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Author Topic: would someone define a good LED?  (Read 6262 times)

Dave Potter

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 12:23:32 pm »

Randy and Duane have raised a couple of interesting points about my particular application, but before I get to that, I wanted to note something about the original question.  It was not "which PAR Can should I buy".  It was, "what are the differences".  In that context, someone really aught to write a sticky.  (you can't search for "LED" or "PAR" either - too short.) Given the knowledge, I wouldn't need to ask.

In my particular application, I am merely throwing light at a stage and as close as possible (in my case, that requires 40 (or:- 15ft spread from 20ft out).  The colours don't need any sence of reality.  Its a band - not an orchestra.  Unreal is good.  As for 3, 4, 5 in one - If anyone is looking AT the lights, the band can't be working right. Multiple sources are better for coverage and more relevant than power. Randy makes an unwitting case for 10mm.  As a performer, staring at the lights, I don't need temporary blindness, so a wide spread from many sources is better than a single point.  That also points away from expencive and powerful (cheap for the win!).   

I guess that I won't find the Lumins data for cheaper fixtures but even if I did,
surely the perception of light is logrithmic - double the lumins is not double the
brightness. The lighting industry seems to be where sound was 20 years ago - no common spec methodology and the pace of change is just too rapid.
 
So, my quest to understand LED specs is pointless dispite your input (thankyou). I'm just going to end up visiting a big DJ lighting store.
1 last questionett then.
Is the angle quoted, the included angle? i.e. not either side of the axis?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 12:26:29 pm by Dave Potter »
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Randall Hyde

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 01:15:49 pm »

and probably would be quite happy with the lower$$ RGB fixtures.

Yeah, we all start out that way :)
Took me a while to learn about "buy once, cry once," too.
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
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Dave Potter

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 01:46:48 pm »

Yeah, we all start out that way :)
Took me a while to learn about "buy once, cry once," too.
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
Cheap shot Randy. 
We are in different markets.  What do YOU use to light a "stage" that is 10 - 20 feet away or when you are not allowed to place any kind of truss because it would get in the way of the pinball machine?  A single $500 light or 5 $100 units? 
I don't mind spending money (Last year I spent 1700 POUNDS just on a bass amp), but there has to be a point.  I'm too busy being a good bass player to run anything more than basic from the stage.  I only need to be better than fluorescent tubes, and the band they had last week (with nothing).  If I play a large venue, it already has a lighting rig and a tech.  Same with a festival.  If I start to regularly play 500 head weddings then I would be lighting from further out - and someone ELSE would be flying it!
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Randall Hyde

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 03:50:02 pm »

Cheap shot Randy. 
We are in different markets.  What do YOU use to light a "stage" that is 10 - 20 feet away or when you are not allowed to place any kind of truss because it would get in the way of the pinball machine?  A single $500 light or 5 $100 units? 
Well, if it were a permanent installation, I'd go with the 5 $100 units. However, if it were a portable application where I'm lighting that stage one week and a different stage the following week I'd go with five $500 fixtures. While the $100 fixtures would work for one venue, they certainly wouldn't have the ability to work in lots of different settings.

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I don't mind spending money (Last year I spent 1700 POUNDS just on a bass amp), but there has to be a point.  I'm too busy being a good bass player to run anything more than basic from the stage.  I only need to be better than fluorescent tubes, and the band they had last week (with nothing).  If I play a large venue, it already has a lighting rig and a tech.  Same with a festival.  If I start to regularly play 500 head weddings then I would be lighting from further out - and someone ELSE would be flying it!
Three years ago I bought some 2nd generation ADJ PAR64 LED cans. I had a show a couple weeks before NAMM (where I knew a bunch of new fixtures were going to be shown off). Paid something like $250 each for the fixtures (those same guys go for $100 today). I suffered with those fixtures for a couple of years (was busy working on my sound gear upgrades during that time). The lights almost always sucked no matter *what* venue we were at. On some very tiny stages (16x12 or smaller, with the lights 8' up) they did okay, but nothing spectacular. Now I knew what I was getting into buying these cheap fixtures (I had a big job coming up and I needed some lights right away, couldn't wait another month for the next generation of lights to arrive), but to this day I wish I'd had the money to buy $500 fixtures instead of $250 fixtures.

Today, fortunately, we have Blizzard Lighting. They provide very low-cost fixtures that are okay quality (not fantastic, but okay). They are largely responsible for me halving the minimum recommended fixture price.

Now I understand the problem with cost. Deciding to stick eight fixtures on two T-stands can be a daunting thing when the fixtures cost $100 each; it's far worse when they cost $300 each. And I can see the temptation to buy 24 $100 fixtures rather than eight $300 fixtures. But I've gone that route in the past and what I've found is that I'm selling off the old low-output fixtures and replacing them with brighter fixtures. That's a far more expensive way to go about things (hence the "buy once, cry once" mantra).

To be honest, if you want minimal illumination at a very low cost and power draw, I'd buy some Par38 cans and shove some CFLs in them (I'm currently running a stage in downtown Riverside, CA, completely lit up by PAR38 with CFLs, for example); you don't need to waste the extra money on LED fixtures to get decent illumination.

Of course, if you want to put on a light *show*, then LEDs are a good choice. It's just that the low-cost fixtures don't work that well for this purpose. I've got three year's experience with low-end LEDs that taught me that lesson.

Obviously, if you're in the same position I was in three years ago, when I needed some lights for a show *right now* and I only had $xxxx (it was $4,500 at the time, but $1,200 would do the same job today) then you buy what you have to. But if you've got time to spread out your purchases so you aren't hit with the big bill all at once, much better to buy one or two fixtures at a time and slowly build up your truss rather than immediately fill up the truss with stuff that will have to be replaced down the road.

Granted, the OP might have some very minimalist requirements that $100 fixtures (like the Blizzard Puck RGB) would handle just fine. Maybe it's for a kid's band or some unproven venture and they don't want to invest a lot of money and then have the equipment sitting around in a garage after a few month's use. But if the gear is going to get used in a professional environment, I still argue to go for slightly better stuff. Of course, a *real* lighting professional will laugh at my recommendations (Blizzard is not well-received by folks who are *really* serious about their lighting) and argue that I'm still pushing the cheap stuff. :)

I would point out that I never suggested staying completely away from $100 fixtures. I've got 24 of the Blizzard Puck RGB fixtures ($100 fixtures) that make great truss warmers and I use them in a matrix on six vertical trusses to produce some nice effects. But I use those fixtures as effects, not as a source of illumination on the stage (and the only complaint I have with them is that they would look a whole lot better using n-in-1 LEDs rather than discrete LEDs).

Probably the best argument I can offer against using $100 LED fixtures is this: they're roughly equivalent to using incandescent PAR38 cans to light up a band. Very dim, but they will provide basic illumination. They do offer the advantage of DMX control (particularly with respect to color selection), though operating them at less than "full on" will make them unsuitable for anywhere other than a small dark venue (e.g., a small bar).

Someday (hopefully this year), I'll finally get my lighting rig up to the level I'm happy with. My stages (that I rent out) are typically 24x16 and 32x24'. I currently run 16 Blizzard Rocklite RGBAW (fantastic lights IMO), 8 RockLite RGBAW, 12 ADJ PAR64 LED Pro, and 4 Chauvet ColorDash Par fixtures. By summer, the ADJ cans will all be gone (selling them off) and I hope to have 32 Blizzard Fab5 fixtures in their place. This summer I'm also wiring up the 24 Pucks and 8 Puck RGBAW fixtures in those four vertical truss to provide blinders + matrix effects. It's not been a cheap ride for me, but I'll have enough light on the stage so that people can easily see the performers at 200-250'. With the ADJ and Chauvet cans, 50'-100' was the real limit -- and that was when we had every LED turned on.

I'd love to buy some moving head lights someday (e.g., the Blizzard Torrent F5 looks interesting). However, most of my shows are outdoors and fog/haze isn't very practical; so intels offer very little benefit for me right now (I've actually got 4 Irradiant SSDL 3201 moving head washes, but they're too dim to use on the same stage as the RockLites).
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
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Randall Hyde

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 04:36:15 pm »



In my particular application, I am merely throwing light at a stage and as close as possible (in my case, that requires 40 (or:- 15ft spread from 20ft out). 
40 degree coverage is great. Just make sure to use bright fixtures.

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The colours don't need any sence of reality.  Its a band - not an orchestra.  Unreal is good.  As for 3, 4, 5 in one - If anyone is looking AT the lights, the band can't be working right.
So I thought, until I took some actual lighting classes.
Even for illumination you don't necessarily want to hit the band members strictly from the front. From the sides and even the back make the performers stand out a whole lot more. And, depending on the act, there is nothing wrong with making the lighting effects just as much a part of the show as the music itself. You'll find very few professional acts these day who don't use moving head lights to spruce up their act. Of course, we're talking a lot of money here and I understand that such effects are probably outside the range of what you want to do; but I wouldn't poo-poo the idea that the audience will see the lights.

Quote
Multiple sources are better for coverage and more relevant than power.
Multiple sources are certainly better for coverage; more importantly, they are better for control. Being able to put light at a particular spot on the stage is very important and a large number of fixtures (with a narrowing coverage angle) does a better job of this than fewer fixtures (with a wider coverage angle).

However, there is the need, on occasion, to punch a really bright spot at certain points on the stage. A single bright fixture will do a better job of this than multiple fixtures trained on the same spot. Furthermore, unless you have moving head fixtures, or you have a *whole* lot of fixtures, it's difficult to be able to throw a lot of light at arbitrary spots on the stage (e.g., to handle different performers doing solos).

Quote
Randy makes an unwitting case for 10mm.  As a performer, staring at the lights, I don't need temporary blindness, so a wide spread from many sources is better than a single point.  That also points away from expencive and powerful (cheap for the win!).   
If you are looking strictly at illuminating the stage, I'd agree with you. However, one of the first things you learn in a lighting course is that blasting the performers straight in the face with the lights isn't the best way to do things. An old standard is 45 degrees from above and 45 degrees from the side (I forget the name of the *really famous* guy this lighting technique was named after, Wilkerson?, who knows, someone else can fill in the details...). Do this and you want get blinded.

In fact, in good lighting design you want to blast the performers with a lot of light from the sides and back. This produces a "halo" around the performer, adding dimensionality, and makes them stand out from the back ground a whole lot better. Granted, this takes a lot more fixtures. In a previous post I mentioned the lighting set up I'm shooting for this summer; my plan is to have 20-24 fixtures on the back truss, 16-20 on the sides, and 16 or so on the front truss. The lights on the front truss (which could be AW [amber/white] lights) is to provide a highlight for solos or to light up (or warm up) the lead singer. Most of the light would actually come from the sides of the stage or the back. Nothing really bright in the performer's eyes (assuming they're facing the audience).



Quote
I guess that I won't find the Lumins data for cheaper fixtures but even if I did,
surely the perception of light is logrithmic - double the lumins is not double the
brightness. The lighting industry seems to be where sound was 20 years ago - no common spec methodology and the pace of change is just too rapid.
Blizzard certainly publishes this data. I suspect you can get this info from most manufacturers if you ask (or even dig around on their web sites).  If I were going to use 8 fixtures on left/right sides to light my act, I'd want at least 3,000 lumens at 1m (with a 25 degree angle).

Lux @1m seems to be a fairly standard published spec. The only problem is that unless the stated angles are the same, the information isn't that good for comparing different fixtures. For example, the Blizzard RockLite RGBAW fixture lists 23,700 Lux @1m at 25 degrees. Neither the website nor the manual describes what happens at 40 or 45 degrees. For the focusable Puck Pro Zoom, they state 8,600 lux at 1m at 25 degrees and 3,700 lux at 45 degrees. Of course, using a little geometry and trigonometry you can figure this out yourself (too lazy to figure out the formulae for you, sorry) but the bottom line is that you take a big hit in lux going with the wider fixture.

BTW, although our eyes (like our ears) respond to brightness logarithmically, light, like sound, follows the inverse-square law. Twice the distance, expect the brightness to drop by 75% from a point source.  Of course, LEDs aren't point sources, so the drop isn't quite this extreme, but you do lose a lot with distance.

Quote

So, my quest to understand LED specs is pointless dispite your input (thankyou). I'm just going to end up visiting a big DJ lighting store.
1 last questionett then.
Is the angle quoted, the included angle? i.e. not either side of the axis?
There are two angles you'll typically see quoted: beam angle and field angle. Check out the difference here: http://www.schorsch.com/en/kbase/glossary/beam-angle.html

It's more expensive, but to handle a wide variety of situations, you might consider a focusable fixture, e.g., http://www.blizzardlighting.com/index.php/the-puck-pro-zoom

The Puck Pro Zoom lets you focus from 25 degrees up to 45 degrees under DMX control (3,700 lux @1m at wide setting, 8,600 lux @1m at narrow setting). This works out really well if you cannot easily control the truss to stage distance across all the venues you play in. OTOH, the fixture runs $400 IIRC.
Cheers,
Randy Hyde

P.S., one thing you might consider are some low-cost moving head washes. I recently picked up some Irradiant SSDL-3201 moving head washes for $400 each. The fact that they can be aimed (I'm avoiding the word "focused" here, which is the correct term, to differentiate these from fixtures like the Puck Pro Zoom) via DMX is particularly useful if you need to set up outdoors in daylight and you can't see where the lights are pointing until it gets dark (and it's too late to refocus them with a ladder during the middle of your show). The irradiant fixtures are relatively bright, use 3-in-1 LEDs, and have a wide coverage angle (don't know the exact angle off hand, but it's wider than 25 degrees in my experience). I think they were discontinuing them when I bought four of them last summer. You might still be able to find some real cheap.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 04:44:30 pm by Randall Hyde »
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duane massey

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2013, 07:29:04 pm »

Dave, you are correct. Visiting a local dealer who has fixtures available to actually look at is a great idea. Comparing fixtures without actually seeing them is not easy, somewhat like comparing bass rigs without actually playing on them. I am fairly conservative in regards to investing $$, but I am not in the rental business. I am a working musician, and our situation can be quite different from someone who has to invest in products that are more versatile. Adding a few lights to a band's rig will probably not enable you to charge enough money to pay for them quickly, and your idea that a minimalistic system is a good target makes perfect sense.
In addition to PAR-type fixtures look at the "bar" fixtures as well. I've found them useful and cost-effective if washing an area is more important than isolating specific spots. And (the obvious) there is no point in investing major $$ if you don't also invest in a worthwhile controller, which is a whole different set of choices.
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Duane Massey
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Rob Gow

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Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2013, 02:30:24 pm »

I upgraded my light rig in 2012. I dont have an unlimited money supply, opting to pay for it with money I make from my small business (modest sound production company). My original plan was going to get a dozen ADJ mega par profile's, the price was right, and two Chauvet 6Spots.  The more I seen them, the more I started to dislike the "lite-brite" look of the individual LED's.

I had a couple Chauvet Pinspot 360's I picked up used, could never get them to do anything on their own, and debated selling them. Stumbled upon a set of 4 Chauvet Intimidator 1.0's for a good price so I picked then up.

I did some reading, some research, some looking, and decided the N-in one fixtures were more appealing, all the lenses would look blue, or pink or orange etc instead of the individual LED's on the mega par profiles.

There are a number of patterns for the N-in one fixtures. I decided on the Blizzard Puck 3NX. It's an RGB fixture with the LED's arraigned in a circular pattern. I preferred this to the star patterns on other fixtures. I bought a set of eight Blizzard Puck 3NX's



I also picked up an Obey70 controller with the Intimidators. Once the Intimidators and Pinspots were hooked up, I seen the potential of the pinspots. I picked up 4 more for a total of 6.

I found the Obey70 not bad for playing around with, but it was a little fiddly to work with. I use a StudioLive 24.4.2 along with a Mac Mini, so I wanted a software Mac based DMX interface. I went with DMXIS on the recommendation of a few people. It's pretty user friendly, I'm NOT a computer programmer OR a lampie, but I was able to use it fairly quickly.

Also heard about the Blizzard Fab5 fixture, a RGBAW and made a mental note of it for front band lighting. Kept my eyes open and found a deal on 4 of them. Nice fixture, a broader palette as mentioned. Perfect for lighting the band from the front.

So.

My rig as it is today.

8 - 3NX's
6 - Pinspot 360's
4 - Intimidator 1.0's
4 - Fab5's

Here's a quick video of the setup in my basement, on a 10' wide truss. I only used six 3NX's because I thought I would have to use 2 of them to light the band, if the Fab5's didn't arrive in time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8LdfCV6cPQ

And a quick video set up on stage. (excuse the language, I was just repeating what a waitress said. lol)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1YLqFktCzs

I also provided sound at a small venue. Normally they just dim the lights. I decided to try out one Fab5 per side, on "sound activated" so you can see they lit things up pretty good!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DdbvbyuO_0
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 02:40:17 pm by Rob Gow »
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: would someone define a good LED?
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2013, 02:30:24 pm »


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