Review: Chauvet DMX-AN

Part of my commitment to you, the Learn Stage Lighting reader, is that I am always on the lookout for new and great products that can help you save money and make a great show.

Today’s post is all about that!  Early this year (2017), I remember being intrigued as I saw Chauvet introduce the DMX-AN – a brand-new Art-Net and sACN node as part of their DJ line.  I got really excited when I saw the price – not only was it low, but it made Chauvet the first major manufacturer to offer a quality product at this price.

While the unit was sold out and on backorder for months, I finally had a chance to order one to try it out.  Here’s what I found:

Transcript


Hey, everybody. David Henry from LearnStageLighting.com here, and in this video I want to review Chauvet’s DMX-AN. Now, what is it and how can it help you?

Well, Chauvet’s DMX-AN is a new low cost ethernet node to get DMX signal out of a computer or console via ethernet. Now, it can do this in primarily two ways, ArtNet or sACN. If you’re new to these, if you’re not familiar totally with what I’m talking about when I say ArtNet or sACN, I’m going to link to a video in the cards here as well as below so that you can get that information.
So the DMX-AN is a little box that does exactly that. Now, if you look at it, it’s actually quite small compared to my hand. It’s got two three-pin XLR ports for the DMX output. Got some nice lights here, as well. It’s got on the backside, the ethernet port, the power-in port, lights for your network activity, power, and a reset button. You’ve got to hit that with a pen, but that’s very important, actually, when you’re using the DMX-AN because if you do not remember the IP address you set it to, you will have to reset it, at which point it will reset to 2.0.0.1, which is on the bottom here.
The DMX-AN, it’s a DMX node at a price point we haven’t seen from a major manufacturer yet. All right? So this thing is incredibly inexpensive. At the time of this review, it’s $120 US. That’s the price you can find online. There’s not another one on the market at this price from a reputable manufacturer.

The reason I say that is because when we’re looking at gear, it’s all great if you buy a piece of gear and it’s working. But what happens if you can’t get it up and running, or it’s not working? What are you going to do? Some of these companies that make other interfaces like this, other nodes, they may just have support via email. They may not have support at all. They may have a questionable warranty. Will they be in business in a year or two? We don’t always know that.
Whereas with Chauvet, you know they’re one of the big names in the industry if you’ve been around lighting for a while. You know and you’ve heard of them. They make a quality product at a reasonable price, and they’ve got amazing support. If you’ve never called these people, you need to break one of their lights or their consoles so that you can call them.

They might not like me saying that, but that’s the truth, because they have a great customer support team. You call, and they help you, and it’s awesome. I’ve had to call them three or four times, not that much, but every time it’s been an amazing experience. That’s various products. I haven’t had to call them about this guy here.
So what you can see is this is a simple unit. It just takes your ethernet and outputs DMX– all right– and it does it incredibly well. I would definitely recommend, if you’re looking for a low-cost node, to buy this. Now there’s a few things it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have isolation between the ports. It doesn’t have five-pin ports, of course, and it doesn’t take RDM information in. Okay?

So it’s not going to deliver that fixture talkback information back to your console or computer. But with that said, considering that it doesn’t have any competitors at this really low price range, that’s pretty darn good. You know there’s other units that aren’t terribly much more expensive than this. The next thing that’s up, I think about like the Enttec ODE, and that one has RDM.
So if you need RDM, spend a little more and get that one. But to tell you the truth, if you’re just beginning, you’re just starting out, you’re just wanting to use ethernet to get your lighting information out to DMX via ArtNet or sACN, this is a great unit. If you’re a Martin M-PC user, or using a console that outputs DMX over ethernet using Enttec’s D-Pro software, whatever you’re using, these protocols are universal, and you can use this unit with them. I highly recommend it.
The next thing I’m going to show you guys before I wrap up, is the web interface that Chauvet has for this unit for how you change the settings. If you’re thinking about buying it, don’t miss the rest of this review, and then I’ll hop back and finish it. When you first log into the DMX-AN, this is the screen that you’re going to see. You can name it a device. I’m kind of dorky and name mine after presidents. This is my second node that I have, so I’m calling it Adams.

You can set the IP address. Again, by default it’s 2.0.0.1, and there’s really no need to change that unless you’ve got multiple units. If you do have multiple units, go ahead and change that. Then we’ve got our subnet mask, again, 255.255.255.0. Tells us our firmware version, and then down here we can set our two DMX ports and what we want them to do. We can set to output or input, sACN or ArtNet. When we’re in sACN, just hit apply here to show you … And when we’re in either ArtNet or sACN, we can change the DMX frame rate from a standard 40 Hz all the way down to 10 Hz if need be, and set the DMX universe that we want to output.

Now we get to this unit, we got to make sure to go to 2.0.0.1, and make sure your computer’s IP address is set to 2.0.0.2, or anything that has 2.0.0 but isn’t dot-one. You’re going to make sure that the ethernet port on your computer is set to that IP address, and then you’ll be able to talk to the DMX-AN. I’m also going to link to Chauvet’s guide that they have on their website. It’s a really great guide that just shows you how to get it set up.

They show you how to get it set up in reference to their ShowXpress software, but this is going to work with any software once you get it set up with your computer. You can then follow the instructions for whatever console you’re using to get your DMX output flowing from your console, whether it’s a computer or a console, to the DMX-AN.

Like I said in that video, you definitely want to check out the Chauvet’s DMX-AN if you’re in the market for an ArtNet or sACN node. The test of time will tell. As I use this on shows and in my training here on LearnStageLighting, but so far it seems like a well-built unit. It carries the Chauvet DJ warranty, which I believe is two years, and I’ll correct myself if it’s not.

All in all, it feels like a solid product and it works great out of the box. I highly would recommend it to you guys. If you’re wanting to learn more about lighting but you don’t do what to do next, hop over to LearnStageLighting.com. I’m going to link to a post on LearnStageLighting that goes into more info on this DMX-AN piece, and show you where you can buy it, and also give you some more tips and tricks that you can use to make amazing lighting. Don’t forget to sign up for those on the site, and I will see you guys there. Thanks.

Want your own?  Buy the DMX-AN on Amazon here!

As I mentioned in the video, I’ve been really impressed with this node.  No, it doesn’t have all of the professional features that nicer units like the Enttec ODE have, but it keeps things simple and works well.

Connecting Your DMX-AN to your Computer or Console

You may watch my review above and be a bit confused about all of the networking terminologies I spat out if networking is new to you.

Have no fear!  

For starters, Chauvet has published this really great guide to connect the DMX-AN to your computer using their ShowXpress software.  Even if you are not using ShowXpress, you can still use this guide to setup the node and your Windows PC and get them talking.  From that point forward, you can follow your specific console’s manual to configure your console or software to output to the node.

If you haven’t worked with DMX over ethernet before, I recommend using sACN if your console supports it – it’s generally easier to configure!

Resources I mentioned in the Review:

Art-Net and sACN guide – A brief primer on Art-Net and sACN.

Recommended Console Software to Use With the DMX-AN

Martin M-PC – here’s how to begin with M-PC and M-Series Consoles

Enttec D-Pro – If you’re looking for a console software that isn’t too simple, but isn’t pro-level complex, check out D-Pro here!


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