Theatrelight Cuemaster II review

Theatrelight a New Zealand lighting manufacturer of dimmers and lighting control desks has been around for many years in Australia.

I first came across Theatrelight desks over 20 years ago and installed one of the first ones in SA into a high school. It was at the time an ideal desk that was built tough and therefore idea for a school. It also had a cheat sheet stencilled to the front panel for when the manual went missing.  Since that time they have moved forward and improved but they are still solid and well built.

First Impressions

The CueMaster II model that I have in my hot little hands is their top of the range model. When you purchase this console it comes in a custom made flightcase, complete with 1 desk light, dust cover and the instruction manual. It is nice to get the desk with most of the accessories included in the price. The only thing you need to purchase is the memory card to back up shows on. But in the near future Theatrelight are promising they will be changing the memory card for a SD card and you will get a card free with the desk.

On first impressions this desk is solid and well laid out. It also has 2 dmx universes. It is easy to connect dmx and the monitor and there is even a port for a printer. On power up the monitor shows the default screen which has all the relevant details that you need to at least understand what is happening. A quick glance at manual reveals that the first page is a very quick reference guide to using the desk and recording a variety of lighting states. This is very handy for those that do not like to read the manual. Further exploration of the well written manual will reveal a whole host of things that you can do with this desk. The manual you get is very helpful and is more like a tutorial and takes you through what the desk can do in easy to understand instructions

The layout of the desk is very neat and well labelled. With this desk there is no mistaking which are the record and Go buttons.  The faders and buttons all have a good feel to them and the LED displays are big and easy to read. The only thing that is slightly different from other desks is that the flash buttons are above the faders.The desk is easy read under low light conditions. When a monitor is connected it displays all of the relevant information without trying to overload you with data like some desks. Another nice feature is that with a press on one button on the console you can darken the monitor so you can observe the lighting state without the monitor destroying your vision.

In Use

The Cuemaster II desk is a 72 channel lighting desk. It operates as a single preset but with the use of their park function you can store the preset live and then set up the next preset. This is a space saving way of giving you a 2 preset 72 channel desk.  Each bank of 24 faders can be with the press of a button 24 normal channels or 24 recorded scenes.

You have access to 288 channels from the faders with the press of a button. With the softpatch function you can then patch 1024 dimmers at any level to any of the 288 channels.

You can record lighting states on the first 48 faders only and on the last bank of 24 faders which have multiply uses as lighting states, chases or cue stacks (or shows as they are called in the manual) Here you can build complete shows complete with timing and play it back from one fader and the GO button.  Now where this desk shines, is that you can record a show with many different acts. With each act having its own fader, with a stack of cues on it. So if the acts order changes you can bring up each fader in what ever order you require it. You can also stack the stacks into another stack, so the whole show is one stack.  Chases are also easy to set up. You can link events and have a show run by itself, a fun but scary concept of pressing the GO button once and walking away.

Clear screen layout

It does not take long to be able to records a variety of lighting state and get them playing back. At its simplest you have 4 pages of 72 lighting states. All the states, chases and cue stacks are totally editable and a handy feature is the Compare function that lets you compare an edited lighting state with the original state. Recording is just a matter of setting a lighting state up then pressing the record button. You then press and hold the record button and then press the Flash button of the location you want to store the state. For recording shows or chases you just press the record button after you set up each state or step and when you have completed that you then assign it to one of the last 24 faders by holding the record button and pressing the appropriate flash button. You can convert chases to shows and vice-versa. You can also record blind lighting cues very easily.

With the desk you could record lighting states for moving lights. But it will be a long winded effort, similar to doing the task on a Jands Event or a Maxim desk without the Patpad. This desk is primarily designed for dimmers and dumb lights.

The Desk in Action

To Buy or Not to Buy

Now operating this desk is different from a Jands Event or LSC Maxim, but no more difficult. This is the market it is up against and it competes very well in that arena. The desk is not for the moving light market that are lot of consoles are going after. This desk is designed for the more basic venues with dimmers and conventional lights, and a lot of schools and community venues fall under this heading.

This desk is great for one night stand style shows as it takes very little effort to get a show happening, but if you require more complex lighting or the show is a long run you also have the ability to do these with very little effort. Someone walking into a venue to do a show will have no problems in getting their head around this desk. The desk is very easy to learn which does make it ideal for schools. This makes it ideal for school and community groups.  Schools will benefit from having such a desk that combines the use of memories to store cues and also the ability to use it as a manual desk. So overall impressions of this desk are good, and by following the manual you will discover how versatile this desk is. So get your self a demo, you will be pleasantly surprised. I highly recommend this desk.

Brand:  Theatrelight

Model:  Cuemaster II

RRP:  $7417.50 inc GST

Product Info: www.theatrelight.co.nz

Distributor: www.theatrelight.co.nz

The Full Desk

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