“Using an Avo console is a way of life,” says LD Chris Lehane. Well, folks, life just got a whole lot easier. The Diamond 4 series of consoles, the Elite and the Vision, are making the Avolites faithful smile and will go a long way to attracting new converts. The Diamond 4 (D4) consoles are not really two boards but, rather, one board in two packages. “The Elite really gives us an alternative board layout with the same features and punch of the Vision console,” says the company's sales director Steve Warren. Where the D4 Vision is laid out for the concerts, live event, and festival market, the more compact D4 Elite is designed for the theater and TV control rooms, as well as the limited space of FOH corporate events, using the same software in a more condensed setup with fewer slider handles.

The Vision offers users 128 preset faders and 28 playback masters; the Elite desk has 14 submasters and 96 playback handles — but don't get too caught up in the handle names, because one of the features of the D4 is the ability to reassign them. “All of the playback and all of the preset faders can now be used to control memories or cues,” explains Warren. This allows great flexibility, because you can have lots of memories, chases, and special cues that are all there in front of you to grab during the show. The electronic tape allows you to label all of the sliders as you want them to be. The flexibility and the labeling are getting a good response.” Meatloaf LD William Sheldon took a Vision from North Creek, NY-based Creative Stage Lighting on tour; he was immediately attracted to this feature: “When I first saw the console I liked it right away. I like that it has the labeling. I love that you are not limited to the number of playbacks. You can assign a memory to any of the channels. There are no limitations to where things are or how you can play the console.” Scott Wasson, warehouse manager of Theatrical Media Services (based in Omaha, NE, and Hendersonville, TN) agrees: “The labeling saves a lot of time and the fact that you can use all the submasters — well, basically you can turn the whole console into cue lists. It's fantastic.” Lehane used the Elite for the pop orchestra, Polyphonic Spree, and found, “Even though every song has its setup you always need to have a few things up your sleeve and that is why the flexible memory faders are great — when you need to be able to grab things quick, the Diamond 4 is great.”

LD Dan Cooke used the Elite on the rap musical Da Boyz in England, the first use of the product in the theater market. Cook thinks Avolites got it right by making the D4 a tracking console. “The thing that really sold me on the D4 in the theater environment was, I could really edit cues so fast. Because it is a tracking console, every button-push I made was stored, which really gave me the chance to go back to looks that I might have changed my mind about. It is a powerful feature.” Cook also took full advantage of another new feature, the Overlap, “I found I used the Overlaps quite a bit and I was able to set up some very nice effects because of them.” The Overlap is, in fact, two features — the Fixture Overlap and the Chase Step Overlap, which allow users to easily create more complicated fades, ripples, and chase effects just by staggering when fixtures join the cue. Sheldon found the overlap became a favorite feature as well: “It takes hours of programming down to minutes. It gives you flexibility and speed, making it a powerful programming tool.”

The overlap and flexible handles might make Avo customers smile but the feature that makes them giddy with joy is the ability to independently adjust the timing of the attributes within a cue. Longtime Avo user Sheldon says, “It may not be big for others, but for Avo people this is great.” Warren acknowledges that that feature has been lacking in Avo consoles: “We tried to look at not just our strengths but the weaknesses. We looked at some of the constraints of our timing methods and worked on improving things. We are pleased to offer the multiple times for the attributes, which, to be honest, we are behind on. I am also pleased with the fact that, in the D4 series, we have preloaded a lot of the palettes so you can select a group of lights, apply a color, put a time on it, apply a position, put a time on it, and that all runs live. It is not something you have to preprogram.” Rob Steele, president of Avolites America, agrees that the strength of the Diamond 4 is in the addition of these long-awaited features: “The D4 offers all the things about which people have often said, ‘If you had these features we would look at you.’ These include complex timing functions, theatrical functions — like the fact that this is a tracking console — wireless remote control. All the high-tech features are there now and we hope people will take a new look at Avolites.”

If you are planning on looking at a Diamond 4 console you will be glad to hear that most users have found they have a quick learning curve. This ease is by design, says Steele: “It is very intuitive. The board leads you through things and gives you prompts. All our boards have had this philosophy, to help work the users through the process. We have always tried to keep things simple. We don't want people to get lost in the boards.” Should you find yourself a little lost, however, then you can just take advantage of Avolites' customer support. “We try hard to do a good job of support,” says Steele. “I can appreciate the need to be able to talk to somebody right away and to get answers. We try to let our users know that we appreciate their choice; one of the best ways to do that is by supporting them.” LD Mike Le Ferve chose the Diamond 4 Elite specifically because of Avolites' support when he used it for the BBC show Fightbox, “As a company, they have always operated with an open-door policy. It is a company wide attitude, they listened to what I needed and even responded by suggesting more options and creating more control for me.”

Avolites understands what people expect of them and Warren feels the Diamond 4 consoles measures up to those expectations, “Our history goes with us. Our user groups and what we are confident in doing is always there. It is a difficult balance, because you can't leave behind the loyal users when you attempt to create something that can also move into new areas.” Sheldon would assure them they got the balance right, “Anything Avo does they just improve on what they did before. This board really helps to fulfills the Avo motto of ‘From Rock to Opera’.”