Review: Compulite Dlite Compact Lighting Console

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We are looking at the Dlite Compact Lighting Console from Compulite.  The fellas at Creative Stage Lighting, the US distributors of the Compulite consoles, was kind enough to send us a demo unit to review for our readers.

The Dlite series of consoles is geared towards medium sized venues with limited budgets, but some advanced feature requirements. Medium sizes theatres, TV studios, rental houses, and high schools may find that the Dlite series of consoles is the right match for them.  With both manual and fully programmable playback, the Dlite consoles can conform to your requirements.

There are five models of the Dlite console: the Dlite 96, Dlite 72, Dlite 48, Dlite Compact and the Dlite PC.  Each model offers you the numbers worth of single sliders to control individual channels, while each model has the same core capacities.

Hardware and Capacity

Each model of the Dlite series of consoles offers the same base of features and capacities such as the ability to console four universes or 2048 attributes, or DMX with 2048 control channels.  Another way that Compulite touts the Dlite capabilities is that the Dlite series can control up to 252 moving lights with up to 75 parameters per fixture. With four universes of control, the Dlite consoles has the ability to run almost any medium sized show with ease.

While each of the Dlite consoles has two, five pin DMX out ports on the console, (except for the Dlite PC), the other two universe of DMX are distributed over ethernet via the on-board network adaptor and distributed via Compulite’s ePort network adapters. Thus maximizing the full potential of the consoles.

Each Dlite console also offers one, five pin DMX input port for DMX pass through. SMPTE and MIDI is also included on the Dlite series of consoles for greater control with those protocols for running and playback of shows.

Built into each Dlite console is a 320×240 LCD touch screen for doing a multitude of things with in the console.  From picking channels and fixtures to selecting libraries, assigning patch among many other abilities.  There is also an external XVGA monitor display port on the back side for attaching either a touch screen monitor or a regular VGA monitor. Another feature that Compulite did with the integrated LCD on the console is that when you use the touchscreen, a window pops up on the external monitor display with a larger view of what is displayed on the smaller LCD screen for those with less then stealer eye sight for such small displays.

For attaching an external touch screen, the monitors touch screens controls must be controlled via USB.  Compulite stepped up and included 3, 2.0 USB ports on the consoles, one on the back and two on the front for saving to and loading from disk, as well as attaching USB mice and keyboards.  There is also an internal 128 mb flash drive  with space for 120 show flies. This could be limiting in a very rare circumstance, but for the audience this console is geared towards, 120 show files on the flash drive is plenty. But as any good console programmer/operator, we must always back-up our shows to an external drive via a USB drive.

Console Layout

The Dlite Compact console is just like its bigger bothers in how the consoles are laid out for operation.  The Compact console is just missing the channel sliders that the 96, 72 and 48 have.  Looking at the right side of the console, the programming section, everything begins to look like a normal lighting console layout with just a few label differences.  Included in the programming section of the console is an integrated trackball that can operate as the focus parameters of devices with those capabilities as well as the console’s mouse with the click of the mouse key.

Also found in the programming section of the Dlite consoles is the integrated touch screen LCD that we mentioned earlier.  Directly below the LCD are three encoder wheels for not only operating multi-parameter devices, but some other functions within the console. While more encoders are always better, we found that three can be just enough when programming a medium sized show with conventional and moving lights mixed in together.  Larger, moving light heavy shows might find that three encoders may cause programming slow downs.  The Dlite console can handle the situation, but the programmer will may find paging through FCB might slow them down while trying to find the parameter they are looking for.

Looking at the left side of the console is the playback, crossfader and page/mode sections of the Dlite console.  The plackback section offers 20 sliders of playback that can contain a multitude of things from any of the 72 Q-list (or stacks), 240 scenes or individual looks. The Dlite only offer 20 individual non-motorized sliders, but offers 72 pages of playback, giving you more control and the ability to run more then 20 playbacks at once. The page/mode section of the Dlite works in conjunction with the Playback section to change those pages of playback while offers something new and different, (to us at least), Snaps.

The Dlite series of consoles offers something called snaps.  Snaps are a look that you have created within the playback section for easy recall of said look.  Snaps remember what each of the playbacks levels and looks are and stores that for quick re-call. The Dlite offers 72 of these Snaps and can easily be re-called from the page/mode section pr the playback section.

The crossfader section of the Dlite consoles is just as we expect it to be. Any of the 72 Q-list can be quickly loaded to the crossfader.  Just like any good lighting console, there is a larger go button.  But what really stands out about the crossfader section of the Dlite is the digital displays for the current cue you are in and the cue coming up.  Rather than searching for where you are on screen within the cue list, the current cue and cue coming up are right there in large digital displays telling you were you are and where you are going.

Setup and Programming

Setting up the Dlite console was pretty straight forward.  The console was simple to setup and begin programming.  Patching is pretty straight forward and takes place within the on board LCD display. With most modern consoles, the Dlite series uses a single control channel for one device, whether that is a single parameter device such as a dimmer or a multi parameter device like a moving, that one channel operates and controls the entire device.  The fixture library only the Dlite series is limited to 360 device files loaded at one time on the console with some of the commonly used device files and some generic devices pre-loaded from the factory.  If a device file or profile is not found on the console, Compulite has an extensive library contained on the website for quick download and uploading to the console via USB drive.  More impressive is that if a device profile is not found on the console or the Compulite website, getting in touch with Compulite’s tech services to get a device file is pretty easy and a quick turn around.

Setting up the external display is also rather simple but could be seen as limiting.  There  are only 10 different display views for the external monitor and are easily changed at any point while programming or during playback of the console. depending on how you want to display the channels, spots, (or multi parameter devices), Q-list or U-keys you have those 10 display views to choose from depending on what you want to see.

What we found good and bad is that the Dlite separates Channels, (dimmers), and Spots, (multi parameter devices) into different sections.  The reason this is good, Spots are broken down into a spread sheet view giving more information about the different parameters the devices has to offer while channels offers a block display with just the intensity level of the individual channels.

The other side being that channels and spots are broken down into different sections and given unique numbers.  So to recall channel one, you have to select [channel] [1]. Then to select Spot one, you have to select [Spot] [1]. This has the potential to confuse a beginner that is not use to selecting a dimmer or spot device with a different key stroke combination.  This is not a huge problem while programming, it is just something to be aware of.

Programming and running to console was straight forward with a few small syntax differences from other consoles on the market. Timing on a cue is pretty straight forward until you want to get into advanced timing on a cue with FCB timing.  Changing the FCB requires going to the on board LCD display and moving between the different columns for In, out and delays times for each function.  Again, not a big deal, just a different programming method which just takes some getting use to.

To help create effect with both conventional dimmers channels and moving lights, the Dlite Series of consoles has 72 effects built into the console making such things are dimmer chases for simulated fire effects as well as some pre-defined moving light effects such a circle to make a moving light go in a circle pattern based on the focus point of the fixture.  All of these effects are easy to update with such things as rate and size via the on board encoder wheels.

The Dlite console series also offer fixture libraries for quick recall of programmed looks, focus positions and color choices.  On other consoles this is typically called a palette, but on the Dlite series there are known as libraries.  Libraries, or palettes come in handy when you have a device that use need to recall groups of parameters over and over to make a look.  An example is using a CMY mixing device and creating the perfect red.  Rather then dialing in the correct levels for each of the color properties, recording that color into a color library you can quickly recall that color for that fixture quick and easy. Very handy tool when programming or running a show live of libraries.

Overall

We hit a couple of snags getting started on the Dlite Compact, but after an hour or so of getting familiar with the console we were up and programming, recording cues, multi Q-list and assigning them to playbacks. Getting started on any new console requires time to not only learn how things operate on the console, but getting familiar with the layout and finding buttons on the console.  We still got a little stuck on the concept of snaps in the beginning but quickly found that while running a slow live off playbacks and making interesting looks across multiple playbacks, recording that unique look into a snaps was a huge plus to get that look over and over again.

The Dlite can defiantly be limiting when programming a larger moving light rig as we mentioned earlier in the review.  But again, the Dlite is geared for the lower end to mid range venues where they are operating a mix of conventional and moving lights.

At just over 17 lbs., the console is light weight and easily movable and could make a great touring console.  But with just one external monitor, you are limited to what you see at any one given moment.  While it is easy to change the display layout,  the ability to add an additional monitor that contains the Q-list and the other displaying the channels and spots could really make the Dlite Compact a lovely little touring console that is, like its name, Compact!

For more information on the Compulite Dlite series of console, visit Compulites website at www.compulite.com.  for pricing, availability and locating a dealer near you, visit Creative Stage Lighting’s, (the US distributor), website at www.creativestagelighting.com.

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