There are about 10,000 different lighting consoles available today.
And about half of them are buying advertising to get you to purchase their console.
Buying a lighting console is one of the most crucial lighting purchases you can make for your church’s lighting. Your lighting console is the single purchase that will make the most impact on your lighting – for good or for bad!
It may also be the single most expensive purchase you make in your lighting rig, so it’s really important to get it right the first time!
How to Choose the Right Lighting Console for Your Church
How do you choose? When it’s time to buy a new console, there are 3 key points that you’ve got to consider:
1: It’s Not (All) About Price
Everyone has a budget, and if you’re anything like me, you want to buy the least expensive product that will get the job done.
However, when you’re buying a lighting console, this isn’t the best idea.
The first thing you need to do is figure out how many lights you have, and how much console you need to control it.
Resources:Are you starting from zero experience in lighting? Click here to get my “getting started” guide for church lighting!
If you’ve already got experience with lighting and are simply looking to upgrade to a bigger console, you probably have a good idea of what you want.
As you compare different consoles, make sure to think about how many faders you want for control, and how important features like touchscreens and programming buttons are to you.
If you pre-program all of your lighting looks at once and then never program again, you may not need programming buttons or even many playback faders.
On the other hand, if you re-program for a new set monthly and add new songs on a weekly basis, some encoder wheels and programming buttons will quickly provide their value to you!
2: Who Will Be Using This Console?
It’s really important NOT to bamboozle your volunteers with a terribly technical console.
As you think about how your ministry runs, consider what it will take to get your volunteers up to speed.
Do you need them to be programming looks and focusing lights, or just playing back what’s on the faders? Do you record everything into a few big cuelists, or are your volunteers/staff running everything on the fly each week?
The good news here is that many of today’s consoles are very intuitive and can be learned quickly – but not every console is this way!
To figure out how usable a console is, you’ve really got to sit down work with each console you are considering. Reach out to local dealers and see if they can arrange a demo – even if you’re not in a big city, manufacturer reps still will come by from time to time!
If demoing the actual isn’t practical, most consoles have an offline software that you can download and work with on your computer. Combine that with watching training videos on Youtube, and you’ll be set to see if the console can do what you need.
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Dive into the basics of Church lighting with The Foundations of Church Lighting.
Then, access Professional Lighting Console Basics to get up to speed on all the terminology you need to program on a pro-level console.
Don’t forget to up your design skills once you get your lights up and running through Advanced Design for Church Lighting!
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3: Think About the Future
A good lighting console purchase can potentially serve you for 10+ years before you upgrade or replace.
What is the trajectory of your lighting system? Are you expanding every year, or do you have a major upgrade planned down the road?
As best you can, it’s important to plan for the future and don’t just buy a console that can get by for your current needs – give yourself and the ministry room to grow.
If you’re in the position where you’ve got a few year old console that you’ve outgrown, it’s time to think creatively.
Do you have another venue on your campus that could grow into the console?
Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember that your console is the 2nd most important part of your lighting system – after the humans running it!
Keep that in mind as you search out for a new console for your church. If you don’t have the money to buy the console you need, think about creative ways to get started.
Is there a PC version of the console that would work and be upgradeable? Or is it just a time to wait for the next season and save up?
Keep a long-term perspective, and you won’t go wrong in choosing your next lighting console! 🙂