Chauvet DJ Freedom Flex H4 IP X6
by Arosh Fernando.
Arosh Fernando is the managing director of Melbourne’s WooHah Productions, a one-stop audio visual production company that provides content creation and talent management in addition to equipment hire and technical services. Recent high profile clients have included the Melbourne Esports Open 2019, Wizard of Oz Arena Spectacular, and Intel Extreme Masters 2019.
It was those moments on gigs when our clients would suddenly ask for some uplighting on the walls, or a bit of wash outside.
All we had in stock to do that were our standard Par cans on DMX. We had to run power cables and signal cables, and try and hide any slack under the fixtures. It was a painful and uneconomical amount of work just for a last-minute add-on. It didn’t justify the dollars.
We knew we didn’t have the right products in stock for those requests, and knew some battery powered wireless fixtures was what we needed.
The reason we waited so long to invest was output; powered fixtures have a certain brightness. There used to be a big discrepancy between the output of cabled versus battery powered fixtures. When the Freedom Flex H4 IP X6s came along, their output performance meant we could have an offer to our client that ticks all the boxes.
There are no cables involved, just a packer. Any of us can set up or pack down 12 lights in five to 10 minutes, which is a huge saving on labour. The entertainment branch of our business, which provides DJ and musician services, love them.
At a wedding, one person can set up 24 lights for mood lighting within 30 minutes. The convenience is amazing – 24 Par cans would have taken two people two to three hours. The IP54 rating means we can leave them in the rain and wind outside without damage.
At most events, entry lighting at the front of a building gets packed down as soon as the client goes in for the show, and one person just puts the Freedom Flex H4 IP X6s in their roll-on cases, and we’re done.
Apart from output, the most important thing for us in a wireless fixture is battery life. Some shows take three days to bump-in and run all weekend. We needed flexibility, and the fact that the Freedom Flex H4 IP X6s have replaceable batteries, instead of needing the fixture itself to go back on a charger, was a big ‘tick’ for us.
We can leave the fixtures where they are, and different crew on different days just replace the batteries as they go. Nothing else on the market that we found had the same removable battery capability. We have bought a stock of batteries, which are sold separately, to keep on charge, instead of being forced to take units out of hire.
The H4s reliably run 8-10 hours on a single colour, and though we haven’t really tested their limits, they’ve never gone flat. The charge time is 12 hours, which we leave running overnight to get the batteries from dead to 100%.
The inclusion of the white, amber, and UV chips mean we can provide any tone to clients; if they want Facebook Blue, we can get their corporate colours matched perfectly instead of approximated.
The colour mixing is really accurate, and the results look great. Being able to use white and amber really helps you to get exactly the right tones. Wedding clients in particular love the pastels, and you need a nice white and amber to add to green or blue to get those tones.
We generally deploy the H4s with a little six fader controller, or run them off a grandMA for the bigger gigs. Most clients just want the H4s up or down, or a bit more colour, so that is more than enough for most applications.
Their wireless DMX is awesome, and we use it wherever we can. While there are three DMX channel modes, with 6, 8 or 12 respectively, we mostly just run them at 6 to get the colours; we’re not doing anything fancy. There is a standalone control app made for them, but we haven’t used it.
The only improvement I’d like to see is more output. In environments where you’re competing with LED screens and a lot of bright stage lighting, the client often wants lights like these to match that intensity. Now, we don’t expect a light like this to ever be on par with the rest of the rig, but it would be good if there was a ‘boost mode’ or similar that halves battery life but doubles output, for example.
Service and Support
The support from distributor AVE has been great. They’ve provided us with a dedicated account manager, and when we had one battery dead out of the box, it was immediately picked up and replaced. That’s the only issue we’ve ever had.
We’re quite picky about our lighting inventory, particularly what we use for corporate AV. We invested in 24 units of the Freedom Flex H4 IP X6s, and they were a hit with both our clients and our crew straight away. In terms of reliability, they haven’t skipped a beat, and AVE’s pricing has meant we have enjoyed a very good return on our investment.
CX Magazine – Nov 2019 Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online www.cxnetwork.com.au
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