Control/Dimming Help me pick a console!

bishopthomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2010
Location
New Jersey
Re: Console suggestions

Wow, you guys certainly have a different concept of "inexpensive." The Express is showing up used for $2500. Smartfade is $1500, the ML is $2500. I'm looking for a $600 range controller. It certainly doesn't need moving light capability. Yes, LWinters, this is for an over 50's community club house. They will not be programming anything, just playing back. The less buttons on the surface the better. In fact, if there's some sort of recorder that comes in at that budget I'd be perfectly fine with that. I would love to install a touchscreen wireless control type of system but they're not going to want to pay for that.
 

doctrjohn

Active Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2008
Location
Madison WI
Re: Console suggestions

Elation's ART-1024 may be a good option for you. It allows custom configuration via a computer and then simple playback via the touch interface or via calendar/scheduling functionality. All in all it is a pretty good bang for the buck architectural system. And, if you can pardon the semi-commercial nature of the following, you can find it at your budget limit here.
 

LBCSeattle

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2012
Location
Seattle area
Re: Console suggestions

I'm looking for a $600 range controller. It certainly doesn't need moving light capability.
So...you want something pre-programmable with more than 48 channels that is good for taking advantage of the LEDs and with simple record/playback capability that doesn't use a computer interface for $600? Those sound to me like mutually exclusive criteria. The simple formula is: more control (i.e. channels) = more $.

Here is the trade-off: the really cheap boards are often a) manual control or limited memory at best. That makes playback more complicated; or b) difficult to program because they don't have expensive software and surface controls to make things easier. The more expensive boards are often actually easier to program and playback.

That said, I think there is a lot of information missing. What kind of stuff do you need to play back? Cues for plays? Flash and trash for dances? 6 cues or 100 cues? How often does it need re-programming? Do you understand how the control works? How will you be using your system? Do you need individual control over each and every fixture and color on the LEDs?

You seem to be concerned about channels. Lets assume (since everything else needs to be simple) that you don't need a lot of individual control. Most LEDs - especially inexpensive ones - can use 3 or 4 channels. You can bank 4 4-channel LEDs together in the soft patch (or give them the same address). Now you only need 4 channels to control them instead of 16. Maybe a couple of color washes are 4 fixtures each, so you use 2 channels instead of 8. Not trying to limit you, but with the budget you have and the type of board you want that may be the trade-off.

Using the strategy above, the LP-600 series Leprechauns (NSI is similar, I think) are about as basic as they get and have up to 24 channels of manual control, but will control 96 addresses (i.e., dimmers.) The programming "EZ guide" is 1 page. They don't get much simpler. $1000 used Search leprecaun 624 on Used Lighting - Used Stage and Theatrical Lighting Equipment, LED Lighting, Trussing

Also, sell the seniors short at your own risk. My dad is in his late 70s and is in charge of the sound system at his church (with digital recording, wireless mics, etc.). Around here we have a lot of retired engineers (Boeing and Microsoft) who eat system design, networking, and programming for breakfast :). Some of yours might want the challenge of learning a new skill.
 

LBCSeattle

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2012
Location
Seattle area
Re: Console suggestions

Elation's ART-1024 may be a good option for you. It allows custom configuration via a computer and then simple playback via the touch interface or via calendar/scheduling functionality. All in all it is a pretty good bang for the buck architectural system. And, if you can pardon the semi-commercial nature of the following, you can find it at your budget limit here.
This would need some checking to see if it will perform like a lighting console. How many presets? How does timing work? Will it do overlapping or multiple fades? Can you program chases on it?
 

Lazerlight

Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Location
Columbus Ga
Good First Light Board

The company I work for is starting to grow. We have several moving lights and we have been controlling them with dmx controllers. What is a good reasonably inexpensive light board to start with. Either a board or software with a dongle. We use Mac computers and would prefer to stay on Mac with no parallels if possible if we go with the software route.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Location
Saint Louis, MO USA
Re: Console suggestions

I think that this discussion is foolish. This should be broken down by budget. We should be asking the question, "what do you actually have to spend?" Only then can a real determination be made as to what might work well for your situation. Otherwise we're just sitting around stroking ourselves proclaiming to the tech geek world which console we prefer and why you're wrong.

I could make a very long list of all the consoles I hate and rattle off reasons as to why I hate them. I could also try to write a persuasive speech in an attempt to bring you over to my side of the line. But, really, it all depends on what kind of money you have.

If you don't have money, well, then that old analog NSI brick is going to work great, because that's what you can afford.
 

Pie4Weebl

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Location
New York City
Re: Console suggestions

I think that this discussion is foolish. This should be broken down by budget. We should be asking the question, "what do you actually have to spend?" Only then can a real determination be made as to what might work well for your situation. Otherwise we're just sitting around stroking ourselves proclaiming to the tech geek world which console we prefer and why you're wrong.
Did... did you actually read any of the thread?
 

Andrewc65

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
San Diego, CA
Suggestion for new HS lighting board?

Hi Guys,
I would like recommendations for a new High School theatre lighting board. I use the ETC ION in the current theatre that we rent out, and love it. Since the school will be building a new theatre on campus, I will need suggestions on what to get for the control booth.

Andrew
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
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Jan 2, 2006
Location
Seattle, WA
The Ion is definitely one of the better options. It's probably a little more than you need, but if you can afford it. You already like it. Go with it. If you can't afford it, look at Element. It has a lot of similarities but at a price and feature set designed more for schools.

Call your local dealer and ask for a demo.
 

ManowarKill

Member
Joined
May 7, 2013
Location
Ireland
Re: Console suggestions

smartfade can run a stack, however it's really horrible to program. If you can find a real board(see if someone will sell you an express real cheap, or an old strand board) I would highly recommend it. Failing that, yes, a smartfade will probably do what you want. Smartsoft on a computer connected to the console makes it slightly more bearable, but it's still not a substitute for a real console.
Ive only ever worked Avo's n GrandMa's the smartfade for the money beats everything man. If you find programming it horrible ye have to be doin somethin wrong their a piece of piss
 

StewTech

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Location
US
Re: Console suggestions

The company I work for is starting to grow. We have several moving lights and we have been controlling them with dmx controllers. What is a good reasonably inexpensive light board to start with. Either a board or software with a dongle. We use Mac computers and would prefer to stay on Mac with no parallels if possible if we go with the software route.
ETC ION all the way. It's a great board for combining conventional fixtures and intelligent lights, and it's very user friendly.

I'd say, though, if you can't afford and ION, at least stick to ETC. They are wonderful with tech support-I've spent hours on the phone with them.
 

mharper

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2013
Hey All, I just joined earlier today, browsed this whole thread yesterday. Anyway here is my question.

Our church is looking to upgrade our lighting system, it will probably be a step by step process. We currently have a NSI 7008 console running 8 PAR64 lights, we normally rent some lights, 8-12 pars or LED pars for 1 or 2 productions each year along with a hazer or 2 on occasion (and additional console). We are looking to add some LED pars, along with the possibility of a mover or 2, and a hazer or 2 to the permanent setup. I want to do something along the lines of an ENTTEC USB interface and software control in conjunction with a physical console. I would like the console to be able to be stand alone to where for our basic Wed night service someone could just push up the faders for the 8 PAR64 lights we are currently using and not even have to turn on the computer (normally we don't have any tech team there except for the person running the projection software). Then on Sunday service and other special events we could utilize the computer interface and the additional lights. We would be doing a lot of busking and some programming.

What do you guys recommend to accomplish this, is it even possible? I was thinking a console with a DMX input and run the signal from the ENTTEC into it, would that work? I don't have a budget number right now, of course as always the lower the cost the better.
 

LBCSeattle

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2012
Location
Seattle area
Hey All, I just joined earlier today, browsed this whole thread yesterday. Anyway here is my question.

Our church is looking to upgrade our lighting system, it will probably be a step by step process. We currently have a NSI 7008 console running 8 PAR64 lights, we normally rent some lights, 8-12 pars or LED pars for 1 or 2 productions each year along with a hazer or 2 on occasion (and additional console). We are looking to add some LED pars, along with the possibility of a mover or 2, and a hazer or 2 to the permanent setup. I want to do something along the lines of an ENTTEC USB interface and software control in conjunction with a physical console. I would like the console to be able to be stand alone to where for our basic Wed night service someone could just push up the faders for the 8 PAR64 lights we are currently using and not even have to turn on the computer (normally we don't have any tech team there except for the person running the projection software). Then on Sunday service and other special events we could utilize the computer interface and the additional lights. We would be doing a lot of busking and some programming.

What do you guys recommend to accomplish this, is it even possible? I was thinking a console with a DMX input and run the signal from the ENTTEC into it, would that work? I don't have a budget number right now, of course as always the lower the cost the better.
If I understand you correctly, you are looking for a PC-based program to deal with the movers/LEDs, dmx toys, etc. while the NSI or similar basic console runs a small package of conventionals? You should also factor a dedicated PC into the cost, because you really don't want the computer that is also used for surfing, watching videos, doing Email etc. to be your control desk software. Laptops are not as reliable as dedicated desks.

That being said, if you get a control system from a company that also makes desks, if you like the system you can buy a desk later and all you need to learn is how to use the new interface.

The Jands Vista line http://jands.com/vista/ has a wide variety or controllers, including PC-only as well as compact control surfaces.
Zero88 http://zero88.com/products/consoles/index.shtml has a similar lineup.

There are probably others out there I have limited personal experience with the Vista and no experience with the Zero88, but it is a starting point from manufacturers that do have a track record.
 

zargon

Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2013
Location
Socal
Perhaps you should get a ETC Cobalt 20! (just kidding)

If budget is a concern, have you considers using a computer with a usb/dmx converter?
 

KLM

Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2012
Location
Southern UT
Hey, everybody. I'm looking for a console for a 150-seat classical concert hall. Currently we have a Strand 300 in there, but everyone I work with hates it and it's slowly dying. The console only needs to be able to control 40-60 individual channels (all just regular old dimmers), and 10 submasters would be more than enough for the venue. We don't cue or anything in there, and we have other consoles that we bring in on the rare occasion we need more control capabilities. I'm not looking for a PC-based solution because it needs to be as simple as possible for music instructors to use. (Turn on Console, push up slider simple) Any ideas? Thanks for your time!
 

JChenault

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Location
seattle, wa USA
I'm interested that you think a PC solution would be more complex than a console.

How about 'turn onPC., click on the button that says 'Music Rehersal'
 

KLM

Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2012
Location
Southern UT
I'm interested that this is inevitably the first response to someone when they mention they're not looking for a PC solution.

So I hook them up with ChamSys, free software, cheap dongle. Except I'm supposed to buy a standalone computer to run that if it's show critical, right? And since I said they want physical control (they're used to sliders, they want sliders), I need one of the interfaces for that. The cheapest one is around $1,000, if google is right. Since this is for a school, if they have a question about the light board, they're gonna call IT instead of me because all they see is a computer. Then we've got IT on our case because they don't understand why we've installed software they haven't approved and whatever else they can gripe about.

If I'm gonna spend around 1k, I feel like I might as well get a standalone board out of it, even if it's not shiny and new. That was my reasoning, sorry if this comes off as rude, I don't intend for it to. But it is a little frustrating to have to defend why you want a regular board - haven't we done it that way for decades?
 

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