DMX Controller: Buyer’s Guide

Editor’s Choice

  • It is bundled with a license key for Rekordbox DJ
  • Lighting mode automatically creates exciting lighting sequences 
  • It offers a full-size, club-style interface with professional features

Best Overall

DMX Controller

  • Motorized focus and zoom
  • Well suited for lighting installations and live performance applications
  • A dedicated USB port is available for firmware updates

Budget-Friendly

  • 2 programmable aux buttons
  • Adjustable chase and fade times
  • Re-assignable channels

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out the best DMX controller, then I’d recommend Chauvet DJ Intimidator DMX Controller Package as the best one.

Imagine showcasing an event with multiple happenings on stage – right, left, back, front! You will need to focus on all of them with dynamic lighting. However, it is also imperative to make it look professional! So you ponder, “How can I manipulate light sources at the same time?” You can with the use of a DMX controller!

Here are the best DMX Controllers we will be reviewing:

What is a DMX Controller?

What is DMX?

DMX means ‘digital multiplex.’ Others know it as Multiplexing Data Transmission. DMX is a typical protocol in digital communication networks used to control devices. It is unidirectional, which means the signal flows from the controller down to the last device. Fog machines and stage lighting are an example of tools that use DMX. You can see the DMX protocol at work in theaters, restaurants, concerts, and nightclubs.

Getting to know a DMX controller

A DMX controller is a panel to control light fixtures. Many light fixtures in the market already come with a built-in DMX protocol. But having a DMX controller helps manage these fixtures from a single place.

How Does a DMX Controller Work?

Basic DMX controller terms you need to know

DMX Fixture

The basic definition of a DMX fixture is a light or group of lights. These lights are ascribed to one or more channels in the DMX protocol.

DMX Channels

A channel is a part that controls an aspect of the light. For example, a channel is assigned to control color. Another channel is for tilt, and again another for strobe, etc. DMX channels have data values that range from 0 to 255. These values measure the intensity of a particular function. The higher the value, the more intense the function will be. Remember that different fixtures entail different channels as well.

Universe

DMX includes 512 channels. They are collectively known as a ‘universe.’ A single universe can only work through a single cable. If you need more than 512 channels, you have to create another universe using another line.

DMX Address

Every fixture contains an address in your DMX universe. This address is the channel where the fixture begins. Having an address allows independent control for fixtures. To better understand it, here’s an example: Your first fixture has the address ‘channel 1’. The second feature will have ‘channel 6’ as its address if it has five channels.

DMX Scene & Chase

The scene is the preset setting you make and save on the DMX controller for each fixture. You can recall and edit this setting at any time. A user can assign and put together different scenes to create a sequence. This sequence is called a chase.

DMX Terminator

A DMX terminator connects to the last fixture to stop fluctuations and malfunctions.

Modes

Zone of Circuit Selection

This mode is for the selection of individually addressed circuits to control. Different DMX controllers allow for a different number of individual selections.

Color Selection

DMX controllers allow you to select a light color to use. Standard controllers use a rotary dial. Technologically advanced controllers permit manual entry of specific values.

Fade Control

The fade control allows you to control the intensity of light projected onto the stage. You can produce the color shade you want through the collaboration of the color selection and fade control modes.

Program Selection

The program selection contains other lighting effects which you can use. Various DMX controllers have varied program selection features. Modern controllers allow customized effects that you wish to set.

Kinds of DMX Controller

Hardware

DMX controllers that are hardware-based do not connect to a computer. They already have a set list of DMX addresses to manage a fixed number of fixtures. The disadvantage to having a hardware-only controller is limited scenes, effects, and overall control.

Software

Software-based controllers allow a more expansive range of programming, organization, and overall control. Using DMX software helps with applications that have several effects and channels. With this software, you can see the status of the channels and different program settings. Most software is compatible with most PCs and Mac.

Benefits of Using a DMX Controller

Organization and convenience

A DMX controller diminishes the hassle of having to control light fixtures individually. A singular control entails limited staffing and manual work. Communication with and among fixtures is smooth, resulting in a solid show.

Customization

A DMX controller allows access to each light fixture from one panel. The programs can run manually or automatically. Through these, you get the versatility and complexity of professional lighting. DMX controllers provide a fantastic lighting experience for theater productions and church and wedding events.

Things to Consider When Choosing a DMX Controller

Features

DMX controllers include features such as dimming and effects. Dimming features allow transitions among light levels resulting in visual flexibility. This feature benefits from real-time control. Other effects include fade function, producing the right color, and measuring how the light performs. Ensure that your DMX controller is straightforward and has buttons that are easy to operate.

Power

A DMX controller needs to perform in total power capacity and efficiency. When devices do not work at total power capacity, heat is wasted. This wasted heat can, in turn, be a fire hazard.

Number of channels

The number of channels will depend on the number of fixtures. Remember:

  1. Each fixture entails a number of channels
  2. Every channel regulates a lighting function
  3. 512 channels make one universe
  4. You cannot go beyond 512 channels or one universe

Many experts also recommend not using the maximum 512 channels. Doing so can produce weak DMX signals. It may be beneficial to strategize among universes when running a large presentation.

Safety

Before purchasing a DMX controller, create a layout where you will situate it. Consider the blueprint of the show. Avoid making equipment a hazard to the technician and the audience. Make sure the DMX controller is secure and far from unauthorized people. Moreover, take precautions in using intense lighting effects. For example, severe light flashes pose a danger to some people.

Budget

Consider the kind and size of show you will present when buying a DMX controller. Even with less control and less price, you can still find quality DMX controllers. For larger shows with experts in the team, it will be beneficial to invest in high-end DMX controllers

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Chauvet DJ Intimidator DMX Controller Package

DMX Controller

With two of the best brands when it comes to lighting equipment, this package is the ultimate show-stopper lighting control system. ADJ manufactures reliable products around the globe. Chauvet DJ offers one of the most valuable premier lines of lighting gear in the industry. 

The Chauvet DJ Intimidator DMX Controller Package sits at the top of the brand’s moving-head spots. It comes with motorized zoom and focuses functions for ease of use. This spotlight offers spectacular lighting effects with rotating gobos, bright colors, and two prism wheels. 

The Obey 70 has 384 channels for a wide range of control. It can produce up to six sets of chases with 240 scenes. Program settings include strobe and fog control and other contemporary effects. 

Chauvet DJ has a pressure-sensitive joystick for added convenience. The package also comes with clamps and DMX cables. This one is perfect for concerts, theaters, and large church events.

Pros:

  • Motorized focus and zoom
  • Well suited for lighting installations and live performance applications
  • A dedicated USB port is available for firmware updates
  • The color wheel has eight colors plus white and six replaceable rotating GOBOs 
  • Features several DMX channel modes with 3-pin XLR DMX input and output connectors

Cons:

  • Fade effects between scenes may not be seamless 
  • Handling may have a steep learning curve for beginners

Leprecon 90-21-0011 LP-624 24 Channel DMX Controller

DMX Controller

Leprecon has been in the lighting industry for four decades. The brand values customer satisfaction, so they offer products built around what consumers need. 

Leprecon’s LP-600 series has 24 channels. It includes a manual and memory mode that users can choose from. For convenient playback, its preview mode can show editable cues without projecting them to the scene on stage. 

This DMX console controls up to 24 faders and 96 dimmers. The lighting by the chase program creates a continuous pattern. It also offers a Multiplex and DMX output for broader compatibility. 

The Leprecon LP-624 DMX controller can be used for school shows, mini theaters, and small-sized churches.

Pros:

  • Features two Scene Preset Mode
  • Easy to operate and easy to program
  • Designed to withstand the most demanding conditions
  • Allows manual control of lighting Softpatch
  • Control up to 96 dimmers on 12 or 24 faders Chase Memory

Cons:

  • It has a limited number of channels

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 with RB-DMX1 Lighting Controller

This package contains what you need for entertaining guests or an audience with light and sound spectacle. Each component is high-quality and reliable gear. Thus, you can use them together or separately and still expect powerful performance. 

The RB-DMX1 is a Pioneer DJ design that integrates with Rekordbox DJ. This hardware allows you to synchronize your music with DMX lighting. Automatic lighting sequences match with tracks, so you won’t have to spend much time prepping and programming. 

The Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-1000 has professional features in a pro controller for mixing. Lastly, the Ultra Quad Pak Pro by ADJ is simple to use and creates bright color mixing. The DMX controller allows flexibility and convenience. It also features sound-activated operation modes for hands-free control.

Pros:

  • It is bundled with a license key for Rekordbox DJ
  • Lighting mode automatically creates exciting lighting sequences 
  • It offers a full-size, club-style interface with professional features
  • Full-color graphics
  • Includes a soft carrying case

Cons:

  • It offers minimal features compared to other DMX controllers
  • Not suitable for large professional productions

Chauvet DJ Stage Designer 50 DMX Lighting Controller

Chauvet DJ has been in the industry since 1990 and is an award-winning brand. 

The Stage Designer 50 is a 48-channel controller designed for LED Par lights. It can also handle dimmer and relay packs. It offers up to 96,000 programmable steps and up to 96 scenes. This controller allows you to reassign DMX channels for MIDI output. 

Cross-faders allow clean transitions. Chase and fade times are adjustable, creating a more dramatic lighting effect. Music and light coordination can be achieved through a direct audio connection. 

With Stage Designer 50, you can program several scenes for stage shows, church services, and other theatrical presentations. The Stage Designer 50 is impeccable for both personal and professional use.

Pros:

  • 2 programmable aux buttons
  • Adjustable chase and fade times
  • Re-assignable channels
  • 3-pin and 5-pin DMX connections
  • Built-in crossfader, dark, and kill buttons

Cons:

  • Manual may be challenging to understand for novice users
  • It may have lighting flicker issues

ADJ Products 4 Stream DMX Bridge Wireless DMX Control

DMX Controller

The 4 Stream DMX Bridge is a unique and reliable system that takes lighting control solutions to a higher level. As its name suggests, it allows seamless connection to up to 4 ADJ Product Stream Bridge. It also allows its users to control DMX products using the ADJ Airstream DMX Pro App for iPad. This app provides access to over 576 lighting options. 

Users can expect a clean and sleek lighting system. It is also user-friendly since it creates its own private and independent WIFI network. Plus, this network may function without disrupting other networks. It also provides a stable and reliable connection for the DMX Bridge. Imagine a controller which is very affordable despite its modern features.

Pros:

  • Control DMX universes from your Ipad
  • Wireless
  • Creates its own private standalone 2.4GHz DSSS WIFI network
  • It can be easily mounted 
  • Simple and intuitive

Cons:

  • Limited compatibility and availability for other gadgets
  • The control is dependent on the app’s stability

Conclusion

DMX controllers transformed the way light is controlled for productions and shows. Its intricate system can simplify light control and make it more appealing and attractive. Instead of using a controller for each fixture that makes up a production, DMX allows you the seamlessness of a singular control. Controls include not only light intensity but also color, movement, and other effects. DMX controllers create a consistent, organized, and customized lighting production.

The best DMX controller I’d recommend is the Chauvet DJ Intimidator DMX Controller Package. This package combines two powerful devices from two of the leading brands in the industry. Catering 384 channels, you can expect comprehensive features with dynamic effects. Whether you need a DMX controller for small or large shows, thus Clutch package makes for a coherent and remarkable production. 

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Alex Shute
EDITOR
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.


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