They’re not cheap, but if you’d like an impressive light show, designed by yourself, on your wall, that will keep time with your DJing, then the Nanoleaf lighting system is unsurpassed. It needs WiFi and you control it with an app. It works fine sound-to-light, but works even better with Engine DJ-enabled DJ equipment, or the SoundSwitch lighting protocol for the ultimate set-up.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Nanoleaf lights come in flat boxes: We had a “nine triangle” starter pack, which came with the power supply and “controller” ( a small clip-on device with on/off, brightness controls etc), and we also tried two three-panel hexagon expansion packs.
The idea is that you clip them together using the supplied electrical joiners, then carefully attach them to a “smooth surface” (eg your wall) with supplied sticky pads. By hooking them up to your home WiFi and using the iOS/Android app, you can then set them to all kinds of colours and colour combinations, brightnesses and so on. They are even touch sensitive, and can be used to control other things in your home by touch – the mind boggles!
However, we approached our look at the Nanoleaf Shapes squarely from the point of view of DJs, so having got them all plugged in and working, we got to testing them in the various ways DJs may want to use these at home.
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So, I said “at home”. They really are a domestic solution. If you want a party in your living room, bedroom or home studio, they’re good, and they also double up as cool general mood lighting, not to mention being a notable room feature.
The reason they’re not good for mobile DJs (for instance) is the fiddliness and fragility when setting them up (they’re fine once they’re in place, though) and the fact that they rely on being on a fixed WiFi network.
There are basically three ways you can use these with DJ gear:
- Sound to light – They have an excellent in-built sound-to-light capability, meaning they’ll just flash along with what you’re doing. There are many sound-to-light “scenes” you can select for varying types of lightship, and you can even link those scenes up for an endlessly varying sound-to-light show
- With Engine DJ gear – If you have an Engine DJ system (for instance, Denon DJ Prime 4, or Numark Mixstream Pro), and it is on the same WiFi, it will recognise the lights and give you direct control of them, which works well and is very cool for a more hands-on approach
- With SoundSwitch – SoundSwitch is a DJ lighting automation system that works with special laptop software alongside your DJ software, which would give you the most control of any of these, but is frankly overkill for a home lighting system, and we didn’t test it
With the first two ways (which would cover any type of DJing in your home), you’re going to get excellent results. It all works as advertised, and did I say they look bloody cool?
Having tested these, it’s clear why they crop up on so many TikTok and Instagram videos – they just work, they look great, and they do much more than flash along to your music. As a home smart lighting solution and design feature in a room, they rock.
For livestreaming DJ sets, they’d be particularly good because you can adjust the brightness overall (to get the balance right between your background lights and you/your gear), and they have little to no flicker – a problem usually found with LED lights.
Read this next: 7 Things To Consider When Setting Up A First Home Music Studio
If you have Engine DJ gear you’ll love the integration, but even just using them sound-to-light, they won’t disappoint. They’re not cheap, but it’s a well thought-out system, the quality is there, and there’s nothing else quite like them.