A Comparison of PC Wing Style Lighting Consoles

pc wing style consoles

From high school halls, church installations, to small bars and clubs, “PC Wing” style lighting controllers have always been a popular choice. With the advantage of having actual faders and buttons, it not only speeds up the programming workflow, but also helps everyone (especially who do not have a lighting control background, eg. art teachers and bartenders) quickly and easily change colors, adjust dimming levels, and trigger pre-build lighting scenes. Furthermore, they are more budget friendly than standalone lighting consoles. Just plug in a laptop you already own, install the software and start lighting your shows.

But which one to choose? Almost all well-known lighting console brands have put out their “PC Wing” style solution and they are all very capable. To help you decide which one is best for fulfilling your need, here is a technical comparison between four most popular “PC Wing” style lighting controllers: Obsidian Lighting Controls NX Wing, MA3 Command Wing, Hoglet 4 and MagicQ Wing.

NX Wing grandMA3 onPC Command Wing Hoglet 4 MagicQ PC Wing Compact
Universes 64 4 4 64
Controllable Parameters 32768 2048 2048 62768
DMX I/O 4 In/Out (switchable) 2 Out, 1 In 4 Out 2 Out
Full Programming Section Yes Yes Yes No
Encoder Wheels 4 5 Dual 4 8
Faders/Masters 10 10 10 10
Dedicated Master Control Yes Yes No Yes
Built in Midi In/Out Yes Yes No No
Built in SMPTE/LTC (Timecode) I/O Yes Yes No No
USB I/O 1 Out, 1 In 1 In 2 Out, 1 In 4 Out, 1 In
Dimensions mm (WxDxH) 540 x 300 x 99 640 x 427 x 102 603 x 314 x 67 650 x 350 x 220
Weight 4.6kg 10kg 3.9kg 6.2kg

From the table, we can see that both NX Wing and MagicQ Wing are capable of outputting more DMX universes than the other two, which means you can control more lights and utilise them better especially with pixel mapping functionalities. For example, you may want to have RGB pixel bars installed in your club and create some stunning lighting effects. One 60-pixel RGB lighting bar (eg. Elation Pixel Bar 60IP) requires at least 180 DMX channels to operate, which can use up your DMX universes pretty quickly (1 DMX universe = 512 DMX channels). Only up to two bars can fit in one universe so having 64 universes handy is very helpful in this situation.

DMX I/O is another important thing to compare. More outputs on the device means you can control more lights via using more universes, or connect lights in different areas of the room with different cabling routes. Also for DMX inputs, NX Wing has the advantage of being able to individually switch any DMX output ports to be DMX inputs. This opens up more programming possibilities when integrating with other lighting and pixel mapping systems.

Last but not least, their MIDI and SMPTE timecode features are what you should pay attention to if your shows involve a lot of live music and DJs (eg. clubs). These functionalities are relatively more advanced but can bring your shows to the next level. All timecode features are handy for pre-building lighting cues that automatically sync with the music, while MIDI In/Out can also be used to connect with third-party MIDI controllers to expand your faders and buttons.

In addition, there are still more things to consider when choosing your lighting control: the software, the size, the online documentation and many more. Hopefully this article can be a helpful starting guide for you to choose and build your next “PC Wing” style system.

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