Taking a look at Elation's DMX Duo controller, we find a fun little value priced controller specific to the company's club/DJ market. DMX Duo is basically a two-tier playback controller with sequence and chase control of 96 DMX channels and additional eight effects channels. With playback in the sense that it has no programming functionality, it snapshot records DMX input from any DMX source. The trick here is the Duo's ability to modify the recorded states in sequence, giving the user a very simple and easy way to create an interesting light show.

Form factor is a slim single space rack mount enclosure with 30 buttons. The buttons are plastic and provide a confident click. They are backlit and make operation in dim conditions simple. For work illumination, the faceplate offers a USB connection for an LED work light. That is all the port is used for, as transfer of show information in/out of the device is done by means of RS232 serial interface.

Also clever is the 12VDC power input that cannot be directly pulled out; it requires a quarter-turn to remove, preventing that accidental tug and blackout. There is a very small LED numeric display centered on the panel, giving the user limited graphical feedback. In programming mode, it provides feedback as to whether or not a step has been recorded, but it is somewhat difficult to read. However, it would be unfair to assume much more can be expected at the price point.

Setting up and programming the DMX Duo is straightforward, with chases and sequences easily inputted and stored with a few button presses. The idea here is that a more powerful controller allows the designer to create looks quickly and dump them into the Duo's memory. Once recorded into one of the controllers' chasers or two sequence banks, it can playback with timer modification. Chases are simply that, steps, while sequences or shows allow for wait and fade times between steps. Chase playback allows for straight sequencing of any of the eight chases in order or in a mixed HTP mode where the selected chases are blended. Chase rate and fade times can be adjusted using the speed key and time displayed on the tiny display. Sequence playback is much the same, and of course, there is sound-to-light via an integrated microphone. One must use the record key to get in or out of audio-triggered mode.

Continuing with this idea of simply modifying pre-recorded shows, we find a strobe key that will overlay with all outputs to strobe the fixtures when pressed. A blackout key does just that. The company's fog machines can be controlled by the Duo faceplate as well. Very effective for the simple light jockey applications and when factoring in the price point, the DMX Duo offers a great deal of flexibility and ease of use for straightforward club control situations.

Looking at it outside of its target market, I see a great deal of potential where DMX Duo could serve as a simple DMX playback device for a display with simple electrical timer trigger. It does allow for the automatic blackout on power-up to be disabled. This is not a high-end controller, but at a list price of $219.95, the DMX Duo has a lot to offer.