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Digital Multiplex, or DMX, is a unidirectional lighting control protocol that allows you to run sophisticated lighting sequences from a single source. DMX goes beyond just lighting to special effects (hello, fog machines), and other add-ons that elevate your lighting experience.
Even if you’ve used DMX lighting in the past, it’s possible you still have unanswered questions about how to get the most out of your lighting package. We’re here to get you some answers.
Simply put, DMX lighting refers to fixtures that have individual or a group of lights operated by one or more channels. That means that when your controller sends out data, it travels as a daisy chain through all lighting fixtures as a sequence (versus controlling each light separately).
At the end of the daisy chain is a terminator that stops the signal in its track. Without this vital piece of equipment, your signal will bounce back and distort your lighting.
Generally speaking, a DMX setup runs out of a master device, though there may be multiple master controllers on the network depending on the size of the lighting package.
While it sounds advanced, DMX has actually been around since 1986. Ultimately, DMX came on the scene when users got fed up with remote control lighting, which required an individual cable to run from the board to each separate light fixture. (And let’s not even get started on the number of cables that were required if you wanted to dim or change the color of a few lights.)
At its core, DMX was invented to allow a single cable to control all functions of a specific fixture (versus a separate wire for each function.)
Connecting DMX lights is pretty straightforward. You’ll want to connect your cables to your DMX controller, and then into the DMX IN of your first fixture in your lineup. A DMX OUT will come out of that same fixture and go into the second fixture. This continues, with every fixture set to the same DMX channel model.
DMX channels are what tell your light fixtures what to do — so the more variations you want in your setup, the DMX channels are what tell your light fixtures what to do — so the more variations you want in your setup, the more channels you need. DMX is sometimes referred to as DMX 512, as a DMX system can be used to control up to 512 different channels in a setup. Let’s put it this way: each color of an RGB requires 1 DMX channel. RBGW requires 4 channels, so the result is that a DMX Universe can fully control 128 RGBW fixtures (512/4=128).
DMX LED fixtures are light fixtures that can be grouped together or programmed independently to a DMX channel.
DMX is most often used for large installations, which are best controlled with a lighting console, especially once a certain number of fixtures get involved.
Some users may prefer to use DMX for smaller applications in order to best adjust a fixture’s color and brightness with ease.
At the end of the day, a DMX controller is what runs the show. While you can connect DMX fixtures without using a controller, you’ll have to set them to sound-active or automatic mode.
Our DMX controllers offer:
A lot of good came to lighting with the introduction of DMX. Most fans rave about it because of its:
Customization — Get the right ambiance for the moment with DMX’s incredibly customizable system. Sync it with music or move a spotlight around with incredible accuracy.
Of course, nothing is perfect. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with DMX lighting:
Terminator required — “Shadow signals” can ruin your lighting experience. Any DMX lighting network, regardless of the length of cable or number of fixtures, benefits from having a terminator at the end of the sequence to stop your signal and prevent it from bouncing back.
Using our DMX products, Ricochet in Des Moines, Iowa brought a dynamic flair to their bar and restaurant. With our Universal 3560 channel and color-changing DRGB LED light strips, they revamped their space to bring their bar into a new dimension.
Find out how DMX lighting can bring flair to your space.