How to Install Lights that Flash to Music

With a software program, hardware controller, and some lights, anyone can make a light display that flashes and pulses to the beat of music. Christmas light displays are a common display where lights flash to the beat of the music.

The lights can be programmed to respond differently to each song or beat depending on how the software program is manipulated. The easiest way to set up a flashing lights display set to music is to purchase ready made components specifically for the task.

Things You'll Need

  • Lights
  • Light music program
  • hardware controller
  • computer


    • 1

      Plan out the light display. Locate outlets and draw out a rough plan to show where each light or light up item will be placed. By doing a plan you can map out how each component will reach the power outlet, avoid overloading circuits, and make it look good.

      If you are simply connecting a small string of lights or small light up device (such as a lamp) you can skip this step.

    • 2

      Purchase a hardware controller that will connect to the lights via channels. Purchase a software program that will control the lights. Companies such as Light-O-Rama make ready to use controllers and software programs. A link is provided at the end of this guide.

      You can also browse the Internet for free software programs and demo programs.

      Hardware packages can start at around $100 US and go up to a few thousand dollars.

    • 3

      Install the software on your computer that you intend to use for the display. Follow any instructions included with the software to program the hardware controller.

    • 4

      Connect the hardware controller to a power supply near the lights. Connect each strand or light up item to a channel on the controller. Basic controllers will have eight or fewer channels while more advanced controllers may have up to 64 channels. Each channel will be controlled by a virtual channel track in the software program.

    • 5

      Connect the controller to the computer running the light software. The controller may have come with a physical cable or adapter. Some controllers work on radio frequency allowing the software to connect to and control the light display without physical connections between computer and controller.

    • 6

      Ensure all lights are connected to the controller and plugged in. If the controller also powers the lights then this is the only connection needed for the lights.

    • 7

      Follow the instructions included with the software program. Experiment with the program to learn how to create a sequence for each channel on the controller. The program instructions will explain how to sync the controller to specific music and songs. It may take a little time to time the flashes just right.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase an all in one package that includes software and controller. These can be purchased online through vendors such as Light-O-Rama. They can also be purchased at some electronics stores. This saves the trouble of having to custom wire connections which can be time consuming and dangerous. Read all instructions included with the software to guide you in properly syncing the flashing lights to the music.
  • Make sure that you are not overloading outlets with lights and hardware parts plugged in. Consult an electrician if you have questions or concerns.
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