In this article, we briefly discuss the different stage lighting consoles you can choose from and what are their differences. There are no such consoles that should be labeled to be “best suited for school use”. It is more of marketing hype. There are definitely “best-marketed consoles for schools”.
If we can classify lighting consoles in a few groups, they would be:
Top of the rank type of consoles
These include GrandMA, Hog, and ETC, which are almost exclusively used in the professional lighting industry, with ETC seem mostly in theatres. They are expensive and since they are the most sort after stage lighting consoles in the business of professional touring and production. They are certainly up for the task and built to be reliable. Should a school be buying one of these if you have the budget? Why not. However, do you get more of them than from others, probably not?
These include Chamsys, Avolites, Obsidan Onyx, LSC, and Jands, etc. Some of these consoles are used in huge shows in the professional lighting industry. Some brands have more following than others depending on which country you are in. For example, Avolites is very popular in Europe and Asia but almost endangered species in Australia. Obsidian Oynx was the formal Martin M series rebranded after being purchased by Elation. Different brands have their own lovers and haters, just like with mobile phones. Chamsys, Avolites, and Onyx are brands that have a customer base worldwide and therefore supposedly more resources online. LSC and Jands are two local brands with a strong local customer base. If you don’t know any of them and would like to find out how they differ from each other, you can request a demo from their distributors in Australia. it is a combination of if you like their looks, how their software works, number of outputs, or buttons/faders. If your school is serious about giving the student the opportunity to learn a professional stage lighting console, you have to do some test drives of different consoles instead of relying on the salesperson who would push for whatever is more convenient for them to sell to you.
To be sure, all of the above are recognized brand names with decent products. Mastering any of them will allow one to do great shows with whatever lighting fixtures you have in your school’s lighting rig. They are all overkill for the number of lighting fixtures any school can afford. However, from an educational point of view, providing students with the opportunity to learn one of these consoles will be of great help to those who are interested in pursuing higher education in this field or working in the production industry. After all, these are not going to break the bank.
Free Software and Others
If all you have in the lighting rig is less than 20 LED color wash lights, the best stage lighting consoles in the world won’t be able to do much magic. Especially if your school does not have a tradition to run shows with complicated lighting scenes, nor having a team of student tech crew that are not intimidated by the seemly complex lighting software. In this case, we think anything more than 500 dollars would be a waste of money. There are generic and reliable control surfaces that are easy to use if all you need is to mix colors and turn them up or down.
Do you have any questions regarding stage lighting consoles? Please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.