Ion v Congo Jr

highschooltech

Active Member
I'm working for a church who is looking to move into the world of movers. They have an expresss 24/48 and would like to stay with an ETC board. Anyways of the two which do you think would work better with 5 movers (1 technobeam, 2 S4 revolutions, and 2 Mac 700s) plus an array of 40 conventionals and some LEDs.

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
I haven't seen Ion in person, and have only spent a little time with Congo Sr. at LDI, but I would go with the Ion. The syntax of the Congo series is radically different from all other ETC consoles, whereas the Ion is similar. I suspect the Ion would also be less expensive. Just my 2¢.

highschooltech

Active Member
is the congo closer to the syntax of a hog? For me it doesn't matter because i have used several different types of boards before but for the volunteers it might be more difficult. In the end how easy was it to pick up?

Charc

Well-Known Member
Either buy the Ion, or buy both, and mail the one you don't like to me!

(I have NO qualification for my input. From my limited understanding it sounds like the Ion is better suited for your needs. However, most importantly, it's the newest board. I mean, you do wanna be the cool church on the block with your flashy new Ion... right? )

avkid

Not a New User
Fight Leukemia
is the congo closer to the syntax of a hog? For me it doesn't matter because i have used several different types of boards before but for the volunteers it might be more difficult. In the end how easy was it to pick up?
If they have an Express how is the Hog relevant to their skill levels?

soundlight

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I don't see where the hog fits in here either. The Ion will be much easier to pick up for anyone who has used an express. I've been using the offline editor quite a bit to get used to the software, and I like it. It's much, much easier to use than an express for ML stuff. I'd go with Ion, and get a 40-fader wing or two (I'd go with two, just because of my programming style, but get what you need). Also make sure that two 17" LCD monitors are in that package, as well as a USB trackball and probably a USB hub.

jmabray

Active Member
I'm working for a church who is looking to move into the world of movers. They have an expresss 24/48 and would like to stay with an ETC board. Anyways of the two which do you think would work better with 5 movers (1 technobeam, 2 S4 revolutions, and 2 Mac 700s) plus an array of 40 conventionals and some LEDs.

Either one will work just fine.

Yes it is true that Congo's programming syntax is different. Some people can't get over that fact and it trips them up. If you just accept is and move on to learning about it, it takes about 15 minutes of programming to get it right and after about an hour or so I was faster on the Congo than then Express/Expression (where I have 10 years or so of experience).

What you have to understand here is that ETC has had two different philosophies of consoles for years now. There is the Express/Expression series - which is a "Preset" or "Cue-Only" style of console. Then there is the Obsession line - which is a "Tracking" style of console. (In each of their default states, that is) This is a pretty significant difference in the way each console operates.

The Preset style records the entire look on stage (including values of channels and attributes that are at zero) into the cue. Thus the cues actually look like this:

Cue 1
1 50
2 0
3 75

Cue 2

1 50
2 25
3 75

Cue 3

1 50
2 25
3 0

The tracking style of desk only records the changes that have been made in going from cue to cue. Thus if you are looking at the same series of cues as above, the data actually recorded in the cues would be as follows

Cue 1
1 50
2 0
3 75

Cue 2

2 25

Cue 3

3 0

Data from channel 1 "tracks" through and when cue 3 is played, you still see the same look on stage, just that the data is recorded differently.

This is a significantly different way of thinking than the Express works. That is not to say that you can't record in cue-only mode on the ION, because you can, only that in it's "Natural habitat" its a tracking desk.

Some people are going to have a much harder time wrapping their head around Tracking rather than the syntax change in Congo world. Either way you go, the desk will typically come with a factory certified person doing the training, so you will have that going for it. Plus you will have ETC's support behind the product as well.

In each of their respective versions are priced about the same (more or less) so that isn't much of a consideration in the comparison's between the two.

Let me know if you have any other questions and I will try to help you as best I can.

Jeff

Lightingguy32

Active Member
I would say the ETC Ion because it has syntax close to (very similar) to the expression series. The congo Jr. I have heard has a some what difficult syntax to pick up due to being "reverse polish" and it's learning curve is a little higher.

zac850

Well-Known Member
I'd personally go with the Ion as opposed to the Congo Jr. The RPN isn't ALL that hard to learn, it takes a bit of time to get used to, but the learning curve isn't all that difficult. Even so, the Ion seems a little more intuitive to use. When I learned the Ion it was rather straight forward, whereas when I was learning Congo Jr I had to wrap my mind around a few new concepts (it deals with cues slightly differently, chases and effects are different as well). The Congo is more for a concert situation, while the Ion is better (IMHO) for a more theatrical setting.

If you had a larger rig of movers I'd say go with the Congo, but for just 5 movers, I think the Ion will be more then powerful enough.

I suppose though, it comes down to what you will be using it for. The Ion has some very nice, very powerful move-while-dark abilities (channel 1 mark q17) which is very good for theatrical venues. The Congo would be better for a massive rock show.

Brilliant2007

Member
I have not used the ION but I have been through full EOS training with ETC at the factory and it is a wonderful system. You also want to consider where you will be in a few years and what your future needs will be. Will you add forty movers to your inventory within a year or two? When you are spending between $20,000 and$40,000 for a console, you want it to last and meet your needs for a while. A couple other brands to consider if you are planning on adding more automated stuff in the future...Avolites, Compulite, and MA Lighting.

sclausenETC

Active Member
Hi there -
You don't mention where you are located, but I would recommend that you contact your local ETC dealer or closest ETC office and arrange to have a demo of both consoles. The points raised by the others in this thread are all interesting and valid but in the end, you and your colleagues need to live with your decision so you should probably take the opportunity to give both consoles a try. Both Ion and Congo jr are completely capable of controlling conventional and moving lights, much more so than our older lighting control systems, and both Ion and Congo jr can start small and be upgraded to handle larger systems in the future without having to buy an entirely new console. We will have more information on our Web site about Ion soon, and in the mean time you can check out the Congo tutorial movies there to get a feel for how the basic functions of Congo work.
Ion info here
Congo tutorials here
Thanks much -
Sarah

Sarah Clausen
Controls Product Manager
ETC, Inc.

highschooltech

Active Member
If they have an Express how is the Hog relevant to their skill levels?
It was a personal thing for me just to try to understand how different they were.

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
First off get a demo and talk to a sales rep in your space about how it will work with your gear. Depending on which accessories you get the price will be about the same.

Second, Don't believe the fear hype about Congo. It is NOT a difficult console to learn. It takes about 20 minutes to learn the new syntax and in a day or two of programing you'll have it mastered. The experts say that once you have mastered it, the RPN is much faster to program than the more traditional ION language. Some people here make it sound like there are all these difficult programing concepts to learn and that's simply not true. You just have to learn to type the commands in a different word order... again it'll take you 20 minutes. In fact as was pointed out so well by Jmabray, understanding the change to a tracking console from a preset will probably be far more difficult than learning RPN.

My personal choice, coming from a background of lots of preset consoles (very little experience with the Obsession world) would be Congo.

Get a demo.

icewolf08

CBMod
CB Mods
While I am sure that RPN isn't hard to learn as a programmer, and if you are sitting there programming for yourself I would imagine it is faster, but most designers don't cue in RPN. At least the LDs that I work with all speak in "Chan @ level" or what would be known as "Infix" in mathematical terms. It just means that as a programmer you now have to be an interpreter if using an RPN input system.

As for tracking, once you learn it, it is hard to see why you would want to work any other way, especially with moving lights. Also, if you don't like tracking you can switch it off.

Don't get me wrong, i am by no means saying not to get a Congo. As everyone has said, test drive them and choose what you like.

Charc

Well-Known Member
Tracking.... no... my undoing! I think I might just record everything as "cue only", or set everything as a blocking cue. I think this can be done by setting everything to zero, recording, then setting levels.

zac850

Well-Known Member
Tracking.... no... my undoing! I think I might just record everything as "cue only", or set everything as a blocking cue. I think this can be done by setting everything to zero, recording, then setting levels.

If your not careful and don't check the color-coding on the screen you can get into trouble with tracking. However, if you decide the entire scene needs to change, it saves you a lot of time, instead of needing to update every single cue.

I assume you use the Obsession? You can of course set the console into Cue Only mode, you can [record] [cue only] [#] [Enter] or you could do cue type blocking. Though I think the best thing would be to understand why tracking can save you time, and figure out how to make it work for you. I was once scared of the idea of a tracking desk, but after a few shows I realized how it saved me hours of programing time!

Charc

Well-Known Member
If your not careful and don't check the color-coding on the screen you can get into trouble with tracking. However, if you decide the entire scene needs to change, it saves you a lot of time, instead of needing to update every single cue.
I assume you use the Obsession? You can of course set the console into Cue Only mode, you can [record] [cue only] [#] [Enter] or you could do cue type blocking. Though I think the best thing would be to understand why tracking can save you time, and figure out how to make it work for you. I was once scared of the idea of a tracking desk, but after a few shows I realized how it saved me hours of programing time!

Nope, Strand 300.

I read the article Gaff posted. That was pretty good, it clarified some of the "features" I didn't understand, though I did understand the concept of "it only changes if you change it". I forgot about tracking and programmed my latest show with tracking on. It wasn't a problem, until the dept head decided to change it ALL THE TIME. Every change tracked through, and messed up every other cue.

jmabray

Active Member
Tracking.... no... my undoing! I think I might just record everything as "cue only", or set everything as a blocking cue. I think this can be done by setting everything to zero, recording, then setting levels.

You can easily set the desk into CUE ONLY if you want to do that on a Global basis. You can also record it on a cue by cue basis as well. It's just that, as it's default, it is a tracking desk.

But if you are that scared of it- get a demo. Ask to use it for a day on your rig. Have the sales person come out and patch your fixtures and then program some cues. See how it actually works. It will really make your life so much easier to see it happening rather than just talking about how it happens...

While I am sure that RPN isn't hard to learn as a programmer, and if you are sitting there programming for yourself I would imagine it is faster, but most designers don't cue in RPN. At least the LDs that I work with all speak in "Chan @ level" or what would be known as "Infix" in mathematical terms. It just means that as a programmer you now have to be an interpreter if using an RPN input system.

It is not hard at all to do. You just talk to yourself alot. But, at least for me, that's not that much different than normal!

Last edited:

icewolf08

CBMod
CB Mods
I am going to work on expanding our Wiki entry on tracking today, that way we can return this thread to it's regularly scheduled program.

theatrelighting

Member
If you're still looking for a console, I was just working in a theater that had 11 moving lights and many conventional fixtures with scrollers. The programmer seemed very happy with the console and I've loved everything that I have seen of it.

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