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.
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.
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.
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.
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.