Light Board Recommendation?

meldog312

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2005
Our church recently bought an 96 channel colortran dimmer rack the ENR 96 to be exact from an acution at the local high school before it was being torn down, and we are looking for recommendations for a lightboard to use with the system. It came with everything but that, the director took it to the new high school with him. Any help would be greatly appreciated

Matt
 

Foxinabox10

Active Member
Joined
May 1, 2004
Location
Boston, MA
From the research that I've done and the input that I have gotten from professionals and members of this site, I would recommend the ETC Express Series.

How many of the dimmers are you using and how many are distinct channels (i.e. How many different groups do you want to be able to control the lights in)?
 

Josh

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2003
It comes down to the features that you require, budget, and, of course, preference. ETC has been a favorite in the US for years now, but Strand is an equally competent manufacturer.

ETC does have outstanding tech support - 24/7/365 - and thanks to its popularity its "fairly" easy to get emergency service and or parts in the US.

One thing... make sure your ENR rack speaks DMX. At one point Colortran had their own version of DMX called CMX I believe. If the rack doesn't speak true DMX, you'll need either a converter or some sort of upgrade / retrofit to the racks electronics if available.

Josh
 

Josh

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2003
Forgot to add that ETC boards are available on the used equipment market as well. So if you'd like a more powerful board for your money, investigate the used equipment option. There wouldn't be a warranty in many cases, but ETC boards are very stable if kept clean and not abused. The newer boards take tour abuse much better than the older boards. So while I'd be weary of something like an Obsession 600 that had heavy tour abuse, I'd be much less concerned about an Express that had the same as long as it was clean.
 

Traylen

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Location
Bay Area, California
The ETC Express and the Strand 300 are the two competitors for the cheaper boards class. While both are very good boards the Strand 300 supposedly handles moving lights and scrollers (aka intelligent fixtures) better and also tends to be more durable then the ETC counterpart.

However, one might consider the ETC because ETC is a big factor in the higher end boards compared to Strand's 500 series (atleast in my area). Knowing their lower end board will help people more when they move up to a bigger one.

Just my 2 cents.
 

SteveB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Traylen wrote:

"The ETC Express and the Strand 300 are the two competitors for the cheaper boards class. While both are very good boards the Strand 300 supposedly handles moving lights and scrollers (aka intelligent fixtures) better and also tends to be more durable then the ETC counterpart"

Curious as to what info. you base this comment about durability on, as my observations from the many postings on the assorted stagecraft forums over the past several years is that ETC, especially the Express/ion series consoles are vastly more reliable then anything in the Strand line.

Note that I'm not a huge fan of the Express/ion OS, prefering the Strand Light Pallette style, but am aware that ETC has superior tech support, which is why I have 3 Express consoles at our PAC. I can think of at least a dozen rental shops in my area (Metro NYC), all whom stock ETC in the rental line, while maybe 2 stock Strand, and those are the 500 series that are seeing increased usage on Broadway. I'm not aware of any of these shops using the Strand 300 series (been a while since I checked - maybe BML in Raritan, NJ).

Do a google search on the Stagecraft newsgroups or the Lightnetwork to re-visit the assorted complaints about Strand tech support and you'll see what I mean.

That said, the Strand 300 is indeed a lot of bang for the buck, especially as it essentially has the OS of the more expensive 500 consoles. They are indeed a better choice if you have ML's, as compared to the Express.

But don't forget that at some point you might need to get the console serviced and where are you going to do that ?, and who has a loaner in your area ?.

SB
 

wolf825

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Location
Eastcoast USA
I would first ask what lights or future lighting needs do you have for this console at your church? Are you running all conventionals, any scrolloers or color changers or other DMX controlled FX? or do you want the option of going intelligent or moving lights later? How many universes or channels of control do you need or want to have available--and lastly WHO is going to operate this? Is the operator going to be whomever is available--if so then you will want to keep it simple in a preset or submaster type console... If you are not doing any detailed programming, then why complicate things..but if each service is a unique show or has unique looks each time--that is something to consider.

As for consoles--ETC Express and Insight series are good solid consoles...same for the Strand 300 and 500...

Just a few things to consider--it sucks to buy a console twice within a few years because you outgrew its abilities..ya know....

-w
 

Radman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2004
Location
Franklin, TN
Heck just spring for a Maxxyz!

I agree with Wolf, it would be nice to know a little more about how it would be used. If you're on a real tight budget you could get the larger of the ETC Smart Fade consoles, too. They look pretty cool.
 

Traylen

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Location
Bay Area, California
SteveB said:
Traylen wrote:

"The ETC Express and the Strand 300 are the two competitors for the cheaper boards class. While both are very good boards the Strand 300 supposedly handles moving lights and scrollers (aka intelligent fixtures) better and also tends to be more durable then the ETC counterpart"

Curious as to what info. you base this comment about durability on, as my observations from the many postings on the assorted stagecraft forums over the past several years is that ETC, especially the Express/ion series consoles are vastly more reliable then anything in the Strand line.

SB
It is more durable not neccessarily more reliable. It can take more punishment from people. The structure of the board and the buttons and what not can take more punishment then the ETC board. I didn't say it was more reliable, they're 2 different things.
 

aroth89

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2005
Location
New Jersey
Go for the ETC Express 125 or the 250. We have 96 dimmers too, and thats what we use. If you dont own any intells, the these will work just fine. They are also very common for small schools or churches. Now, if you had unlimited money and a bunch of intells or DMX driven special effects, and you wanted to put on a rock concet, then I'd say go with the Hog iPC. I know that this last part is irrelevent, but I just felt like sayin it.
 

bodega1705

Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2005
I would definatly recommend the ETC express console...easy to use and can perform really well...like the other members said make sure that your dimmers are using the DMX cable units...
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
Most protocols now have DMX retrofits though, that just send the protocol in to one end of a littel black box and DMX out the other end of the black box, at least for the NSI protocol, the Lightronics protocol, and many other obscure protocols.

After running an ETC Express 48/96 this summer, I have to reccomend that because it is an amazing board that is incredibly easy to use, but still has the manual slider interface for every single channel, which is a plus.