We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Do I Choose the Best DMX Cable?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Digital multiplex, or DMX, is a lighting industry standard protocol that allows lighting equipment from different manufacturers to be linked and operated together. It relies upon digital signals to be networked through special DMX cable that carries control information for dimmers, strobes, and other lighting equipment. Such versatility requires being informed about cables and terminal characteristics; however, most cables that meet DMX512 cable standards can work in a system. Good-quality, individually screened or shielded twisted pairs minimize crosstalk; additionally, a characteristic impedance of 120 Ohms (Ω), three or five inputs, and a flexible, tough jacket suffice for many needs.

Many DMX signal cables can all be linked, or daisy-chained, together into a single network in order to minimize cable requirements. Channels are assigned to control equipment like strobes and fog machines, and lighting properties such as movement or color shifts. This system requires channels to be correctly mapped and networked in order to minimize interferences or reflection errors. The object is to use as little DMX cable as possible, in the shortest feasible lengths, while creating a network capacity that exceeds the needs of the venue.

Using standard DMX cable instead of microphone XLR cable ensures smooth transition of data, and can compensate for mixers with less output power. Cable should be durable enough to withstand tough conditions and still provide powerful signal transmission. A theoretical length limit is 0.6 mile (about 1 km), but this assumes zero losses or termination problems, so it's better to plan around a lower maximum. Termination resistors also aid in reducing back reflections by absorbing errant signals and keeping the data transmission clear.

All types of DMX cable possess a characteristic capacitance and inductance. A characteristic impedance between 100 and 120 Ω is usually sufficient, with 120 Ω being the common nominal rating. Use of an equivalent termination resistor between the +Data and -Data lines can also minimize signal distortion.

Desirable cable features conform to DMX512 standards that include impedances of 85-150 Ω, low capacitance, and foil and braid shielded twisted pairs. Better shielding provides cleaner signals. Use 24 American Wire Gauge (AWG) for runs of 1,000 feet (about 300 m) or less, and 22 AWG for runs up to 1,640 feet (500 m). Cable should be strong enough to provide support but flexible enough for use in different temperatures. Conditions may require cores of high-tensile fibers or heavy-duty jackets for coming into contact with hot fixtures.

While some networks rely on cables with three-pin XLR-type mic connectors, these may be prone to error, as they are designed for transmission of audio electronic signals. DMX512 standard networks limit lengths of DMX cable according to voltage drop, signal distortion, wiring and number of receivers, and their specifications. Color-coded conductors make for easier identifications. Inquire about bestselling DMX cable types with merchants; they talk to professionals, know the user-preferred brands, and which cables cause few issues in the field.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.