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4 Items to Consider When Purchasing a New Lighting Console

Light boards, lighting desks, control consoles: whatever you call them, there are 4 key factors to consider when investing in a new console.

Lighting desks are available in a wide variety of sizes and with varied feature sets. The best lighting console for your venue or production depends on four key factors:

Knowledge of Your Operators

Does your crew consist of professional technicians or novice volunteers? Knowing the skill level of those who will be using the board can determine if you want an easy-to-use, intuitive console, or one that can offer far more flexibility and options with complex programming capabilities.

Size/Age of Your Lighting System

If you are adding a new control board to an old system, you’ll want to be sure of the control protocol required by your existing equipment. Most new consoles output DMX or DMX plus network data, but older dimmers may be operated on an analog standard called AMX. Many small portable dimmers employ control protocols which are specific to individual manufacturers. If the existing equipment cannot be upgraded to the modern DMX standard, then a translator or converter will be required to assure trouble free communication throughout your entertainment lighting system.

Size/Use of Your Facility Space

The right lighting console for you may be far different than the regional theatre down the street, depending on how your venue is used:

  • Do you have moving lights in your inventory? A console with encoders may make sense.
  • Does your facility have a rep plot that does a number of concerts? Magic sheet capacity could be a feature you would want.
  • How often is your venue used? If your theater sees a lot of changeovers, a console with remote capabilities will help get shows loaded and programmed with greater ease.
  • What is the available booth space for your new lighting console? Will you need peripherals such as monitors?

Price

We understand that most theatres don’t have an endless supply of funding, and that budgets can be quite tight. Fortunately, many manufacturers are offering more affordable options that can run off of a laptop, instead of needing to invest in an expensive piece of hardware.


The good news is that you don’t need to make these decisions alone. Lighting consoles come in all different sizes, shapes and features. Our team has deep knowledge of the various options on the market today, as well as the experience to help integrate a new desk into your system. We can provide an evaluation at no charge, and would be happy to review your systems to present some options.

VLS also offers console training to help your church, theatre company or venue staff learn how to best utilize the technology. We’re happy to answer your questions on console choice, training, and systems integration.

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