Review: Martin Professional Mac101 LED Moving Head

At LDI 2010, the US Lighting Community was introduced to the Martin Mac101 LED Moving Light. If you walked past the Martin Professional booth on the half hour, your eyes were immediately drawn in by these little tiny moving lights stuck all over the martin booth dancing and color mixing to the music.  Your eyes are mesmerized by the speed at which they move and respond to the music. The dancing Mac101’s have you hooked, you need to find out more about them.

The Mac101 is one of Martin Professionals latest LED moving lights and just happens to be the smallest in the line up.  Don’t let the size of the Mac101 deter you, at just 8 pounds and 1 foot high, good things do come in small packages. Packed in the 7.5″ diameter head are 36 Cree XP-E high Power LEDs, 12 Red, 12 Green and 12 Blue LEDs which have the ability to produce 2,000 lumens of output over the life expectancy of 50,000 hours. All the while only drawing 123 watts of power.

If the output and power consumption haven’t raised your eyebrow yet, the speed of the Mac101 certainly will.  As with most moving lights, the Mac101 offers pan of 540 degrees and a tilt of 240 degrees.  But what sets the Mac101 apart is how fast it can whip through it’s pan and tilt.

The entire fixture weighs in at just over 8 pounds.  All of that weight mainly resides in the base of the unit for power supply and electronics.  I didn’t take the fixture apart and weigh things individually, but I have to believe that the head of the unit is lighter in weight compared to the base of the fixture.  A lighter head means quicker movement as the Mac101 most likely doesn’t have many components behind the LEDs weighing it down.  Then or course there are the motors and belts that determines the speed of movement of the fixture. All of the choices Martin made are the right ones.  The Mac101’s movement is FAST.  It is unrealistic to expect any moving head unit to operate in zero time, but less then a second for complete 540 pan rotation… Yeah, it can do that.

Controlling the Mac101 is super simple.  The max channel count the fixture uses is 12 in raw DMX mode. 16 bit control on Pan and Tilt as well as shutter, dimmer, control, color wheel and color temperature in 8 bit. The Mac101 also offers two other DMX modes, Calibrated RGB + CTC and Basic. Meaning, you can have complete control of the fixture with 16 bit’s or very basic control with 8 bit and only 8 channels of control.

Speaking of color, the Mac101 offer Red, Green and blue mixing as well as additional channel that controls a color wheel.  Now, the color wheel is not what you typically think of in a moving light.  The color wheel on the Mac101 offers the ability to mix to a specific Lee gel color based on level of channel 8.  The RGB channels then mix to a very close match of those Lee gel colors.

The color mixing on the Mac101 is fantastic.  One thing the Mac101 does have problems with as most LED color mixing fixtures do, it white.  I found that RGB at full gave a slightly pink white. Not really a non-starter there as most times we want some color other then white coming out of our LEDs.

In 16 bit mode, the Mac101 does offer color temperature control.  Setting channel 12 to a specific level, you can have the Mac101 match almost any color temperature from CTC 10,000k to 2,500k. Once you have a color temperature set on channel 12 to match the rest of your rig, the Mac101 then does all of it color mixing based off that color temperature right on the fixture.  Say you want Lee164, Flame Red to come out of your Mac101 at 5600k, no problem. Set the color temp on the fixture via channel 12 and then use the color wheel channel and set the color, bam, done. All of the calculations are done right at the fixture.

Addressing and setting up the Mac101 could not have been simpler.  With it’s light weight, the fixture only needs one clamp to attach to almost anything you can image. The fixture uses a Neutrik PowerCon for 100-240v power input as well as a Neutirk PowerCon passthrough to power the next Mac101 in your rig.  Less cabling equals a good thing! Additionally, in the base of the unit is a 5 pin DMX connector for in and one for out, again for daisy chaining our fixtures.

Addressing the Mac101 is easy as there is a very clear and readable LCD screen on the back of the head. No more time clock style, 4 letter menu system for addressing and configuration of the fixture.  The LCD on the Mac101 clearly states what DMX mode you are in and offers an easily readable menu system.  Setting up the Mac101 for my needs was super quick and didn’t require the manual.

Also on the back side of the head is a pretty large cooling fan for the LEDs.  Sure Martin could have gone the heat sink route to help cool the LEDs, but a larger aluminum heat sink would have probably been more weight on the head, thus slowing it down. The fan cuts down on the weight, but does have a slight hum to it in a quite setting.  Either way, the LEDs need to be cooled and the fan seems like the best solution when comparing the two options.  In quite situations and 10+ Mac101s, you may hear a slight humming noise.  With my understanding of the intent of these fixtures, the venues and situations where the Mac101 will be used, it won’t be quite, but possibly deafening.

What about the beam. A review would be incomplete without mentioning the beam of the fixture.  The Mac101 comes standard with a beam angle of 13.5 degrees, pretty tight.  I feel the that mac101 is a great fixture for doing aerial dances and movement in fog and haze with such a narrow beam. Martin does offer a wide angle diffuser for the Mac101 to spread it out and make it more of a wash fixture, but other LED fixtures in Martins lineup are better suited for that. The Mac101 is a great effect and movement fixture.


Have you ever had a tool that was more then just a tool, but a toy? That is exactly what I see when I look at the Martin Mac101. I am not calling the Mac101 a toy at all, I get just as excited working and experimenting with the Mac101 so much, that it doesn’t feel like work any more. It’s speed, color mixing and built in effects are amazing.

It sounds crazy, but think of the Mac101 as the humming bird of the moving light world.  It’s quick response, fast movements and color mixing has your eyes watching every movement and telling yourself, “WANT”.  I feel in love with the Mac101 for it’s size, the simplicity of the unit and of course the colors.  At a retail price of $2,500 USD, the Mac101 can be a great addition to the right rig. Effective for theatrical use, maybe, for live event and rock and roll, hands down, YES.

I have created a quick video showing off the speed, color mixing and effect built into the Mac101.  Don’t let the video fool you, it was taken with a Flip camera which is not the best for filming lights. The fade up, and colors seem a little washed out, but in reality are quite saturated.  As for the bit of jumpingness, it’s not the fixture, it’s the camera, trust me!