How Do DJ Light Rigs Work?
First we discuss the rig structure itself with emphasis on all topics related:
- Power cords
- Truss Clamps
- DMX Cables
- DMX Controllers/Relay
- Dimmer Packs
- Light Fixtures
This is what is used to actually hang the lights and may even line the perimeter of your performing stage 🙂 Keeping a clean setup in mind goes a long way as far as setting up, safety and performance.
These work with their “branches” carrying all the weight. These are not recommended for big venues but work well with smaller gigs as they are limited in how much weight the shoulder. One major advantage is that these can easily be rigged up by the Solo DJ or equipment manager.
Very common the I-beams are typically 10′ across with a tripod stands on either side. You may or may not have T-Bars come with the purchase but you can easily find these and use them lightly whenever necessary. These truss’s hold tons more weight then the tree stands but are awkward to fit in a compact vehicle so you will need an RV, Van or Trailer to lug it around. Cumbersome yet very worth the investment.
You will not find Triangles made of whack material. These are super averse to damage and their stands will typically be made of steel while the truss itself high grade aluminum. to carry the load of a professional rig. once these Triangles are up you can literally swing from them. Super Durable.
Kick it up a notch even further when you need to make “stage statement” & need ample amounts of space to hang fixtures. This is good when moving heavy lights around such as Yoke lights.:Disadvantages: Takes time to setup and you will 100% need a bigger means transportation.
Arches are becoming very prominant in the DJ Community. . They make up layers and layers of these truss pieces to add depth to the rig and they look out of the world when set up properly. They come at a set height, have no stands and carry tons of weight.
These are a must for the solo DJ. Cranks are huge money savers probably the biggest one in stage equipment. With a standard stand, you may have to lift the truss up with two or more people manually with either a load of lights on the rig, or raise it and use a ladder to put the lights on. With crank stands, you can do the same thing within minutes and while flying solo. Working smart here will save you ample amounts of headache from trying to lift an I-Beam with 200 pounds of lights on it manually.
Conclusion – Some things to remember when buying truss and stands is that, while some may look the same, they may not be. One thing to look at is the weight rating. Two pieces of I-Truss, while they look identical, may not be able to carry the same weight load. Also, while descriptions may say the stands raise 10 to 12 feet, once that truss starts taking weight, stability can become an issue when it’s fully extended.
Lighting is typically narrowed down to three groups in terms of DJ lighting: Wash, Effects, Intelligent.
Effects lighting were designed and consist of several beams of light which move to the beat of music (sound active mode) however it is limited in style modes. You may be able to get lucky with some LED Effects nowadays but if you have too many of them on your set they just look tacky and don’t feature any variety in appearance of the light.
Intelli-lighting consist mainly of DMX driven lighting which utilizes total control over every aspect of the light ranging from color to shape to positioning and which direction it glides. Further, these intelli’s use a slew of moving parts which makes the price-tag a hefty one. The ultimate advantage to having intelligent lighting is that you can CREATE light designs and customize them in all sorts of ways with depending on which effects you will need . A DMX controller allows you to “control ” these settings… moving heads, scanners, yokes and mirrors are examples of Intelli-lights and each one has a different style effect. Mirrors move extremely fast, Yosts move at a slower rate but have much more fluidity.
DJ’s do not just strobe out all night long. Only use in moderation. 🙂 . Going to a DJ set and listening to him hold down the mash strobe lighting can get a little irritating so don’t abuse it. If you are looking for the quick flash effect then you can’t go wrong with a quality strobe
Scanners can be found on most DJ rigs since they are the most affordable as far as scanners go. Figure out what the wattage is and whether it takes Halogen or discharge bulbs. Also does it have replaceable colours and gobos? If it has gobos that rotate go with those as you will have much more versatility with them.
Do you go Halogen or Discharge?These are two different types of lamps that you will find in scanners. If you can go with the discharge lamps as the wattage will be less and output the same brightness as the halogen, so you will save money, energy and watt hours on the discharge bulbs.
These are really the same as scanners but instead of the mirror effect a mechanical barrel that rotates. These aren’t always easy to come by anymore as many manufacturers are not making them anymore
Yokes (Moving Heads)
Yokes are the most common light used in the modern DJ age and will mainly be found at big ravers but have made there way into the club scene most recently. These lights are composed of a large head which utilizes a mechanical bracket and which gives them over 540° of pan and around 257° of tilt action.They are extremely versatile and highly recommended by us. The one caveat is that they are extremely heavy with as many as 4 internal wheels for gobos and colours and will use up many of your DMX controller’s presets.
Washers do what their name suggests they do. They come in real handy at smaller venues or home rigs. Par cans are the more common/old school wash light that is good for someone with a budget. LED pars, strips, panels , wash yokes and colour banks are other more expensive options but may illuminate in the way you are looking for.
When you are on a tight budget go with strictly wash lights because they cover most of small area venues as opposed to a few effects lights that really don’t cover much and will cost you an arm and a leg.
Uplighting with columns:
What uplighting is, is when you take a wash and set it on a wall corner with it pointing up at a small angle , it creates a column of light. It can make for a really clean look which is why these setups are trending upwards. Only downside here will be the fact that you will be running power cords all over the floor so someone may trip over on them but it is not likely.
This is where you put a wash light on both sides of your truss, directed within the truss and not facing the crowd. You are essentially giving the truss a glow effect. These gives it a very bold brilliant look and really illuminates your set…as though you need any added illumination 😉
10|CHAUVET DJ SWARM5FX 3-in-1
9| TSSS RGBW Pattern Stage Light
This features a 9 or 11 channel DMX with a 512 LED stage spotlight with sound activated sensor and more than 500 patterns and fades to party with. It works really well on auto mode/Dmx setup. It is fully automatic and has a mic, will go through all the gobos and patterns and the mic pics up the music really well to make it real easy to use so you do not need to be a professional to work it.
The gimbal moves really smoothly and rotates with ease and the fan is actually on the loud side, but when you are running music you cannot hear it. You will want to hear the fan to know it is still functioning properly . You do have an adjustable lense in case you are closer to a wall or backed up . You get about 100 ft in any direction and at 10w-25w it is very bright. Comes with a bracket but can standalone which we love.
The back of the light, you have a DMX in and out and power supply and does not come with a DMX cable. It actually weights a little over 6lbs. Don’t hesitate on this one . Highly recommended for large spaces or small ones for that matter.
Overall rating : 9.9/10
We really like the Swarm! This Chauvet has the moonflower type effect that forms much smaller circles then the older versions (More 70’s) that form patterns and it gives off a modern swirly star effect that cover a large areas . You can cover any kind of room with just two of these.
You have a 4 button LED display menu as usual, a red DMX mode indicator, green light for sound active and yellow light for auto mode and blue light for auto mode. DMX in /out, Loop for a safety cable.
Sound Active Mode on the Swarm is not bad but it does not slow the rotation of the beams down, rather it changes the rotation after a bass hit. So if you are playing a slower song , you will not get slower effects. SO if you are looking for slow lights there are not for you. Overall great machine for the price. It reacts to low frequency and with a bass hit it will change rotation and change color instantly.
Auto Mode has many different speeds, which will change the frequency of the rotation and color but not speed of the lights and will not be activated by sound
DIY Master Slave Mode
Master Slave Mode when the lights work in conjunction of one another . This is real easy to do on this machine. You put your first light in your chain(either sound active or auto modes by using your menu bottons). Then, you take your DMX cable and come out of the first light put it in the In slot of the other light rig. Put the second light in DMX Mode and you will be all set. perfect sync, rotation and color scheme.
Overall Rating: 8.9/10
We were really impressed with the 86's ..It is ran by 86 10 mm diodes 44 red 21 green and 21 blue..has DMX in and out, 10 dip switches for for DMX controlling, and independent controllers. One of the only issues we found was the power cord itself. It's a two prong cord . We would have liked to have a three prong unit to ground the casing and help keep it from overheating, and unfortunately the concept to hold the wire in place is a little bit on the easy to strip side and cant tear the wiring on the outside, but it is a dual shielded wire so the cable isn't cheap.
It comes in a firm aluminum case , when yout tap the unit it vibrates a little because of the way the board is designed. Has a nice firm bracket although you probably wont get much use out of it. Wing bolts are compete with a rubber housing so that is a nice feature. On the front of the unit you have your plastic casing that works as a buffer between your hands and the lights.Burn! They will definitely be hot. Sound activation is a nice feature but comes in a little bit sensitive
As far as the dip switches and light, it really emits a nice light. dip switch 1 2 and 3 controls reds , 4 5 6 control for greens, 7 8 for blues and 9 with all on ..slow strobes , fast strobe, green/blue, turn off all dip switches to get a color fasing effect.
Overall Rating: 9.0/10
When it comes to scenes, chases, starting addresses and fixtures this controller really performs well . It is easy to toggle through channels on this controller. Remember : Fixture 1 always syncs and sends with DMX channel 1 so you would adjust to this channel on the light. The middle section of the controller controls the channels of the light. (colors, and patterns). Adding scenes comes very easy with the 192 and you can program up to 8 scenes which is phenomenal with a total channel number of 192 groups which means 32 fixtures at once!
Intelligent lighting is a perfect way to make any DJ set or musical performance look as good as it sounds. To achieve that, you need to have DMX controller. Try our brand new DMX controller, it has a max. 16 channelsand hundreds of groups for you to choose from.Get one now to make the best music and light shows!
The brackets for this blacklight seem to be a little bit flimsy but helpful if you wanted to wanted to do some UV uplights and has a kickstand capabilities. The remote is a nice touch. There is a recessed plastic cover, thumb screws on the side, DMX in and out on the back. It was hard to find the all on mode but it was under U mode just a heads up..It gives you about 3 ft of range of excellent light. It doesn’t seem like a true 30 watt LED but if gives you a dence 32-245 light levels (will not go to zer0). It does come with a tiny fan so will last longer than those that don’t come with a fan.
Strobe works well on this well linked to DMX
Overall Rating: 8.8/10
Since it’s not always a good idea putting your lights down on a floor since dancers will be dancing using the floor! These LTS16’s will absolutely fill out your venue. They are super durable and truss warming (Where lights go inside the truss and you can control the light color externally for effect) was really made for this rig~ We really like how the clips and knobs look and feel. The top bars beams are really cut right. The Stands feel like you can post a firehouse pole easily. We are all in on the LTS16’s.
For help setting up your truss refer to this video
Overall Rating: 10/10
We really like how these sound active with DMX . You really have to hang these up higher on micro sensitivity so not much of a range. All in all these work really well in sync mode and the price is reasonable. We like the footswitch on this machine, they are made with an emphasis on durability. The lights aren’t blinding with Dragon, a huge positive.
These come with handlebar/bracket in order to hang from your truss, dmx cable is not included which is something you will have to purchase on your own, to slave then other to be match/dmx. For the price these work really well. This par light has a really strong plastic perimeter and a rubber bottoms so that you can have it facing up so you don’t have to bracket it. It also has a power out to link other lights so it comes in heandy. The microphone, modes and screen are on the bottom of this par light so it is out of the way . The fans in the machine work well to keep it cooled. The channel options when synced to DMX are actually really cool design/pattern wise.
On Active Mode, The beams are super strong, super bright LED’s. We would have liked to see the brightness in check but you really get what you pay for here.