than you ever need.
extend playback wings in the future.

it's a good pc console, for all sort of shows.
 

soundlight

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This thread is quite the hypothetical.
 

gafftaper

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The reason I started this thread is that we have had multiple posts over the last couple years looking for a cheap light consoles. Typically what happens is one or two ideas come out then other people argue about how those suggestions are junk. Then somebody says if you can't afford the latest from ETC it's all junk. And it all sort of degenerates down hill.

The idea of this thread was to present a hypothetical and then just get positive feedback ideas. So that maybe we could come to some agreement based on personal experience of what low budget option doesn't suck.

As for the used part, you are right, clearly an used Express is the perfect answer for a lot of situations. However, some schools won't allow you purchased used equipment. Thus I put the no used restriction on the thread.
 

jmabray

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they are too expensive for this "hypothetical"

$4,425.00 list price
 

avkid

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SLC in the UK is selling them for ₤1,586.25(including VAT ) or $3,132.36
 

soundlight

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Ahh, I've got a new one to throw in to the mix...LSC (Applied NN, the trussing manufacturer, distributes some of them in the U.S.) maXim M model (medium model) with 48 faders. Great little board, from what I read. About on par with the smarfade, but it's got some cooler features that I like. You can also add an ML control section for quite a bit more money.
 

avkid

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Ahh, I've got a new one to throw in to the mix...LSC (Applied NN, the trussing manufacturer, distributes some of them in the U.S.) maXim M model (medium model) with 48 faders. Great little board, from what I read. About on par with the smarfade, but it's got some cooler features that I like. You can also add an ML control section for quite a bit more money.
The list is £1540 or $3041.
The street price is probably around $2800 or so.
 
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Jamie

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Jan 7, 2005
Location
Indianapolis
For $3,000? I would go with a 2Port Node on PC Pro version of the grandMA console for retail $2,950. It has 2DMX universes, so can handle whatever scale show I throw at it.

The grandMA is the best console series for me because I work both in theatre and concert, and they handle both with ease. The PC version is also ideal because most of my bright ideas happen on the road, where all I have is my laptop. I can just create a new small show or use a template "ideas" show, and the built-in stage menu and/or the grandMA 3D software shows me how things will go.

Program on the beach with a drink, run your show, then relax with another drink on the beach. plan?
 

icewolf08

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For $3,000? I would go with a 2Port Node on PC Pro version of the grandMA console for retail $2,950. It has 2DMX universes, so can handle whatever scale show I throw at it.
The grandMA is the best console series for me because I work both in theatre and concert, and they handle both with ease. The PC version is also ideal because most of my bright ideas happen on the road, where all I have is my laptop. I can just create a new small show or use a template "ideas" show, and the built-in stage menu and/or the grandMA 3D software shows me how things will go.
Program on the beach with a drink, run your show, then relax with another drink on the beach. plan?
That sounds like quite the bang for your buck! Now all you need while you program on the beach is a DMX connection to control the sunset!

"If all the world's a stage then I want better lighting!"
 

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