In this beginner DMX lighting tutorial, we’ll explain how DMX works, how to set the address on your LED lights, and how to manage them using a controller. Then we’ll talk you through a basic setup using a DMX 512 controller and two LED PAR lights.

Quick Answer: Connect the DMX controller to the lights using a DMX cable and set the lights to the mode and DMX address you require. You can group lights by giving them the same DMX address or control them independently by giving them their own channels. 

How does DMX lighting work?

DMX cables can send 512 channels of data from the controller to the light fixtures in your system. You can set each channel to a value of anywhere between 0 to 255. The DMX controller acts like an audio mixing console, mixing light instead of sound.

This group of 512 DMX channels is called a universe.

256 values per channel over 512 channels is a lot of data. That’s why specific DMX cables are required. They may look like XLR audio cables, but the actual cable between the connectors is different and designed specifically for this job. We always recommend using the proper DMX cable.

How do DMX lights work?

So with up to 512 channels of data coming from one cable, how does each light know what to listen out for? Each light has two settings that let you specify how you want it to behave.

  • Mode
    This is specific to each light model, and you will need to refer to the manual for details of how the light responds in each mode.

    For example, in 4 channel mode, our Chauvet Freedom PAR Quad lights will listen to 4 DMX channels and output red, green, blue, and amber light according to the values received. Channel 1 corresponds to red and so on.
  • DMX Address
    The DMX address tells the light fixture which DMX channel to start monitoring from. So in the case of our light on 4 channel mode, setting the DMX address to 1 means it will monitor channels 1 to 4.

How to Setup a DMX 512 Controller & LED PAR Lights

Let’s put the theory into practice; we’re going to talk you through a simple setup involving a DMX 512 controller (Elation Stagesetter 8) and two LED PAR lights (Chauvet Freedom PAR Quad 4 LED).

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. Turn on the DMX controller.
  2. Turn off blackout mode on the controller.
    Don’t forget to zero each fader too.
  3. Set the controller to 16 channel mode.
    Each fader is controlling a different DMX channel.
  4. Connect the DMX controller to the first light.
    Use a DMX cable, not an XLR audio cable.
  5. Set the light to 4 channel mode and DMX address 1.
    Controller channels 1 to 4 will adjust the brightness of four different color channels on our Chauvet light unit; red, green, blue, and amber.
  6. Connect the second light to the first.
    Use a DMX cable to daisy chain the lights together.
  7. Set the light to 4 channel mode and DMX address as required
    If you set the second light’s DMX address to 1, it will behave in the same way as the first light and respond to the same channels. If you set it to 5, you will have independent control of this light using channels 5 to 8 on the DMX controller.

Beginner DMX Lighting Tutorial Pricing