Marq Lighting - What is DMX?

DMX is a lighting control protocol which allows users to have ultimate control over their lighting needs. DMX protocol allows the opportunity to raise the bar and tailor the lighting experience to the environment. It lets the technician be flexible and create dynamic lighting sequences that will impress all that are watching. This article discusses some common questions about understanding and using a DMX system.


Frequently Asked Questions 


Definition of DMX

DMX512 (Digital Multiplex) is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control stage lighting and effects. It was originally intended as a standardized method for controlling light dimmers, which, prior to DMX512, had employed various incompatible proprietary protocols.

What is a Universe?

DMX-512 (Digital MultipleX-512 channels), as the name implies, can put control for up to 512 functions (the brightness of a dimmer, the mirror pan or tilt of a scanner, etc.) on one circuit (the daisy-chain from device-to-device). All of the devices on the same circuit out of a controller are referred to as a "universe." Many of the bigger, usually PC-based, controllers have outputs for more than one universe to allow control of more than 512 functions. Because DMX-512 is designed to have only one controller, a second controller would require a second universe, even if you need fewer than 512 channels total.

How many lights can be used in a universe?

Each light may have multiple channels.  The total amount of lights depends upon the total amount of channels used by all the lights in your Universe.   If 1 light requires 16 channels you will be able to use 32 of those lights in that 1 Universe. You will want to refer to your light's User Guide for further info on the number of channels it may use.

What is an address?

An address is what you want a particular light to do (within the universe it is setup in).  We recommend that you consult your specific light's manual for addressing instructions, as every light can work in a slightly different way. For additional information on addressing, see some of the following links:

How do you properly connect up lights with the DMX cable?

If you are using a DMX controller, connect to the output of the controller and the input of the first light in the run. From there all that is needed is to plug in the next DMX cable and power source to the first light in the run (most of the newer lights will have an additional power input on them) and continue.

Do the lights send data back to the controller?

No.  DMX is one directional and sends a power command to the light to trigger the address assigned.  It will not send data back to the controller. 

What are the benefits to using a wireless DMX controller over a wired DMX controller? 

Using a controller that requires DMX cables limits where you can place the controller and operator.  By using a wireless midi device and software, you can assign buttons to control the address when the button is pressed. This will allow you to create a one of a kind performance inside the software, which can be adjusted as needed.

Are there different programs for wireless control?

Yes, there are many different types of lighting software available.

For example, some popular programs are:

What are the differences between DMX controllers? 

Each DMX controller has different features.  For example, if the controller has 16 channel faders then this will allow the ability to control the full features of either a 16 channel light or 2 lights in 8 channel mode. For some examples of DMX controllers on the market today please click here.


Can DMX be used with a Mic/XLR cable?

Yes... and no!  The use of an audio XLR cable may work just fine.  However, sometimes you may experience problems such as strobing, flickering or loss of signal.  The reason is because the two cables are constructed differently and at different ohms.  However, if you are in a jam, an XLR cable may be used -but you will want to replace it with the proper DMX cable as soon as possible.

Where can I learn more about DMX lighting?

Below you will find a couple of links that will further explain DMX lighting:



Further Technical Support

Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own a Marq product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the Marq technical support team is available to help!

Visit the link below to connect with our phone and email support: