Road Test

3 Apr 2020

ChamSys MagicQ MQ70

by Matt King

Compact Lighting Console

Shapeshifter were planning a New Year’s Eve / Summer tour with a run of shows that went from one end of the country to the other and back. I have been LD for the band for the last 13 or so years and we have been hiring consoles for every show. Over that time, we must have paid enough to buy many consoles outright. The band has slowly been investing in gear that is critical for our production such as in-ear monitors and a monitor console, so the purchasing of a lighting console wasn’t out of the question. This tour was the perfect time to save money on rental and invest.

Matt King is a long-term LD based in Auckland with plenty of world touring experience. Between tours, he spends his time working as Service and Repairs Manager for NZ with Oceania Productions. Matt recently finished yet another outing in his long tenure with ShapeShifter and used the MagicQ MQ70 console.

I wanted something that would be stable as backup consoles in NZ are rare. We also wanted a console that was in the right price range as I knew the band were unlikely to pay for a full-sized console such as a Hog4 or MA3.


The ChamSys MQ70 was absolutely the best value for money, professional quality console on the market.

Why ChamSys?
I have been a strong advocate for ChamSys consoles for the last seven or so years. I first came into contact with the platform at a large festival in the UK that we were playing at.

Every stage was running a ChamSys and the owner/founder of the company was onsite. I was a Hog user previous to this time and I was super impressed with everything I saw and thought this is something that I could happily get used to.

When I came back to NZ, I hunted high and low for anything ChamSys based. I managed to find a Maxiwing for sale and talked a colleague into buying it for next to nothing.

I purchased a touchscreen laptop and that was my setup for a couple of years.

I later managed to talk the company I was working for into buying a demo MQ100 Pro from ULA Group and then went on to find a MQ100 Expert and purchased that as well.

At that time, I had all the ChamSys consoles in New Zealand that I knew of.

I later managed to hire a MQ80 when we were last in London and, although it was nice and compact, I felt that it slightly missed the mark with the button positions and ALT navigation with the button menu.

The layout on the MQ70 is great and once you get used to the flow, it just seems natural.

Compact Size
Size and weight of the console was massively important for us as we fly with all our backline – all up about 2.5 ton.

Any reduction in weight obviously saves us money with the airlines.

The MQ70 unfortunately still has a Sealed Lead Acid battery built in for its UPS feature which shows up in X-rays and can be a hassle to get through security without the Battery Manufacturer’s Safety Documents. But it is small and light compared to other options.

I’m not sure that it would actually get on any planes as hand luggage as it is well over 10kg in its case.

Workflow / Visualisation
I like to use one long cue list per song. I build a show pre-tour and then modify it for each rig and venue. I set it all up in the inbuilt ChamSys visualiser. I have WYSIWYG as well but it’s easier to just chuck it in ChamSys.

It’s also easy to just throw more fixtures in to match whatever I find onsite and the fixture library is huge. Just last weekend, I copped a rig with 40 Chinese Par cans and boom, they popped up in the system on the first search.

The layout on the MQ70 is great and once you get used to the flow, it just seems natural

For me, it’s best to use one base showfile and modify it to suit each venue and rig.

With Shapeshifter, I don’t use any time code and keep it all on the fly. A few mistakes in there and it feels natural. I’m used to just having 10 faders by now.

There are no big screens, so I can’t have lots of windows open but it works for me. On this last tour, after a software update fixed bugs and added features, it was rock solid.

Favourite Features
One new feature that I used was the remote app on my phone to do focus position paletes via the console’s built in WiFi.

The ability to connect to the visualiser software running my laptop via a single Ethernet cable with no need for a network switch also made it easy for pre-programming in hotel rooms and even blind programming during support acts.

It’s easy to change user settings on the MQ70 and it’s very customisable. They are always adding new features. You can set up macros to change layouts to exactly how you want it.

The inbuilt effects are so good, just bang them in on the fly. They seem to start well too, without everything coming in at 100%. It’s all super easy and a great FX engine.

I really like the ease of cloning and merging fixtures. Also, you can get any old showfile and run it on any ChamSys and it will be reasonably close.

Being able to adapt on tour as the rig changes is great. I like the ChamSys approach and Garth and Sean of ULA Group NZ were both great to deal with.

Sean went above and beyond, managing to get me the safety documents on New Year’s Eve, getting it straight from ChamSys UK, and keeping our show on.

I cannot wait for our next run of shows to get out there again and see what else it can do.


Universes supported: 24, expandable to 48

Channels: 12288, expandable to 24576

Number of fixtures: Up to 12288, expandable to 24576

Cues: 5000

Groups: 5000

Display: 10.1”

Console Display: 10″ Multi touch display

External Monitor: HDMI – supports touch screens

DMX 5-Pin XLR: 4

RDM Support, MIDI, LTC in, Remote input port

Faders: 12, illuminated

Attribute encoders: 8, illuminated

Network ports: 3

USB ports: 5

Inbuilt WIFI

Width: 525mm, Depth: 350mm,
Height: 60mm, Weight: 7

Product Info:

Distributor Australia and New Zealand:

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