Pro-grade LED's

PeaceTech

Member
My company recently asked me to spec a Pro-Grade LED package. I am most impressed with the ETC line and have received a recommendation for the Luster 2's and also the new ETC Color Source fixtures. I wanted to reference the CB community and see if anyone has had experience buying large scale LED packages?

The systems we are looking to replace are cyc lights, down-light par wash, and a couple of our sidelight/ellipsoidal systems. If you could compile your LED wishlist, what would it include?

Any words of wisdom, caution or experience would be much appreciated.
 
It depends on how the systems in place are being used. For example, I think it's a safe bet to swap out the toplight with color source pars, as those are not necessarily required to do the most skin flattering white. On the other hand, the sidelight needs to be good for skin in most cases, so either opt for Source 4 LED series 2, or keep the existing conventionals in place and double hang with Color Source Spots. The cyc lights don't need to look good on skin, so a less pricey ColorForce batten from Chroma Q would do just fine
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
I would suggest an in-depth shoot-out. My favorites based on extensive shootouts are the Altman Phoenix LED for LED ellipsoidals, Chroma Q Color One 100s for downlight, and Altman Spectra Cycs for LED cyc lights. And don't judge the lights on the white point when you push all colors to full. I can make a gorgeous warm white out of any of those lights, and they also can make great pastels and mid-tones.

Now these are all based on personal preference, which is why I do say that you should do a shoot-out with a variety of options. I went back to my college and showed my TD the Phoenixes up against a Source Four LED and a Strand PL4 and the Phoenixes won the shootout. He was able to purchase half again as many fixtures vs. going with the Source Four LEDs, and they were also brighter. I've sold many an hardcore ETC fanboy on the Phoenixes already - and some of them went in to it 100% gunning for the Source Four LED.
 

JohnD

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One question about the Altman's, at one time there was an issue with the Spectra Cycs. The units would have to be sent back to Altman to have the firmware updated, one venue received enough units in a single order to light their cyc, and ended up with 3 different firmware versions so they didn't work together. I wonder if that is still the case, same with the Phoenix's, can they be field updated?
 

SteveB

Well-Known Member
My current set of proposals:

8 Selador Vivid-R, or possibly Chroma-Q Color Force strips for cyc lights. Not sure of the spread on the Color Force and would get a couple from local rental to do a test. I've seen the Vivid-R and was impressed with both intensity as well as the lense options.

8 Lustre series 2 as Apron/pit side lighting, replacing and using the existing S4 zoom front end. My pit/apron is our most heavily used performance area. Color options are the best in the business IMO.

4 Martin MAC Aura on add'l pit/apron sides. Versatile little units of,which I current.y own 9

16 Selador Desire D60's as replacement for S4 wide pars on my 4 overhead electrics.

24 Selador Lustre Series 2 on 4 overhead electrics as replacements for existing S4 zooms.

I have a lot of side lighting, including 48 units on flying ladders plus 8 side floor mount towers each with 4 S4 36 deg. Units. I would do these last only as I don't do enough dance as compared to other events. Thus am not using side lighting enough to warrent the $80,000 required to do useful systems.
 
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danTt

Well-Known Member
I would suggest an in-depth shoot-out. My favorites based on extensive shootouts are the Altman Phoenix LED for LED ellipsoidals, Chroma Q Color One 100s for downlight, and Altman Spectra Cycs for LED cyc lights. And don't judge the lights on the white point when you push all colors to full. I can make a gorgeous warm white out of any of those lights, and they also can make great pastels and mid-tones.

Now these are all based on personal preference, which is why I do say that you should do a shoot-out with a variety of options. I went back to my college and showed my TD the Phoenixes up against a Source Four LED and a Strand PL4 and the Phoenixes won the shootout. He was able to purchase half again as many fixtures vs. going with the Source Four LEDs, and they were also brighter. I've sold many an hardcore ETC fanboy on the Phoenixes already - and some of them went in to it 100% gunning for the Source Four LED.

Personally I'd reccomend against going altman. Their "tech support" is pretty non existant and even more pretty useless. The phoenixes themselves did not blow me away the way the series 2 lustr did, but they are decent units as long as nothing goes wrong. For me, there is value in paying the premium for ETC's support and history.
 

Les

Well-Known Member
Personally I'd reccomend against going altman. Their "tech support" is pretty non existant and even more pretty useless. The phoenixes themselves did not blow me away the way the series 2 lustr did, but they are decent units as long as nothing goes wrong. For me, there is value in paying the premium for ETC's support and history.

I agree that ETC's support is top-notch, but my first choice would be turning to the dealer in the event of an issue with a product, especially a fixture.
 

rsmentele

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I agree that the ETC Series 1 against the Phoenix was an obvious choice, but with the increased output of the Series 2, ETC wins it every time. Especially with the additional color range of the Source 4 LED.
 

JohnD

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As for the down light par wash fixtures, you might take a look at the contenders in this thread:
http://www.controlbooth.com/threads/multi-color-led-wash-fixture-with-decent-tungsten-white.38202/
Granted, some of these fixtures might be considered mid-range vs DJ level and Pro, but I think something to be considered.
I am really intrigued by the easily changed beam spread of the Philips Showline Par and the Martin Rush Par 2, but then considering the price of the Rush 2 par and the price for the Chauvet Rogue R1 and R2 wash fixture, I wonder if the additional flexibility of moving lights would be a game changer.
A shootout would help a great deal in making this kind of investment.
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
The Chauvet Rogue R2 Wash is definitely something to consider for a theatrical situation. A few of these at FOH or as downlight can really add some versatility to your rig. I feel like I'm sounding like a broken record on the Chauvet stuff, but they really are that good. They've turned around their quality and are really putting out good products. I'm proving doubters wrong every week with the Rogue Spots and Washes.

As far as the Altman stuff goes, I have heard about previous issues with LED batches and QC, but not recently. Additionally, I'm sure that everyone would buy Source Four LED 2 if they could, but the massive price difference as well as the life of the Altman LEDs being more than 2x longer than the Source Four LED 2, it's a worthy contender. I definitely see the benefits of the Source Four LED 2, but I'm just not sold that the increase in price results in enough improvement in many situations. The LED life is what swayed one client to the Phoenix, 20,000 vs. 50,000 hours of LED life is a big difference; the reason is that ETC has to overdrive their LEDs to compete with the Phoenix and other LED ellipsoidals (I stand corrected, this is NOT the case why the Source For LED 2 has a lower rated life, see below!!). When you think about wanting a long lifespan on things like these, considerations like LED life come in to play.
 
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DavidNorth

ETC Rigging General Manager
Premium Member
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The LED life is what swayed one client to the Phoenix, 20,000 vs. 50,000 hours of LED life is a big difference; the reason is that ETC has to overdrive their LEDs to compete with the Phoenix and other LED ellipsoidals. When you think about wanting a long lifespan on things like these, considerations like LED life come in to play.

I respect folks having a discussion online about the various merits of products, and while I may or may not agree with comments on ETC products, I try to stay with correcting information when needed.

FYI, we worked really hard to have the Series 2 compete with tungsten sources, not compete with other LED manufacturers on the market. ETC LED products are not overdriven. Perhaps that was an assumption that was made but it was stated as fact. From our lead design engineer:

"We are not overdriving the LEDs, we are just overly conservative in our published numbers. We are driving the LEDs well within their maximum rated conditions.

So why do we only publish 20,000 hours? Because many LED chip makers, including our vendor, do not run full LM80 testing on all direct colors. This is a long and expensive test program for them, which provides little value for colors like Cyan, Green, and even Red LEDs. They do this testing only on LEDs they anticipate being used in white light products (like Blue LEDs used in phosphor converted lights).

We assumed all LEDs are driving at full power all of the time. From that, we worked with Lumileds to come up with a conservative estimate. It is a very difficult number to come up with given the lack of data."

I do not know how other manufacturers are managing their data, or their heat, or their drive current. It might be worth a question to them when doing a side-by-side demo, which I agree is one of the best things to do.

Soundlight, would you please tell us which wattage Phoenix you are recommending? Is it the 150W or 250W?

Thanks,

David
 
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gafftaper

Senior Team
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I agree that ETC's support is top-notch, but my first choice would be turning to the dealer in the event of an issue with a product, especially a fixture.

Yeah, in 4 years that won't be a problem. But what happens when that LED fixture starts having problems in 10 years. Are you going to want to throw it away or get it fixed? I don't 100% know that any other brand will still be able to supply parts. But I bet you a very large donut that your local dealer will still be able to get parts to fix that ETC LED fixture in 20 years. How many of us still have fixtures 20 years old in our rig? What about 30 years? I don't know about you, but I've seen a lot of fixtures from the 80's still out there in use. Sometimes they need repair and if it's not an ETC fixture you can be in trouble getting parts.

I don't think I've ever told this story here, but it's about time I did. About 8 years ago I was equipping a new theater with a full lighting package. One of the ETC PAR's in the package came missing the small bolt that screws through the yoke, securing it to the fixture. I figured I could head down to my specialty hardware shop and get one, but decided to drop one of my ETC friends from CB a PM instead. I asked if he could put me in touch with someone who could throw a bolt in the mail to me, no rush. The next morning at 8am I got a phone call AT HOME from someone at ETC apologizing profusely about the error, asking for details about the shipment that it came in so they could track what happened for quality control, what address I would like them to overnight the replacement bolt to, and what shirt size I wear :mrgreen:. The next day I had a box with a bolt and some nice goodies on my door step by 9am. I never figured out how ETC got my home phone number, but ETC won a customer for life that day.

So although I seriously investigate other options out there (and I do at times purchase other brands), I start out with a bias toward purchasing ETC products because I know without a doubt that ETC will stand behind that purchase for a long as I want to keep it running. Many times, the security of knowing you can get parts for decades to come is more than worth paying a premium price (and sometimes it isn't).
 

MikeJ

Well-Known Member
The Chauvet Rogue R2 Wash is definitely something to consider for a theatrical situation. A few of these at FOH or as downlight can really add some versatility to your rig. I feel like I'm sounding like a broken record on the Chauvet stuff, but they really are that good. They've turned around their quality and are really putting out good products. I'm proving doubters wrong every week with the Rogue Spots and Washes.
I'll second your thought on the Rogue series from Chauvet. I feel like the R1 wash is a little small for a lot of uses, but the R2 is a great choice. The quality of the color is very good, even for use as a front wash, great zoom range as well. It is on Par with the Mac Aura at a fraction of the price.

I know several people who have toured with the R1 and R2 Spots, and they have been solid performers, personally though, I will wait for a color mixing spot unit.

If anyone is interested in a White LED, the ellipsoidals from Chauvet are a direct replacement for a S4 575w.
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
We are not overdriving the LEDs, we are just overly conservative in our published numbers. We are driving the LEDs well within their maximum rated conditions.

I stand corrected then, and I have some people to correct, I will follow through with that believe me.

As far as the Phoenixes I recommend, it depends on the application. The 250W is my standard recommendation, but the 150W is good for spaces that need a beyond silent fixture and can deal with the output drop. Recital halls come to mind as a perfect application - and then you don't have to deal with the heat fluctuations on stage with instruments that come from kicking on a full conventional rig when the musicians walk out.

I do appreciate that both ETC and Altman went with a warm white LED as their white, especially when these fixtures are often used as frontlight. So many times an RGBW/RGBAW/RGBwhatever system consists of cool white. When a fixture is more for colors and top/backlight, I actually find the cool white to be useful, but for front I think the warm white is the way to go.

With respect to the ETC Color Source series though, I'd only use them for frontlight - they do NOT have the color gamut that I'd put in a top/side/back/drop lighting situation. I am disappointed that every venue that get's spec'd with Color Source all around now I won't be able to get the deep blue that I consistently use in every show. I always add just a little bit of other colors to it for color rendering, but I am a die hard user of deep blue. My favorite blue gel is R74, and when I found LEDs I was able to go even deeper blue.

As far as the top notch service goes, yes, I understand that ETC is second to none. That's why I'll recommend their consoles in a theatrical/educational situation until I'm blue in the face. My place of employment has 4 IONs in rental stock, and we may be adding an Element or two and possibly a GIO. If we can't answer a client's question, we tell them to call ETC - and we never hear back from the people we send their way, assumedly because they get their problem sorted out right quick. When I've had questions before, no matter the time of day or night, I can get a call back within 15 minutes telling me exactly how to do/fix whatever I need. However, I agree with Les that the first place I would go in the case of a fixture issue is the dealer.

Another quick customer service story while we're on the topic to boost the profile of another company we're talking about here - Chauvet. The company I work for recently purchased some Rogue R2 Spots for rental inventory (still don't like that stick man gobo, we did follow through on ordering Apollo MS-1041 to use in its place on our shows). They're great, we love them. However, there was an issue with a few of the omega brackets that the tolerances on the washers that hold the quarter turn part on were a bit loose, so I lost 2 of the quarter turns. I also had a gobo door that wasn't seating right. Called & talked to Chauvet, and wham bam shazam, I've got 3 complete omega brackets and 3 gobo doors very quickly. So now I have spares in addition if I ever have any more issues. Chauvet has really done a complete 180 in many respects, and are putting out a great mid-range product. They're not the entry-level, low-end, issue-ridden company they once were. If that's what you think they are (and I found someone else just the other day who gave me almost that exact description), it's time you give them another look.
 

dreamist

Member
My favorites based on extensive shootouts are the Altman Phoenix LED for LED ellipsoidals, Chroma Q Color One 100s for downlight, and Altman Spectra Cycs for LED cyc lights. And don't judge the lights on the white point when you push all colors to full. I can make a gorgeous warm white out of any of those lights, and they also can make great pastels and mid-tones.

The Color One 100 seems to be a 52w fixture.. What is your trim height? I would think that would be woefully underpowered for downlight, wouldn't it? The Showline SL 150 stuff is more than double the wattage and about three times the lumen output for what looks like the same cost, or am I missing something?
 

PeaceTech

Member
First, allow me to thank everyone here for the responses to this thread. There was some interesting info and lots of things to think about.

To answer the question about trim heights. The space we are currently looking at has a 18'-24' typical trim height. Our rep electric trim is 21'. We are likely going to replace cyc light fixtures in both of our venues. This would include a 30' x 50'w cyc, and a 42' x 60'w cyc. (legs are typically set at a 36' and 48' opening respectively.)

I also have another question that came up during some of my recent research.

In checking spec sheets for the ETC Lustre 2 I found the following language.

1. The fixture shall offer three output settings
a. Boost mode - powers LEDs at maximum intensity and provides no compensation against LEDdroop’ or intensity loss

b. Regulated mode – slightly restricts maximum LED intensity levels to compensate against LED droop

c. Protected mode – further restricts maximum LED intensity levels to compensate against LED droop and offer color consistency at highest permissible ambient temperatures (40C)

d. Fixtures that do not provide regulated and protected operation modes are not acceptable


In particular I like the idea of running a regulated mode that will allow more inventory to come into the space further down the line and be used with the older gear while matching outputs of the newer units. Has anyone had any experience with these different modes? Is the output significantly lower? Are any of the other manufacturers implementing LED droop compensation?
 
The Color One 100 seems to be a 52w fixture.. What is your trim height? I would think that would be woefully underpowered for downlight, wouldn't it? The Showline SL 150 stuff is more than double the wattage and about three times the lumen output for what looks like the same cost, or am I missing something?
I wouldn't judge a fixtures output based solely on it's wattage....

Sharpys have quite a high output for their 189w lamp....it's all about the optics in front of the light source

Color Ones will definitely compete against the Color Source, although I would definitely recommend getting a demo of both products and doing a shoot out in your facility
 

dreamist

Member
I wouldn't judge a fixtures output based solely on it's wattage....

Sharpys have quite a high output for their 189w lamp....it's all about the optics in front of the light source

Color Ones will definitely compete against the Color Source, although I would definitely recommend getting a demo of both products and doing a shoot out in your facility

I definitely agree that optics are important, though in general when comparing LED instruments of similar ilk and similar purpose I've found that the relationship between wattage and brightness tends to hold reasonably well..

Over the last week I've had the following fixtures in to peak at in my space:
- Philips ShowLine SL Par 155 (around 150 watts)
- Martin Rush Par 2 (around 150 watts)
- ETC ColorSource Par (around 90 watts)

I've been comparing the output and features of these against the 36x10w RGBW Zoom cheap-from-china movers (about 360 watts) that I bought a couple years ago.

The results, at least to my eye, were pretty much as you'd expect.. At similar beam spreads, the showline and rush were nearly identical in output across most colors and intensities. The ColorSource was notably dimmer across most of the spectrum. The cheap-from-china movers blew everything away intensity wise, but pretty much suck in terms of dimming curve etc.

I agree, don't judge a fixture based just on wattage, but in general wattage can be a reasonable guide if you have other things to compare to -- at least in my opinion! Wattage and lumen ratings would lead me to believe the Color One would be dimmer than the ColorSource, but if I have a chance to demo one I will..
 

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