High End Systems: Color Merge... Opinions?


Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
I'm in the process of budgeting for a new college theater. The Color Merge has gotten my attention. Perfect color every time with no Gel to replace... it's coolest invention since gafftape. I've got some money to buy extra toys and I can afford to add a dozen Color Merge units if I want. I already have some intelligent lights in my inventory so the alternative would probably be to look at LED's or maybe the High End "Color Command".

Have you used Color Merge? What do you think?


Active Member
our school got to play w/ some one of these a couple years back, although i didn't get to play w/ tehm pearsonally. if i am remembering correctly (and i may not be) they were a little slow changing. otherwise i though they were a really cool invention.


Well-Known Member
I use them a lot.

Cons: Requires a brain and 4 pin data cable. For temporary set-ups (like I do mostly) they are about 5 minutes per unit to attach to the leko, plus hang time and the extra time to run the data and power to the fixture. I've shortened that by looming the cables together in the shop. Color changing is a bit slow, but no biggie for me. I do a lot of that on the fly for concerts, but no one really notices. Next show, I'll be syncing their colors up with a fiber optic curtain, so fade times will have be adjusted. Other than that, I don't see it as a big deal.

Pros: I really like the color saturation.

I would also look at http://www.seachangeronline.com/ a seachanger, which does the same thing as the color merge or the HES Color Pro HXI, which has an iris.

I'm not a fan of the color command at all. They're noisy when changing colors, although they can run off the same brain as the color merge. You can get up to 12 total units on one brain. The other reason I don't like them is that for the types of work I do, they just aren't that useful. Beam shape is all wrong for me. I like the shutters of the leko myself.

The Studio Command, the Color command on a moving yoke, without the external brain and without 4 pin data, is a very nice moving light. Still don't have the beam shaping of a leko, but you do get movement and other features.


Active Member
those were the words i was looking for len.

although i really can't even begin to complain about any intellegent light because of my limited exposer to them,

now if you have the extra funds i'd say go for it, its another toy!


Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
So when you say they are slow is that in terms of concert use or theatrical use? As long as it can change over a second or two in a typical theater crossfade, I don't have a problem with it. But if it takes 5 seconds then that's a problem.

Thanks for the tip on the "Seachanger" I'll look into that as well.


Well-Known Member
I guess "slow" is relative to one's expectations. They seem slower to me than the Martin Mac 300. When I say slower, I mean the amount of time for one flag to go from all the way out to all the way in, or vice versa. But I do like the quality of the colors. I haven't compared them to the Mac 250 wash, yet.

Also, I like the output when using a ETC 575 watt leko over a color pro, which is also faster to change colors.

I haven't actually seen the seachanger yet. Don't know how that one compares. If you search the PLSN archives I believe there was a review of it recently.


Active Member
Try looking into the economics of using a High End Color Pro instead of Color Merge. The color pro has a 250 watt lamp, but it is quite efficient with that. Something to remember though is that they just need power and DMX. There is no brain to hide somewhere, no dimmer channel taken up. If one had the DMX channels required (they are less than 10 and one could double them up making as many fixtures as needed run on the same DMX channels as long as they must be on the same color) I think they are a better option. If I remember right they have a gobo slot. Also they have a motorized shutter making strobe effects possible. Dimming can happen also. They, like the Color Merge, use CMY color mixing. Just a product suggestion. If you have a chance you could rent them and see if they'll work for you. As far as cons, they are larger than a leko, and also considerable heavier (probably around 40lbs). They are not moving lights in case you are curious. Here is a link to HES's page about them..


Well-Known Member
If that conventional is a source four then your golden.

I like how the sea changer did away with a PSU but untill I get tp play with one the install looks a little iffy. also at 2k per unit even the most basic 8 area wash would break the bank.

Depending on what your program is like and what you are using for control possibly some more/better moving lights or buying some basic parts for automation ( rams pumps and hoses)


I mostly use Color Commands, I think that both of them have there good points. having beam control in the color commands is good. but having the ability to put in gobos in the ellipsoidals makes the merge cool. how about 6 and 6. I am budgeting for some merges.


Well-Known Member
The difference between a leko with a color mixer and a Color Pro is beam shaping and gobo. The CP LXi can't shape and diffuse and hold a gobo like a CM can.

As for the Color Commands, nice and bright, but again no beam shaping. I can't remember whether they have a barndoor kit for them, if they did that may help. Same problem as with the Color Merge. Requires a brain and 4 pin data. If I was buying new and my final vote was for the Color Command, I'd find the extra money and get Studio Commands instead. Everything the CC is, but no extra brain required, no 4 pin cable, no dimmer, no nothing. Just power, data, done. And they move.

Plus, the CC is noisy, and I don't care what anyone says. It grinds when the color flags are moving.

HOWEVER, I still think a color mixing leko still has its place. Just like every other fixture, every other eq, etc. If you use them correctly, they're great. If not, they're worthless.


Well-Known Member
I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in:

The ColorMerge is a nice unit, it bolts onto the Source4 with not much work, and gives beautiful colors. Its also nearly silent if I remember correctly, so I could see no problem putting them in the house for color changes, since they would be much quieter then conventional gel scrollers.

There are 3 cons I can think of:
1) if you want to do a snap color change, it won't happen. It just won't. I tried it, it failed. Fade time from a warm color (I forget what I had in) to a deep red was about 3 seconds, as my memory serves. Now, this is not a bad time if you do dramas, cross-fades, but if you have a musical or a concert and want a bump color change, this unit is out.

2) Brains and 4 pin cable. This isn't even a big one, just means you need to bolt the brain to a pipe somewhere and run 4 pin out of it. Not a big deal, but a minor hassle.

3) Since it bolts onto a Source4, you still need a dimmer for the Source4. However, this evens out, because just throw one non-dim up for the brains, and you can run 10 or 12 ColorMerges (from memory, check for actual number).

The ColorCommand is a very nice fixture that I like a lot.
1) Very fast color changes. Near-instantanious. I had a bump cue from warm backlight to red, amazingly fast.

2) Variable Frost, which for me personally is all the beam control I need for a backlight position. While it won't replace a Source4 for a special, or for a FOH position, anything that you would want a PAR for, the ColorCommand could do. Plus you can run the beam size from what amounts to an ACL to i'd say a MFL (again, from memory, check for beam sizes)

3) If you wanted to, you could put a top hat or barn door on it.

1) Brains, 4 pin, as stated

2) need another Dim circuit for the lamp

3) noisy, quiet scene, don't change a color. However, if there is any sort of action on stage, and these were used on an upstage pipe, i'm sure no one would notice the color change noise.

Now I'd really love to get my hands on a Studio Command, and I'd love to hear from someone who got to try one out.

So, my two cents.



Active Member
My understanding is the fixture for the Studio Command, while still a basic Color Command, has been tweaked with some new features & improvements; can't recall what at present, but sure the HES site can tell you. Still, the difference in cost between the CC & SC is high. I think the CC is around our just under $2k & the SC is around $6k. And, the cost of the PSU for the CC is something around the same as a the fixture. I just saw a demo of the CC yesterday & had expected it to be brighter. The SCs at LDI were very bright, so maybe they've change the lamp.

The SeaChanger is very nice; very quiet & does not require an external power supply; study metal housing that seems to be well built. Just wish is was a bit less expensive. The extreme green filter really helps with some colors. It will not, however, do anything close to a snap color change. And, depending on your hang position, you may need to buy an extended yoke for your S4 (available from Ocean Optics).

Users who are viewing this thread