What Lighting Console is the Best?

And the best lighting console is…

(Drumroll Please)


Did you really think I was going to name just one?

If you’re new here to Learn Stage Lighting, you may not know this, but I don’t like to make blanket statements, especially about gear.

In today’s lighting world, there are so many different and diverse consoles to choose from, and there is no “best console” out there – no matter what some people may say on lighting forums!

The truth is, even if there was a “best console” that was the very best for everyone, it probably wouldn’t be in everyone’s price range.

So that puts us back at square one.  If you’re looking to buy a lighting console, here’s what you need to know:

How to Find the Right Lighting Console for YOU:

As I mentioned above, today there are more consoles on the market than ever before.

And this has 2 key consequences – 1) There is a console out there that is perfect for your unique situation, and 2) It can be like finding a needle in a haystack!

Step 1: What Do You Need Now (And Later?)

Finding the right console begins with deciding what you, the user need out of the console today as well as in the future.

It begins with looking inside and projecting through to tomorrow.  What types of lights and how many do you currently need to control?

LED’s, moving lights?  Just conventional lights via dimmers?

And how will this change in the future?  Can you find a console that meets your current needs and future needs, or perhaps one that is upgradable?

Step 2: What is Your Technical Level of Expertise?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew!  I can’t tell you the number of disenfranchised lighting hobbyists I’ve met who just want to throw their lighting console out the window.

Martin M Touch

This usually happens for 1 or 2 reasons – either they didn’t get step 1 right, or the console they bought is WAY over their head!  Have you ever felt this way?

I know that my first lighting experience almost ended in giving up for good because of a very complex console!

Today’s lighting consoles are becoming both easier and more complex than ever.  The good news is that there are many easy-to-use consoles designed for beginners.

So, if you’ve never touched a console before, you might want to start there – I’ve linked up to more resources at the end of this post.

Step 3: What is Your Budget?

Once you narrow down your search to a few consoles, it’s important to stay on budget.  You’ve got to be able to pay for this thing!

While there is no exact formula to figuring out how much to spend on your console vs. the rest of your lighting, I generally suggest that you spend at least the cost of multiple lights that you have or want on your console.

The console is the lifeblood of your lighting rig, and choosing wisely will give you flexibility, ease of use and a lot of fun!

Choosing poorly will only end in frustration!

So if you have spent $1000 on 8 or so lights, you’ll want to spend at least $200-300 on a console.

If you’ve spent $50,000 on lights, please don’t control them with $200 console!

Stay within your budget, but also make sure you get enough console for now and the future!

Further Resources:

How Do I Choose My First Lighting Console?

Band Lighting – How Do I Run My Show From Stage?

How Do I Choose A Lighting Console for My Church?

How to Program Martin M-PC and M-Series Consoles

How to Program with Enttec DMXIS

How to Get Started With The Chauvet Obey 40

Premium Action Plans on Learn Stage Lighting Labs:

Getting Started: Consoles

Professional Lighting Console Basics

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