An incredibly successful new Kickstarter project looks set to offer serious competition to the likes of SoundSwitch and Pioneer DJ’s lighting solutions for DJs, when it is delivered in Q2 2023.
MaestroDMX is a standalone piece of hardware, about the size of a paperback book, that promises to deliver real-time intelligent control of DJ and live music DMX lighting set-ups, without the need to plug into a laptop, and without the need to programme lighting on a track-by-track basis. This will make it suitable for live performance as well as DJ sets.
Control will be via an iOS/Android app, and MaestroDMX will be compatible with “any DMX lighting fixture”, offering AI-based control of RGBWA-UV fixtures, moving head spots (including pan/tilt/shutter/strobe), as well as AI-based triggers for lasers, gobos, flames, haze and so on.
The makers say MaestroDMX “closely tracks musical events”, spotting intros, builds, drops, transitions and so on. It takes control of colour, dynamics and overall effect based on the music – even “relaxing” the lighting when there is no music or a spoken section.
Should the user wish to override the AI at any point, it can be done via the app.
Connecting it up
One of the issues MaestroDMX attempts to solve is complexity when it comes to setting up the lighting side of your DJ gear. So the unit features a single DMX out for connecting to your lights, WiFi for connecting to the phone app, and standard USB for power.
The most obvious way to hook up your audio is via an 1/8″ audio in/through – although if you want to “feed” the music in from an external audio interface or digital out from a mixer, for example, it appears you’ll be able to do this via USB.
You can also plug in a USB Midi controller, presumably to take more direct control over your lighting, should you wish. Power is also via USB.
From a DJ’s point of view, competition comes from SoundSwitch and Rekordbox Lighting.
SoundSwitch, which itself was launched to try to tackle this whole issue, does have “auto” modes that don’t require programming. But the main difference here is that unless you’re using Engine DJ-powered standalone gear, it’s a hardware-plus-software solution, meaning you need to run laptop software to use it. One more thing to worry about in the DJ booth.
Meanwhile Rekordbox Lighting, which aims to broadly fix the same issues MaestroDMX and SoundSwitch tackle, is built in to Rekordbox DJ laptop software (and so needs a laptop too), also needing Pioneer DJ’s RB-DMX1 hardware to work. There isn’t much apparent development resource going into this solution, which is currently somewhat limited – and of course needing a laptop, it doesn’t work at all with Pioneer DJ’s standalone and pro gear.
It’s worth pointing out that both these competitors require subscription, too, unlike MaestroDMX.
DJs have long craved the ability to “set and forget” their lighting, yet get better results than the naff old “sound-to-light” settings on lighting fixtures. With this system, you could set a static “theme” for non-musical moments (great for wedding DJs), then define some parameters and a few manual cues for when you need them, and past that, let the unit take care of everything for you.
The hugely oversubscribed Kickstarter campaign for MaestroDMX shows that this is something DJs and performers want, and it’s from a serious company (Limbic Media, which has a background of working in the large-scale commercial lighting and visuals field).
Read this next: DJ Lighting – Why You Need It & How To Get Started
Of course, “AI” is a vague term, and what remains to be seen is how impressive the AI really is here. The makers themselves point that fact out, stating that what’s shown in their videos (you can watch them on the Kickstarter page) are only a taster of what is possible. That said, the videos do look pretty impressive.
Also, such a system will have to truly be compatible with all the features of all popular lighting, without fiddly user programming – something else that remains to be seen.
As far as the actual hardware goes, from the initial published specs, things look pretty good, but we’d liked to have seen a built-in mic to get audio into it: For DJs with limited outputs from their DJ gear, plugging into an 1/8″ unbalanced input for lighting control may be an issue (although with a bit of thought, it’s not an insurmountable one).
And for the ultimate convenience, a built-in rechargeable battery would have been nice, too.
Overall, we are excited by this – it’s an area our audience constantly tells us it is looking for help with, and MaestroDMX looks to simplify things even further than existing solutions. We’re looking forward to testing it when samples are ready.
Find Out More
There are both DJ and band demo videos on the MaestroDMX Kickstarter page, where you can also learn more about this from the company behind it, and offer your support.
Click here to go to the Kickstarter.