Moving Head Lights – Buyer’s Guide (February 2022)
Finding the best moving head lights for your show, space, and style can be a complicated process. Lights create energy and excitement in a crowd by combining music with stunning visuals, so it’s essential to find what works best for you. When used to your advantage, they add a level of professionalism and awe that your audience will remember. That’s why we’ve researched and compared the best moving head lights on the market.
The unique features of each moving DJ light–like GOBO wheels, prisms, and DMX control–offer different options for lighting design depending on your event. We’ve compiled and compared the top 10 moving head lights to make it easy for you to find what you need.
We cover the best moving head fixtures in 3 main categories: beam, spot and wash. The majority of our recommendations come from the top brands ADJ and Chauvet. These moving head lights stand out in quality and versatility so you know you’re getting the best DJ lights for your money.
Check out our list of top moving head lights below – and have fun taking your light show to the next level!
|ADJ Focus Spot 4Z||Best Overall|
|Chauvet Intimidator Spot 260||Best Dj spot|
|Chauvet Intimidator Spot 475Z||(Best Stage Spot)|
|Chauvet Intimidator Wave||(Best Moving Head Beam)|
|Martin Lighting RUSH||(Best Moving Head Wash)|
|Chauvet Intimidator Hybrid 140SR||(best spot/beam hybrid)|
|ADJ Focus Spot 2X||(best spot with GOBO)|
|ADJ Focus Spot 6Z||best high-end spot|
|Chauvet Intimidator Spot 110||(Best budget spot)|
|ADJ Pocket Pro||(best mini moving head)|
1. ADJ Focus Spot 4Z (best overall)
The ADJ Focus Spot 4Z is adaptable to almost any event or venue. With a motorized focus feature and eight colors to choose from, the Spot 4Z makes it easy to create and rotate between floor designs for a stunning show. In addition, this light is equipped with 3 DMX channel modes, six dimming curve modes, and strobe effects for a high-quality professional experience. These powerful 200W moving LED lights are a simple way to wow your audience and set the mood for a variety of occasions.
What makes this light so versatile is that it’s a spotlight: the middle ground between a beam and a wash. A spotlight can mimic the excitement of a laser beam or, at a wider angle, highlight larger areas. Further, spotlights are ideal for personalized GOBOs. The ADJ Focus Spot 4Z can adjust beam angles from 11-22 degrees, ensuring a sharp projection for various venue sizes.
- Medium weight
- Equipped for DMX mode
- Only one GOBO wheel
2. Chauvet Intimidator Spot 260 (Best DJ Spot)
The Intimidator Spot 260’s versatility also puts it at the top of the list. It contains a motorized focus feature and manual zoom to decrease the beam angle 5 degrees. This way, the Intimidator Spot 260 guarantees a sharp, professional projection in large and small spaces alike. A unique feature of these moving heads is a 3-facet prism that splits the beam and floods the crowd with light. You can also connect up to 4 light fixtures together for a synchronized show.
- Lightweight: 12.6 lbs.
- No DMX
- Optional remote not included
3. Chauvet Intimidator Spot 475Z (Best Stage Spot)
If you’re looking for a powerfully bright spotlight, the Intimidator Spot 475Z might be a great option for you. This moving head spot smoothly transitions between short and long distances with its motorized zoom design, ensuring sharp, captivating imagery through its dual GOBO wheels and rotating prisms. Dual GOBO wheels allow you to combine, morph, and transition visual displays, while dual rotating prisms split light for stunning beam variety. In addition, with the optional IRC-6 remote, you have wireless non-DMX control. These features make the Spot 475Z perfect for showcasing your visual creativity.
- Extremely bright
- Great for large events
- Dual GOBO wheels
- Dual rotating prisms
- Optional remote not included
- No DMX
4. Chauvet Intimidator Wave (Best Moving Head Beam)
If you’re looking for something more intense, striking, and sharper than a spotlight, beams might be the way to go. The Intimidator Wave includes four moving heads–each independently controlled. Together, they can create wave-like movements or cut sleek designs through the air. You can connect up to four units (20 Chauvet moving heads) and sync them in various modes: automatic, sound or master-slave mode.
- Linking option
- 360 degree rotation
- No DMX
5. Martin Lighting RUSH (Best Moving Head Wash)
Unlike a beam or a spot, a wash light spreads at a wider angle, flooding larger spaces with light. So if you want to cast a soft hue over a band on stage or over the walls of a wedding venue, the Martin Lighting RUSH is your best option. As an LED moving head wash light, it can accommodate almost any venue with an adjustable 10°–60° zoom. It also includes a dimmer and strobe with DMX control to set the tone for your event.
- Versatile wash light
- Strobe/dimmer effects
- Medium weight
- Optional DMX control
- Mostly single-purpose, unlike spotlight
6. Chauvet Intimidator Hybrid 140SR (best spot/beam hybrid)
If you want a light that has it all, this Hybrid can provide it. The Intimidator Hybrid 140SR transitions between spot, beam, and wash seamlessly, granting you a full range of possibilities. For even more versatility, it includes dual prisms and dual GOBO wheels with motorized zoom control. Essentially, this Hybrid contains nearly all the features of other Chauvet lights mentioned before and combines it into one fixture.
- True hybrid
- Dual prisms
- Dual GOBO wheels
7. ADJ Focus Spot 2X (best spot with GOBO)
The ADJ Focus Spot 2X is another great spotlight option. With a 100W light source, eight colors and 6 replaceable GOBOS, the Spot 2X is perfect for your typical venue. A unique feature of the Spot 2X is that it includes a 3W UV LED. When you think of UV lighting, you might picture the glow of a club, a themed party, a bowling alley–anywhere you might want to add a little mystery and fun.
- Medium weight
- Two prism effects
- One GOBO wheel
8. ADJ Focus Spot 6Z (2,100) – best high-end spot
The ADJ Focus Spot 6Z is our brightest recommendation at a powerful 300W. This light includes 7 dichroic colors and dual GOBO wheels for morphing designs. For more variation, it also contains CTO, CTB and UV filters along with 2 frost effects for blurring edges. Ultimately, all these features allow you to mix colors, GOBOs, and filters for a wide variety of lighting effects. In addition, there are 2 DMX control modes for dimming and strobe settings. The ADJ Focus Spot 6Z is designed for any large, high-energy event and offers a multitude of options for exciting styles.
- Many filters
- Two prisms
- Two color wheels
- DMX control
- Too bright for smaller spaces
9. Chauvet Intimidator Spot 110 (Best budget spot)
The Chauvet Intimidator Spot 110 makes moving head lights cheap, lightweight and affordable. It has one color wheel and one GOBO wheel for combinations and transitions. The Spot 110 is also easy to control via pre-designed automated programs or sound activated movement. Sound activated lighting syncs to the bass of any song you play, saving you time and energy when designing a show. Lights can move individually or you can synchronize several in master/slave mode.
- Easy transport
- Various control modes
- No zoom; 13 degree beam angle
- Limited color/design combinations
- No DMX
10. ADJ Pocket Pro (best mini moving head)
Another affordable and lightweight option is the ADJ Pocket Pro. The Pocket Pro maintains all the simplicity of the Intimidator Spot 110, but also offers DMX control and professional strobe effects. DMX offers the creative freedom of personalized effects, but you can also opt for user-friendly Sound Active Mode or built-in automations. This light provides you the basics for any event and a little more.
- DMX, sound activated, and automated control
- Limited color and GOBO combinations
What is a moving head light?
A moving head light is exactly what it sounds like: a light that can move, rotate, expand, contract, display colors and designs, and so on.
This kind of light will usually have a round “head” that contains the light source, a color wheel, and space for custom GOBOs – or designs. The head spins and tilts on a platform that either sits below it or clamps onto a hanging fixture. We see moving head lights in any place we want to create a certain mood, from concerts to theaters to churches.
Like color and intensity, movement is important for cultivating the mood and energy of an environment as well. Moving spotlights allow for smooth transitions from one area of focus to another. Laser beams communicate sharp intensity and excitement. Or, wash lights flood a crowd with vibrant colors.
Moving head lights allow you to move your audience from excitement to sadness to tranquility. For this reason, DJ’s combine music and light to create an awesome audio-visual experience.
Spots, Beams, & Wash Lights
There are 3 main categories of moving head lights: spot, beam, and wash. They are most noticeably distinguished by how much surface area they illuminate, which is determined by their beam angle.
A beam is the most narrow light projection. If you picture lasers at a concert, you might imagine sharp lines of light piercing the air–that’s a beam. These types of lights have a very small beam angle, which means the light doesn’t spread wide as it travels. Beam projection requires fog to maximize its visual effect because the main appeal of beams is watching them travel through the air.
Spot is short for spotlight. Similar to a beam, it spreads at a fairly small angle so it illuminates a specific area. A spot is wider than a beam, though, which makes them ideal for GOBOs. GOBO stands for “go between optics.” It’s like a stencil that creates a pattern when you shine a light through it. Spotlights are wide enough to showcase GOBO designs, but also tight enough to throw light at a far distance and maintain crisp edges. Many artists prefer spotlights because they are the most versatile when it comes to zoom and focus, which allows a spotlight to mimic a beam or a wash in some ways.
A wash has the widest beam angle, so it’s a light that floods a large area. You’ll notice these lights most at churches or wedding venues because they are an easy way to fill large spaces with color and light. However, wash lights aren’t limited to calmer environments; they can also serve as a bold backdrop at a concert or pan over a screaming crowd. The versatility of a wash light cannot be overlooked.
What To Look For
There are lots of things to consider when choosing a moving head light. Here’s a few major considerations.
Every light offers something unique, so consider what suits your work best. Each moving head light we’ve listed offers a range of colors and GOBO effects with varying degrees of complexity. If you’re looking for more freedom in mixing colors and designs, you should look for lights with dual color wheels or dual GOBO wheels. Other accessories include prisms, shutters, strobes, and filters.
Pan & Tilt
Some lights have a greater range of motion than others. The pan of a moving head light indicates its spinning range, and the tilt indicates how far it can lean side-to-side. Product descriptions will typically provide a degree measurement of pan and tilt.
Focus & Zoom
Both of these features are essential for creating a desired texture in your lighting. Focus ensures crisp projections or you can blur them for a softer effect. Zoom allows your moving head light to change the beam angle and easily adapt to any size room. Generally, a higher-end moving head light offers automated zoom.
Your light’s brightness should fit the venue size. A large venue will usually require high wattage moving head lights while smaller venues can vary depending on the event. For more versatility, search for lights with dimming features.
The moving, spinning, and internal cooling systems of moving head lights can make a lot of noise. Lights should enhance a show, not create a distraction. Rigging lights an appropriate distance away from the audience is a simple way to mitigate this problem, but be sure to test your sound in smaller venues.
Moving Heads Improve Your Setup
Moving head lights can improve any show, stage, or setup because they combine sight and sound for an awesome audio-visual experience.
They’re like an accessory that accentuates music and enhances your audience’s emotional experience. Color and movement is an easy way to control the energy of a crowd, whether it’s slow, soft colors or fiery strobe lights. Further, crisp, high-quality projections add a level of professionalism to any show and allows you to build rapport with your audience.
How To Maximize Your Lights
There are many small things to consider to maximize your moving head effect. For example, how large is the space, and what wattage and light would suit it best? If GOBOs are appropriate, what GOBOs can you use? What shape is the space and how can the space and lighting complement each other?
However, a simple way to maximize your moving light effect in any space is with fog and haze. Fog captures and accentuates the movement of light, giving it a 3-dimensional feel.
Spot and wash lights are effective on their own, but they can fill a space even more when caught in a cloud of haze.
Beams, however, are almost nothing without fog or haze. Designed to travel far and illuminate a small surface area, the best way to showcase beams is to capture them piercing the air.
Ways To Mount Moving Heads
For mounting moving head lights, there are two main options: trussing or lighting stands. Like many other aspects in lighting, the best way to mount moving head lights really depends on the venue. Trussing works best in taller venues with space for overhead lighting. Lighting stands come in a variety of sizes and designs to accommodate different types of moving head lights.
For either option, you must be familiar with the different clamps each light requires. Vendors usually list clamp options in their product descriptions. Invest in lighting stands appropriate for the weight of your moving head light and always check that your trussing is secure. Moving head lights range anywhere between 10-50 pounds, so not all mounting options are equal.
DMX vs. Sound Active Mode
DMX is short for “digital multiplex,” which is simply a standard communication network for lighting.
That sounds complicated, but all it means is that there is a standardized way to manually program light displays. DMX programming allows you to personalize and design your own show. However, mastering DMX lighting takes practice, but you’ll find everything you need to know in the product manual.
A fool-proof program option is Sound Active Mode. A moving head light equipped with Sound Active Mode will contain a small microphone so it can sense and match the beat of the music you play. This way, the lights basically run themselves. Sound Active Mode can save you a lot of time and trouble if you’re unfamiliar with DMX programming.
Which Moving Head Should I Buy?
To sum up, there are two major things to consider when buying moving head lights: space and event. The size of the space and the desired energy of the event will indicate all the features you’ll need.
For example, a large conference would require powerful wash and spot lights with basic features. On the other hand, a freelance DJ might choose the most portable hybrid option to accommodate a variety of events.
Moving head lights provide many outlets for creative expression with colors, designs, beams, prisms, strobes, and so on. Luckily, there are many options for moving head lights so there is always a way to find a light with a niche that matches your own. Pay attention to the size of your space and the tone of your event, then hopefully you can imagine what moving head light will work best for you.