The magic of live performances often lies in the invisible layers of sound, lighting, and visual effects that bring the stage to life. The synchronicity of these elements can make or break a show, and thus, having a tool that can manage them all effectively is crucial. This is where QLab comes in, offering a central platform for building and controlling show cues, making it an industry standard for live event production.
At its core, QLab provides a workspace to create sound, video, lighting, and show control cues. Its design is intuitive, allowing you to generate intricate designs and make changes on the fly. One of the distinguishing features of QLab is its ability to enable remote collaboration. Multiple designers can work on a single workspace, and the show control features can sync across different departments.
Once the design is complete, running the show is as simple as pressing the “GO” button. QLab’s vast range of features can be explored for free using demo mode. Below, we take a closer look at the powerful capabilities of QLab, focusing on its latest version, QLab 5.
QLab is trusted by sound designers worldwide for creating and playing back audio cues for live events. It is straightforward to use, allowing you to drag and drop your audio file into the workspace. QLab supports up to 64 channels of audio output, matrix-based audio routing, multi-channel audio support, audio effects chains, Dante, AVB, and NDI. It also provides sophisticated mixing tools, making it an essential tool for any sound designer.
The video design and projection capabilities of QLab are both reliable and flexible. It supports playing full-screen videos and images and allows the customization of geometry for projection mapping. QLab 5 boasts up to 1,000 video layers, chained video effects, per-cue blend modes, text cues, NDI and Syphon for video input and output, and more. The video engine of QLab 5 was rewritten from scratch, utilizing Apple’s new Metal framework to increase the power and flexibility of video features.
QLab‘s lighting feature allows you to patch and control lights with the same flexibility and intuitive cuing used for audio and video. The platform supports an unlimited number of DMX universes over Art-Net or USB and comes with hundreds of lighting instrument definitions. You can even add your own definitions to the QLab library.
The ability to collaborate is a new feature in QLab 5, where multiple users can log into a single workspace. This feature enables remote editing of designs, collaboration across departments, and even giving stage managers read-only access.
QLab‘s modules are powerful individually, but their integration is where the software truly shines. Customization options are abundant: you can trigger one cue from another, start multiple sound effects simultaneously, create a randomly looping playlist, or even set cues to start based on the time of day. Timeline mode lets you adjust the relative start times of your cues with drag and drop, while Cart mode enables cue triggering with the press of a button.
For show control, QLab supports OSC, MIDI, and timecode protocols for ingoing or outgoing signals. QLab 5 now also syncs to incoming time code. Network cues can send custom OSC, ASCII, and Hex messages over TCP or UDP. These robust show control tools make QLab an integral part of complex, multi-department live shows.
QLab 5 is a free program, with additional optional features that can be unlocked by purchasing and installing a license. You can experiment with QLab’s advanced features for free in demo mode, which lasts for 60 minutes. While in
demo mode, all of QLab’s licensed features are available, but copying cues and settings into the demo workspace is disabled. After demo mode expires, or after the workspace is saved, closed, and reopened, licensed features will once again require a license.
QLab 5 Features by License Type
QLab 5 is designed with a tiered licensing system that allows you to access the features you need. The basic version of QLab is free and includes a host of powerful features. Additional capabilities are available with Audio, Video, and Lighting licenses. These licenses unlock advanced features such as multi-channel audio output, unlimited video layers, full-stage Video cues, and patchable DMX addresses, among others.
Features in Detail
Below is a detailed breakdown of the major features enabled by each type of license:
- Audio Features: With an Audio license, you get access to 64 channels of audio output, unlimited slices per Audio or Video cue, audio waveform view, sample-accurate playback sync, audio fades, audio playback rate fading, and more.
- Video Features: The Video license unlocks unlimited single-output and multi-output video stages, 1000 video layers, full-stage Video cues, custom geometry Video cues, video fades, video playback rate fading, and more.
- Lighting Features: With a Lighting license, you can control unlimited patchable DMX addresses and addressable universes, use the RGB+ and CMY graphical color picker, and build your own instrument definitions.
- Networking & Show Control Features: All licenses offer the ability for remote control via OSC, MIDI, MSC, iOS app, with the added ability to act as Collaboration Primary or Remote, and send Network cues, MIDI cues, MIDI File cues, Timecode cues, and Timecode triggers.
- Workflow & Programming Features: All licenses provide access to unlimited cue lists, unlimited cue carts, live fade previews, pause cues, devamp cues, target cues, arm & disarm cues, script cues, and workspace settings import & export.
QLab’s tiered licensing system allows users to customize their experience based on their specific needs and budget. Whether you’re a sound designer for a local school play or a professional working on a major theatrical production, QLab offers the tools and flexibility you need to create a seamless and immersive live event experience.
QLab has set the standard in the live event industry with its range of powerful features, intuitive design, and flexible licensing options. By providing a central place for sound, video, lighting, and show control cues, QLab simplifies the process of designing and running a live event. The new collaboration features in QLab 5 make it even more versatile, allowing multiple users to work on a single workspace. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a novice just getting started, QLab offers an invaluable toolkit for creating unforgettable live events.