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Control/Dimming Your opinion on low end light consoles one last time

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hey crew, I'm tired of the constant "help me pick a light board" threads. So I thought I would start a collaborative article on the topic. That way we can point people to the collaborative article then discuss details here once they have educated themselves a bit. It would also be fairly easy to just add new things to a collaborative article as time goes buy. I want to break this article up into Four categories: Computer based, Sub $3,000, $3,000-$10,000, and $10,000+.

    What I've learned over the years is that there are WIDE opinions on low end consoles. In the past threads like this have quickly turned into an "I hate ____ " bashing session. So in this thread NO DEBATE please! Also no discussions or horror tales. I just want some organized data please. Try not to suggest old consoles that are no longer in production. Yes there are a variety of purposes to consoles in this price range, just pick whatever comes to mind. Thanks!

    Questions:

    1) My favorite sub $3,000 consoles are____ . (No more than two please, if you only have one, just write one)

    2) I would advise people to not buy the following sub $3,000 console_____. (Only one please).
     
  2. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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    This is a great idea to have as a sticky, cleared out and updated every few months as consoles change.


    Sub $3,000 Console (Not Computer Based)

    ETC Smartfade 24/96
    -great little console with alot of features
    -SmartSoft will be released soon* (hopefully)
    LEVITON MC7xxx Series
    -Very basic board, great for very simple uses (ie drama room practices)
    -Very simple to maintain/fix. Parts are cheap and plenty

    Sub $3,000 Computer Based Software

    ET Marquee PC
    -Very powerfull, allows for full tracking backup and remote stations
    -Upgradable from basic 128ch version
    -Compatable with ARTnet, Pathport, (and i believe Sandbox?)


    $3,000 to $10,000

    ET Marquee Console/ILC
    -Entry level console in this price range while still being able to compete with larger consoles
    -Great for schools and small productions
    ETC Ion
    -The new star of this price range, full featured console
    -Many ways to configure the wing panels for specific needs

    $10,000+

    I am not as well versed in this catagory, but what comes to mind is the GrandMA, Whole Hog 3, Eos. The only one I may be able to add to the list is the E.GO Console running Prego. I'm a fan of the older AVAB Safari consoles, and the E.GO is written by the same people. It was at LDI last year, and I believe it will be there again this year.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks mc2880 nice work from one of our new members (and welcome to the family). I think a collaborative article is a better bet since it can be one concise article. If we sticky it then it will just be a thread that goes on forever.

    Others that follow please just stick to low end consoles for now. You'll have a chance to talk about other consoles later.
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    sub $3000
    Good: ETC Smartfade, NSI MC75xx series (yeah, I'm sounding like broken record here, but it's true).
    Bad: can't think of any, but if it has both male and female DMX "outputs" and comes from a company with a Chinese-sounding name and requires international shipping and the manual doesn't sound at all like proper english when you read it out loud, it's probably not a good buy.

    $3000 to $10000
    Good: ETC ION w/appropriate wing panels
    Bad: Lehigh Rendition
     
  5. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    I like the concept of a collaborative article, but some people might questions about application specific consoles, which may not be covered under budget structured article such as this.
    (and yes i am in a cranky mood)
     
  6. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    I like the idea. Unfortunately now that the Expression line is discontinued, I don't really have much experience on anything "current" any more.

    But I might be able to contribute something anyway, I think:

    Sub-3K
    Leprecon 600 series - Versatile in that it is a two-preset board with computer softpatch. I believe it has a cue stack too, in the same manner as the 1500/1600 line. It's a useful board, but the memory interface sucks (the 1500 and 1600 suck less, but still suck). I've used them on shows, and while they are a great bang for the buck and will let you light a show well, the lack of a numeric keypad for memory functions really is no fun. Would be better as well if it (the 600 at least, and possibly the 1500/1600) had a disk drive for transfer and backup.

    Smartfade - I'll admit that my total experience with the board is at the ETC booth at USITT '05, but it didn't impress me. It struck me as having too much DJ stuff and not enough theatre stuff. Maybe I need to drive one again to properly review it, but at this point it's on my Avoid list.

    In general (this is an Express/ion criticism mainly, even though they're dead now, but the principle is still valid) sometimes there are times you really need a board that can be driven without the VGA monitor. That's one thing I wish the Express line had a way around. There are few memory consoles now that can be usefully run without the monitor (like for the patch screen); this may be a consideration in scoping out a new board.

    Another very useful feature is the remote video terminal of yesteryear, so the designer or stage manager can look at the same thing the board op is looking at on the screen. Many cueing sessions I've been part of, the LD usually ends up asking the board op what levels things are at; a remote display should save this time and chatter.

    I guess today's Console Bashing Day for me. :)
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Not a problem. We direct the person to read the collaborative article then come back to this forum once they've been educated a bit to ask specific questions. This way we don't have to keep explaining the same basics over and over.
     
  8. LightStud

    LightStud Active Member

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    How low does one wish to stoop? How many channels? Support for MLs? Must it be from a company that has a proven track record in the stage lighting industry for at least ten years? Established dealer network? How concerned are we about service and support? An easily-located replacement/loaner console? Is 5-pin DMX512 out a requirement?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]...etc.
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Please, you are making this too hard. Those are excellent things to point out in the broader context of the choosing a console article. But for now I am just trying to get some sort of data that might make a couple of consoles stand out in the sub $3k price range as more popular. Once the person has read the article they can come back to this forum and say "yes but I was really looking for something with these capabilities" and then we can make further suggestions.

    Please just answer the two questions:

    1) My favorite sub $3,000 consoles are____ . (No more than two please, if you only have one, just write one)

    2) I would advise people to not buy the following sub $3,000 console_____. (Only one please).
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2008
  11. church

    church Active Member

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    In the sub $3k category. Elation Scenesetter 12/24 and 24/48, allow softpatching, use of subs, works well as a 2 scene board and allow cues to be saved. Only wish they had a removable memory card. At the price they sell for they are good value. Survive being moved from one place to another. Also work well for busquing.
     
  12. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    The Chauvet scenesetter 24/48 (also available by several other manufactures, same board) love it.

    Behringer LC2412 bad choice. Good concept, software sucks.

    I own one of each
     
  13. LightStud

    LightStud Active Member

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    NONE! I have no favorites in the sub $3000 category, without going to a PC-based system.

    ALL of them! Even though you don't want to allow selection criteria: for legit theatre lighting, there is NOT a full featured console in this price range, without going to a PC-based (with appropriate playback/programming wing) solution. How many times has it been said that "two-scene preset is dead"?; yet this thread is encouraging the perpetuation of same, by limiting to non-PC based, ≤$3000. I don't suppose I can say GAM Access, can I? Used ETC Express?
     
  14. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    My favorite Sub 3K would be Entertainment Technology Marquee PC (Or Horizon Gold Software with submaster wing if you can still find a distributor with it in sock)
    Entertainment Technology



    My favorite upper $$$$ board would be the ETC Ion, with appripriate wing panels based on your spicific needs.

    Lighting solutions for Theatre, Film & Television Studios and Architectural spaces : ETC

    In any market, I would stay away from any board that does not have at least some sort of following (proven stability to at least a spicific market of people) in the US (i.e. no chineese no name brand boards).

    Great idea for an article Gaff. Thinks for tackling it.

    ~Dave
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hold on LightStud I'll get to that. This thread is being used to try to get some sort of Data for a collaborative article I'm going to write (and you will be able to edit and contribute to it as well when it's up). That article WILL include PC based options. It will also include some discussion on the death of 2 scene preset. Yes, the Sub $3k market are not full featured, mostly DJ systems, and most of them don't belong in a legit theater booth. But there are some people who come to CB looking to buy a complete lighting package including lighting instruments for under $5k. I want to include some information for them in this article as well.
     
  16. church

    church Active Member

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    Gaftaper is correct. I own an elation console and a number of other legit theatre consoles but for some application and renters who want somethingsimple the sub $3k contains a number of useful consoes. Depends on your needs and budget.
     
  17. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    I volunteer at a Community Theatre, and while our main stage productions can choose between an ETC express and a Compulite Micron 4D, we have a black box theatre that runs productions at the same time that our mainstage shows are running. In this situation, it is either boards that are below $3k or no lighting. Using a lesser expensive board creates a challenge and is a good learning experience for the board operators, and LDs that don't get to do the mainstage shows. Every price range of boards has it's place in the theatre. This article is to help people choose well, in all price ranges.
     
  18. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Don't make fun of that... we had one like that at my High school :rolleyes:

    Behringer LC2412... Good in concept... good if you have a lot... and I mean A LOT of time to waste trying to figure it out, and good if you only need the extreme basics. We have one at my High School and two at my Church. (One built into the rack and one for portable purposes.)

    ETC Smartfade. Again, Good in concept. However, definitely NOT good for theatre use. Unless you don't mind giving up cues and a monitor. We have one at my college for the lights in our gym (for choral concerts.) Good for just bringing submasters up and down. I've also used it as a focus board. Works decently for that, and the light up bump buttons are good for in the dark. Not good for much else.
     
  19. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    I am not a fan of strand consoles, but i do like the strand 200 series of consoles for the under 3000 catagory. You can get it in a 12/24 or a 24/48 configuration. It has an LCD display built in, or you can also use a monitor. You can program chases, and cues. It works great for smaller theaters and one of my favorite features is that you can soft patch to all 512 channels of DMX. So if you would like you can patch dimmers 1-512 to channel 1. It is not limited like many of the smaller boards. It also has a memory card slot that will allow you to backup your show.
     
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Contrats, TimM. I think with the Strand 200 24/48, you've found the closest thing to a less-than full-featured Express 24/28 so far. $1300 vs. $5250 ?
     

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