In The Market for a Lighting Console?: 10 Models for Churches to Consider

While the cost of an inexpensive console might be where one might initially gravitate, it's best to recognize each unit's mix of pros and cons.

When considering lighting consoles, just because a certain unit might work fabulously at the church down the street, it doesn't necessarily guarantee that it's a match for your worship space.

One of the first aspects that cannot be ignored is how well, and how quickly, your staff would be able to learn the intricacies of your newest piece of gear. Without the comfort of knowing whether your staff will quickly understand how to use the console well, they could easily find themselves frustrated trying to get a grasp on how to best use it.

To help them avoid such angst, we recommend that prior to the start of service the staff tests every cue that is programmed into it. By doing that, your staff won't unexpectedly be thrust into any surprises. And remember to also allot enough time in advance of the service for programming. Such preplanning will go a long way in limiting your stress, as well as those who are tasked in handling the lighting during your services.

While some church lighting designers might aspire to someday own a $44,000 High End Systems Hog 4 console, we here at Worship Tech Decisions recognize that for most churches considering either an upgrade or are looking to buy their first console, their specific budget line for a new unit is nowhere near that stratosphere.

And if you're in the market for a new console, it's best to talk with your integrator about arranging a demo of at least a handful of consoles you are considering which would best fit your worship space.

In looking at the bevy of options from all the lighting console models and brands, WTD opted to narrow its focus to 10 models, ones running as low as $199 up to $3,900. Included are units from brands American DJ, Avolites, Behringer, ETC, Jands, Leprecon, Leviton, Lightronics, Pathway and Strand Lighting.

While the cost of an inexpensive console might be where one might initially gravitate, it's best to recognize each unit's mix of pros and cons. The great benefit (beyond its low cost) for most low-cost units is their simplicity, which will likely not make them much of a challenge to teach to your staff and volunteers. But that simplicity often also adds up to a console not having all the features you might want, and are instead likely part of a full-featured unit.

Have the goal of selecting the right tool, as will go a long way in being able to do the job well, and doing it much easier. A good place to start is to recognize how many lighting channels and fixtures you currently have at your church, and how many the console will need to control.

Beyond that, think about how many functional areas will need to be lit with the console, and who will be operating it. In addition, how many different looks are you planning the unit to handle during any service or when lighting would be needed? And don't impinge yourself by grabbing a unit that barely meets your needs today, while failing to provide yourself any flexibility that would offer you even the slightest degree of expansion down the road.

To offer some comparison within the selections, WTD broke out the models within four respective price brackets. The following slideshow offers details on two models ranging from $199 to $249, three models each from $300 to $1,999 and $2,000 to $2,999 and two models that come in at above $3,000.

From this group, there are a wide variety of features that each unit offers, from one that controls 24 channels, up to those that control hundreds. Also, take into account whether you currently need, or will in the future, the ability to control moving lights, as not all of the listed 10 models offer that feature.

The following should be seen as a sampling of quality light consoles. If a specific brand or console in your view should have made the list, don't hesitate to contact me to why that brand and model should have been among WTD's featured consoles in this slideshow feature.

And if you're in the market for a new console, it's best to talk with your integrator about arranging a demo of at least a handful of consoles you are considering which would best fit your worship space. Upon arranging a demo time, keep track of what features and aspects of each unit are most beneficial and least valuable to you, to help determine after the demos have been completed, which console you find is the best match for your church's needs.

TAGS: Gear Lighting
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