26 Jan 2023

Martin MAC 101

by Kurtis Hammer

One of the greatest pin spots ever?

The Martin MAC 101 is a compact moving head LED light. In its time it was one of the best-selling moving lights in Australia. While on sale during the early to mid part of last decade, it earned a great reputation as a cheap, reliable, punchy lightweight fixture. It still holds this reputation today.

The Martin MAC 101 debuted at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Around 11.4 million people watched the awards show. The show was on September 12th, 2010. 200 MAC 101s were used in a variety of ways including lighting scenery, a wall matrix, as well as in various positions on the floor and overhead to utilise the beam.


There were four MAC 101 models available. The Standard MAC 101, the MAC 101 CT, the MAC 101 WRM and the MAC 101 CLD. By far the most popular model was the Standard MAC 101.

RGB colour mixing is available in ‘RAW’ mode or calibrated ‘RGB’ mode. Raw RGB mode (RAW) is uncalibrated and allows all LEDs to be operated to their absolute maximum output regardless of colour calibration issues. Calibrated RGB mode (RGB) gives slightly reduced LED power but sets LEDs to their factory calibration output power to give the best-matched colour and white output across multiple fixtures. Overall colour temperature can be varied from 10,000 – 2,500K. The default colour temperature is 5,600K.

The MAC 101s were known to be cheap, reliable, punchy, and versatile. As they were such a small, light, well balanced fixture, they only needed one clamp. This made them quick and easy to rig in places you couldn’t fit other lights. They had a narrow beam, they could be used as table pinspots, but could be used to light a stage if there is enough throw. They could be used as beams behind a band. They drew 123w of power, meaning you could get 19 to a circuit if you had to and commanded a DMX footprint of 12, meaning you could fit dozens on a single data stream. The MAC 101’s moving head could be panned through 540° and tilted through 240°.


Although not an IP rated fixture, they were a well-sealed unit. You generally did not need to open them up during servicing to remove and clean modules and lubricate moving parts. The main service component was cleaning the dust and grime out of the fans, which could be done with compressed air and a screwdriver (to stop the fan rotating while being cleaned out). They were a simple and quick fixture to maintain.

The MAC 101 solved a lot of lighting problems. All-too-common scenarios for lighting operators in any field; an expo client bringing a banner that needs to be lit, a corporate client who wants some light for an activation in the room, a concert where a few more band members turn up than are on the rider and are needing their own specials onstage, a speaker who decides on the day they don’t want to use the main stage in a venue as it is too high and too far away from their audience so they opt to speak from a small riser stage on the floor. A whole lot of dinner tables get added to a gala dinner an hour before doors. A band wants a few more beams behind them but you don’t have the time, people or power available to do anything too big. A handful of MAC 101s solves all of these last-minute problems.

The main selling points for the MAC 101 were (and arguably still are) that they are cheap, reliable, bright and compact. To achieve this, compromises had to be made. There was no zoom and there was no focus. The beam was a fixed 7 degrees with a soft edge. Frosts and top hats were available as a bolt-on extra, but these could not be turned on and off at the console. There was also no gobo wheel. Adding a zoom, focus and gobo wheel to the lights would have made the lights bigger and not as bright, not to mention more moving parts and therefore more points of failure, potentially creating reliability problems.

The colours did not mix well from close range. In the case of white, if you look at the fixture you will see a series of Red, Blue and Green lights. These will also be visible when projected onto a surface less than about 5m away.

The LED display screens tended to die out, making it that much harder to address the light or access any of the settings at the light.

Another issue with the lights is that they can quickly become economically unviable to repair. A PCB board replacement costs more than the light itself. Starting at a bit over $1,000, any repair approaching $400- $500 becomes questionable, given that a good quality secondhand example can set you back about $500.

Although it did not tick all the boxes, it seemed to tick the right boxes and the compromises were more than tolerable. The Martin MAC 101 is arguably one of the best-selling moving lights we have ever seen in Australia. Although the last batch was sold years ago, they are still in plentiful supply in venues and production houses across the country.

All MAC 101 fixtures feature:

  • Onboard control panel and backlit LCD graphic display
  • Electronic shutter with strobe and pulse effects
  • 540° pan and 240° tilt ranges
  • Colour calibration
  • Bright and tight beam (13° field angle)
  • Smooth, electronic dimming
  • Ultra-compact, low weight design
  • Length: 241mm across yoke
  • Width: 241mm across yoke
  • Height: 304mm
  • Weight: 3.7kg
  • High efficiency, low power consumption, long lifetime
  • Maximum total power consumption: 123W

The standard MAC 101 features:

  • RGB colour mixing with colour temperature control
  • Cree XP-E high-power RGB emitters
  • ‘Colour wheel’ colour-snap feature
  • Three DMX control modes: Raw RGB + CTC, Calibrated RGB + CTC, Basic (colour-wheel only, RGB + CTC disabled)
  • 2300 lumen output

The MAC 101 CT features:

  • Warm/cold white mixing with 2,800 – 6,200K colour temperature control
  • Cree XP-E high-power warm and cold white emitters
  • 4,000 lumen output

The MAC 101 WRM features

  • 2,800K colour temperature
  • Cree XP-E high-power warm white emitters
  • 3,600 lumen output

The MAC 101 CLD features:

  • 6,700K colour temperature
  • Cree XP-E high-power cold white emitters
  • 4,500 lumen output


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