Control/Dimming Help me pick a console!

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
Elements would work if you like the subs. It’s a step up from what you have and your people will already be familiar with it.

Whatever is left over start buying some LEDs
 

NolanNolan

Member
Joined
May 5, 2016
Location
Canada
Some might claim cheaper boards will do the job, but you have the funds to do it right.
Supplier is suggesting ETC Colorsource Console. Would this be an example of the above?

I found this 2 year old post about the differences between the Element and Colorsource, does that pretty much cover it?

Found a semi-local Element to demo and supplier is demoing a Colorsource, so at least I can get some hands on.
 

RickR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Location
Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
That list was just what I could read off the data sheet for the ColorSource. I've had a chance to work with it recently.

I like a lot about it, but I really feel it's best for the smallest and least technical situations. At 80 channels max, you would have 22 channels for all your LED/Mover/whatever. However it approaches control very differently than most other boards out there. Most professionals would get frustrated very quickly with the things it can't do or does automatically without options. There isn't a provision to really accurately set color values, or even know what you selected for a palette or a fixture. The effects are pretty basic. Marking is totally automated. I would never want to use it without a monitor. I'm designing a couple of small town high schools at the moment and feel the CS is too limited for them.

For the price gap the Element gives you a whole lot more. It will take some learning, but you are already familiar with the basics as it was specifically designed to be the next version of the Express. I like to say the big difference is that you will hit ENTER a lot more. If all you ever did is record cues and submasters then hit GO then the CS would work. If you care about timing, color details, effects (when you get LEDs or movers chases won't be enough) ease of RE-programming (CS mostly makes you redo instead) and a massive pool of operators/help/tools then a couple grand more is well worth it.
 

igeek207

Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
Location
Portland, ME
Looking to upgrade from ShowXpress.

Hey everyone :)

So I'm the lighting guy at a nightclub. When I took over the lighting, they were running ShowXpress. I basically self taught myself how to program using this platform.

Unfortunately, I am noticing big limitations as my programming becomes more advanced. One in particular is the ease of adding new fixtures into existing scenes.

Now I will keep ShowXpress on the computer, since that is what the club is used to, but would personally like my own controller that I could run the club rig more dynamically and make it easier to program.

I recently saw some videos on the Avolites Titan Mobile. Looks like a nice console. Would this work for my needs?

My primary job is actually busking the lights live to the music the DJ is playing.

So here's our little rig.

I appreciate any advice. :)

Main Room

(5) Chauvet Intimidator 350 LED (14 ch)

(8) Chauvet Colorband Pix (36 ch)

(2) Chauvet Slim Par 56

(1) Chauvet Mega Strobe FX 12 (2 ch)

(1) X-Laser Sapphire X2 Laser

(1) Look Solutions Unique 2.1 Hazer
 

techieman33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Location
topeka, ks
It would take care of your needs just fine. That's a lot of money to spend though unless they're going to pay you to bring it with you. You might consider buying a titan one dongle ($150) to try things out before you spend that much of your own money. Chamsys Magic Q is another option, you can pick up one of their 5 hour dongles for $15, or the unlimited one for $100. Buying a personal console is a big investment, so I would suggest you try some stuff out before you make a big purchase like that.
 

igeek207

Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
Location
Portland, ME
It would take care of your needs just fine. That's a lot of money to spend though unless they're going to pay you to bring it with you. You might consider buying a titan one dongle ($150) to try things out before you spend that much of your own money. Chamsys Magic Q is another option, you can pick up one of their 5 hour dongles for $15, or the unlimited one for $100. Buying a personal console is a big investment, so I would suggest you try some stuff out before you make a big purchase like that.
Thanks. I actually downloaded the offline system. Watching the tutorial videos and following along with the given demo show file. Once comfortable with the system, going to put the club rig in and see how it performs. I also scheduled a time to meet with the Avolites rep at LDI and will surely be trying it out before investing my own money.

I figured it was time for me to get serious with my lighting career. I know if a guy that travels with his own older Ion. So I figured it would be in my best interest to have my own console.

I have used a Chamsys PC wing, but found the overall buildv and feel of the buttons to feel cheap.

From what I understand of Avolites. The consoles are built using military specs. Sealed buttons, optical encoders, etc.

So my initial investment is probably going to be $5,000, but every paid gig outside the club, all the time saved programming at the club, and for every year I get out of it, seems worth it to me. :)
 

jamesh

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2013
Location
Southampton
Thanks. I actually downloaded the offline system. Watching the tutorial videos and following along with the given demo show file. Once comfortable with the system, going to put the club rig in and see how it performs. I also scheduled a time to meet with the Avolites rep at LDI and will surely be trying it out before investing my own money.

I figured it was time for me to get serious with my lighting career. I know if a guy that travels with his own older Ion. So I figured it would be in my best interest to have my own console.

I have used a Chamsys PC wing, but found the overall buildv and feel of the buttons to feel cheap.

From what I understand of Avolites. The consoles are built using military specs. Sealed buttons, optical encoders, etc.

So my initial investment is probably going to be $5,000, but every paid gig outside the club, all the time saved programming at the club, and for every year I get out of it, seems worth it to me. :)
Was this one of the original style PC Wings or one of the Newer PC Wing Compacts?
If you're at LDI and want to get in some time to have a look at the latest offerings from the ChamSys range we can arrange this also! :)
 
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jamesh

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2013
Location
Southampton
Was this one of the original style PC Wings or one of the Newer PC Wing Compacts?
If you're at LDI and want to get in some time to have a look at the latest offerings from the ChamSys range we can arrange this also! :)
Excellent! I'll be there for the duration of the show on the booth, hopefully see you there!
 
Joined
Oct 11, 2016
Location
Palm Harbor, FL
I have recently purchased the Chamsys MQ40N. I was using the Chamsys USB dongle before that, but only briefly. I'm very new to DMX programming but I am really liking this controller. Way easier to program and busk than with just a computer alone. I feel the software design, which is the same platform for PC/Mac/Linux and all consoles, has a lot of features that cater to busking, of which my needs are the same as yours, mostly DJ/Club lighting. Try to get a hold of one and try it out, I felt that this was the better way to go over a PC/Wing route, plus I still have the computer as a backup. Chauvet is now offering MagicQ classes at their location in Ft. Lauderdale as well. I haven't used any other top tier consoles but this one seems to be a great value for an entry level unit.
 

sloop

Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Location
Indiana
I think people over look PC based control, adding wings if needed. Its a damn site cheaper, personally I find programming on twin touch screens with a mouse faster than using a console. If you need tactile faders, add a wing.. Even with wings, its a lot cheaper than going with a console.
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
I see a difference between folks that have had theatre experience and those with none on how easy or difficult it is to adapt to a PC and software based control. The church market, often with volunteers with no theatre background seem to do well with PC and software and are immediately more comfortable, less intimidated.

Interesting is all. I personally love lots of sliders and knobs but grew up with multiscene analog consoles.

The only instance of specifying one was a special case where except for one event a year, Paradigm was fine. And the teacher liked nomad on his laptop for that one. And like $250 for educator version. And they can buy and plug and play if they want.
 

Stuart R

Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2017
Location
Miami FL
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:
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):
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.
====================

Thank you, Alex. I can appreciate your frustration in getting repeats of the same kinds of questions year after year, and love the idea of there being a central location for accumulated wisdom on certain topics (in which case I'd nominate a discussion of *stage floors* as well as lighting desks). Were I starting from scratch and asking a basic "How do I do lighting?" question, I'd absolutely understand being told to review previous posts, or being redirected to the general education area. As it is, I feel I've actually shared quite a bit of information about our specific situation and requirements, so looking at dozens and dozens of old posts (many perhaps outdated) is a bit of a shot in the dark. Here is a summary of the info I provided in my post:

1. We're working in a school "cafetorium" doing school plays and assemblies.
2. We have 80 or so instruments, mixed conv/LED, with precisely five movers. Our whole infrastructure, including dimmers, is ETC (and we like ETC).
3. Our current desk is an ETC Element 2 but we have outgrown it because it's not useful for programming moving lights.
4. We have no traditional booth, and anticipate running future shows from a temporary position in the house that annoyingly must be set up and struck daily.
5. Whatever desk and software we pick, I need to be able to program/visualize cues on a laptop away from the venue.

My post went on to share that (given the above parameters) I've been thinking that maybe an ETC Ion Xe might be the ticket, but I don't know how easy it (or perhaps a iPod running a remote app) would be to run from the house. The other option I've been considering because of portability is EOS Nomad but don't know how easy that is to use or what peripherals to include.

As I hope you will agree, I'm not exactly saying "I want to do lighting. Tell me what desk to buy." I'm saying, "I have a very specific set of circumstances and needs, am thinking of certain solutions, and would like to know if I'm heading in the right direction or if there's another option that I'm missing entirely." Under these circumstances, my reading an article on The ABCs of How to Choose a Lighting Desk would certainly be helpful, and would doubtless increase my knowledge, but I'd still want to share my particular situation and hopefully gain some valuable input from a group of people that seems to enjoy (and is good at) helping people solve their specific challenges.

Still hoping for some specific advice based on my specific situation, I remain
Yours truly,
Stuart R
 

ndp

Fun Director
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Location
Worcester, MA
Stuart, I'd recommend an Ion XE or a Gio @5. Personally while the Gio @5 is more money I would go with that, as if you are moving it frequently having a compact package, with an integrated screen, will be very helpful. You can use the Eos desktop client to work on things outside of the venue, and the Augmented visualization stuff is really good for that. The RFR app for Eos is also pretty good.

We have a Gio (the full-sized one) and do hundreds of events a year that it's moved, setup, and struck at - anywhere from putting it in a booth to run a musical or using it outside for a concert and anything in between. In that reasonably harsh environment, we have had very few issues over the 7 years we've had it.

- Nick
 

Stuart R

Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2017
Location
Miami FL
Stuart, I'd recommend an Ion XE or a Gio @5. Personally while the Gio @5 is more money I would go with that, as if you are moving it frequently having a compact package, with an integrated screen, will be very helpful. You can use the Eos desktop client to work on things outside of the venue, and the Augmented visualization stuff is really good for that. The RFR app for Eos is also pretty good.

We have a Gio (the full-sized one) and do hundreds of events a year that it's moved, setup, and struck at - anywhere from putting it in a booth to run a musical or using it outside for a concert and anything in between. In that reasonably harsh environment, we have had very few issues over the 7 years we've had it.

- Nick
Thank you Nick - It's great being able to benefit from your experience. I really appreciate the advice. - Stuart
 

CWrebch

Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Charlotte, NC
I believe that it is priced on order from the factory. I believe that you actually have to ask for a quote to get a price as it will vary depending on what else you are getting at the same time.
Yes correct, anything ETC above the Element, ION, or ColorSource requires a Work Order or Job Name in order to get a quote for GIO or EOS consoles. But you can always look for B-Stock sales online. Usually means demo units with a few scratches on them.
 

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