Welcome to the Learn Stage Lighting GEAR Guide!
A lot of people ask for for our recommendations on gear. While there is truly no "one size fits all" answer, I've decided to organize and keep all of our top recommendations in one place, updated periodically.
Check it out, bookmark it, and come back as often as you want. I will keep this updated into the future, so that you can always get my recommendations here.
The GEAR Guide:
Press to Expand/Collapse Each Section Below as Desired to See All Of Our top Picks!
ENTTEC EMU: EMU is my favorite lighting controller for bands, churches, DJ's and even theatre groups who are just starting out. While it costs a little more than some other options out there, the extra cost is well justified because it is so simple to program and reliable. Get the software from ENTTEC and pair it either with a DMX-USB Pro (and get 3 months free) or a Chauvet DMX-AN2.
LightKey: LightKey is a cool Mac program for controlling lights. It's very "Mac-like", and simple to get started. I like the way it walks you through a seamless setup. The cons? As you get a larger lighting rig, it becomes difficult to handle all the lights, and it's more expensive than other options. Pair it either with a DMX-USB Pro or a Chauvet DMX-AN2.
Lightshark LS-1 or LS-Core: The 2 LightShark consoles offer a software that is more complex than EMU or LightKey, but still pretty quick to learn. Over the past few years, they have really made the FX exceptional and added a number of other features that allow you to do some really complex programming.
Plus, it runs "stand-alone", and you simple connect to the device with a tablet or computer - so no having system updates mess with your show! The LS-1 is a full console with faders and programming keys/encoders, while the LS-Core is a "box" that runs the software which you control via a tablet or any device with a touchscreen. (Phones not recommended).
ONYX: We LOVE the ONYX software and consoles. Onyx is our #1 choice of both value and ability in the professional lighting console world. Yes, consoles like Onyx DO take more time to learn, but they also allow you complete control over your lighting. ONYX has a lot of hardware/software options that fit a lot of different situations, feel free to reach out via our contact page for advice and a quote!
While all of these "tiers" of lights I've categorized have a little overlap and wiggle room, the "entry-level" is what I define as the absolute lowest cost lights that I would buy. There's a lot of cheap stuff out there, but I want to point out the lights that are inexpensive, look good, and are generally well-built with a reasonable warranty.
Entry-Level LED Washes:
The Eliminator LP12 Hex is a pretty good par for what it costs. It's about the cheapest par we recommend. It won't be the smoothest dimming, best-color-quality light you've ever seen, but it's pretty bright, and shines a decent quality colored light at whatever you point it at!
The Dominar Par S is our economical, waterproof par that is perfect for small stages or uplights where you want an excellent light at a reasonable price! It features IP65 construction with attached wires and waterproof plugs for power and data linking - often saving cost because you don't need to buy DMX or power linking cables if the fixtures are within about 5' of each other. RGBW LED's give you high brightness and a good assortment of colors.
Entry-Level LED Spots:
Chauvet EVE 50z Ellipsoidal: If you need an LED ellipsoidal, you know how expensive they can be. This one comes in at under $700, whereas you can easily spend $1500 or more on professional units. It only has white, but it's the cheapest decent-quality unit out there.
Spotlight - ADJ FS1000 Kit: Follow spots are spotlights run by an operator. This one in inexpensive and works well. It's not LED, but cheap LED followspots look really terrible, so in my opinion you're better off going with a conventional lamp-source. This one only users about 5amps of power and can work up to around 100'
Entry-Level LED Moving Lights:
Eliminator Stealth Spot: Great little spot for small gigs. We like that it has a prism to spread the beam out and project patterns onto surfaces for when you don't have any haze or atmosphere in the air.
ADJ Inno Pocket Z4 or Eliminator Stealth Wash Zoom: If you're looking for an LED wash, these are 2 that we highly recommend. The Z4 is a quieter, little bit cleaner/brighter beam of light, but the Stealth Wash hits a killer price point. Both offer color mixing and zoom and are quite fast moving too!
Intermediate-Level Wash Lights
The GAMMA Starburst 7x18w has been a favorite of ours for a long time. Featuring high color quality from it's RGBAW+UV LED's and a 40° beam angle, this is a fixture that we often use for lighting stages from around 16' and lower. It's also a great uplight and runs silent thanks to it's fanless design.
The ADJ Encore FR50Z is a top pick for high-value frontlight. It's offers a warm white source with great color quality and a nice, smooth light.
The GAMMA Cove RGBWW is a great pick for a colored frontlight. With a bright, COB source, it offers really great colors, a good warm white, and barn doors to help shape the light. It does have a cheaper build quality on the outside, but the internals are really high quality, so we often recommend this for permanent installations.
Intermediate-Level Spot Lights
ADJ Encore Profile 1000 (Full Color or Warm White) - The ADJ Encore Profiles offer a strong set of features for a really great value. It's fairly bright, offers a zoom lens and framing shutters to shape the light. Choose from warm white and save a little, or go full color to give yourself the option to color the stage any color you desire!Intermediate-Level Moving Lights
GAMMA Borealis RC Z: A simple wash light that is absurdly quiet and comes in at a great price. It offers a great zoom range and has been one of our longtime favorites due to the fact that it just works well!
Volux Sisma Z4: The Sisma Z4 is quickly becoming a favorite LED wash for us. Featuring 7*60w RGBW LED's, this no-nonsense wash fixture also zooms down to 2.5° for a beam-type look when desired. It also only requires 1 clamp, saving you cost!
GAMMA TX5: The GAMMA TX5 is a great spot moving head because it's well priced, has a great zoom range (more than most of it's competitors), and is insanely reliable. It has 2 Gobo Wheels, Color Wheel, Prism, and more, rounding out a great feature set in a small size.
The Mega-Lite Stinger Scan 150 is a really efficient, fast-moving scanner. This means that it's a spot type fixture with a moving mirror instead of a moving head. It's perfect for backlight or sidelight systems, and offers both a color wheel and rotating, replaceable gobos at a really great value.
The Mega Lite MB1 is a really great beam fixture for mid-sized spaces. It has a lot of great features - like dual prisms and a beam angle under 1°, alongside an cool-running LED engine that set it apart from the pack.
In progress: We have a LOT of choices for larger venue fixtures - reach out to us with more details on your space and we'll make personalized recommendations. Reach out here: https://www.learnstagelightinggear.com/pages/contact-us
The Magmatic Magma Prime has earned it's place as our favorite hazer for a couple good reasons. #1 is that it makes a really nice looking, water-based haze that hangs longer than other water-based hazers. #2 is that it's self-cleaning and very reliable. #3 is that it's very quiet.
The Magmatic Therma Tour hazers offer a terrific value in oil-based haze. While some venues do require water-based hazers, today's oil based hazers are cleaner, quieter, and offer a really smooth and long-lasting haze.
The ADJ VF1300 is the cheapest fogger we recommend. When you need a simple, cheap fogger, this one fits the bill and includes both wired and wireless remotes. It heats up fast and puts out a good deal of fog. No DMX, though.
The Froggy's Titan 1500 DMX is a great DMX-based fogger with a quick heat up and good output volume.
The Magmatic 1500 IP Fogger is for when you need to make a lot of fog, and maybe need to leave it outdoors. The 1500 IP is IP-65 weatherproof and can also work in conjunction with a fan to provide a thick haze for outdoor concerts, making it a killer buy!
The ADJ Fog Fury Jett is our best-value vertical fogger. It is such a good, quick-heating vertical fogger and it comes with a free wireless remote! It punches high above it's pricepoint!
When it's time for a big vertical fogger, the Magmatic Sidewinder is our favorite. Why? - It offers a pro-grade built, locking power connector, and can be oriented in ANY direction, easily.
The Chauvet DMX-AN2 is a value-priced node that works well. It has basic Art-Net/sACN to DMX In/Out capabilities. It won't do merging and it holds DMX values when network signal is lost, so keep that in mind if you have specific needs in your setup. But it's incredibly well priced and works great.
The Netron EN4 and EP4 are some of our favorite DMX nodes. Featuring really, really great pricing, you get a really well-built node, exceptional features, and easy configuration. Actually, everything from the Netron range is excellent and well-priced.
We really like the Accu-Cable DMX cables. They offer a standard and "Pro" cables. The Pro models are good if you setup and teardown a lot. If it's something that you are installing permanently or you're really gentle on your cables, the standard are fine and the best priced/decent quality cables we've ever found!