lighting console

I've loved the two Strand boards I've used, that's my opinion of Strand in general. I just looked at the overview of the two consoles, and the Strand one does a whole lot more than the ETC one.

The Strand desk has two things over the ETC which are major - cues and effects.

The ETC desk requires that you set your look everytime you power the board up. The Strand desk will let you save your looks and cue them. You can also record effects (chases, flashes, etc).

I'd definetely go for the Strand one.
I would also recomend the Strand...

I have never worked with any of ETC's stuff yet... but I have done 5 shows with the Strand 200 Series.

The Strand board puts everything userfriendly. It is easy to patch, record submasters, program FX effects, and save it all. If you want to get really into it... it is rather easy to program the lights to go along with MIDI.

Well.... but that is only ones opinon and I have never worked with ETC.
At my high school we had an ETC Acclaim in the blackbox theater my first year. That's where I cut my teeth on lighting. The Acclaim works equally as well as a two scene preset board and as a programmable board. It doesn't however store the fade times for each cue. You have to load the cue into the playback fader and then you set a separate time fader to the appropriate level for the fade time. Then you just have to slam over the playback fader and it'll fade in the cue at the appropriate rate. Having said that it's a pain in the butt. If I remember correctly, the Acclaim also won't automatically load the next cue. You manually have to press load and the cue number. It has been two years since I've programmed on the Acclaim, and it was an older 48/96 model. They may have changed since then, but that's what I remember. Hope that helps.
If you plan on setting 'looks' and creating different effects, I would also not recommend the Acclaim. I stand behind ETC 100% but the Acclaim is more entry-level, and for the money, I don't think it would make you very happy. I honestly think you could do alot more with your cash. Look into an Express, or follow other's recomendations on the Strand desks. I could not comment on the Strands because I have almost no experience with them. If you are looking for something alittle more budget-friendly, NSI and Leprecon also make good boards.
I like ETC boards. I don't know why. the ETC express line it really pretty good. It is totaly computer operated. Has Cues and everything
Express is good if you have the money, but I'd go for the Leprecon 1500 series over either of your chosen boards. It has the cues, the fade times, and the whole deal. And you can use it as a two-scene preset.
There's an NSI MC7516 (32 channels, dmx, timed cues, and all that stuff) on for about $1K. That might interest you, depending on how many channels you need. Check out the other stuff on LightBroker as well, they usually have good stuff.

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