Which ETC board should I buy?

Hey- I'm a tech director at a high school theater...36 skirpan analog dimmers run through DMX conversion, probably about 90 units altogether in the rep plot. My assed out board (rosco eclipse...eesh) is finally dead, and I'm thinking of going with an ETC. I can't decide though, Express 125, 24/48, or 48/96. Anybody have any advice? The kids are used to preprogrammed operation. Is getting them in the habit of using two scene preset a better idea?


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IMHO- Learning to use two-scene preset gives a better appreciation of preprogrammed operation and is good protection for Muphy's Law - what do you do when the board loses it's memory halfway through act I on opening night? It should be taught, but not to the exclusion of preprogrammed operation.

As far as selection of a board, I have no experience with ETC - others in this forum will be much better able to advise you there.



I've been using the Express 48/96 for a while now, and I really like it. I run it in One scene with sub masters for the easy rentals, two scene for decent music shows, and just cue theatre type shows. Backup to diskette, for safety, but I've never had the board go down.


Its actually one of my choice boards in a situaton like this becuases you an use it in either 2 scene mode or preprogrammed. Its also got some really neat features like the express offline program: where you can create the entire show in your computer, and save it ASCII format and pop a disk into the board. as for the Monitors, as far as i know, you can have up to 2 or 3 (correct me if im wrong, i knwo the expression can have thsoe and the express is just a less juiced version).

If you decide that you want to start incorporating INTEL lights into your space, even for rent . . . you dont need to get another board, you can actually program the lights right from this board. you cane ven set "personalities" for different type of lights, almost like dimmer profiles . . .jsut cooler. You can also program Effects and macros and all into a submaster so its easy to program or use 2 scene. The patching interface is also very good for kids in the intro . . .at least i think so . . . t allows you to see how a patch works . . .

I dont know how big your space is, but mine was huge, and the one im in i still rather large, . . .but you have the option of purchasing an Remote Focus Unit, or RFU (we dubbed it RUFUS) so you can sit in the house and run through cues or focus the lights as needed . . . or even better the ONline program (almsot like the offline, but you can hool up to the board and run the board from your computer) can do the same thing trhoguh a simple RJ45 . . . i use this all the time so i can run sound and lights at the same time. :D

And, im a sucker for blue lights, so the "on" light really makes me happy.

Being so close to that age that you are working with, i found it very useful. I had the opportunity to program when i needed too, and do things on the fly when i needed too.

if you have any questions about it, let me know . . . e-mail me!


The ETC Express 48/96 is great for such a venue. You are a school, after all, and you should be a training ground for potential professional venues. The Express will be excellent since it allows you to run as a 2-scene preset, or as memory assisted. Since the Express is similar to Obsession (which seems to be the main "flavor" preferred on Broadway/etc. these days) you are giving your students a wonderful training.

On another note. I know that the convenience of a rep plot at a school like yours is very tempting. But I have been in those situations and have resisted the "easy way" to give students a better hands-on experience. You should consider (at least once in a while) striking the entire system, cleaning all the instruments, and then doing a complete re-hang.

Lots of work, but that is when you spot those loose pin connectors that need to be opened up, or those just a little out of aligned sockets that rob you of efficient light. Keep in mind that in the real world, most instruments are rented and the facility is stripped after each production.

Just a thought.



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The Express console is a great console to learn on especially for High School students. It's not complicated to program or understand. Most other consoles have some features that for a high school student just starting out could confuse or even make it difficult to learn. Best to stick with the simple ETC Express which are GREAT consoles and a great learning tool from my experience. You might want to look into a leprecan but I think I would stick with a ETC. Very durrable and you really can do much damage to them unless you spill pop or food on it. :) Just my 2 cents.


I have established a policy in my lighting booth that only water is allowed. Absolutely no soft drinks or food. It is not a "hang out" area. Considering $30-50k of equipment, including mixers, etc. that sooner or later will have something spilled into them (I have cleaned up more than my share of boards and mixers.)

Seems harsh, but workable.


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