The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

ETC express 250 Should i buy it or not?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by sublime629, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. sublime629

    sublime629 Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    i recently saw an ad on craigslist for a ETC express 250 console for $3500

    im a student at full sail and plan to go into concert lighting and i was thinking about investing in this console i just want to make sure its a good one that i can grow into.

    so what do you guys think? has any one had experience with this board?
    anything i need to look out for? is it a good deal?

    any information helps me to decide so let me know


    thanks!
     
  2. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    113
    Occupation:
    Production Electrician, Programmer
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Express is a great board. If you were working in a small theater with only a preset board, that would be a great investment. However, for concert lighting, you will never run into an Express, and if you do, you will wish you hadn't. There is very small need for any one individual to own their own board, unless you have piles of money laying around. The upkeep/repair of a board is not cheap seeing how everything is proprietary (at least in your case, the newer boards are using more standard PC hardware) and you have to ship back to the manufacturer to do anything.

    My $.02
    -Tim
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,616
    Likes Received:
    2,631
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Once they become available this summer ETC Elements are expected to have a list about the same price as the old Express price range... mid $3k to mid $4k. Save your money for the same price or just a little more you should be able to get an Element.

    If your goal is concert lighting then you should really only be looking at Whole Hog's or GrandMA's or perhaps a PC based version of them to get you started.

    This brings up the question of do you really need to purchase your own console. Which is an entirely different question. Are you wanting to start your own lighting company?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,442
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    If you have 3500 to burn, buy a HogPC programing wing, a MA PC node, or a Chamsys Wing. I would not buy an express right now, especially with what you want to do with it.
     
  5. awhaley

    awhaley Member

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    18
    I have to agree with Tim. After 4 years in the concert business, there wasn't a single job where I could have made any more money if I'd brought my own Express along... and there were very few times when I would have made a penny off a better console. If you just own the console... the rest of the lighting rig has to come from somewhere, and it will usually be cheaper for the promoter to rent the console with the rest of the rig (AND give them a console that the touring LD or PM won't snicker at... which is a concern in concert lighting.) than it will be for the promoter to pay YOU a fair price for just the console and still have to pay the rental shop for the rest of the rig. I've run a couple of shows off my laptop using magicQ, but it didn't make me a dollar - I just preferred it to whatever the rental company had brought along for the particular task I had to get done that day.

    The express is NOT designed for the demands of live concert production - it gives you lots of sliders, which makes it adequate for running a small conventional rig, but it's a bare basics board. The moving light controls, while there, are limiting when you need to program fast. I don't even recommend the Express for small theatre installs any more, but a lot of people do like them for that.

    Any job that's going to hire you as a programmer is going to have a console to offer. If you want to use your own console, it needs to be a big step UP from what the tour or festival rental company has to offer, and the express is the bottom of the line. It's a solid bottom of the line console that has some uses, but it's still not a serious concert lighting console. If you're serious about getting your own control gear, I'd look into either MagicQ, or one of the Hog or GrandMA on PC solutions. You could purchase an Enttec Pro dongle for less than $200 and have MagicQ working on your laptop. (I don't recommend the Enttec Open dongle, which is much cheaper, for use with MagicQ. There are visible stutters, particularly when working with moving lights. But the pro dongle works fine and the mini-wing runs around $1500.. so still cheaper than you can purchase that Express... and then you'll be using a full featured top of the line moving light console instead of a two-generations-ago theatrical console that's really designed for theatres just stepping up from a two-scene preset to a memory board. The full Wing for the MagicQ PC software runs around 3500 actually... so this would also be in your price range and give you a LOT more console... if you've already got a PC you can use... The MagicQ wings may give you dmx outs(it's been a while since I looked into them), negating the need for the pro dongle, but it's a handy gizmo to have around in my experience anyway... I haven't priced control surfaces for the GrandMA or Hog PC versions, but they exist, and you should look into them as well before deciding what you want to own.

    What equipment are you learning on at Full Sail? And have you talked to your instructors about the deal on the express, and asked them what THEY'D recommend you invest that money into to help your career? I'd personally get a pro dongle, a mini wing, and two of my own headsets - one featherlight for theatre and one double-muff for concerts. :) But opinions may vary...

    Art Whaley
    Art Whaley Design
     
  6. sublime629

    sublime629 Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    thanks for all the help guys. im looking into the magicQ pro dongle my only problem is that im running a mac book pro and not a PC.

    at full sail ive taken the basic lighting class and we learned on the etc express 24/48 and i found it very very simple to program and use unlike my $200 behringer board which to say the least sucks. ive talked with one teacher about it and she said the price was decent but couldnt see me using it and making back all the money i put into it.

    is there a good website to find these consoles and software you are talking about?
     
  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,442
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Magic Q will run on Mac, PC, and Linux. I have my install running on linux, it works great.


    Your at it.
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,448
    Likes Received:
    2,849
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    See this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/12608-speaking-magicq.html. ChamSys MagicQ for software (for all platforms). ChamSys |net for MagicQ - Home is an online support forum. We recommend the Enttec DMX USB Pro interface, for 151 USD. The lesser-priced 60 USD Open DMX USB Interface does not support Mac and users have reported proplems with the stability of its DMX output (as Art said above).

    Very few top Programmer/Designers own their own consoles (although one full-size grandMA owner jokes that it makes more money than his wife does), for all of the reasons Art mentioned. But a $150 investment for the educational experience would certainly be worth it. If you're planning on going into concert lighting, a great start is to work for bands in bars and clubs, where your PC and dongle and wing may often be a better console than whatever the house has. You won't be able to charge a rental fee for it, but if it makes you look better as a designer, and more importantly makes the show look better, why not?

    Another huge investment for a student looking to enter concert lighting would be a visualizer. I'd make this a prority over any hardware or software that actually controls lights (other than the $150 Enttec/MagicQ solution discussed above).
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  9. doctrjohn

    doctrjohn Active Member

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    24
    Occupation:
    Theater Technician
    Location:
    Madison WI
    I believe MagicQ is cross platform (I have not had a chance to look at it/play with it, but it is on my list). If, however, it is not, I strongly suggest looking at Jands Vista for a cross platform control solution. Not free, but very reasonably priced.

    Best,
    John
     
  10. Syphilis

    Syphilis Active Member

    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    MA
    My two cents:

    First cent, I'm no industry expert, but I have used both the old and new line of ETC boards (from which the Express 250 and Element come, respectively), and if the price is even within a grand the Element is a better board for the money. Programming moving lights with an express is a nightmare, especially in a time crunch. Seachangers, scrollers, hell, any intelligent fixture is difficult to use because at it's base programming the Express is not designed to handle them. The Element, and more so the others in the Eos line, are. And then there's the fact that the Express is just old. Though it'll never quite be obsolete, considering it's tremendous popularity amongst low-budget theatre groups, it's hardware is all proprietary and generally no longer manufactured (I mean, it has a floppy drive, for one).

    Second cent, I would be extremely wary of purchasing a console you don't already know well, or have at least used before. I'm reading in the thread you're probably going the software route, but if you ever do decide to buy a console be sure to get a demo or two first.

    I might be in the market for something along these lines soon, so do post how it goes. Thanks.
     
  11. Micahfj

    Micahfj Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sydney
    Ok, so maybe a no go for an individual, but a good desk for a small theatre company. However, that price seems pretty high to me, given the Element being so cheap. So what do you guys think is a fair price for an Express 250? I've recently bought an Ion for my theatre and another company nearby wants to take our old desk off our hands, but neither of us really know what it should be worth. I've seen them advertised elsewhere for $3.5k and even higher, but that seems just crazy, and I don't want to rip anybody off. (still kinda on topic...)
     
  12. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

    Messages:
    2,839
    Likes Received:
    218
    Location:
    Salisbury,MD
    I would ask $1500.00. The Express is still a servicable board for small theatres and should still have plenty of life left in it.
     
  13. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    82
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    The day before they were discountinuing the express I bought a 24/48 for around 3000. That was brand new in the box from our local ETC dealer. Also as the owner of several consoles when I was out doing freelance I think I have only ever used my own console a handful of times over the years. It was either because the rental company did not have the console to meet the rider or theirs was not up to par for the job I was asking it to do. I am a big power programmer, some consoles cannot think as fast as I input data so they crash, though I have successfully crashed about every console on the market :) As far as wanting to own your own console just don't expect a return on investment (RoI). Mine paid themselves off due to my rental company. Also if you are going to purchase something it needs to be rider friendly such as a hog 1000 or III. I would run away from the hog II. They are getting to the point of being closer to unrepairable due to the components no longer being manufactured. High end systems (the manufacturer) no longer supports them or repairs them. If you don't want to go the hog route I would look into the avolites pearl or the jands vista. The pearl is a nice console that is future proof. You can buy an avo 2000, upgrade it to a 2004 (free software update) . Want a 2008 buy a new motherboard pop it in and away you go. Want a visualizer, download the free software and dongle schematics, you have a console and visualizer (though it works through the midi port so when you are using the visualizer you do lose your midi functions). Also the vista it has a 2d visualizer built in. When I was doing lots of dance shows I wish I owned one. You work within a time line so you can load your music tracks into the console, push the go button console plays the music and fires the lighting cues off the music time code.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  14. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,442
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    I will have to say that the aftermarket does still think a lot of these consoles. They pop up on ebay all the time for not much less then they were purchased new. However, with the Strand Pallet and the Element coming in as cheap as they do, I don't think anyone is able to sell these things for the 3k they want to sell them for. I would probably not pay more the 1500 for any express or expression console on the used market.
     
  15. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I have sold 3 used ones this year for $1750. But I don't like to sit on a lot of gear.
     
  16. Micahfj

    Micahfj Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sydney
    ok, cool. thanks heaps guys.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice