Embrace your inner control freak: Boards vs. Software

September 16, 2011 by CHAUVET DJ

by Allan Reiss, product manager for CHAUVET®

DJs have options when it comes to controlling lighting gear. Traditional control boards give you the feel of hardware as you slide the faders up and down to control the features of your fixtures, while modern software programs let you control your fixtures from your computer or smart phone (it may sound crazy but it’s totally possible). There are pros and cons to both types of control and only you can decide which is best for your needs.

Control boards are just that, electric boards that control multiple fixtures. Most DJs who use these controllers like the tactile feel of the hardware, find them very easy to operate (so much so that even a beginner can easily figure it out), and they are rack mountable for easy transportation and safe housing. However, these controllers can be on the heavy and bulky side—most of them can’t handle a full 512-channel DMX universe. There are also limits to the number of light shows they can create.

DJs can also turn their laptop or smart phone into a lighting console by downloading specific software. These software programs typically have very few limitations when it comes to programming and creating shows and can usually handle a full 512-channel DMX universe. The controller (which is either a laptop or smart phone) is convenient and easily transportable. However, this software tends to be more expensive than traditional control boards and it is often a little more time consuming due to the many programming options.

I recommend trying both types of control options to see what best suits your needs. If you’re used to one type, try the other. How do you know if there’s a better option until you try?

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