Updated: Mar 12, 2019
So, at the start of 2019, I figured this was the year I would give my mobile DJ rig a much needed upgrade in the lighting department, as it’s been almost 4 years since I bought my current LED par fixtures. I started out with the Pioneer box that would allow Rekordbox to communicate with my lights hanging over my head at events.
The first thing I noticed when I connected it was an addition to the drop down menu that allows you to switch between performance and export mode under ‘Lighting’. Now you’ll need to update the fixture library before you can really get going, but don’t worry, it’s definitely faster than exporting a playlist to a drive. Second thing I noticed was that my trusty MICROH BLADE P fixtures weren’t available under any of the drop down menus (You can send in the DMX channel settings to Atlas though for any fixture not currently supported, and they’ll update the library to include them). My cheap Betopper moving heads are however supported, along with plenty of other fixtures (don’t judge, I’m much more willing to spend $80 on a moving fixture to see if it adds enough value to justify investing $800 a light next year).
If you're curious to see whether or not your fixtures are supported, simply click here and browse the current database
There are a few tutorials online about how to go and program the fixtures you have to the different channels, so I won’t get into that here. I will however say this. Make sure you have at LEAST 6 led par’s, two wash bars, and 4 pinspots to make the most out of this setup (a couple of moving heads are a really nice touch as well). You will want to split your lighting between par 1 and par 2 (or pinspot 1 & 2) in the settings so that all your lighting isn’t doing the same thing at the same time. You want your lights to be able to essentially switch out for a better rounded effect. The wash bars really come into their own for the ambient lighting during the intro, and outro of a song when it’s low key and not much else is going on with the rest of the lights, but you could use some extra led pars you have lying around for a similar effect.
What I wish this system could do, is allow you to change your lighting presets on the fly, or even mass set a playlist worth of songs at once rather than having to go through and do each track individually for a certain lighting pattern. It’s not bad if you only have a set list of 50 or 100 songs, but if you’re a mobile guy like myself, you have a lot of music to go through. As it stands now, you need to exit Performance mode, and get into the lighting tab on the drop menu in order to set the different types of lighting modes for your music. Once you exit Performance mode, you’re no longer connected to your controller, CDJ’s or whatever else you happen to use, and the music stops. So you need to make sure you’ve set it up beforehand. Not that the default setting is bad by any means, I just think that if you’re going through the trouble to connect everything, you wont want the same lighting patterns for all your songs.
In use, you don’t even notice it’s there, other than another strip across your Rekordbox view strictly for the lighting (and the lights doing things you’ve never seen them do before), which isn’t much bigger than the one you use for recording your sets. One thing I’m not certain on, possibly because I have a more dated mixer (DJM-850) is that the lighting should follow the cross fader rather than you needing to grab your trackpad and switch it manually from one channel to another. Because, when you’re concentrating on your mix, this is a total pain.
The algorithms are pretty solid when it comes to differentiating between a chorus, verse, bridge and other melodic content of the music, so the lighting changes are pretty reliable. The one spot I’ve noticed where you would want to pay attention to, and maybe get deeper into the macro editor (still fiddling with this part of it) is when you have a buildup leading to the drop. If the build is at the end of the chorus, the lighting will stay the same as it did through most of the chorus before the build, and not really add to the effect the song is trying to portray. You can however change this around to add either colour changes, strobes, or any matter of effects you want your lights to do. It just takes more time.
In the end, I would definitely recommend this product. It works well, has plenty of versatility, and other than the items mentioned above, it’s pretty much rock solid. Not to mention it natively integrates into Rekordbox which is a bonus if you’re already part of the Pioneer eco-system.
Just don’t expect it to plug into your XDJ-1000’s and work standalone, it’s a bit more complex than your XP1 unit.