What is an NSI Microplex Lighting System? – Learn Stage Lighting .com

What is an NSI Microplex Lighting System?

NSI Microplex

Thanks to p_a_h.

Today I just want to write a quick post outlining NSI Microplex- a popular type of lighting control that many small churches have.  NSI Microplex is a proprietary control protocol made by the NSI company- now owned by Leviton lighting.  Microplex is a digital protocol, like DMX, but it is limited in the number of channels it can control.  It uses a 3 pin XLR cable to send the data to the dimmers.

Now, NSI Microplex is a decent system if you just need a few lights are aren’t planning to expand that in the future.  Some of the simple consoles that NSI makes even run off of power that is shot down the XLR cable- meaning that you don’t need to plug in the console with a power brick!  However, the one problem you may find is that once you buy into the NSI Microplex system, there is no getting out!  Microplex will not communicate with DMX devices, and vice versa- so keep that in mind.  You can buy a converter if you’re desperate, but they are costly and may take quite a bit of setup to get working properly.

So, if you’re looking into buying an NSI system, I probably wouldn’t suggest it due to it’s limitations- it doesn’t play well with others!  However, if you’ve already got a Microplex system- all is not lost, and you can expand it and add DMX devices if you need to later!

Check out my post here on NSI Dimmers, and this post on NSI consoles for what you need to know before buying!


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  • Sam Hensley says:

    So with the 7008 with the optional DMX512 output installed, can I run both my Chauvet 4bar systems and the NSI dimmer pack I have with standard par cans at the same time? In the manual for the 7008, it says you can run both at the same time, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how that would happen? Thanks.

  • David says:

    Sam – Yes, it should work that way…however, if you’re super concerned, I would call Leviton’s tech support to double check!

  • Paul Menkens says:

    hi, I just found your site as I’m setting up a semi-pemanent stage lighting system at a bar owned by one of my former band mates, using older NSI gear.
    I’d like to point that there are (were) at least two other brands of equipment that play(d) perfectly happily with NSI microplex stuff, they are (were) Sunnspots (division of Fender) and some ETI stuff.
    As I understand it the Sunnspots division was run (and the equipment designed by) the guy who started NSI and when he left to start NSI Fender discontinued lighting equipment.
    I was first introduced to the microplex system with a Sunnspots PLC816e controller and found it much more versatile and easier to use then any of the NSIs that I have owned or used due to it’s ease of programming in real time (if you want to adjust a scene all you have to do is change the levels of the lights you need to adjust and hit save, the program will change to what you see on stage, you don’t have to go through all the sliders like with NSI controllers (at least the ones that I’ve used and owned). These are even more versatile because you can run them with a MIDI controller such as the old ADA foot switches or the current MidiMoose ones. These have not been made for quite a few years but I managed to find one on E-Bay in mint shape except for one slider and as soon as I replace it I’m going to replace my current NSI controller with it.
    I have never seen an ETA controller that works with this protocol but they must have made them because a few years ago when I purchased an old ETA controller and several packs, two of them were model MD 4600 24 and could be switched between the regular ETA protocol and what they called UltraPlex which is the same as microplex (works fine with it anyways)
    Instead of the tiny sliders to switch the packs to different channels the ETAs use a rotary switch.
    I also, of coarse, have a NSI DMX unit so I can run my older ETA packs with my NSI controller (and soon my Sunnspots).
    ETA has been out of the stage lighting business for several years now.
    Also, I’ve found the NSI tech support people to be great to deal with, even to the point of sending me several free sliders to replace ones that I had broken. Paul M.


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