What is DMX?
DMX, which stands for Digital Multiplex, is a protocol used by SoundSwitch to control various lighting fixtures. In simple terms, it's the language that allows SoundSwitch to communicate with lights, smoke machines, and other devices. In this article, we'll provide a basic understanding of DMX and how it relates to SoundSwitch.
Firstly, let's talk about fixtures. A DMX fixture refers to any lighting or special effects equipment that can be controlled using DMX. These fixtures come with different functions and are used in specific ways. For instance, a typical LED wash light can be controlled for:
1. Brightness or intensity
3. Strobe effects
4. Built-in effects
Each of these functions is linked to a specific DMX control channel. SoundSwitch uses these channels to control the various functions of the light. For example, a common LED wash light might have the following channel setup:
- Channel 1: Controls the Red color
- Channel 2: Controls the Green color
- Channel 3: Controls the Blue color
- Channel 4: Manages intensity
- Channel 5: Controls strobe effects
- Channel 6: Manages built-in effects
Different fixtures have varying numbers of channels, depending on the features they offer. More features generally mean more channels.
SoundSwitch simplifies the way users interact with DMX. While we've done a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make DMX channels, faders, and dimmers less daunting, it's still helpful to have a basic understanding of DMX and the fixtures you're working with.
Setting the Fixture Address:
A Fixture Address tells SoundSwitch where, among the 512 available channels, your fixture is located. Think of it as the starting point for the DMX channels used by a fixture. Using our example LED wash light, you'd set the Fixture Address to channel 1, both on the fixture itself and in SoundSwitch.
SoundSwitch supports up to 512 DMX Channels, and each lighting fixture in your setup uses some of these channels. For instance, our six-channel LED wash light occupies channels 1 to 6. If you add another identical fixture, it would take up channels 7 to 12. This continues until all 512 channels are in use.
Arranging Fixture Addresses:
Fixture Addresses don't have to be in consecutive order, but they should match in both the fixture and SoundSwitch settings. It's crucial to avoid overlap between fixture channels. For example, if you set one fixture to channel 1 (using 6 channels), don't set another identical fixture to channel 3, as this would cause channel overlap. Instead, set the next fixture on channel 7 or higher.
A helpful practice is to set Fixture Addresses every 10 channels. For instance:
- Fixture 1 = Channel 1
- Fixture 2 = Channel 10
- Fixture 3 = Channel 20
This might leave some channels unused, which is fine, unless you have a large lighting setup with many complex fixtures that use all 512 channels. In that case, it's best to patch the fixtures closely together to eliminate unused channels.
Setting the Fixture Address:
To set the address on the fixture, refer to the user manual as different fixtures may have varying methods. You can also find information on the manufacturer's website or through a Google search.
Matching the Fixture Address in SoundSwitch:
Once you've set the fixture's address, match it in SoundSwitch's Edit Mode. Locate the fixture in the Fixture Library, drag and drop it into the workspace, and a new Fixture Track will be created. In the Fixture Menu on the right side, double-click to access the interface for entering the DMX address. Input the same address as on the fixture, then click 'Ok.' Now, your fixture and SoundSwitch are synchronized, and you can start being creative with your lighting.
Setup Tip: If you're using two identical fixtures and want to control them the same way, you can assign them the same Fixture Address. Keep in mind that this means they can't be controlled independently, known as "Hard Patching." This allows you to control any number of identical fixtures with a single Control Track.
For a more detailed explanation, you can also check out our comprehensive video on "What is DMX."