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Budget lighting desk feedback


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I'm making recommendations to an amateur group on some dimming and control equipment they need. They are a small group and will require a reasonably straightforward setup to avoid having to pay continual hire costs.


I'm fairly knowledgeable about dimmers, demuxes etc. but I have no experience of the budget lighting desks currently available. I am recommending a new budget desk because faders can suffer over time; it is a tough call but they are probably better off with a cheap, new DMX desk than a used desk of unknown history on which the faders may soon start to play up.


They really need a desk that allows 2 preset manual control of 18 or preferably 24 channels for drama (not musical) use, with a DMX output. Scene memories are a nice addition but not an absolute requirement. So far I have found the following possible options:


Botex Scene Setter 24/48

Showtec Showmaster 48

I think Elation do the same desk as the Botex with their name on, as do a couple of other brands.


Does anyone have any experience of the build quality and longevity of any of these desks? As you can see from the desks listed, we are far from Zero 88 and Strand 200 series territory in terms of budget! I am trying to get them something for around £250. DMX patching would be a handy feature, but again not a requirement - I note that the Showmaster manual doesn't mention this so it probably isn't possible with that one. Build quality is more important than sophisticated feature set, so maybe with the Showmaster that is no bad thing.


All feedback on your real world experiences are welcome.

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We've sold an awful lot of these desks (in their various incarnations) and apart from a bad batch about 12 months ago, they're a nice little desk. It can be tortuous getting around the manual, but otherwise they seem to be solid reliable desks.


It might be worth keeping an eye on UsedLighting and eBay for Strand 200 series because the more recent versions do offer patching if that would make things easier for you.

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Unless they do a lot of shows my usual advice is always to hire. If they want to buy and build quality is important my first instinct if you don't need memory is to look for a good second hand Pulsar 2 preset manual. I found one at £10 a minute ago. They are not the most sophisticated in the world but they are rugged and built to last. My second is to get them to run a couple of jumble sales/coffee mornings/Raffles and go for a Zero 88 Jester.
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have had a scenesetter desk for two years now - its available as a 24 channel / 48 in wide mode and the bottom 24 faders can be programmed with scenes or chases. No patching though. My desk is flightcased and moves about quite a lot, but I'm the only user so I treat it nicely - but it's never given me any hint of trouble.


Ive seen these badged as botex, elation, soundlab, American DJ etc - but I believe they are esentially the same desk. They often come with a very poor instruction manual - do an online search for the American DJ manual and you'll get one that's been written by someone who actually understands English!

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If they can get by with having only 12 channels directly accessible at a time (with 24 in total), or 24 in wide mode, then I would recommend the Behringer Eurolight over the above,


having used both the Behringer and Showtec extensively, I would say that the Behringer seems much more intuitive and also more powerful, with 2 switched channels, DMX and Analog output, and timed theatre mode (cue stack). It has a reasonably intuitive DMX soft patch too, which lets you patch any 3 DMX channels to a console channel.


It has many pages of scenes and chases, and chases can be saved to memories and used with two different sound-to-light functions. It also has the option to save data to a memory card (although I've never used it).


It also has the ability to crossfade between the live preset and a stored state I believe, which can be useful


I've had this desk for around 5 years, (flight-cased), and apart from a firmware issue initially (fixed in later versions) it's not let me down. And only around £160




PS; I'm not affiliated with Behringer (or anyone else) but having reached frustration point many times using the showtec desk...



Edited: added more detail!

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