Review & Video: American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 LED Lighting Unit

Review Summary:

Overall, the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 gets a thumbs up from us: It's cheap, looks good and has some innovative features to appeal to beginners and pros alike. It puts some nice innovative features into something as simple as a multi-colour LED bar and this makes the unit extremely versatile.

Mega Go Bar 50 LED Lighting Unit
American DJ Mega Go Bar 50

Versatile, easy to use and cheap, the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 has appeal for both beginners and pros.

Review: American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 LED Lighting Unit

With the advent of cheap, lightweight LED-based mobile lighting, more and more DJs (of all types) are deciding to take the plunge and add some lighting to their digital DJ set-ups. Because of this, we’ll be carrying a little more content in this area from now on, starting today with a look at the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 – a cheap, two-foot modern low-power lighting unit that generates next to no heat and yet give an impressive output from its 140 LEDs.

First impressions

As soon as we took the bar out of the box we noticed that, while not as heavy as conventional lighting, the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 still feels solid and substantial in your hands. This is due to the all-metal chassis that makes it really sturdy, so it should hold up against the usual abuse such gear inevitably gets in its lifetime.

The LED bar is multicoloured, and it can dim all the way from 0 to 100%. The five built-in operating include a static colour mode, a mode where you can easily mix RGB together via the LED display of the unit; a sound activated mode with built-in microphone and adjustable sensitivity; and of course an auto-run mode with several programs to choose from and the option to fade or switch through different colours in the program. In the RGB dimmer mode you can also activate a flash mode with adjustable flash timing.

Should you wish to wire the unit up to a traditional DMX controller, this is an option too. When you are in DMX mode you can choose to put the unit in several modes from a single channel operation mode up to seven channels, where you can operate every function of the unit on a separate channel.

The Mega Go Bar 50 has a built-in four-digit LED display to easily set it up through the different modes and adjust its parameters. The user manual explains all the modes excellently, and adjusting the unit should be easy even for the beginner. The option to have the LED display shut off after 10 seconds is also a nice perk, and for you pros, simply setting up the DMX address via LED and not having to calculate the dip-switches by hand is always a welcome feature.

Advanced features

Now so far this is all stuff we’ve seen before in other units, but American DJ has gone a step further and added some innovative features to this unit. The first of those is a “power daisychain”. This means you can plug one of these bars into a power outlet and then daisychain power to up to 25 additional bars, which of course could potentially makes unit placement far easier. One step further, though, is the unit’s built-in lithium battery pack that gives up to eight hours of operation. We put this to the test; while fully charging the unit took six hours, we actually got a little more than eight hours of use before the unit hit the 10% mark.

Mega Go Bar 50 control panel

The control panel of the unit showing the switching options and the four-digit LEDs.

Another nice feature, especially for beginners, is that you can use an American DJ LED remote control with the unit. This is a small infrared remote that can basically use to switch all the modes and programs of the unit, which is especially nice if this is one of your first lights or you are on a tight budget and cannot get a DMX controller yet. It gets even better though, as you can use one Mega Go Bar 50 as a master unit and then daisychain more Mega Go Bars via a DMX (3-pin XLR) cable as slaves to the master unit. In this set-up, the slaves can be controlled by setting the modes or colours on the master unit, either directly on the unit or via the remote.

One feature that American DJ has included that many manufacturers forget is the ability to invert the orientation of the LED display on the unit, so if you place the unit in a awkward-to-reach position, you do not need to make aerobatics on the truss to read the display – a feature lighting crews would I am sure appreciate.

Conclusion

The American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 puts some nice innovative features into something as simple as a multi-colour LED bar and this makes the unit extremely versatile. I can see it being the first light many DJs buy for a mobile set-up, but equally as a versatile tool in the van of a lighting crew. Also (as you can see on the video), although I had my studio lights on for the filming, the unit has a good light output and the colours are really bright.

LED lighting has revolutionised what DJs can expect at these lower price points, putting some kind of lighting into the reach of many DJs. This has particular appeal to digital DJs, who are used to having equally small, impressive gear on the audio side of their set-ups. Add a cheap stand to even a single Mega Go Bar 50 unit (or just use on the floor as an uplighter) and you’ve got something pretty cool to get started with. (By the way, mounting brackets are included.)

Overall then, the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 gets a thumbs up from us: It’s cheap, looks good and has some innovative features to appeal to beginners and pros alike.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

Overall, the American DJ Mega Go Bar 50 gets a thumbs up from us: It's cheap, looks good and has some innovative features to appeal to beginners and pros alike. It puts some nice innovative features into something as simple as a multi-colour LED bar and this makes the unit extremely versatile.

Mega Go Bar 50 LED Lighting Unit

 

Video Review

Comments

  1. dj SoniQ says:

    Great. As usual you have been able to read my mind. I’m planning on picking up my first set of lights and I did run across the unit reviewed. I came across another unit / package http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004TOCGCI/ref=ox_sc_sfl_image_1 and I’m wondering if you can tell me which would be a better option to start with. I was thinking the 4 lights might be better than the light bar to do say a wall or ceiling wash. Any advice?
    Thanks.
    Dj SoniQ

    • the mini 4 bar is going to be able to fill a larger area, and it will get you started with a T bar, but the megabar 50 is going to give you brighter, crisper color and more range. If you plan on making more purchases in the future I’d go with the mini 4 before the megabar 50

  2. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    You hit the nail on the head. Exactly the reason I went rogue/solo many years ago. The mobile show I was with had a big light show. I got tired of carrying around “dumb”, bulky and -above all- HEAVY light gear.

    Two years ago I had the plan to get two stands with t-bars, get a few LED pars and fx and use those. The result? I don’t bring them 9 out of 10 times.

    These bars are just what the doctor ordered and I am saving up for 5. Toss 4 around the room as wall uplighters and use one to light my DJ banner. No extra cabling, no controlling them, just set and forget.

    For me the thought of hooking up dmx cables (often long cable runs) to a battery-operated light fixture kind of defeats the purpose of going “wireless”. Add to that the extra aggrevation of actually using your dmx controller. Not my thing (anymore).

    However, if you DO want to use DMX, American DJ has also introduced the WiFly Bar RGBA. This is a longer (42″/1 meter) bar that not only has more LEDs (320 instead of 140!), is also battery-powered and – and here comes the kicker – has built-in WIRELESS DMX.

    Hook up a dmx transceiver to your DMX controller/software or use the standalone WiFly DMX controller from ADJ and presto.

    Look Ma: “No cabling”!

    Now all they need to do is come out with a version featuring tri- or quad-leds and I think I am sold :-).

    Greetinx,
    C.

  3. I have 2 Mega Bar 50 RC witch is the same just without barrery and I absolutly love them. We use them at the club to iluminate the wals in the VIP room. I’ve also used them behind a Booth faceade and it gave an amazing effect.

  4. DJ Forced Hand says:

    While the American DJ gear may be inexpensive, it is not sturdy and will break with minimal abuse (this means the normal packing into a vehicle on the way out of an event). I’m less impressed by the American DJ brand of LEDs than I am by the (slightly less crap) Chauvet brand LED lights. American DJ uses a smaller amount of large multi-color LEDS which not only doesn’t get a pure white, but it doesn’t throw a very long distance for indirect light (which is why you buy these lights). Also, in the field, I’ve seen these units flicker when they are dimmed. No professional I’ve met, doing Trade Shows, Conventions, or Concerts uses American DJ anything. They can afford the best and they obtain it.

    So what should be said about these lights is “These lights might do in a pinch, but only if you don’t have something better and only if you don’t care about quality.”

    • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

      While this might have been true in the past, there are quite a lot of ADJ fixtures that do a great job and are pretty sturdy.

      I own a pair of TRI-18′s and a pair of QA12s and they are solid. They have been tossed around in the back of the truck a few times.

      The LED’s provide plenty of light.

      There is no reason multi (TRI or QUAD) LED’s would not provide pure white. Also they have the advantage of not casting color shadows and when you look at/into the lights they look the color they are sending out, as opposed to fixtures with seperate LEDs for every color.

      All in all I might not like everything ADJ sells and I am sure their plastic series are crap, but so would anything plastic in that respect.

      When you get to the more expensive ADJ fixture I would say you get fair value for money.

      Greetinx,
      C.

  5. Blaine Holloway says:

    American DJ uses China-made lights. I even contacted them, and they admitted it. There’s your answer for the bad quality.

    You should use Astera lights. Quality German-engineered lights, and available through many US dealers too; http://www.wifiled.com for example.

    They produce wireless LED lights, with a greater range (300m) and much brighter than American DJ and Chauvet.

    • Apple products are made in China. As is nearly all DJ gear. Does that make all of these items “bad quality” too? Bit of a sweeping generalisation there.

      • Blaine Holloway says:

        Ok…American DJ uses CHEAP China-made lights. Better?
        Some manufacturers in China are good, with Apple-designed quality management processes, and others are very bad, with Chinese-made quality assurance, which is just laughable.

        • DJ Vintage says:

          Hey Blaine,

          Thanks for the update (you missed your 1-year anniversary by only 2 days :D). From this and other posts I gather you are not a big fan of American DJ.

          Two things:
          1) We enjoy people loving what they have. So if you use other gear and you love it, by all means rave about it. What we try not to do is hate what others have. It’s not very nice to the people that actually own this gear and does not necessarily need to be true. And while I understand one or more bad experiences with a brand can color your opinion of that brand and cause you to not purchase any of their gear anymore, I don’t believe there are many companies out there anymore that are ALL bad ALL of the time with ALL of their products. A good example is Behringer. In the earlier days I have had some bad moments with their gear. It caused me to stop using Behringer gear altogether. Due to circumstances I ended up with some Behringer gear later on (including a 4-channel headphone amp) and some of it is actually pretty good. Not all of it, but some. I still won’t actively promote Behringer, since I don’t know all their offerings well enough to decide which bits are good and which not so much. But I won’t bash anybody for having/using Behringer gear. In the end, if it works for you – that’s the most important thing.

          2) I have had lots of ADJ gear over the years (I started as a poor DJ too :-P). Both audio and lights. And while I’ll agree that it’s not exactly the quality of high end brands, it’s always been decent to good value for money. I have two CDI-500 CD-players that I had upgraded once (the original laser mechanism was replaced in later versions) and that have lasted for 9 years or so now. I have had a smoke machine that broke after the second use, got fixed and broke after the third use. Needless to say it got tossed in the waste bin. Yep, I lost 75 bucks on that one (new), but hey. That is the price you sometimes pay for cheap gear (regardless of the brand really). In the old days ADJ used to be your stereotypical OEM manufacturer. Lots of their gear could be found with other brand labels on them. In recent years they have started to manufacture more of their own designs. Although I currently don’t own anymore audio gear, I do have some LED fixtures. And quite frankly they are pretty good, both build-wise and in features.

          So, if you are in the low end of the market for gear, I have to say that ADJ overall holds up pretty good, gives you decent to good value for money and some of their gear is actually plain good. Not professional, but if you want to compare a Martin moving head to an ADJ, you might as well compare Mercedes to Skoda. Does that make Skoda’s bad? Nope, fine car. It just means Mercedes is a lot better with a matching price tag.

          At the end of the day if all you produce is crap that breaks on you every time all of the time, you WILL go out of business.

          Greetinx.

          • Blaine Holloway says:

            So, if you are in the low end of the market for gear, I have to say that ADJ overall holds up pretty good, gives you decent to good value for money and some of their gear is actually plain good. Not professional, but if you want to compare a Martin moving head to an ADJ, you might as well compare Mercedes to Skoda. Does that make Skoda’s bad? Nope, fine car. It just means Mercedes is a lot better with a matching price tag.

            Agreed.

            BTW, nice post.

          • Blaine Holloway says:

            Missed it by 1 month, 2 days. ;)

          • DJ Vintage says:

            I stand corrected :-)

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