Renew, recycle, reuse
The success of the Source Four as a luminaire is hard to deny – the modular design of the light source and swappable lens tube have made it a favourite for theatres and venues the world over. PRG now offers a product designed to allow users to make use of their existing Source Four lens tube inventory – it’s called the ReNEW.
ReNEW is an LED source with integrated control electronics and DMX interface. It mates up nicely with all ETC lens tubes, both standard and enhanced de nition. For this review we were supplied with a 3000K ReNEW source and an ETC 19 degree EDLT tube with integral shutters. ReNEW is also available in daylight with a 5700K colour temperature.
PRG certainly aren’t the rst to come up with an LED source to suit an ETC lens tube (indeed ETC does the same), so I wondered why they would release such a thing into an already populated market. The answer is pretty simple – because they’ve made a good one.
Rather than draw comparisons to other LED sources, I decided that it would be more relevant to draw comparisons to an actual tungsten Source Four. PRG claim the output of the ReNEW is comparable to that of a 575W HPL lamp, but not having one of those handy I instead got a 750W Source Four with 19 degree lens tube, and put it side by side with the ReNEW.
I know I’m an audio guy by nature and I do struggle with the subtle nuances of light, but at full intensity I was really hard pressed to see much difference between the ReNEW and the 750W tungsten fixture. If anything at all, I did notice a little more visible warmth in the light field from the tungsten Source Four. While both fixtures focused nicely and provided good edges on shutters, the EDLT tube is clearly superior. The light field of the ReNEW was beautifully at and even.
So what’s the explanation? Maybe the lensing in my Source Four was a bit grubby. Maybe my attempts at adjusting the peaking controls on the back were inadequate. Or maybe the ReNEW is just really good. While I wasn’t able to do a side by side dimming comparison, I can tell you the ReNEW allows for 16 bit dimming with an optional effect channel.
The effect channel allows for strobing and ramping on or off, and other things a traditional tungsten profile isn’t so good at.
To the left is ReNEW, to the right tungsten – can you spot the difference?
It looks convincing even at very low intensity output too – no mean feat for any LED source because dimming LED well is hard. If you want to control the ReNEW simply, use the single channel 8 bit mode. There’s an option of tungsten or linear dimming curve, as well as a ‘DMX smoothing’ function to reduce flickering in response to DMX steps.
The rear panel offers DMX and power in and loop-throughs all on logical connectors, and the menu is a simple four button backlit LCD affair. There’s a slot on the side of the fixture into which a 9V battery can be inserted to allow menu operation even with no mains. PRG opted for the external battery connection, rather than the expense of including a battery and charging circuit within the fixture, which actually seems sensible to me.
Pressing the EDIT/SET and minus keys simultaneously gives you a 5 minute window of “lamp on” time in which to focus the fixture, and you can bump this time up or down using the appropriate plus or minus keys. The ReNEW draws about 190W at full tilt (I measured it!), and while there is an integral cooling fan it seems to be thermally activated, and it never gets very loud anyway. One key benefit of LED is that cooler light sources reduce the burden on air-conditioning plants in venues, and hence lower operating costs.
I think the ReNEW is a really nice light source – it does exactly one thing but it does it well. Most of all, the source is well equipped to meld discretely into a fleet of tungsten fixtures. Given the staggered nature of inventory turnover in most venues, that’s a very good thing indeed.