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Lighting for schools/colleges/other small institutions


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Hi guys,


Can anyone suggest any good versatile but affordable desks for colleges and the like? They need to be able to cater for both live acts and theatre productions. Whilst I am asking this for personal benefit, it would be good if everyone can throw their ideas at this for others in the same predicament.


Our situation is that we've been running on a Strand Palette VL 16, which has been giving us problems almost since we got it, but they weren't too major so we put off the upgrade. But now it's come to the point where it's beginning to fail DURING events - and the boss won't have that! SO we're actively looking to upgrade and hoping for some suggestions from the rest of the [more experienced] community. I've got my eye on the ETC Congo Kid or possibly the Ion, but I want to see if there's anything else out there that will do a better job in terms of versatility AND reliability. It needs to be as stress- and hassle-free as possible, that's easy to train on - it's no good having the most amazing desk on the planet if no-one knows how to use it!


If you want to know about our rig, we currently use 10 movers - 2 MAC500s, 4 MAC600s, 2 MAC250s and 2 MAC300s - 6 LED battens and a bunch of profiles, fresnels and PARs. We've got 72 channels to play with, 18 of which are paired (so individual control of 54 channels). We usually fill most of it up for the annual production.


All suggestions are much appreciated!

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An Ion would be a good replacement I think.


Solid software in terms of reliability, easy to pick up for new users and quite close to the strand syntax.


You should check out Martins new M2GO console too, very versatile and portable. Priced similar to an Ion I believe, software is feature packed, reliable and syntax wise - forward thinking just like the Ion and Strand.



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Thanks for all the suggestions. I see the point about complaining but we'd like to get more experience on different OS's and not risk having the same problems again, so we probably will be moving away from Strand. I've suggested the Ion and the Orb XF to the boss, we'll see how it goes ;) Once again, thanks guys!
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Another +1 for an Ion from me- Our school-based venue has just bought one after demo'ing an Element, and the students are picking it up/adapting from a Strand 300 really quickly, thanks in part to ETC's excellent Tea Break Tutorials.
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What about Chamsys? Not the best for theatre shows

says who? the cute new mq40 seems to be aimed straight at the smaller venue market


I admit my experience is limited, but I much prefer using fader-based consoles.

Alistair, I'm going to have to agree with Hippy here, whilst yes, a Fader Per Channel is great for a few generics and maybe a couple of movers, it's no good when you're talking about controlling 56 Channels of dimming and 10 movers with a few bits of LED thrown in for good measure.


The Ion is the obvious choice for Theatre, it does it very well. As to it's busking ability, I couldn't advise, I've never used one for that.


The Chamsys desks are (IMO) really flexible systems. They are (to me) beginning to seem like a jock of all trades master of none now however, Titan seems to do busking better and Ion does theatre better. I'm not sure there are many other desks out there that give the flexibility.


There are quite a few desks that work on similar principals to the Chamsys. The Hog and M2GO being just two.




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