What is main difference between Digital and Analog LED strips?
Firstly, we go through the main differences between analog and digital LED strips, to make sure, we fully understand these terms.
Analog LED strips :
- all diodes are lit in one color in the LED strip
- can be controlled by DMX
- cut segment is 3 or 6 LEDs
- easy to install
- home decorations, TV studios, outdoors
Digital LED strips :
- you can control each LED diode separately, creating various colors in one LED strip
- can be controlled by video software, live video stream, Art-Net, SD-card
- cut segment is 1 LED
- more complicated to install
- club interiors, TV shows, stage rental
Analog LED Strips
Analog strips allow you to have one color for the whole LED strip at a time. You can change the color anytime you want for the whole strip, but can’t change it for a section of diodes.
Analog LED strips can be controlled by DMX. DMX is a signal used to control LED strips through the DMX unit. A DMX unit receives the DMX signal from a DMX console – where you can decide which color you want to pick and what luminous intensity you want for the whole LED strip. Therefore you have total control of every aspect of your installation!
Usually, analog LED strips use 12V, 24V or 220V voltage. They are normally distributed in 5 meter rolls and use 60 LED diodes per meter (versions with less or more diodes per meter are of course available).
Typical usage of analog LED strips is for a home decorations, restaurants, bars, outdoor lightning, TV studios, shopping malls. Hence you can use the strip as a constant source of decoration light or as a background.
It is also worth noting that you can get a limited number of colors from an analog strip. More in the video below:
Digital LED Strips
Digital LED strips are also called video, dream, pixel or addressable LED strips. All of them belong to the same category.
The main benefit comparing to analog LED strips is that you can control every single LED diode (nice article) separately (hence addressable LED strip), creating various colours in different sections of one LED strip.
This allows you to use digital LED strips to display even videos. It is achieved thanks to additional chips (IC) directly inside the LED diode or on the digital strip board.
Digital LED strips are usually more complicated to control since you have to provide video content for the LED strips. Users often use computer software, Art-Net (a short overview what is ArtNet, recommended!), live video stream or SD card as a video source.
On the hardware level, the digital strips receive the video information over SPI (Serial Protocol Interface). Every single diode of the digital strip uses one chunk of RGB data in SPI data packet.
Now, pay attention, as it gets a bit tricky with digital LED strips SPI communication – there is not only one standard! There are many control IC chips and every one of them uses a different kind of SPI signal. The most common types are WS2811, WS2812, TM1803, TM1809, SK6812, UCS, APA102 or APA104.
Typically, the SPI controllers receive video information over Ethernet cables from computer software or Art-Net. Some controllers can play video content from SD-card or stream live video (e.g. grabbing display through HDMI).
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We are offering you great LED Controllers with long tradition, made in Europe and tested on hundreds of installations. LSS controllers are easy to use, have detailed documentation, strong customer support and own software solution. The technical details of LED controllers – LEC 3, SPI LED Controller, SPI Matrix, Powered LEC.
Digital LED strips usually works at a 5V voltage, although there are also some 12V or 24V versions (these allow control of only 3 LED diodes as one pixel). We often use 42 LEDs/m version, but you can find many kinds of digital LED strips, anyway.
Digital LED strips can be used to achieve amazing animated light effects in club interiors, TV studios, TV shows and even on buildings. They can be used as decorations, but also for displaying video content for advertisement purposes. This larger spectrum of options allows you to be more flexible and innovative with your LED projects.
This is an example of what you can achieve with digital LED strips. A simple wall decoration pattern and a huge LED ceiling with video content “grabbed” through our LED Strip Studio software.
Recap of main differences between analog and digital LED strips
|Colors||only one||different for each LED|
|Controls on hardware level||DMX||SPI|
|Typical user control||DMX console or software||video software, live video stream, Art-Net, SD-card|
|Voltage||12V, 24V, 220V||5V|
|Typical number of LEDs per meter||32, 60, 80||30, 32, 42, 60, up to 144|
|Cut segment||3 or 6 LEDs||1 LED|
|Typical usage||decorative lightning||decorative lightning with video projection|
|Typical current per meter of strip||1A at 12V, 0.5A at 24V||1.2A at 5V|
|Can be controlled using LED Strip Studio||yes (additional LED DMX dimmers are required)||yes|
You also might be interested in other tutorials we prepared – LED Tutorial Section.