Control/Dimming Board/Software recommendations?

ematson5897

Member
I work at a medium sized church (700 to 1000 average weekly attendance) in Texas. We are doing a little bit of a lighting renovation, and we are looking at getting a new board of computer based software. At this point, we are using an LPX-48, which I despise, and I am the only one who is able to program it because it is so user-unfriendly. Its terribly slow, but we are basically maxing out its capabilities. We're on a bit of a tight budget, it almost certainly needs to be under $4000. Once we are done renovating, we will have around 24 movers and 30 static LED pars, along with a few conventionals in the catwalks. We probably just need 2 or 4 universes as far as DMX space goes. I was looking at the jands vista software, since its relatively cheap and is quick to learn, which is really good because I'm about to leave for college so someone needs to learn it soon. I'm also fairly good at electronics/programming, so I think I might be able to rig up a device to let our garbage board act as a control surface for the software over MIDI, so we can still have some hardware controls. We have both a Mac and a PC that we can use to run software on, so that doesn't factor into the cost. Any more suggestions?
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
I'd suggest a Martin M2PC and a touchscreen computer, which will give you 2 universes out, and you can add another USB-DMX box to get 4 universes out. If you want more faders/playbacks, add an M-Touch. The Martin software is very easy to learn, and is very visual which helps with user-friendliness. The way it handles effects is particularly impressive, and it gives you some extraordinarily powerful ways to utilize playbacks. The software has been optimized specifically for touchscreen PCs, and it is very well thought out. You can download it for free and try it out - and have one universe out with the Enttec USB DMX Pro if you want to give it a spin with real live fixtures.
 

VRommel

Pathway Connectivity - Retired
Premium Member
I work at a medium sized church (700 to 1000 average weekly attendance) in Texas. We are doing a little bit of a lighting renovation, and we are looking at getting a new board of computer based software. At this point, we are using an LPX-48, which I despise, and I am the only one who is able to program it because it is so user-unfriendly. Its terribly slow, but we are basically maxing out its capabilities. We're on a bit of a tight budget, it almost certainly needs to be under $4000. Once we are done renovating, we will have around 24 movers and 30 static LED pars, along with a few conventionals in the catwalks. We probably just need 2 or 4 universes as far as DMX space goes. I was looking at the jands vista software, since its relatively cheap and is quick to learn, which is really good because I'm about to leave for college so someone needs to learn it soon. I'm also fairly good at electronics/programming, so I think I might be able to rig up a device to let our garbage board act as a control surface for the software over MIDI, so we can still have some hardware controls. We have both a Mac and a PC that we can use to run software on, so that doesn't factor into the cost. Any more suggestions?

Good Morning!

May we humbly suggest you have a look at our Cognito 2 control console? We believe it may be a product that suits your needs as you have described them. It is certainly the type of facility, lighting set-up and user community we designed the console to support. Have a look at the training and demonstration videos on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/pathwayconnectivity. If this piques your interest, please feel free to contact me and I will assist you in locating a dealer who can come to your location and do a demo.

Best Regards,
Van Rommel
Director Business Development
Pathway Connectivity
 

lwinters630

Well-Known Member
I feel your pain with the LPX48. Don't let the price dictate the board, that's what got you the LPX. Pick the board that will take you into the future. Based on church production, program speed, and user friendly I'd suggest the Jands or ION.

As you are going off to college look for user friendly with great support. I've run lots of ETC and their support is great.
 

Footer

Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
You need a better budget. 24 movers and you can't afford the correct control surface? Time to either sell off a few movers or get a larger budget. What kind of service does the church do? Is it well rehearsed so you can program a cue stack or is it more live in nature? If it is more live and concert like I would look towards a hog/chamsys/grandMA/Avo/Martin desk. You can get a light version of most of those for under 10k.
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
@Footer makes a really good point. Owning that many movers without a proper controller means your movers are doing a fraction of what they could be doing and you are working far too hard to make them do that little bit. The GrandMa dot2 was designed just for people like you. It's a legitimate moving light controller stalled down a little for around $14,000.

In a church of 700-1000 people is plenty big to afford it.
 

ematson5897

Member
The problem is I'm not in charge of the budget. I can really just make recommendations, so budget isn't really within my power. No one wants to take orders from a teenager. And to answer your question, its more rehearsed. Right now I just program everything in to the cue stack and print out an outline. Usually the weekly volunteer presses the buttons at the right time
 

Footer

Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
The problem is I'm not in charge of the budget. I can really just make recommendations, so budget isn't really within my power. No one wants to take orders from a teenager. And to answer your question, its more rehearsed. Right now I just program everything in to the cue stack and print out an outline. Usually the weekly volunteer presses the buttons at the right time

I would put you at a baseline of something like the MQ40. It is a killer console at 5k. If you can't go over 4k (that is a rather arbitrary number, there are very few options good from the 2k-6k range... you are in no mans land there)... the Chamsys PC wing and a good touchscreen monitor/all in one would be a good way to go. Same thing goes for the Martin M2PC product as you have already found. Forget the Jands stuff, that console is not worth the time.

I'm still in the buy a real console camp. The MQ40 fits that bill at 5k. The PC console is fine for the gigging LD who needs something for a one off every once in awhile. For a place that is going to use this console for the next 10 years 60-100 times a year get the real deal.
 

JoelD

Member
I second soundlight's recommendation.

Or, if you need to get even lower under your budget then rather than initially getting the M2PC just go with the M-Series software on the touchscreen computer with the M-Touch (best I can tell... around $500-$600) as your physical console - you can always move up to the M2PC later (and still use the M-Touch with it for additional faders and playbacks, so you didn't "waste" that purchase). The M-Touch gives you 1 universe out and you could add one of Martin's M-DMX boxes (somewhere around $250-$350) which provides 2 universes. M-Touch + touchscreen PC + M-DMX would easily be under your $4000 buget.

I'm the volunteer lighting director at our church (in Texas, as well) that runs about 500 a weekend. We have been using GrandMA2 OnPC on a touchscreen with a MA 2Port Node (because of mine and my wife's previous extensive experience with GrandMA - luv it!) - which has worked great for years. But for several months while we were experiencing an issue with our GrandMA system I used the M-Series software (free) on a touchscreen PC with an Enttec Open DMX USB ($70), and it worked great.

We are now finally considering recommending to our church that we finally get a physical console, and so we are evaluating many of them - keeping in mind that we want a console "family" that we can start with now (i.e. inexpensive and works well on a PC) but can grow with well into the future (i.e. scalable and powerful), and that our voluteers can learn now (i.e. user friendly) and carry what they learn on as we upgrade in the future (i.e. consistency of operation throughout the "family"). And the Martin M-Series is right up there among the top of our list so far.

Just my $0.02
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
The M-Series is, in my opinion, the MOST beginner-friendly console designed for a live playback environment. The very visual method of programming and the way it deals with effects makes it more approachable than many other options. I would say that if you have the money, pony up and get the M2GO, which can be had used in the $5000 range, and then add a touchscreen. If not, get the M2PC and get a touch all-in-one computer as I previously recommended. I would NOT recommend the M-Touch for a rig of that size, you need the physical keypad for dealing with that size of a rig. It's a fantastic backup and/or expansion rig, but I would not use it as the main controller.

I'm an MA guy, but MA isn't the right thing for this. I personally am not a huge fan of the Chamsys stuff - I've tried working for it before, but it just isn't nearly as approachable as the Martin stuff in my opinion.

I understand your hatred of the LPX-48 - it's not a user friendly console. I work with one at one of the venues where I work part time. It's a horrible console that doesn't know how to program moving lights even though that's just what it's advertised to do. From what I understand, their new console - the XC-350 - is much more approachable, but still is not to the level of many other major moving light desks such as Martin, MA, Chamsys, Hog, &c in terms of important functionality.
 

ematson5897

Member
I will download all of the PC apps recommended to try them out. Thanks for all the suggestions! Also, would I be able to sell the LPX-48? I'd hate to put someone through using that board but if there's a market I might be able to swing a better console
 
If you're interested in pursuing the Jands' option, please feel free to let me know and I can arrange for a demo

Also, if you have any questions regarding the software, I'm always available!
 

JoelD

Member
One thing I really like about both MA and Martin M-Series (and others) is how highly configurable the user interface is. One benefit of that is that I can (and do) configure my interface so that I use the touchscreen for virtually everything, and don't have much need for the physical keypad. I've been running 25 instruments just fine on just a touchscreen laptop with no console at all (and therefore no true console keypad either). About the only time I touch the physical keyboard is when I need to type a label. And I'm just as quick at programming - maybe quicker - as I was when I was in front of a full GrandMA. I now much prefer making full use of the touchscreen user interface for my programming along with encoders (if a have a console), versus a more keypad/command-line/typing heavy approach (which I used to do and loved at the time) - but that's just me and my style, just the way I like to work.

For us the M-Touch has come along at just the right time and is just what we need - my small church's budget won't be able to accomodate $4000+ for a lighting console for a while (lighting equipment is not at the top of the list for our small, young church), but we could REALLY use physicial buttons and physically seperate faders (vs simulated executors right next to each other on a completely flat touchscreen) to make it easier on our novice/rookie voluteers to run the lighting during the services. Whereas a keypad for programming is not a necessity for us right now. The M-Touch will cover that need for physcial executors... plus a bonus of physcial encoders and a few key command keys... and it will do it at a price point that will be easily approved by my church right now. So we can improve the accuracy of our lighting operation during the services and reduce volunteer frustration now... rather than waiting 2-4 years to get that improvement when the church has finally set asided enough lighting money in the budget for an M2PC or M2GO.

Then when we finally do get a full console we can either use the M-Touch as a wing, or pass it on to the youth department so they can have a lighting console, etc.

Again, just my $0.02. Your mileage (or opinion, or point of view) may vary.
 

AsherSB

Active Member
I second the cognito 2, although I've never really used it, it looks like the best option under 4k. If you can spend more, I support the martin route.
 

Judge

Active Member
I think that you need to separate two things here. What you can do and your technical capabilities - which sound pretty good, and those of others such as volunteers.
For that reason I advice to keep well away from any PC based solution. Nothing wrong with them I have been touring a laptop and Avolites Titan Mobile for the last few years and only ever had one issue, and that was related to a sliightly dodgy USB port that caused a comms loss and thus froze everything - luckily not during a show.
Its tempting because these things are cheaper but as simple as they CAN be, there are often issues.

What you need is a self contained idiot proof solution. You need for someone to walk up to it and power it on with one button.
Then you need a button based macro that lamps on the units and puts them all into a start position.
Then some actual faders that operate output.

Therefore, Avolites Quartz or ChamSys MQ40, although both have tiddley little screens. Avo can have an additional one, I think that to get that on the ChamSys you need to step up to the MQ50.
Or a Martin M2Go. I have not used their controllers but they seem to be solid and well liked.
Or as somebody else pointed out, the MA dot2 are built for exactly this kind of scenario. Maybe a bit more pricey though.
Also the new Zero 88 FLX is probably worth a look.
 

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