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Lighting Desk Advice

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Gemma Louise Briscoe, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Gemma Louise Briscoe

    Gemma Louise Briscoe New Member

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    Lancashire - UK
    Hi looking for advice ...
    I manage a local Community Centre/ Theatre and have a team of techies who volunteer for us on a regular basis. My business partner and I are not massive techies and look for ease of use in equipment we purchase. We are currently thinking of updating our lighting desk.

    The lighting desk would simply be used for general everyday washes on stage when users such as he U3A hold their rehearsals on stage or on a Friday night when we have a band on stage and they want basic lighting.

    When we have theatre shows and pantomimes performing, the theatre company hiring the hall also hires in lighting equipment from an outside source to meet their more demanding needs so we don't need to worry ourselves about that. Our daily needs are very basic.

    We have a divided opinion amongst our techies about the desk we should purchase to suit our needs.

    One half of the techies have been offered a desk - Avolites Pearl 2000 (£800)

    The other half would rather us get a different desk - Jester zero 88 (haven't had a price yet)

    The main feature we are looking for is ease of use, ability to wash stage, ability to program certain basic effects.

    Can I have your thoughts on the two desks above. Is the price of the Pearl 2000 a good price? Is it any good? How does it compare to Jester Zero 88? What are the pros and cons of both (remember you are talking to a novice here and I may need more detailed and non-techie terminology if possible).

    Thanks in advance
  2. dbaxter

    dbaxter Active Member Premium Member

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    Rochester, NY
    It would be helpful if you could tell us more about your installation. How many channels do you need? Now and 5 years from now. What is your mix of conventional vs. LED? Do you have or plan to get any moving lights? Are there space restrictions in your booth? I'm sure our board using members may have more questions. Myself, we use a computer and software as our 'board', which opens up a whole another set of options for you.
  3. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
    My favorites in that category are ETC ColorSource Console and Pathway Cognito. Both feature ease of learning as they are aimed at non-professionals. Both have several versions with different outputs, features and of course price tags. Both manufacturers also have staff that frequent the forums and I'm sure some users as well.

    I thought we had an article on the process of choosing a light board, but I can't seem to find it. Can anyone else dig it out? Was it just too old for words?
    RonHebbard and Rob like this.
  4. Aaron Clarke

    Aaron Clarke Member

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    Richmond, IN
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  5. dimwatt

    dimwatt Member

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    Most of the posters here are USA based and Zero88 isn't big over there, so you might be struggling to get a full range of views for these specific desks. It may be worth posing the same question on the Blue Room ( which is more UK based.

    I've no experience of the Avolites, but I've been a Zero88 fan for a while. I use a Jester 12/24 at my local school where they have a very basic setup (just 12 fixed instruments - a mix of spots and fresnels) and own a Jester ML24 which I use for live bands, pantomimes where there is a bit more complexity (LEDs & moving lights). I've run full shows with both desks (200+ cues) and busked live bands. As with all desks, they have their quirks, but for the price I have found them excellent.

    You may get a bargain second hand as some venues are upgrading to the newer Z88 FLX desks. I got my ML24 for just under £800 second hand and barely used (but perhaps I got lucky).

    I recently went on a training course at their HQ (Cwmbran, South Wales) which was free to attend, and the trainer was excellent. It started with the basics, and although I'd been using Jesters for a couple of years I still found the course very useful. If you are serious about the Jester then give them a call to see if they'll come to you to train your techies (they may charge for this, but chat to them anyway to see what they advise). You don't need to own a Jester to qualify for the training - see their website - you may want to send a delegate to one of their free sessions in Cwmbran to see if the Jester will fit your needs.

    JohnD likes this.
  6. robmerow

    robmerow Member

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    I second the Colorsource Console or Cognito.
    Without knowing more about your setup, either is very easy to learn and has more than enough features for a great price.
  7. de27192

    de27192 Active Member

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    I have sent you a message Gemma as I hope I might be able to help more. I can get to Ormskirk quite easily.

    With regards to the Avolites Pearl 2000... my number 1 word of advice would be do not touch it. It was a very competitive piece of kit in it's day, it and especially it's follower the Pearl 2004, were literally the workhorse moving light consoles of all the big clubs, music venues and plenty of rock n roll touring lighting designers. Nowadays, however, it's very old... it was introduced in 1995 and not replaced until 2002 - so the one in question could be anything between 15 and 22 years old. Age does not serve computers too well, so the trouble you will have with it is that the software it runs is no longer supported, spare parts harder to find, and most significantly, if you buy any 'intelligent' lights (IE movers or LED), you won't be able to get the personality files which the console requires in order to let you program the fixture. It will be a chore more than an asset. You'll spend a lot of time resetting it and a lot of time fixing it. Don't buy a problem.

    With regards to the Jester... these are quite solid and reliable little things but be aware that they are 'generic lighting only'... realistically. I mean you could run intelligent lighting off one but you would not want to, it would be very awkward. So if moving lights or colour-mixable LED lights are on your agenda for the future, the desk would not stay current with your lights. You'd need to replace it. So it might not be a purchase with good longevity. The benefit of one would be - if you have a predominantly generic lighting rig - that you can have it set up as a fader-per-fixture (a fixture being - a 'light') so it's very easy for anyone to dial in a simple looking state.

    How much money are you looking to spend? Personally, I would show a lot of interest in getting a Chamsys... I'd get an all-in-one PC and either a mini wing or a PC wing. That'll give you the moving light functionality of the Pearl 2000; but with a more '2017' feature set, the reliability of a brand-new product (with excellent UK-based customer support) and good theatre programming. Furthermore, there's an 'Execute Window', which is a user-programmable GUI (Graphic User Interface) so that you can set up lighting playbacks on a touch screen and completely non-technical users can operate the desk... you can even set up the buttons with pictures on to illustrate what it will look like. It's very friendly to non-techs.


    Update: I found your venue online. The Jester is basically what you need, BUT, it's a very expensive way of doing what it does. New price of a Jester is over £900 and you could get something with identical functionality from a cheaper brand, for less than £200. I could sell you something (brand new - we're a dealer) for literally about £50 that would fulfil your needs, so I think spending so much on a Jester would not be the best way to use your budget.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017 at 6:49 AM
  8. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    St Pete FL USA
    Colorsource 20/40 if you need LED/color/movers.

    Used SmartFade's are *really* cheap these days, if you don't.

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