A Guide to LED Control System

LED displays have dominated the media and entertainment scenes for the past decade. From mall advertisements to concert stages, LED screens offer versatility in size, shape, and installation. If you’re thinking of investing in an LED display, you must know the technology behind it–what makes up a good LED screen and how the system works.

By now, you’re probably already familiar with the components of an LED display–the LEDs, the cables, the cabinets. But one aspect not always tackled is the control system. While it may come off as too technical to tech newbies, understanding what happens behind the screen (literally) can equip you with the knowledge to operate and maintain them. 

What is an LED Control System?

The most important component of an LED display is the LED control system. It is responsible for managing, storing, and processing data so the display itself can show images. The control system generates the command that dictates the size of the image and how, where, and when it will be displayed.

LED display control system components

The LED display control system is composed of control software and hardware. The hardware includes the sending device and the receiving card. They assist each other in controlling the LED display, adjusting parameters, sending programs, adjusting brightness, etc.

LED display control system

Transmitting device

The transmitting device is the intermediate link between the computer and the LED display. It can be connected to the computer via a USB cable, send debugging instructions, and debug the LED display. It can also be connected to the computers via a DVI cable, or an HDMI cable, or a network cable to display the computer desktop directly on the LED display or send programs to the LED display through software.
The LED display control systems can choose different transmitting devices according to the customer’s needs. Such as synchronous sending cards, asynchronous sending cards, synchronous and asynchronous sending boxes, 2 in 1 video processors, synchronous sending boxes, etc.

Receiving cards

The receiving card is installed inside the LED display and connected in series using a network cable to convert the information sent by the sending device into content that the LED display can recognize, so that the LED display can display pictures, videos, text, etc.
The brands of receiving cards reused in the market include Novastar, Huidu, Linsn, colorlight, DBstar, Sysolution, etc.
We can choose a suitable receiving card according to the load range and data group of the receiving card.

Model No. Load Capacity
MRV208-1 256×256 dots
MRV412 512×512 dots
MRV416 512×384 dots
MRV432 512×512 dots

LED control software

The control software is equivalent to the human brain and is the core component of the control system. It is responsible for sending commands, controlling LED displays, sending programs, etc.
It corresponds to the brand of the receiving card and sending card used. For example, if you use Novastar’s sending and receiving cards, you need to use Novastar’s control software. Commonly used control software NovaLCT, HDPlayer, HDset, LEDset, Viplex Express, LEDstudio, LEDsetup, LEDVISION, etc.

What are the Different Types of LED Display Control Systems?

LED display controllers fall into two categories: synchronous and asynchronous. This is dictated by the control card used in your display. These controllers send the signals to the LED screens, which then interpret them in the form of video or image.

Synchronous LED Control Software

A synchronous LED control system shows the content of the linked source in real time. Think of it as screen mirroring. For example, the synchronous LED display will display the exact same content as if you were playing a video or any other sort of media on your computer. Installing the transmitting card on the computer and the receiving card on the screen is part of this kind of system.

Synchronous LED control systems are known for their fast transmission speeds, allowing LED displays to flash content from computers or other input sources with minimal to no latency. Another advantage of synchronous LEDs is that you can virtually display any type and size of content you want, as long as your computer permits.

However, this same reliance on the input source is the main drawback of synchronous LED displays. When the computer source encounters an error, the LED screen won’t be able to show any display. 

When to Use Synchronous Systems

Synchronous systems are ideal for applications that need real-time information, text, videos, etc. It is appropriate for full-color screens that are outside and indoors. Sync systems maps out the data from the computer to the screen in real time, and with the display’s 60 fps frame rate, it works well with high-action content such as adverts and video animations. This system is also suitable for LED studio applications, such as in broadcast studios where having a live feed is important.

Synchronous systems are typically used for large indoor and outdoor displays, 4K LED displays, and rental displays. Synchronous LED screens are commonly used in live performances, events, cinemas, and transport hubs.

Asynchronous LED Control Software

The asynchronous LED software was developed for content that doesn’t need real-time control, such as repetitive advertisements, text, and videos. Having a separate computer controller can be expensive, so using a synchronous system for such types of content is a waste of resources.

In an asynchronous control system, there’s no need for a separate monitor to display content on the LED screen. Instead, it uses the embedded sending card and its memory function to store content for “later displaying”. This independence from an external source allows asynchronous LEDs to display content even when the computer is turned off.

However, this reliance on internal storage limits the type of content it can display, making it unfit for applications that need real-time content such as in a LED studio setup. In this type of system, you can send data to the sending card via a USB, SD card, Ethernet cable, or WiFi. The pieces of data are then stored in the card’s memory before being transmitted to the LED display.

When to Use Asynchronous Systems

One of the downsides of asynchronous systems is the size of content it can handle. Asycn LEDs are limited to a resolution of less than 23,000 pixels, making them suitable for smaller applications, such as monochromatic LED signs and small LED screens. They are typically used in shopping malls, building interiors, and pole billboards that display repetitive and/or static content.

Synchronous and asynchronous control box

Maybe you are wondering if there is a device that has both synchronous and asynchronous functions. Yes, it is widely used now. Such as Novastar’s TB series box, Huidu’s Ax series box, Linsn’s Lx series box, etc.
Synchronous and asynchronous boxes can generally send programs asynchronously through wifi, network cable, U-disk, etc., and at the same time have an HDMI input port with a synchronous function to mirror the computer desktop display content.

When to Use Synchronous and Asynchronous Control Box

Because it has both synchronous control system functions and asynchronous control system functions, it can be applied to the above two control systems simultaneously and is widely used.

Comparison Between Synchronous and Asynchronous LED Displays

Speed

One of the most important aspects of LED control systems is the speed at which they transmit data. An asynchronous LED control system is relatively slower than a synchronous system because the former requires higher traffic load time. Since async LEDs store the data in the receiving card, the storage space limits the size and speed of the data transmission. However, this may not be as noticeable in smaller applications where smaller data and slower transmission are required.

Cost

Synchronous control systems rely on a separate computer or other input sources to display content in real-time, which is an added cost to the owner. Additionally, they require constant monitoring, which could mean more personnel are needed. Meanwhile, asynchronous systems directly feed the content to the sending card, which then transmits it to the LED display.

Storage

Asynchronous control systems require local storage throughout the data transmission process. This allows the system to create data blocks that will be fed to the LED display, Meanwhile, synchronous systems don’t rely on local storage to display content, and instead use the computer source’s storage to accommodate large data sizes.

Form of Data

While the sync control system employs data blocks or frames, the async system transfers data using bytes.

Transmission Method

Async transmission sends a single character at a time, while sync transmission records a faster speed by breaking the data up into smaller pieces. Sync transmission occurs over both software and hardware, while async transmission occurs through hardware.

Time Interval

A synchronous control system uses a consistent time interval between each data block and a clock pulse to prevent data gaps. Meanwhile, an asynchronous control system has a random interval between signals, resulting in data gaps.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Synchronous LED Displays

Pros

  • Allows real-time transmission with minimal to no latency
  • Can accommodate large data transmissions

Cons

  • The accuracy of the data is determined by the receiver’s bit-counting capability.
  • The receiver and sender work following a clock pulse

Advantages & Disadvantages of Synchronous LED Displays

Pros

  • Can function without a separate computer or input source
  • Works even when the computer is down
  • Cheaper than the synchronous system
  • Simpler to implement

Cons

  • Slower transmission than the synchronous system
  • Prone to false bits and timing errors
  • Requires start and stop bits

LED Control systems of different brands

Novastar

Novastar was established in Xi’an in 2008. It is the LED display field’s most widely used LED control system service provider. Its main products include LED transmitters, receiving cards, video processors, cloud control, etc.

Linsn

Shenzhen Linsn Technology Development Co., Ltd. was established in 2000 and was once the largest control system provider for LED display screens. The main products include video processors, sending cards, receiving cards, synchronous and asynchronous boxes, etc.

Huidu

Shenzhen Huidu Technology Co., Ltd was founded in 2009. In the beginning, it was the largest asynchronous control system provider. The main products now include LED display synchronous and asynchronous control system products, LCD commercial display motherboards, video processors, single and double color control cards, etc.

How to choose LED display control systems from different brands

You may be confused about how to choose different control systems. Their functions are similar. Here are some suggestions:
1. If you need a synchronous LED control system, such as a stage rental LED display, you can consider Novastar, which has a fast product upgrade and update speed and many new functions.
2. If you are more concerned about the price of the synchronous control system, you can consider Colorlight and Linsn for the synchronous system
3. If it is an asynchronous control system, give priority to the Huidu control system, because it used to specialize in asynchronous control systems;
4. For complex LED displays, you can consider Mooncell.

LED control software download

To help you better understand the LED control system, the following is a list of download addresses for commonly used controls.

Novastar software download

Huidu software download

Linsn software download

Colorlight software download

DBSTAR software download

Sysolution software download

Mooncell software download

Final Thoughts

LED control systems can make or break your LED display. While one has advantages over the other, choosing the right type of system for the type of content you will display is crucial. The choice will also depend on your budget and how you want your data delivered. Ultimately, understanding how each system works can help you operate and maintain them better.

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