NEED: New School Lighting Board

Joined
Apr 27, 2006
Location
Florida
Looking for ideas, I have a small school that has a old (mid 90s) ETC 24/48 board. Cant think of the model, it was the popular beige board.... Anyway, I am looking for ideas for a replacement board. Could prob get away with a 12/24 or 16/32 board, just looking for a decent replacement for the school, and cost is always the factor. As far as programming scenes have never really been used as long as I can remember, so simple works!
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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NJ & NYC
ETC Smartfade 12/48 or 24/96. Basic board, but can also use submasters or scenes if anyone decides that they really want to get in to lighting.
 

Smatticus

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Jan 2, 2004
Location
Upstate NY
Is it the ETC Idea series that you have now? I've got a 36 channel Idea in our community theater now and I would love to replace it. Whenever that happens I'm planning to go with the Express 24/48. By the time we get around to it maybe a different console will look more attractive but the Express is very straightforward to use and relatively easy to teach other people how to use. I'm partial to ETC consoles in general because of how intuitive they are to learn and operate. The couple other consoles I've used with similar capabilities to the ETC Express 48/96 were not pleasant at all (Strand LBX and Leviton Innovator). I would definitely stay with ETC.

I played with a SmartFade for a couple minutes once but not really enough to get to know it very well. It seems like it would be worth investigating though because of the price range, the option of going 24/48 or 24/96, and the option to save to an SD card rather than a floppy disk. As Pie4Weebl said, these perks of the SmartFade might be outweighed by the difficulty to learn and operate compared to the Express.

What is the board usually being used for at the school? Is there any chance that the school will be using it for more intensive purposes in the future?
 
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Sans the monitor, the idea is not too bad of a console, but that console was gray. Big beige board... hum... ETC made mostly gray stuff in the early years. I would say go with an express or a strand 300. I would stay away from the smartfades due to the lack of the monitor thing (that REALLY annoys me). You could probably pick up a used express fairly easily. Go with either the 24/48 or a 125 or 250. The 48/96 and 72/144 are just too huge.
 

NABster07

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Apr 29, 2006
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Maine
Having spent the summer programing shows on the smart fade, I would not recommend it. If you are running a festival type event with a bunch of subs, you will be fine with it. If you are programing shows that run for weeks on end as I was, with over 100 cues per show, your life will be a living hell. Yes it is cheap, but you pay for it in the end.
My issues with the board
a) Patching - Patching is not easy on a small lcd display with a scroll wheel. It takes much longer than it would on any other board.
b) No offline editor - When I first got to the board, I thought maybe there was an offline editor that will make it easier because I will have a keyboard. Well there is an offline program, but its just a flash video that allows you to play with it, but not do anything worth while.
c) Cuing - If you intend to do any cuing at all, especially if you will have large amounts of cues, stay away from this board. First off, every cue needs to be written as a "memory" which is the same as a submaster. Second, to make a cue stack you go through and hit the subs in the order you want them to be for your stack. At this point you can only have whole number cues. Then if later you decide to delete a cue that was a whole number, it drops every cue after it down (so cue 41 is now cue 40) meaning that you have to go through and remark your script. After the cue stack is built, you can add decimal cues, but only after you make the initial stack.
Bottom line is, unless you have all the time in the world, and very basic designs, don't go with this board.

*Rant over*

PS - I once got a call from the artistic director of the theater, as he was trying to put light onstage, and i quote "What do I do now!? I turned on this board and it looks like a christmas tree!!"
 

Charc

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Feb 14, 2007
If you are replacing that Acclaim, let me know, I have a $20 bill with your name on it. :mrgreen: (So I'm cheap, eh?)
 

avkid

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Forgot about the acclaim, that is probably it. Ya, the first expression were that wonderful pink/beige mix....
If you mix pink and beige, doesn't it look like vomit?
:)
 

gafftaper

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Express 24/48 has been the best choice for about 15 years. Strand 300 hasn't been available from the factory for about a year... they may be some on a shelf somewhere but they don't make them anymore so it's not a good idea to go that route. Strand 200 is probably one of the better quality no video screen boards if you just want basic 2 scene preset with Subs (I haven't used one but it's the only one made by one of the big manufacturers). Strand also has a baby classic palette that might be a nice fit as it would give you a little room to grow and access to the latest software... but it may cost more than the Express but it's at least worth a look. The Express has been the most popular console ever built for a reason. It's also old. ETC is gradually replacing all their consoles right now. I've been told there will be a replacement for the Express coming in the next year or two. I find it hard to believe they would do a lot to it since it's such a great console to begin with. My guess is we'll see the Express 2 with basically the same console but some better abilities with intelligent gear.

How do you feel about PC based software consoles? You can get a lot of bang for your buck this way. There have been several threads on that topic do some searching.
 
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soundlight

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If you're honestly never gonna program scenes, and just use two-scene preset preset and some subs and effects, get a SmartFade. If you're gonna do any cues, get an Express. It's not worth it to program cues on a SmartFade. But if your budget only allows for something in the sub-$1500 range, then Smartfade is your best bet at around $1400 for a 24/96 board, vs. around $4000 for a new Express 24/48. If you can get used, a used Express can be found for as low as $2000 sometimes.
 

Grog12

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I'd like to take this opportunity, as I do everytime the SmartFade comes up, to express my dislike of ETC's version of Lepricon.

Thank you and enjoy your regularly schedlued thread.
 

Charc

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Feb 14, 2007
Got some hands on time with the Express at the internship over the last couple of days.
My first impressions:
Very intuitive to pick up. The layout was great, things were neatly grouped, and spaced appropriately. There do seem to be certain things missing, that sorta bug me, and some things that are done differently than the Strand 300 that I'm not sure are all that better, but overall I think it's Express FTW. Just seemed to me like such an intelligent layout, and easy to pickup.

Shot of the desk:
 
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gafftaper

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If you're honestly never gonna program scenes, and just use two-scene preset preset and some subs and effects, get a SmartFade. If you're gonna do any cues, get an Express. It's not worth it to program cues on a SmartFade. But if your budget only allows for something in the sub-$1500 range, then Smartfade is your best bet at around $1400 for a 24/96 board, vs. around $4000 for a new Express 24/48. If you can get used, a used Express can be found for as low as $2000 sometimes.
Again if you only want two scene preset and subs look at the Strand 200 it's about $1140 or $1300 at Premier Lighting depending on if you get the 12/24 or the 24/48. I've never used it but it looks fine.

Remember that the Smartfade/200 represent the lowest line of product from two of the top manufacturers. You can go down to the low-middle range of manufacturer quality. Unfortunately there is no clear "best product" (NSI, Leprechaun, EDI, Lightronics, etc...) They are all definitely inferior products but a lot cheaper than the ETC Smart Fade/Strand 200. You will find people here who both like and hate products made by all those manufacturers. Do some searching you'll find multiple threads debating cheap consoles with very little agreement. Talk with your local dealer about their low end models.
 

icewolf08

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Get demos! Try out a bunch of consoles in your price range and see what you like. Talk to your local dealers, they will be happy to come in and demo what they have that fits your needs.
 

gaffer240

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Jul 21, 2006
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Beaufort, SC
In the strange world of things, I am about to become a sort of a consultant on a new high School theatre (backround only at this time). I checked with a supplier and said that the ETC Ion and a Marquee board are the current 'in' boards for high school theatres, the Ion being less expensive.

I recently called ETC on an unrelated issue, but did mention I would not consider buying a Smatfade until they put a monitor out jack on it. They are thinking about it.
 

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I recently called ETC on an unrelated issue, but did mention I would not consider buying a Smatfade until they put a monitor out jack on it. They are thinking about it.
The same thing was said of the ETC Idea years back. They claim they are out there with a monitor port, I have never seen one.
 

PhantomD

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Mar 3, 2006
Location
Brisbane, Australia
I don't know how readily available LSC is over there, but they make great desks and I would definitely consider one of them.