Best Gear for Mobile DJs: A Buying Guide to DJ Lighting

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Best Gear for Mobile DJs: A Buying Guide to DJ Lighting

Are you looking to invest in a lighting package for an upcoming event? A mobile DJ is often hired not only to bring the entertainment, but also provide a fun and festive atmosphere. And there's no better way to create a mood or add excitement to the dance floor than with the use of event lighting. With so many choices, it's hard to know where to begin. In this article, we'll look at different types of lights and what they're good for. We'll also look at all-in-one packages to help simplify the buying process.

  • LED PAR: The LED PAR is the universal workhorse. It can be used for spotlighting, wall washes, and dynamic effects (strobe). Hang from a light stand, mount on trussing, or use on the floor as an uplight.

  • Linear Bar: Like the LED Par, the linear bar is used to provide a wide wash of color. Some linear bars offer dynamic effects, such as chases, thanks to individual pixel control.

  • Moving Heads: The moving head fixture is quite popular in professional lighting setups. It allows you to design colors and shapes that are projected onto the floor, walls, or ceilings. The head of the light rotates in all directions and can be programmed for precise movements.

  • Special Effects: There are many types of lighting effects that can be used as a centerpiece or to generate lots of rotating color beams, such as a Derby, Moonflower, and Lasers.

  • Lighting Control: Many lights have built-in programs, but to harness the power of the light truly, and provide a highly customized light show, the use of a light control board is necessary. Some light controllers are quite simple and effectively control the color and brightness. For more advanced lighting, DMX is used to control every facet of the lights including color, brightness, motion, strobe, blackout, and more.

  • Atmosphere: Depending on the event, you may want to include some atmospheric effects that provide texture and definition to any light show. Fog machines typically generate a cloud for dramatic effects, whereas the hazer offers a more subtle approach.

PAR

For DJs looking to add some ambient uplighting, check out the CHAUVET DJ Freedom PAR Tri-6 and H9 IP. The Tri-6 is a battery-powered, truly wireless fixture that's designed to be placed on the floor to provide beautiful and dramatic mood uplighting. The light utilizes six red, green, and blue LEDs for bright color washes. Several lights can be used together (primary/secondary mode) and controlled via wireless DMX or with the included remote control.

CHAUVET DJ Freedom Par H9 IP
CHAUVET DJ Freedom Par H9 IP

The H9 IP is a weather-resistant true wireless fixture with nine red, green, blue, amber, white, and UV LEDs that can create a wide range of saturated colors. Use it outside the venue for a dramatic entrance. The H9 IP is available in a 4-pack with carrying bag or in a 6-pack with a rugged charging flight case with casters.

Perhaps the event is a wedding that doesn't have saturated colors in its theme. For elegant occasions like this, the use of white lights may prove to be the best call. There are several LED PARs that specialize in variable white light colors. The American DJ PAR Z100 3K and 5K are modern LED PAR fixtures designed to resemble the traditional halogen bulb PAR lights. The 3K provides a color temperature of 3000K, which produces warm white light. The fixture includes a manual zoom to change the focus beam from 9, 15, 20, 25, and 30°. The 5K is the same light but with a color temperature of 5700K for a cooler, brighter output. For a more affordable and versatile fixture, check out the CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR PRO W USB with its 12 tri-colored LEDS, each with cool-white, warm-white, and amber diodes.

CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro W USB Variable White LED Wash Light
CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro W USB Variable White LED Wash Light

For traditional low-profile colored PARs, check out the CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro H USB, a low-profile PAR with 12 hex-colored LEDs (red, green, blue, amber, white, UV) that are capable of high-power color washes with built-in automated programs and sound activated modes. It is also available in a 4-Pack with cables, case, and remote. For a more affordable PAR package, try the American DJ Mega Flat Hex Pack, which includes four fixtures, cables, and a carrying case.

CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro H lights example
CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro H lights example
CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro W lights example
CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro W lights example

Linear Bar

Linear Bars are a great companion to the LED PAR because they offer much of the same colors and functions, but in a different form factor. Linear bars like the Chauvet DJ COLORband H9 ILS provide traditional washes, but can also be used as blinders or to create chase effects. This fixture features 9 color/UV LEDs (RGBAW+UV) that are grouped in 3 zones, which can be independently controlled. The built-in bracket can be used as a floor stand or used with an optional clamp to mount on a pipe, truss, or a light stand. It's also available in a 4-Pack.

CHAUVET DJ COLORband H9 ILS Hex Color LED Strip
CHAUVET DJ COLORband H9 ILS Hex Color LED Strip

Another option that's available in different sizes and as a single or in a 4-pack is the American DJ UB 12H. The fixture boasts 12 x 6W 6-in-1 Hex LEDs (RGBAW+UV) and is designed to produce bright ambient lighting and variable color washes to enhance the atmosphere of your space or mobile light show. A favorite of mine is the Blizzard LB Spectrum―a compact, low-cost light bar with an innovative lensing system that can project an intense rainbow of colors with a 160° beam spread.

American DJ UB 12H light example
American DJ UB 12H light example

Moving Heads

If you want to level up to a more professional lighting package, then moving heads are a great way to make an impression. Many moving heads have built-in programs and sound-reactive modes that make them work right out of the box. However, to harness their potential truly, moving heads should be paired with a DMX light control board (more on this later). A popular moving head is the CHAUVET DJ Intimidator Spot 260, which features a bright 75W white LED, an 8-color color-wheel, 7-pattern gobo patterns, a 3-facet prism, and tons of advanced features. This unit also comes in a 2-pack with bag. For another cost-effective solution, check out the American DJ Pocket Pro which uses a 25W white LED engine, a 7-color color-wheel, and a 7-pattern gobo wheel. The Pocket Pro is also available in a 2-pack with a bag.

American DJ Pocket Pro
American DJ Pocket Pro

The Blizzard SPOTMAN comes in a little less costly than the ADJ Pocket Pro, but offers much of the same functionality, such as a 30W white LED engine, a 7-color color wheel and 7 gobo patterns with shake effects.

Blizzard SPOTMAN light example
Blizzard SPOTMAN light example
American DJ Pocket Pro light example
American DJ Pocket Pro light example
Blizzard SPOTMAN light example
Blizzard SPOTMAN light example

Special Effects

For DJs looking to add some fire to an event, check out these low-cost special effects to liven up the dance floor. The Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 is a multi-effect light that includes adjustable RGBW beams, a round SMD strobe, and a red/green laser on a rotating base. The fixture has built-in programs and is sound reactive. The Chauvet DJ Duo Moon is a compact moonflower and strobe effect that's well suited for parties, clubs, and more. Its low cost and ease of use make it a great choice for those on a budget.

CHAUVET DJ Helicopter Q6
CHAUVET DJ Helicopter Q6

The Chauvet DJ Derby X provides a barrage of multi-colored light rays or beams that dance horizontally and vertically. For an all-in-one approach, check out the Eliminator Lighting Furious Five RG, a 5-in-1 special effects lighting fixture, which combines a red and green laser with a strobe, color wash, UV wash, and derby effects to deliver a coordinated light show that fills the room with quick-moving multicolored light beams, bright washes of color that cover the dance floor and illuminate the crowd, and hundreds of razor-sharp laser effects that can both rotate and strobe.

Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example
Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example
Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example
Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example
Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example
Chauvet DJ Helicopter Q6 light example

Light Controllers

A light controller or light board provides you with the ultimate control over your lighting system. Controllers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and at different price points. The Chauvet DJ Obey 6 Compact Controller is a fantastic way to control up to six lights with six channels each and is a great choice for PARs and Linear Bar lights. The board includes presets for colors, 18 manually triggered programs, and a ton of creative features like color macros, fade delays, and chase programs, as well as a sound active mode. Need more? Check out the American DJ DMX Operator 384, a fantastic controller for up to 12 lights with 32 channels of control per light. This is a great option for entry- to mid-level moving heads. For a more flexible and wireless solution, the American DJ myDMX Go Lighting Control System is designed for use with an iPad, Android, or Amazon Fire tablet and includes a Wi-Fi/USB DMX interface that connects to your lights. It's a great entry way into a streamlined wireless solution with several upgrade options.

American DJ DMX Operator 384 Lighting Console
American DJ DMX Operator 384 Lighting Console

Another option is the simple yet powerful Windows and Mac compatible American DJ myMX 3.0, a DMX control system featuring an extensive fixture profile library, 3D Visualizer, drag-and-drop effects generator, and improved multi-pan and -tilt support. Yet another intuitive and comprehensive lighting control solution for iOS is the American DJ Link, a four-universe hardware lighting controller designed for use with the ADJ Airstream LINK iOS app for iPad. The unit offers a ton of hands-on controls and, with more than 2,000 channels, you'll never run out of control options. And last, but not least: my favorite, the American DJ WMX1, a stand-alone DMX lighting control system with which you can create high-impact light shows on the fly without a computer, and offers an intuitive workflow, a powerful internal effects engine, and tactile controls that make it easy for anyone to control a DMX lighting rig comprising multiple fixture types.

American DJ WMX1 example
American DJ WMX1 example

Atmosphere

Adding atmosphere to your setup will help define the light beams and lasers in the room. Fog machines are quite popular because they create an instant cloud of fog that can be very dramatic on stage. If you'd prefer something less distracting, a hazer would be your best bet, since it slowly and steadily adds a thin veil of haze to the atmosphere. Some fog machines, like the CHAUVE DJ Geyser T6, include LED lights and are made to create "pyro-style" flame effects. This vertical fogger shoots a steady blast of fog straight into the air, while a ring of multi-colored LEDs illuminate the fog in different colors for a striking effect.

CHAUVET DJ Geyser T6
CHAUVET DJ Geyser T6

The Chauvet DJ Hurricane Haze 1DX is a water-based haze machine that generates a subtle atmosphere to enhance the visual effects. If you are on a serious budget, check out the Chauvet DJ Hurricane, a portable, yet powerful fogger with plenty of output that will cover most events adequately.

CHAUVE DJ Geyser T6 in use
CHAUVE DJ Geyser T6 in use
Chauvet DJ Hurricane Haze 1DX in use
Chauvet DJ Hurricane Haze 1DX in use

All-In-One Packages

If you are new to lighting and are looking for some turnkey options, check out some of the ready-made kits and packs. The Chauvet DJ SlimPAR 64 LED PAR Kit combines four PARs with a 6-channel mixer, DMX cables, and a carrying bag. This is a great pack to get you started with PARs because the controller makes it easy to create custom color combinations that can be saved and recalled. For a budget solution, the Eliminator Lighting Mini Par Lighting System offers a lot of bang for the buck. The system includes four lightweight LED Pars mounted on a linear base, a metal tripod stand on which to mount the linear bar, a wireless IR remote control, and a transport bag. Another popular all-in-one solution is the CHAUVET DJ GigBAR Move + ILS , a 5-in-1 lighting system with two moving heads, two LED PARs, two Derbys, a red/green/blue laser, and integrated strobe LEDs that are mounted on a bar. A wireless footswitch provides hands-free operation, or you could use the included wireless remote control, or connect the bar to a DMX controller. The system also includes a carrying bag, a tripod light stand , and a bag for the light stand. This is an easy and cost-effective way to create a fantastic light show.

Eliminator Lighting Mini Par Bar Portable Par Can Lighting System
Eliminator Lighting Mini Par Bar Portable Par Can Lighting System

For more information about the latest DJ lighting technology, including additional products, features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out the All DJ Effect Lights landing page, or drop us a line below, and we'll do our best to answer all your comments and questions.

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