As this topic comes up every other day I thought that it was just time to post a sticky with some general insight and links to relevant information in other threads. I would also like to take this time to reiterate the importance of the search feature here on ControlBooth.com. Please feel free to use this thread to discuss consoles, however don't use it bash consoles or to say that XYZ console is better than ABC console. I just want to try and consolidate information into one easy to find thread so that every week we don't have a new "Help me pick a console" discussion. Choosing a lighting console is not an easy task. There are many factors that need to be taken into account including: budget, venue size, familiarity with the product, ease of service and support, type of lighting rig you run, planning for the future, and the list goes on. In this day and age, as most lighting controllers are now computerized, it is important to take the same advice as when buying any computer: get the best product that you can afford at the time! Technology has a usable lifespan, and if you start with the best you can get now, the longer it will be able to serve your needs. There are many consoles and manufacturers to choose from. Each caters to different target markets, some manufacturers have products that cater to a wide market share. The best known manufacturers are: Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) Strand Lighting Flying Pig Systems/High End Systems MA Lighting Jands Leprecon There are many other manufacturers out there (more complete list here), however you tend to hear about the above listed most often. One of the most important things that you should do when you are looking into purchasing a new console is GET A DEMO! Even with all the knowledge and knowledgeable people here on CB, there is nothing that will tell you more about a console than sitting down in front of it. If you call your local dealer. We even have a list of theatre suppliers in our wiki, so check it out and add your favorite local shops to the list. If your local supplier is not a dealer for a product that you are interested in, call the manufacturer. Most are more than willing to find a way to set up a demo for you as they all want you to buy their products. When you schedule demos, try to do it when you have a full rig in the air that is typical for the kinds of shows that you do, that way you can put the console through the paces that you would normally use it under. If you do a lot of work with moving lights or LEDs or other "intelligent" devices, make sure that you set some up to try out. If you can't get a demo scheduled then the next best thing is you see if there is any offline software available for the consoles you are interested in. While you won't get the feel for sitting at the desk, you can learn how it thinks and you usually can play with many of the features (aside form the turning the lights on bit). When upgrading to a new console you may also have to consider if any infrastructure changes are needed to accommodate the new technology. If you are currently running an old analog two-scene preset console you will have to do some work to have a new console interface with your system. If you were running one manufacturer's controller and are now switching you may need to purchase new protocol converters, nodes, or gateways. So it is important to take things like this into account, especially for the purposes of budgeting. Next on the list, your venue and what you do. When looking at consoles it is important to look at consoles that do what you need them to do, but are not overkill for your venue. It is also important when you are asking CB for suggestions that you give as many details about what you do, what your venue is like, and what you need to be able to do as you can. If you run a bunch of moving lights all the time then you need a console that is designed to handle MLs well. If you are going on a rock and roll tour then you probably don't want a desk that is geared more towards theatre. If you work in a school you probably want something that is easy to learn and understand. Another major concern when looking at consoles is the availability of service and support. If you don't have a local dealer for some manufacturer it may not be in your best interests to buy their console because if it goes down an hour before curtain on a weekend you may be SOL. If your only option for service is by shipping out your console, it could be problematic. By the same token, you might consider looking at what other local venues are using. If the majority of people around are using consoles by the same manufacturer then you might want to jump on the bandwagon as in a pinch you may be able to call up a neighboring theatre and borrow a console. Furthermore, having the same console (or family) in multiple venues makes it easy for technicians to work among them all. As to which consoles are better and what we recommend, it varies from person to person and case to case. Here are some links to threads about choosing consoles (all of which were found using the search feature):Looking for a new console... Picking out a new light board. Lighting Console Basics Lighting Boards/Controllers New light board for a high school Purchasing a New Console New School Lighting Board Hog vs GrandMA? Hog Vs. Vista Hog 500 vs. Expression 3 Have fun when you choose a new console, and don't hesitate to ask for advice! Also, stop by the CB Wiki as there are some entries that may be useful when looking at consoles, such as Pricing- "How much does a _____ cost?" and Best Dealers for Supplies & Equipment.