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Author Topic: Console recommendation  (Read 943 times)

Craig Hauber

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Console recommendation
« on: April 11, 2017, 10:16:08 pm »

Client wants a hardware solution and I'm out of touch with current "console" offerings as I personally prefer PC-based.

A contemporary style church with volunteer operators, primarily static theatrical instruments, 40+ Chauvet LED "source-4's", Elation RGBW zoom pars, (no movers but possibly a couple for effect in the future.)

Was just browsing an ETC Element 40-250 as it looks like the old Express I was used-to years ago.

But any recommendations for easy to use, teach and learn on that is reliable would be welcome.

Thanks
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Craig Hauber
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 11:00:50 pm »

I now Jands Vista is 'software-based' but they have traditional consoles.

I recommend them for most churches for their volunteer friendly nature.

Something to consider.

I can elaborate if it's within the scope.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2017, 07:34:12 am »

Depends on the nature of the service.  If it is more busked in style than a non ETC offering may be a better option. 

With no movers the element series is OK, as long as you are doing a cued, ordered service, but if any movers will be added in the next 15 years - they will quickly tire of the lack of encoders and multiple playlists.  The ion is far more versatile. 


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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2017, 08:52:05 am »

Depends on the nature of the service.  If it is more busked in style than a non ETC offering may be a better option. 

With no movers the element series is OK, as long as you are doing a cued, ordered service, but if any movers will be added in the next 15 years - they will quickly tire of the lack of encoders and multiple playlists.  The ion is far more versatile. 


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+1 - the Element is truly awful for any kind of busking of movers.  In the ETC line I would rather have a Colorsource 40.

Craig, I don't think any lighting desk that can handle a significant rig is particularly easy to use.  Once setup, most are easy to run, but every platform has a fairly significant learning curve to know how to do more than just fire off cues.

 I spent the day yesterday programming a new rig for a client on Martin M-PC/M-Touch.  These users are very new to lighting control, and I built them about 75 cue elements they can assemble for different looks.  It will work great for them, for less than $500 plus a PC.  Eventually they can grow into more programming, but until then their volunteers can click the stuff I built and/or use a couple basic whole scenes I recorded as starting points.

I'm partial to Martin's M-Touch, as it is a useful surface for very low cost. As far as I know it is the only hardware surface in its price range.  Vista/MA PC/Chamsys all have similar functionality but more expensive hardware wings.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 12:15:33 pm »

+1 - the Element is truly awful for any kind of busking of movers.  In the ETC line I would rather have a Colorsource 40.

Craig, I don't think any lighting desk that can handle a significant rig is particularly easy to use.  Once setup, most are easy to run, but every platform has a fairly significant learning curve to know how to do more than just fire off cues.

 I spent the day yesterday programming a new rig for a client on Martin M-PC/M-Touch.  These users are very new to lighting control, and I built them about 75 cue elements they can assemble for different looks.  It will work great for them, for less than $500 plus a PC.  Eventually they can grow into more programming, but until then their volunteers can click the stuff I built and/or use a couple basic whole scenes I recorded as starting points.

I'm partial to Martin's M-Touch, as it is a useful surface for very low cost. As far as I know it is the only hardware surface in its price range.  Vista/MA PC/Chamsys all have similar functionality but more expensive hardware wings.

what's "busking"?
(I'm assuming it's not playing a guitar in a subway station)

This would be for an install, not portable production use -if I can infer a "touring" connotation to that term.

It is a retrofit of a tilt-wall warehouse into a large church with a contemporary christian style of music, 2 large screens and flat open stage with no fixed liturgical furnishings.  A mix of existing fixtures along with new -all LED, no tungsten, Video cameras for i-mag and recording so at minimum the end result has to look good for that.

I looked at the Jands site, any particular unit you were referring to?  The Vista looks quite intense but the Stage CL looks promising and warrants a closer look (To see if it's not too "cheap" and "DJ-ish")

The Martin M-PC/M-Touch looks promising too, just need to read into it more and figure out how to run it stand-alone. 
-I'm trying to avoid a standard windows PC as primary lighting control as they turn out to be an un-maintained dust and malware-encrusted constant service-call when used in volunteer based institutions. (and the viability of Martin's future product-lines as Harman/Samsung?)

The ETC ION is just out of price range, especially when adding a fader panel.  What about the Congo, Colorsource or Smartfade lines?  Or since High-End has been swallowed by ETC, how about Hoglet or Hedgehog? (and the future of that classic brand in general)

-And of course there's also Chamsys, Leprecon, Avolites, Pathway and even Leviton/NSI/Colortran.

Disappointed that I let myself get so out of touch with the lighting world over the last 10 years but researching as fast as I can -your replies have been so very helpful!
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Craig Hauber
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 12:42:19 pm »

what's "busking"?
(I'm assuming it's not playing a guitar in a subway station)

This would be for an install, not portable production use -if I can infer a "touring" connotation to that term.

It is a retrofit of a tilt-wall warehouse into a large church with a contemporary christian style of music, 2 large screens and flat open stage with no fixed liturgical furnishings.  A mix of existing fixtures along with new -all LED, no tungsten, Video cameras for i-mag and recording so at minimum the end result has to look good for that.

I looked at the Jands site, any particular unit you were referring to?  The Vista looks quite intense but the Stage CL looks promising and warrants a closer look (To see if it's not too "cheap" and "DJ-ish")

The Martin M-PC/M-Touch looks promising too, just need to read into it more and figure out how to run it stand-alone. 
-I'm trying to avoid a standard windows PC as primary lighting control as they turn out to be an un-maintained dust and malware-encrusted constant service-call when used in volunteer based institutions. (and the viability of Martin's future product-lines as Harman/Samsung?)

The ETC ION is just out of price range, especially when adding a fader panel.  What about the Congo, Colorsource or Smartfade lines?  Or since High-End has been swallowed by ETC, how about Hoglet or Hedgehog? (and the future of that classic brand in general)

-And of course there's also Chamsys, Leprecon, Avolites, Pathway and even Leviton/NSI/Colortran.

Disappointed that I let myself get so out of touch with the lighting world over the last 10 years but researching as fast as I can -your replies have been so very helpful!
Busking refers to dynamically using your lights, rather than pre-recording every step of a show and simply playing the cues back in order.

M-PC and the other full-featured desks in wing form cannot be run standalone - they require a PC.  Usually this is managed in a venue with a DMX cue server of some kind that handles room light with preset panels, which is superseded by board control when the board is powered on. 

Once you get out of the small appliance boards, all desks are really PCs, so ultimately have slightly different baskets of the same pros and cons.  With external PC desks you will save huge amounts of money on the acquisition cost and can replace the PC separately from the control hardware, however you have to maintain the OS and use discipline to not use this PC for other things.  All-in one boards like the Ion/Congo/M-series/larger Jands/Hogs/Mas/Chamsys have the advantage of being an integrated system with a potentially more limited attack surface for viruses and other computer-based bad behavior, however sometimes the underlying PC gets hard to maintain before you are ready to replace the desk.

I have no personal experience with the Jands CL, but it appears to be limited to just color-changing LED fixtures.  It might work for you today, but doesn't offer much expandability.

I own a SmartFade ML and assuming the number of conventional dimmers is enough for your needs, it's a pretty elegant console, however it has pretty much been discontinued in favor of the Colorsource line, which again might be fine if your show fits on it.

The Congo/Cobalt family does busking much better than the Element.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 12:50:16 pm »

what's "busking"?
(I'm assuming it's not playing a guitar in a subway station)

This would be for an install, not portable production use -if I can infer a "touring" connotation to that term.

It is a retrofit of a tilt-wall warehouse into a large church with a contemporary christian style of music, 2 large screens and flat open stage with no fixed liturgical furnishings.  A mix of existing fixtures along with new -all LED, no tungsten, Video cameras for i-mag and recording so at minimum the end result has to look good for that.

I looked at the Jands site, any particular unit you were referring to?  The Vista looks quite intense but the Stage CL looks promising and warrants a closer look (To see if it's not too "cheap" and "DJ-ish")

The Martin M-PC/M-Touch looks promising too, just need to read into it more and figure out how to run it stand-alone. 
-I'm trying to avoid a standard windows PC as primary lighting control as they turn out to be an un-maintained dust and malware-encrusted constant service-call when used in volunteer based institutions. (and the viability of Martin's future product-lines as Harman/Samsung?)

The ETC ION is just out of price range, especially when adding a fader panel.  What about the Congo, Colorsource or Smartfade lines?  Or since High-End has been swallowed by ETC, how about Hoglet or Hedgehog? (and the future of that classic brand in general)

-And of course there's also Chamsys, Leprecon, Avolites, Pathway and even Leviton/NSI/Colortran.

Disappointed that I let myself get so out of touch with the lighting world over the last 10 years but researching as fast as I can -your replies have been so very helpful!

I think Jands would be a very good choice then.

The Stage CL is for the computer/device illiterate so might be what you're looking for. (it is still decently powerful, and since you're using LED fixtures; might work quite nicely)

Jands Vista on the other hand is their full fledged software. They have different consoles that utilize the software which is the same across all consoles. The software is very visual based so if you click on a fixture you get parameters (int, color, gobo, etc) right there. You can download and run the software for free (the dmx just times out). Dongle unlocks channels. Computer, software, dongle, & Art-net node is cheapest way to get into the game.

If they want a full console (without an external computer) the I3 is ~10k and runs on a Linux kernel.

The setups I install in churches are 1k ch dongle, with a small 990 dell computer (ssd), and a Jands S1 console. Comes out to ~$3-5k (depending on your resourcefulness).

If you want help setting anything up or tips I'd gladly lend my services. I've been trying to do some more Jands videos on my setups, but the recording software keeps messing up :( I just need to purchase some recording software.

Hope that helps.

As far as the other consoles listed. Hog is not user friendly. Smartfade is fine, but I think it would be less powerful & less easy to use than Jands. Ion is really where you want to be; element just isn't really useful IMO as we went from that to Jands. Chamsys is confusing, the others I haven't used too much/if at all.
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Wal Mann

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 07:00:01 pm »

Client wants a hardware solution and I'm out of touch with current "console" offerings as I personally prefer PC-based.

A contemporary style church with volunteer operators, primarily static theatrical instruments, 40+ Chauvet LED "source-4's", Elation RGBW zoom pars, (no movers but possibly a couple for effect in the future.)

Was just browsing an ETC Element 40-250 as it looks like the old Express I was used-to years ago.

But any recommendations for easy to use, teach and learn on that is reliable would be welcome.

Thanks


Have a look at the LSC Mantra Lite, as a basic console with some clever interface options it's pretty powerful and quick to learn.

As a soundie who picked up a few LED lights, I first looked at the Jands stage CL but went with the Mantra, it has twice the number of "channels", can really easily and intuitively control moving lights and is expandable up to double the control, with fader wings.

Not sure of pricing in the US, but definitely check it out.

(A bit of a shameless plug for some Aussie manufacturing  ;))

Wal
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 08:44:56 pm »

Hi Craig, you've gotten some great advice so far.  As an ETC product owner/user myself let me do my best to contribute.

Was just browsing an ETC Element 40-250 as it looks like the old Express I was used-to years ago.

Looks can be deceiving.  While the Element was intended as the natural replacement for the Express, it's really more of a combination of the Express and Obsession desks previously offered by ETC - at least that's what the regional sales rep. told me when I first demoed the desk.  You'll recognize a lot of the basic features of the Express in the Element, but you'll have better control of LEDs and movers plus a slightly different programming style.  That said, this board is really only meant for small installations with mostly conventional lights and maybe a handful of LEDs and movers.  Though it can busk if you really want it to, this board is really intended more for cue to cue playback.  The Ion is a more powerful desk but also comes in at a much higher price point.  You can busk a little better on it but it's still a mostly theatrical console.

The Congo/Cobalt family does busking much better than the Element.

I second this, and let me elaborate a little since I believe I'm one of the few here that actually owns one.  I have a Congo Kid in my personal inventory that is my go-to desk for busking medium to large shows with more than a few intelligent fixtures.  It's important to note that both the Congo Kid and Congo Jr. run the Cobalt server, so going the Congo/Cobalt route is really a matter of choosing hardware and number of outputs - the software itself is all the same.  I can live on the two universe size of the Kid for 90% of my work, plus the 40 Master Faders and 80 control buttons make busking complex setups very simple.  The beauty is that I can put everything from basic scenes/presets/cues to complex dynamic effect parameters and full sequences/cue stacks on these masters and manipulate them in real time.  Very powerful board.  The price point is between the Element and Ion depending on configuration and accessory choice.  Being an avid Cobalt user, I will add this - like most "beyond ADJ/Chauvet boards", there is a learning curve.  Cobalt is nonstandard syntax and it is not intended for beginners.  While there's no reason why you can't get this, it's nowhere near as user friendly as other products such as those offered by Jands and Pathway, and you'd better be sure you're ready for such a learning curve.  I normally don't recommend Cobalt for student and volunteer users, but I'd also be doing you a disservice by not at least mentioning it given that I own the board myself and that there aren't too many Cobalt users in the wild.  Well, at least nowhere near as many Cobalt users as there are Element/Ion users!  One of these days I'll get around to writing a full review of the board.  Given everything I just said, I really enjoy the console and what it can offer, especially for the price.

I'll also add that it's possible to set up user profiles on Cobalt, so maybe you and a few others learn how to really program the desk under one user profile and then set up a second profile for "users" (volunteers or general crew) that has permission to run the board but not program it (i.e. mess things up).  Definitely give it a look, but I wouldn't necessarily say this is your best option just yet.  As much as I'm an ETC fan, their offerings might not be the best purchase you can make here for the price point you're shopping at.  Hope this helps! 

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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 12:14:19 am »

Hi Craig, you've gotten some great advice so far.  As an ETC product owner/user myself let me do my best to contribute.

Looks can be deceiving.  While the Element was intended as the natural replacement for the Express, it's really more of a combination of the Express and Obsession desks previously offered by ETC - at least that's what the regional sales rep. told me when I first demoed the desk.  You'll recognize a lot of the basic features of the Express in the Element, but you'll have better control of LEDs and movers plus a slightly different programming style.  That said, this board is really only meant for small installations with mostly conventional lights and maybe a handful of LEDs and movers.  Though it can busk if you really want it to, this board is really intended more for cue to cue playback.  The Ion is a more powerful desk but also comes in at a much higher price point.  You can busk a little better on it but it's still a mostly theatrical console.

I second this, and let me elaborate a little since I believe I'm one of the few here that actually owns one.  I have a Congo Kid in my personal inventory that is my go-to desk for busking medium to large shows with more than a few intelligent fixtures.  It's important to note that both the Congo Kid and Congo Jr. run the Cobalt server, so going the Congo/Cobalt route is really a matter of choosing hardware and number of outputs - the software itself is all the same.  I can live on the two universe size of the Kid for 90% of my work, plus the 40 Master Faders and 80 control buttons make busking complex setups very simple.  The beauty is that I can put everything from basic scenes/presets/cues to complex dynamic effect parameters and full sequences/cue stacks on these masters and manipulate them in real time.  Very powerful board.  The price point is between the Element and Ion depending on configuration and accessory choice.  Being an avid Cobalt user, I will add this - like most "beyond ADJ/Chauvet boards", there is a learning curve.  Cobalt is nonstandard syntax and it is not intended for beginners.  While there's no reason why you can't get this, it's nowhere near as user friendly as other products such as those offered by Jands and Pathway, and you'd better be sure you're ready for such a learning curve.  I normally don't recommend Cobalt for student and volunteer users, but I'd also be doing you a disservice by not at least mentioning it given that I own the board myself and that there aren't too many Cobalt users in the wild.  Well, at least nowhere near as many Cobalt users as there are Element/Ion users!  One of these days I'll get around to writing a full review of the board.  Given everything I just said, I really enjoy the console and what it can offer, especially for the price.

I'll also add that it's possible to set up user profiles on Cobalt, so maybe you and a few others learn how to really program the desk under one user profile and then set up a second profile for "users" (volunteers or general crew) that has permission to run the board but not program it (i.e. mess things up).  Definitely give it a look, but I wouldn't necessarily say this is your best option just yet.  As much as I'm an ETC fan, their offerings might not be the best purchase you can make here for the price point you're shopping at.  Hope this helps!


All 1072 pages for 7.3  - It is not very approachable but would be interesting with the console in front of you. 


I think the key is like anything else, if you have only used a toy lighting console and have no LD skills, which pretty much defines most sound guys trying to put together a simple show, the learning curve includes not only the actual console but the very concepts and processes you are trying to accomplish.


I think what happens, it certainly is in my case, is once you learn a little bit you run up against the limitations of Showxpress (or something else in this class).  On a fixed install you can get it all working but aligning movers for a mobile show is brutal. 
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2017, 03:56:21 pm »

Well the end result of all this is I have a new understanding of the current state of consoles and personally am going to go with one of the PC-based options.

The client is probably going to go with a Colorsource 40 from ETC. 

The reason being that I just turned them to some actual dealers that brought demo units of various types and between them and the client they decided to go with that. 
(I'm just a system designer so I was fairly agnostic to actual products)

I am putting in multiple universes of infrastructure with Swisson merges and opto-splits so using any other board or PC-based system will be an easy transition in the future.

Thanks for all your replies, I've learned quite a bit since -and it will be a big let-down to pull out my old Leprecon boards for my own little shows!


Hi Craig, you've gotten some great advice so far.  As an ETC product owner/user myself let me do my best to contribute.

Looks can be deceiving.  While the Element was intended as the natural replacement for the Express, it's really more of a combination of the Express and Obsession desks previously offered by ETC - at least that's what the regional sales rep. told me when I first demoed the desk.  You'll recognize a lot of the basic features of the Express in the Element, but you'll have better control of LEDs and movers plus a slightly different programming style.  That said, this board is really only meant for small installations with mostly conventional lights and maybe a handful of LEDs and movers.  Though it can busk if you really want it to, this board is really intended more for cue to cue playback.  The Ion is a more powerful desk but also comes in at a much higher price point.  You can busk a little better on it but it's still a mostly theatrical console.

I second this, and let me elaborate a little since I believe I'm one of the few here that actually owns one.  I have a Congo Kid in my personal inventory that is my go-to desk for busking medium to large shows with more than a few intelligent fixtures.  It's important to note that both the Congo Kid and Congo Jr. run the Cobalt server, so going the Congo/Cobalt route is really a matter of choosing hardware and number of outputs - the software itself is all the same.  I can live on the two universe size of the Kid for 90% of my work, plus the 40 Master Faders and 80 control buttons make busking complex setups very simple.  The beauty is that I can put everything from basic scenes/presets/cues to complex dynamic effect parameters and full sequences/cue stacks on these masters and manipulate them in real time.  Very powerful board.  The price point is between the Element and Ion depending on configuration and accessory choice.  Being an avid Cobalt user, I will add this - like most "beyond ADJ/Chauvet boards", there is a learning curve.  Cobalt is nonstandard syntax and it is not intended for beginners.  While there's no reason why you can't get this, it's nowhere near as user friendly as other products such as those offered by Jands and Pathway, and you'd better be sure you're ready for such a learning curve.  I normally don't recommend Cobalt for student and volunteer users, but I'd also be doing you a disservice by not at least mentioning it given that I own the board myself and that there aren't too many Cobalt users in the wild.  Well, at least nowhere near as many Cobalt users as there are Element/Ion users!  One of these days I'll get around to writing a full review of the board.  Given everything I just said, I really enjoy the console and what it can offer, especially for the price.

I'll also add that it's possible to set up user profiles on Cobalt, so maybe you and a few others learn how to really program the desk under one user profile and then set up a second profile for "users" (volunteers or general crew) that has permission to run the board but not program it (i.e. mess things up).  Definitely give it a look, but I wouldn't necessarily say this is your best option just yet.  As much as I'm an ETC fan, their offerings might not be the best purchase you can make here for the price point you're shopping at.  Hope this helps!
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Craig Hauber
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2017, 04:59:54 pm »

Well the end result of all this is I have a new understanding of the current state of consoles and personally am going to go with one of the PC-based options.

The client is probably going to go with a Colorsource 40 from ETC. 

The reason being that I just turned them to some actual dealers that brought demo units of various types and between them and the client they decided to go with that. 
(I'm just a system designer so I was fairly agnostic to actual products)

I am putting in multiple universes of infrastructure with Swisson merges and opto-splits so using any other board or PC-based system will be an easy transition in the future.

Thanks for all your replies, I've learned quite a bit since -and it will be a big let-down to pull out my old Leprecon boards for my own little shows!

Thanks for the update!

I find it weird they liked the Colorsource 40 over Jands. But to each their own.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2017, 07:43:40 pm »

Yes, glad to hear that both you and your client have ended up with solutions that they like.  That's the funny thing about light boards - there is no shortage of options.  Some are more standardized, others are very unique.  Everyone is different, so certain methods and presentation of features just feels 'right' to some people on one platform versus another.  I too have been baffled by client choices from time to time, but the important thing is that they found something that they like and can use which is way more useful than a more "user friendly" board which they just can't wrap their head around!  Thanks for the update!
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Jeffrey Knorr - CobraSound.com

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Re: Console recommendation
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2017, 01:43:17 pm »

Hi Craig,

We're currently researching upgrade options coming from the Jands Stage CL.  It's a nice small board but we've run into performances issues (slowness/lag) and fixture limitations (only 24).  We're most likely looking to make a big step up in capability and quality.  I will be checking out the other options presented in this thread.

Thank you,

Jeff
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