Strand 500ML Console

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Skervald, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

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    I promise this isn't going to be one of those "what console should I buy?" or "help! my board is freaking out!" threads.

    One of the groups I work with just purchased a Strand 500ML console. Until now, most of my experience has been in the ETC world. My question to those of you who own or use 500LMs (or other Strand consoles for that matter) is, what should I know going in? I won't have access to it for a while but I downloaded the manual and I'm working through it. I've also been watching YouTube videos but I'd like some real world advice. Are there any tricks you've picked up? What should I watch out for? What do you wish you knew when you started? Have you come up with any best practices? It seems like a pretty straight forward console but I'd like to ramp my knowledge up as quickly as possible.

    The rig is also being purchased so I don't have exact models but it will consist of conventional profiles (front light/gobos/specials), LED PARs (downlight/backlight), and an LED skydrop wash. They currently don't own any moving lights or DMX toys but that could be coming. Dimming is accomplished through Strand R21 powered raceways. (these have already been installed but they're also new so I'd take any tips on working with those as well!)

    Thanks for your time!
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I have one being in stalled in a Middles school in Seattle in a few months, but I know nothing about it. I'm looking forward to seeing it. It seems to have some very impressive specs.
     
  3. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

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    Wow, @Van! Looks like you and I are going to be the experts on this one! Guess I should keep studying.
     
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  4. stagemanager1

    stagemanager1 Member

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    Well......
    what are your thoughts?
     
  5. stagemanager1

    stagemanager1 Member

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    Our school (junior college) has contracted a consultant that is pushing a Strand 500ML instead of ETC controls. Do any of you fine folks have any experience with the console? good or bad - I need all your input.

    Thanks!

    Chris
     
  6. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    You might consider who will be using this console. There are a lot more people familiar with ETC than Strand.
    Here is one review of the 500ML:
    http://www.blue-room.org.uk/index.php?showtopic=64413
    Consider also this review is from the UK where you would expect to find more people using Strand. Not a lot of love. There also seems to be a lot of wariness with Strand considering the previous console, the 250ML which they seemed to abandon before it was fully functional.
     
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  7. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Oh, I am also curious about your "consultant". To paraphrase Frank Zappa, "Is that a real consultant, or a Sears consultant"? There are several very good "Real" consultants who post here. A real consultant is one who isn't a dealer for any products. Then you have consultants who work for dealers. The problem with design/sell consultants is that sometimes they might try to sell you the wrong item if they need to sell more of a certain brand to meet their ordering minimums for that brand. There are also design/sell consultants who do a good job too.
     
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  8. stagemanager1

    stagemanager1 Member

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    The consultant is Idibri (independent of brand) - one of the most respected firms in the nation - and a group I worked with almost 30 years ago. (I think) They have allied with Wenger on this gig - and Wenger seems to be in bed with Strand. We are very wary of this option, but I wanted to get some real world input from non-related users to help make the decision. Our current thought is to decline the Strand stuff and go with ETC, but we need to be educated about the gear for sure. If the Strand console and lights are being readily accepted in our industry that may affect our decision.
     
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  9. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I haven't used the ML500, but every venue I've worked with in the last 10 years that's been built by Strand has regretted it. They're not the company they used to be.

    One venue had a newer Light Palette VL they had bought just a couple years earlier. Worked fine enough until they bought into a bunch of LED fixtures, and then they had to retire the console almost overnight because it was so onerous to busk LED's on it. When we talked to Strand about the fixture libraries and behavior of the submaster faders, they seemed clueless and stuck in an old way of thinking. When I asked them about color calibrated profiles like ETC does through Carallon, they seemed equally clueless that these existed. Within 6 months it was replaced by an Ion.

    Another venue had a full inventory of Strand SL Coolbeams and fresnels. They had to replace all of the lamp caps in the Coolbeams twice because of manufacturing defects, twice. The Coolbeams were great at first because you could rotate the barrels 360°, but the rotation ring was fully constructed of plastic. Whatever shred of respect I may have had for Strand went out the window the day I was focusing a Coolbeam on a catwalk and discovered that the rotation ring had cracked and the fixture was a little bit of vibration away from falling out of the ring and landing in the 10th row. The safety cable would've been useless. They opened in 2002 and by 2012 the fixtures were decrepit and were replaced with ETC. A few years later they swapped their consoles over as well and the Strand arch controls were torn out and replaced with ETC Paradigm.

    Last year I had a local Strand rep try and undercut a project by slipping their PL PROFILE 1 MKII LED's into a bid in place of Colorsource Spots. They were claiming they were a cost-effective equivalent, which is only if you ignore that the PL1's are 1/2 to 1/3 as bright as the CS Spots. They were banking on that I wouldn't notice and that my client wouldn't care -- or at least wouldn't care until it was too late. Ended up getting bounced from the bid. Ended up going ETC console/power, ETC CS PAR's, and Chauvet E910-FC's.

    Architectural controls, consoles, fixtures...there's no corner of that company I trust and there are better alternatives to ETC if that's what you're looking for because of preference or price than Strand.
     
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  10. stagemanager1

    stagemanager1 Member

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    Mike - i really appreciate your input. I know and trust ETC, but am curious about any successful (or un) Strand installations.
    Anybody else have any experience?
     
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  11. stagemanager1

    stagemanager1 Member

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    Yikes - I just re-read the spec. It is actually a Phillips Neo. Now more research....
     
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  12. Judge

    Judge Active Member

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    Honestly, i wouldnt buy anything from Strand. They used to be industry leaders but lost the plot big time. They have tried reinventing themselves a few times under different owners and introduced different ranges of consoles, eventually coming up with the Neo which is essentially Light Factory software with a - what looks to be - a decent enough physical form factor.
    Nobody uses it thats the problem. It will never catch on in theatres as ETC has eaten all that market. It will never catch on in other areas as MA has the top end of touring and is followed by Avolites, Hog and ChamSys.
    It will probably work fine and be a good console and do the job required of it.
    However I would be asking the consultant why exactly he thinks that Neo is the right board for the job. Most schools and small colleges would be better served by a smaller and cheaper desk like the Zero88 FLX
    Serious venue would be better off with an ETC of some kind. I cannot think of any scenario where Neo is going to be the best fit.
    It comes with very few channel outputs as standard, and you have to buy blocks as addons.
    Unless you have Philips lighting in which case it just works. So then you are looking at being railroaded into buying more Philips kit. Not that there is anything wrong with their stuff but its a tie in you may not want.

    There is a discussion about it here:

    http://www.blue-room.org.uk/index.php?showtopic=60845
    Really, ask why they specced it/
     
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  13. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what that means but makes me wonder.
     
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  14. Judge

    Judge Active Member

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    Looks like a big architectural and entertainment consultancy firm:

    http://performance.wengercorp.com/
     
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  15. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Here is the consultant:
    http://www.idibri.com/
    I found it interesting that they don't seem to have an ASTC member on their staff.
     
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  16. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I've only known Wenger to play a central role in the project design when they had an acoustic enhancement system going in and would partner with others to execute it, but after hiring Edward Kaye I wouldn't be surprised if they're taking a more direct swing at projects as an all-Wenger/Clancy-all-the-time kind of deal and bringing in other vendors to fill in the gaps in the design team. Then they also get the contract for the concert shell, the staging, the chairs, music stands, instrument storage casework, and such.

    I have no idea if that's what's happening here but after the Clancy acquisition Wenger is a force to be reckoned with.

    That said -- it's equally possible nobody hired a lighting consultant and the Philips rep happened to be on the electrical engineer's call sheet. They're happy to design a project for free.
     
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  17. Judge

    Judge Active Member

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  18. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Basically anyone but ETC, because ETC would be a competitor to the Clancy side of Wenger, whereas Altman/Strand/Philips/Chauvet/SSRC are not a threat to them.
     
  19. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Wenger's plan is to provide all the performing arts systems and equipment. I personally believe the concept is flawed, trying to limit the owner's choices. It's not possible that one company can have the best and best value for all theatre systems and equipment for all projects. Since they compete head to head with ETC on motorized rigging, they don't have access to ETC lighting, so have to ride whatever horse they can find - and Strand is the what's available. (I think they also work with Pathway - which are good products but not as broad as ETC in market coverage.)

    It's not good for the industry. Kind of means you can't have or its very difficult to have ETC lighting, a Stage Right Shell, Clancy rigging, Irwin seats, and an Interamerica tensioned wire grid (SkyDeck). That's too bad. I think you all demonstrated above that ETC is the choice for many; just as Wenger shells are. Now that option is very hard.

    For lighting, Kliegl and Strand were king when I started consulting. Now ETC is king. May not be forever so but likewise not changing soon. And in my opinion, until Wenger starts hiring theatre people and teaching them to build and sell their products, like ETC does, rather than hiring product makers and sellers and trying to teach them about theatre on the job, it won't be Wenger that gains on ETC in the lighting realm.
     
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  20. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Hmmmm, interesting Philips Lighting is now Signify. Also the Showline fixtures are now branded Vari*lite.
     

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