How Do I Add Energy to My DJ Set With Lighting?

Nobody wants to be the DJ in a room of un-attentive people, with a completely empty dance floor…

Of course not! So you make the investment of time, energy and money to become the very best DJ possible…and it works.

The next step is to amplify the energy you’re already giving by having a lighting show in sync with your music.

How in the world do you do that without spending tons of money? I never thought you’d ask….

Step 1: Optimize Your Setup for Dynamic Range

When you think about your audio, I know you are already thinking about dynamic range.

You make the slow, quiet songs as such, and pump up the volume on the big numbers – and as the night goes on this escalates into a big finish.

Did you know that your lighting can do the same thing? Think about it for a minute. When it’s slow, you see blue, maybe purple. Many of the lights are off…until – the beat kicks in and suddenly, sound and light explode from your DJ set.

Wouldn’t you like to be the person behind that? It’s a long-way from sound-active mode.

Optimizing your setup for dynamic range isn’t all that difficult, it just takes a little thinking.

Do you currently point all of your lights at the dance floor? Try pointing a few at the walls and ceiling.

What about turning some lights off from time to time? This allows you to make the big moments feel bigger as well. Combine these 2 ideas, and suddenly your light show is twice as impressive – without spending a penny!

Step 2: Get Your Console Right

The single most important purchase in your lighting rig is your console.

Choose well, and you’ll be blessed with all the options in the world. Choose poorly and…well…you’ll want to bang your head against the wall repeatedly.

Maybe you’ve experienced this. For example, one of the most popular consoles in the DJ lighting world is the Chauvet Obey 40

American DJ DMX Operator.

If you have one, you’ll know that it’s fairly limited in it’s function. You’re able to record a number of scenes, play them back and run some chases too. Add in a MIDI Controller, and for small rigs you can control a decent number of lights and make a cool show.

But what if you could have tens, even hundreds of lighting looks at your fingertips, ready to go at a moments notice, and simple to re-program as you feel led?

With a Chauvet ShowXpress setup, you can have all this and more.

While ShowXpress is one of many great DMX consoles on the market, I like it for DJ lighting because it’s what Chauvet had in mind when they developed the software – and it shows.

Step 3: Think IFCB

Once you’ve got the right console in place for your lighting rig, it’s time to dive into design.

Don’t groan – by learning a little about design, you can really take your lighting to the next level without spending any money.

Every time I want to change the look on stage, I simply think of these 4 elements of light and how I can change them to fit the mood I’m trying to achieve.


As I mentioned above, turning off many of your lights can make a real impact on the energy of your show.

Thankfully, most places you are DJing with lighting will be dark, so you are able to make a lot of impact with even just a few lights.


When I think about focus, the first though I have is moving beams through the air.  And while that’s part of what focus is, it’s not everything.

Put simply, focus is all about moving the attention of the audience around the room.

You can point fixtures at the ceiling, at the walls, the dancefloor, and the DJ booth to shift focus around when you feel the need to make a change.


Color is the greatest gift that lighting has to bring the world.

Because of today’s LED lighting, it’s really simple to change colors to match the mood of your music.


When I think about beam, I instantly think of haze in the air.

However, I also live in the real world and know that haze is often not allowed in hotels and convention centers…at least, not without a pretty penny to bring the fire marshal in.

The good news is this – we can still use the attribute of beam in our lighting to create fresh looks by using gobos, prisms and different angles of light.

Implement Design into Your Show

It may sound complicated, but the IFCB principle is here to help you.  Whenever you need to change up the mood in the room, simply think of these 4 letters and apply them to your show.

You’ll be surprised how good your lighting is…and be ready to take it to the next level!

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Amplify Those Beats is my DJ lighting 101 course which picks up where this article stops and shows you how to do everything we’ve covered above.  Plus, I also show you all the technical stuff you need to know, and provide support in our user forums.

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