should I trust american DJ?


Well-Known Member
I'm trying to set up a new lighting system for a very small room with a stage in my school. The lighting system has 12 500 watt fresnel, and I will most likely bring some S4 PAR's (575 watt) down for the drama in that room.

Anyway, our current set-up is all American DJ equipment (sorry, don't know part numbers). The equipment is completely busted, and it has gotten to the point that I can not run a show off the board, and the dimmers are dead.

I went online and decided that given the prices and capabilities, I would like to get SS24 2 scene preset board and the NSI D4-DMX dimmer packs (3 of them, if my school will approve it, otherwise only 2)

I noticed that the 2 scene preset board was made by American DJ, and I am a little hesitant on buying something from them. Given the price, I would love to get that board, but I don't want to get something that will fall apart and break in 2 or 3 years.

The dimmer packs look very nice, and I am drawn to them for the extra reason that they don't have fuses, they have circuit breakers, which I like a lot.
You get what you pay for, never trust any manufactuer no matter how reputable the might be. Buy defensively, keep an open mind. Unfortunately I have not experience with American DJ equipment, so if I were to say anything it would contradict what just said. Haha, From what I've heard from just about everyone, American DJ is pretty bad stuff. Just about all of their products are made from another manufactuer but branded with the American DJ name. But when it comes to a basic console and considering the equipment would generally live in that room, would not see much portable or road use, I think it would be okay for the most part. Esepecially considering it's a console. You're on the right rack with the NSI portable dimmer packs, everyone uses them they're an industry work horse. Did you check out NSI's consoles? Their small stuff is very practical and makes sense, however when you go above that NSI is horrible investment (particularly in formal installs). What about some of the small leprecon consoles? Or are they too expensive. You should check out used consoles too, they're usually the last thing that breaks in a lighting rig. Even an older ETC acclaim used could work out. But the SLD doens't look bad, I see it in PLSN in all the time I've always wondered about it. For the most part if the console is going to get abused and it will just be sitting in a small room w/ a stage I think you'll be alright.
avkid said:
how old is your current equipment?

The school got the current equipment before I started going to the school, so it is over 3 years old, I would assume more like 6 years.

Looking at the counsel, it looks like it would be the perfect console for my school, I just want to make sure that it doesn't break on me. I really like the look of the dimmers, and think that those will be great, and I may even end up pulling them into the gym/larger theater space for some extra dimmers for the big musicals, since they look like very good dimmers.

I think I'm going to go ahead and suggest the board and hope for the best, and if it breaks anytime soon I'll call American DJ and make them replace it or fix it. I can't get around the good price. And, if all else fails, I can bring down the express 125 to run the lights.
Hi Zac,

I agree with what The_Guest has said in that you get what you pay for and the school should be aware of that. If for a few hundred more you can get a better quality board, thay may opt for that option rather than replace in another 3 years (for example).

Another consideration is how much use is this board going to get?

If you get the board - give us a product review, it may be very helpful for others who are looking for a basic/start out board.
After using American DJ, NSI, ETC, Elation...the list goes on...let me just say this:
Save up and buy something that will last.

American DJ stuff is for just that, DJ's. In my opinion they are not up to par with other equipment.

I agree with the others about your dimmers. I went with the DDS 6000+ actually in our youth rooms and other places. 1200w/channel, 3600w total. They have fuses though...

As for the console, get the MC 7016. Clean, practical, reliable, chases, subs, fades from X to Y...a great little board for the money.
A while back, a former tech guy bought an Elation/American DJ board, and I STILL cannot figure out how that stupid board works.

Go with NSI for this setup. Cheap in price and so easy to work with.
6 years sounds like a short life span! we have had our Scenemaster 60 plus for 13 years now, and minus a disk drive problem or two it works great.
I have been going back to the middle school I used to attend for a few years and have built the lighting system from the ground up. They had essentially nothing before I got there. I had almost no money to work with, so I was forced to buy the cheapest stuff I could find. So I found American DJ. This equiptment is absolutely not meant for heavy productions, but for the small middle school shows, they seem quite suitable. The biggest thing you need to worry about is getting the packs to have enough power. I have had to run 100 foot extension cords through ceilings and walls to the schools planetarium which has its own dedicated power source. Once you get all of the little bugs worked out, it should be smooth sailing. The equiptment seems fine to me, just don't expect too much from them, and ALWAYS have some back-up fuses, and NEVER overload the packs. That is the thing you have to be very careful about, or you could ruin the entire unit.

So to sum up, if your working with a limited budget for a small production or event, I see no reason not to go with ADJ. Good luck!
I know. At my school, before me, there was no real dedicated tech person. There were a few people who knew a little bit, and the board would get jostled around a bit, and was never really cared for all that well. This was all in the small room at my school. Now that my school spent a lot of money on a new lighting set up, and soon to be sound set-up, we are starting to teach the techies how to work the things.

OK, and I have just changed my mind. I am going to get the NSI board that was suggested by cambo1000, the board looks nice, and I found it for 500 bucks including the price for the DMX 512 conversion kit ($80 extra). I'm going to keep the dimmers the same, as I still think those would be perfect for my school.

I'm going to get a total of 3 racks, 12 dimmers each, but I have a feeling it will end up be only 2 racks for the time being.

Thanks a lot guys, now all thats left is pitch this to the new head of the tech theater department. Of corse, he has understood that I know more about lighting then him (unfortunately, makes it harder to learn from him, but thats a discussion for another time and place) and I'm pretty sure that we have the money.

Thanks again guys, when i get the board and dimmers I'll let everyone know how they are and if they are good for a school situation.

I just typed up a wish list/pice estimate that I am going to give to the teacher tomorrow. Here is a copy of what I put on it, for all those who are interested:

(1) NSI MC 7016 Controller Link
(1) DMX conversion kit for NSI MC 7016 Controller
(3) N4D20 4 Channel Programmable Dimmer Pack

Estimated Price:
NSI MC 7016-$405
DMX conversion kit for NSI MC 7016-$80
N4D20 Dimmers-$161 each, total $483
Can be cut down to 2 dimmers
Get 2 with 20 Amp plugs (total on dimmer 2.4k, not 1.8k)

(1)10 feet 5 Pin DMX cable-$50
(2) 5 feet 5 Pin DMX cable-$45

Total Estimate: $1108

Can be cut down to $902 if needed.
If cut down to $902, omit (1) dimmer pack and (1) 5 foot DMX cable

I think that this would make a reasonable system for a small room, and it would be easy enough for people new to the tech field to get on and run a show. Plus, its always good to start with the basics, so you understand the concepts of what a larger computer board does.

If anyone is curious where I got these prices from, PM me, email me at [email protected] or IM me on AIM at HLS8891 and I'll give you the links.

I would remove the "cut down" references and go in with the full system that you want. This way, if they do want to look at some reductions in cost, you could say "well, we could drop one of the dimmers and still get by......".

However, if they are happy, then you get the whole system that you want. I think that including the possible omissions is just inviting them to go for that option.

Just my personal opinion.

Good luck.
Thats a good point. If they complain about the price I will bite my lip and say "well, I GUESS we could get by without the extra dimmer pack.... and trail off.

Thats a very good idea, this way I'm not inviting them to cut part of it.

Good idea, thanks.
cambo1000 said:
Go with NSI for this setup. Cheap in price and so easy to work with.

The 70xx aren't bad, they're too simple to have any problems with usability - it's the 75xx series that suck nuts. Programming cues is a complete bitch, and earlier versions of firmware like to erase your entire show if you perform a certain edit.
Keep in mind that it's not the equipment that you use, as much as it is the thought you put in your design. Tech people seem to miss this important fact. I've worked at both ends... 12 6" fresnels to 600 conventionals and 45 Movers. The design can look great either way.

As for NSI, I've got a soft spot for my first console, the equipment is not the best, but you can do a lot with it, just use your imagination. Think about repacthing during shows and remember that just because it's not made for theatre doesn't mean it can't be used.

Good Luck with schools - most are cheap.
is your system DMX now?? If you are going totally new, no currently run DMX cabling, and I don't know where the board is going, ,but I would assume more than 10 feet from the dimmer packs, you would want more than 10 feet! I'm thinking you already have the wiring for that in place.
Nephilim: We're most likely not going to program cues most of the time, usually it will be more on the fly, or I'll write down what each channel should be at for whatever scene.

avkid: the new sound system is for our gym, with our major set up of lights. It will consist of an amp and a snake. If we get more stuff, it will be just icing on the cake. (we already have a nice Spirit 8 16 channel board, and 2 good peavey speakers.

ecglstec: I know, the room has 12 500 watt fresnels that we use, and that will stay the same. I just need equipment to run them and power them, as our current set-up is not really working anymore.

JahJanwarrior: the light board usually stays in a closed off in a corner of the room, and a hole has been knocked down in the wall between the closet and the stage room, so we can see whats happening on stage. the dimmers are usually 3 feet away, hanging on the wall (we have a dedicated power going into the closet)

If I am running lights and sound, like for a lip sync, I will set up a tablet right outside of that window, so 10 feet will be plenty.

By the way, does that price seem high for 5 pin DMX cable? it seems really high to me, like 5 feet of DMX should be more like $20, around the same as mic cable. I'm thinking that it may be cheeper to get 5 pin to 3 pin converters, and just run the DMX signal on mic cable, and save $50 or so.....
Yea, I know, and I'm assuming that adding another 2 wires shouldn't add another $20.

I think that if all else fails I'll get XLR cable and some 3 pin to 5 pin converters.

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