Clients often come to us asking, “What is a lighting console?” So in this article, we’re going to look at various types of lighting consoles and discuss why you might select each one for your particular event.
Quick Answer: A lighting console allows you to control the intensity and color of your lights from one controller, eliminating the need to walk around changing each light manually. More complex consoles allow you to set scenes and control more complicated moving lights.
Smaller Lighting Consoles
Smaller analog lighting consoles like the Elation SDC 12 allow you to make simple adjustments to the color and intensity of your lights.
A console like the SDC 12 gives you one or two channels for your stage wash (the front lights) and four channels to mix the color of your uplights. This is sufficient to set the scene on your stage.
The key benefit to having a controller like this is that you can change all of your light settings from one place rather than walking around the room to adjust each one manually.
As you progress to larger, slightly more complex analog lighting consoles, you gain the ability to set scenes. The Elation Stagesetter 8 is a good example of this next step up.
Scenes allow you to store predefined lighting settings and switch between them. If you want the lighting style to change between speakers, set scenes make it easier and quicker to make a smooth transition.
Digital Lighting Consoles
If you have moving lights at your event, then you really need a digital lighting console. In extreme cases, some lighting fixtures require up to 400 channels of information to do what you want them to.
Lighting Console Channels
To put the channel requirements of some lighting fixtures into perspective, the Elation SDC 12 has 12 channels, and the Stagesetter 8 has 16 channels. They are designed to manage the simple requirements of more basic lighting fixtures.
In comparison, a digital lighting console like the Chamsys MQ80 can have up to 48 x 512 (24,576) channels. These consoles are designed to work with more complex lights.