LED Stage Lighting – Why Buy RGB LED Stage Lights?

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007 - LED Stage Lighting, Stage Lighting Equipment - by:

LED lighting for stage and theatrical use has never been so cheap to buy. It seem like every major stage lighting manufacturer has dived into the LED lighting fixture market while cheap imported lights mean that even a small band or DJ can get a slice of the RGB colour mixing action. On Stage Lighting has a guide for anyone thinking of buying and hoping to learn more about LED stage lighting fixtures.

Why Buy LED Stage Lights?

High Powered LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology means that we can now use those funny little glowing things that used to live on the front of your television, in theatre shows, live music gigs and corporate shows. LED fixtures have many advantages over “old fashioned” lanterns that make them attractive in stage lighting.

  • Low Power Consumption – Because the LED uses a fraction of the power of an normal lightbulb (lamp), the power consumption of LED lighting fixtures is very small, meaning you can use a lot of fixtures on small power supply such as a 13A domestic socket. This is great for small band lighting rigs and the disco/party DJ.
  • Low Heat Radiation – Although LED stage lighting does produce heat, the fixtures produce light without getting extremely hot. Modern stage lighting lamps produce more heat (and light) than they ever have and this has been coupled with improved lantern casings to minimise the risk of burning the operator. There are, however, some environments where the low heat properties of LED stage lighting are desirable.
  • Lightweight and Portable – The hardware that LED fixtures are packaged in does not need to be heavy and, although the various power supplies and elements all add weight, LED units are usually fairly light.
  • Colour Effects – The most common way for LED lights to be used for stage lighting purposes is using a combination of different coloured LEDs. A fixture with all three three lighting primary colours, Red, Green and Blue (RGB) LEDs blended together in different combinations gives the lighting designer loads of colour choices. This is using a principle called Additive Colour Mixing, where the coloured LEDs mix on any surface that reflects the light.
  • Small and Compact – LED lighting fixtures can be made in small, discreet packages which suit applications where size and brightness are important such as exhibitions stands.
  • High Brightness – This really comes down to the ratio of light brightness to power consumption. The new high powered LEDs are very bright considering small amount of electrical power they use.

So, What Types of LED Lighting Fixture Might I Choose?

For the purposes of stage lighting, the RGB colour mixing (see above) capabilities of the LED fixtue is it’s selling point. The main forms are in a lighting batten, a long strip with an array of red, green and blue LEDs or in a compact array that produces a beam of light, similar to a conventional PAR can or a Floodlight. The batten are useful for lighting up flat areas, such as a wall or backcloth, while the PAR / Flood fixtures will give you a beam of light, similar to their conventional stage lighting relatives.

Moving Light technology has also joined the LED bandwagon, with LED arrays being packaged in all shapes and sizes of “waggly” LED Moving Head fixtures. Another stage and theatrical use for the LED is in a large, screen-like array which can be used to show colours, patterns and moving images like a low resolution television screen.

How Do I Control My LED Stage Lighting?

Stage lighting is usually controlled using the standard DMX512 protocol, and LED fixtures are no exception. Different DMX channels control the Red, Green, Blue while other channels may deal with overall instensity or special chases and effects. The LED lights are linked to the DMX signal chain in the same way as other intelligent stage lighting fixtures and do not require extra dimmers to control them.

If you don’t have a DMX lighting controller, many LED stage lighting units can be used in “standalone” mode or can have control locally, using a simple controller/power supply that enable you to change the colour and run simple effects.

What’s the catch about LED stage lights , then?

LED stage lighting is cheaper than ever, uses less power, is smaller and doesn’t get hot. It also offers you a range of light colours, without using lighting gels. What more do you want?

Well, there is a few things you might want to know about LED stage lighting, before you go out and buy a van full.

  • LED arrays can’t “focus up” like a conventional lantern. Because there are many sources of light in the fixture, you can’t get a sharp spotlight or project a gobo using an LED fixture.
  • The “endless” colour choices have limits. Different LED stage lights have various colours that they just “don’t do”. A good quality white light is one of them. Because of the way that all three colours (RGB) are mixed, a good even white light is near impossible to achieve with most fixtures.
  • LED lighting fixtures are bright – but not that bright. Although power for instensity-wise LED stage lighting fixtures are really efficient, they do lack the punch of their conventional lantern relatives (for the moment). A PAR can with LEDs in it is nowhere near as punchy as a PAR64 CP62 (or even a PAR56, for that matter).
  • Intensity drops off quicker over distance. Or at least , it appears to. Because most LED lighting units have neither a lens nor a reflector, the light they produce scatters and struggles to maintain intensity when thrown much of a distance.
  • Colour mixes better over distance(?). Because the three coloured LEDs need to mix on a surface to create an even light, this mix improves further away from the light source. This produces the dichotomy of a fixture that colours mixes well when it is too far way to mantain a good intensity.
  • You get what you pay for. All LED stage lighting fixtures are not the same. Even though you can buy them cheap doesn’t mean that you should and all of the above points are more apparent in cheap LED lighting fixtures. A good quality lighting manufacturer will always be more expensive but, in general, the quality of the light and fixture will be far superior.

While having their faults and limitations, DMX controlled LED lighting fixtures are an important development in the techonology of stage and theatre lighting. They expand the armoury of the lighting designer and will help save the planet – a bit. If you have any thoughts on LED stage lighting or have a question to put to On Stage Lighting, please use our comments box below.

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Rob is a freelance Lighting Designer and Moving Light Programmer currently lecturing in technical theatre production at Bath Spa University in the UK. He is also the Editor of On Stage Lighting and runs workshops in stage lighting practice.

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129 Comments

  1. Robert McCairns:

    Hi

    I am Scottish and run a trading company in Guangzhou China. Today I visited a factory who manufacture LED lighting for bars and clubs etc. I was really looking for some advice as after reading you web site I think you are an expert in these products. Basically do you think they are any good as I am considering marketing their product.

    Thanks in advance

    Robert McCairns

  2. Rob:

    Hi Robert

    LED stage lighting products are a growth industry and though we can’t comment on the quality your manufacturers LED products, the availability of cheaper LED stage lights from the Far East is to be welcomed.

    In the UK professional lighting industry we currently use LED products of trusted brands that gtry to keep us happy, both with light quality and build quality. The availability of spare parts and after sales service is also important.

    The bar and club market have slightly different needs particularly price, ease of use and the ability to make the LED kit work without investing time and money in complex control systems or expensive technicians.

    There is room in the fledgling market of LED stage lighting for a range of products for different uses and budgets. As with everything, understanding your market is the key…

    Good luck for the future.

  3. Martin Davies:

    Hi

    I am thinking of buying a set of Showtec LED Powerbricks and four source four spots using a Zero 88 Dimmer. Could you please suggest what control desk I could use. I have a limited budget this this.

    Many Thanks

    Martin

  4. Rob:

    Hi Martin,

    Although I have not used the Showtec LED Powerbricks, they are similar to some other small LED lighting battens, such as the ChromaQ ColorBlock. The are controlled via a power supply that can accept a DMX control signal.

    LED lighting fixtures are fairly simple, so it is still quite easy to control them from a simple DMX desk, even without specific intelligent lighting features. As most LED products are controlled by few DMX channels (I think the Powerbricks use a maximum of 3 to 5 channels) you could even use a 12 way manual DMX lighting desk.

    Another budget solution is to look into a cheap USB to DMX dongles and PC stage lighting controllers.

  5. Martin Davies:

    Hi Rob

    Thanks for this I will look into this PC software.

    Martin

  6. Shaka Brown:

    I am looking for LED lights that I can use with a portable battery that can be used to shoot videos when lighting conditions are not ideal. Some shoots are outdoors, where the light is more of a fill, though sometimes it will be indoors where the light will be a key. What would you recommend for a portable rig? I don’t mind carrying a battery as large as a car battery if I have to, and the video shoots rarely last over 3 or 4 hours, with the lights being turned on and off. Am I dreaming or is this something feasible?

  7. Rob:

    Shaka,

    I suspect that this kind of portable video light will become more available. I am not sure if you can get larger key light sized units at the moment.
    You probably know that small handheld LED battery powered lights video lights with diffusion and barndoors are available for ENG work etc. I know that Sony make some.

    If you find a source of larger LED video shoot lighting, post back here and let us know.

  8. De Anarky:

    I am looking for an LED equivalent of a 50/75W halogen stem spot for lighting paintings for art shows. Are there such lights available? How do they compare in price and effectiveness?

  9. Rob:

    @ De Anarky

    You should search for MR16 replacement LED. These are a direct swap for the “stalk lights” halogen light bulbs you refer to. Sorry for late reply.

  10. oz:

    Hi,

    I’m putting a little project together for a musician friend – he’s about to launch a ‘low carbon footprint album’ (I know) and has asked for a bike onstage to power one stage spotlight of some form. The idea is to con someone in the audience to pedal like mad for a while.
    Anyway – I reckon I can get about 30v out of the bike (I’m not sure of the power or current specs yet).

    Has anyone got any ideas on what kind of light I could use??

  11. Rob:

    Hi Oz,

    Sounds like a great concept. Some cheap LED units would give you a load of bang for your bike (sorry).

    The main thing to look out for is Voltage Regulation and Current Delivery of the bike generator. 12V LED fixtures, for instance, don’t like having 5 volts to 30 volts jumping about all over the place.

    Having sorted out a regular voltage and a decent amount of current from your generator, you can pretty much use any low voltage LED kit that fits the bill.

  12. cory:

    I am designing a youth theater for my churches youth ministry. I want to get a truss with some lights on it and even have maybe some LED washes or tubes on stage. Any ideas on what lights to have on the truss? Also if it would be a good idea to get LC Panels from Martin?

  13. Rob:

    Hi Cory

    If you are starting with nothing, LED fixtures/ LC panels are not first on your shopping list. They are expensive “luxuries” that need complex control systems – the sort of equipment that you add when you already have the basics.

    Spotlights – Fresnels, PC or Ellipsoidals are standard lights for lighting a stage. The size/power you need depends on the distance to the stage. Or you can use a number of PAR64′s.

    LED fixtures are good for washing colour on sets, walls and architecture. You can also use them as truss warmers or to make drum kits look good. LED lighting is not so good for lighting a stage or people for the reason in this article.

    Thanks for your comment.

  14. Claire:

    i have a PROLIGHT DMX BABY JC1 – PROFESSIONAL 64 CHANNEL LIGHTING CONTROLLER and 2 KAM LED 800′s – i am trying to get the led’s programmed and the manual is hard work – i really need some help setting these up – i just want them to work together on either side of a stage or dj rig – HELP!!!! xx

    »crosslinked«

  15. Rob:

    Hi Claire

    If you email the user manuals of both the LED’s and the Controller, I will have a look and try to “translate” the important bits. Email is on the About page.

    The trouble cheap kit, LED or anything else, are the awful user manuals. Cheap equipment is usually bought by people who need the most help and a lot of the equipment in this market is less than intuitive.

    Perhaps there is a market for “translated” stage lighting equipment user manuals….

  16. Kaiel:

    Would you recommend LED for Cyclorama/Backdrop lighting? If so any recommendations for fixtures?

  17. Rob:

    Kaiel

    LED battens are designed light wide ares like cycs. I quite like the common Thomas Pixeline 1044 but it depends on your budget. Cheaper battens have problems with producing even colour washes.

    LED colours are have a certain “look” to them that might seem out of place with some traditional theatre lighting.

    I have also seen a number of floodlight style LED fixtures but wouldn’t say that they replaces a single cell cyc flood.

    Thanks for your question.

  18. Nichola:

    Hi, I am currently setting up my own band to tour with. We are looking to start with bar-type venues but would need lighting that would look professional because we are hoping to progress to play bigger venues. Unfortunately, lighting is not my expertise. I have heard about the LED lighting and have been told that it is the new up-and-coming thing. I want a professional look but do not know where to start. Which are the best makes of LED lighting to buy? How much does a good professional quality LED can cost? How many would you suggest I need to light up a band of about 5+ members. I would be extremely grateful for your comments. Many thanks, Nichola

  19. Rob:

    Nichola

    LED lighting seems new and exciting and has many benefits, listed above. Starting a small Band Lighting Rig , you would be better off with some cheap PAR56 cans (similar to the 1000W PAR 64, but use less power)some lighting stands and coloured gels.

    These are cheap, easy to use and maintain plus you don’t need a great deal of complex control equipment. A small bar band lighting rig can be as small as 2 stands, 8 PAR 56s and some cables. Many suppliers package up several “small band lighting kits” that have everything you need.

    Having said that, you can buy dirt cheap LED domestic light fittings and benefit from their low power/heat properties. Being creative with what ever you do buy will make your lighting more professional.

    Thanks for your question.

  20. Marie:

    Hi Rob

    A company I work with takes plays and monologues into nightclubs. Having just spent a hectic couple of sessions getting to grips with my first Avo (Azure Shadow) and somewhat unpredictable Martin Macs I’ve been told that much of the system is going to be changed to LED fixtures. The club don’t employ any kind of technician, and haven’t got the concept of keeping hold of manuals (despite me asking several times)- is there a beginners guide to working with LED fixtures or would that be specific to the fixtures/ control system? I’d like to know where to start looking if I start getting stuck.

    I should say I’m a recent lighting design graduate and have had more practise programming generics.

  21. Rob:

    Hi Marie
    LED fixtures are generally simpler to use than full moving lights, like the MACs. There is less to control and think
    about when programming. Assuming that the newly installed fixtures will be patched to the clubs Azure, you only really
    need to know:

    - Where the LED fixtures are patched on the Azure. Which buttons select them.
    - what you can do with them ie. Red Green Blue, Strobe, Dimmer etc. You can find this out by selecting the LED fixtures
    and then pressing the attribute buttons (beam, colour, effect etc) and reading what appears at the bottom of the screen
    reffering to the encoders (wheels). (BTW if, for some reason, the Azure you are using doesn’t have a screen, get one. You can’t really use the desk without it).
    - If the fixture personality the desk is using is HTP or LTP. Why you need to know is briefly explained in Led Lighting Control

    If you are going to be the one doing the patching , you need to find out a bit more such as:

    - The make/model and running mode (often fixtures have different mode setting which affect their control channel mapping)
    of the LED fixtures to get the correct Azure fixture
    personality
    from the Avo website.

    - The DMX start channels of the fixtures so you can assign them on the desk.

    Then off you go, press clear – select LED fixtures – choose “colour” – wind up desired look – hit “record” followed by
    the plackback button you want to assign the look too. If you have managed to get your Macs programmed, you will have no
    problems with the LED kit. BTW the Azure is pretty awful for easy controlling a decent number of generics.

    If you have any specific questions on Avo desks – even the Azure (which I am not a big fan of due to it’s ability to make
    experienced Pearl users (ie – me) look like a fumbling idiot) – come back and we can help you out.
    Thanks for visiting.

  22. Steve Black:

    I am considering getting a PAR 64 LED setup for my band. We do small pubs/clubs. Space is usually quite tight and budget is tight also! Priority is to light up singer but to get a bit of scatter for rest of us…?

    What do you suggest?

  23. Rob:

    Hi Steve

    There is lots of cheap LED PAR equipment around at the moment which is fine for small pubs/clubs. Depending on how much actual control you need on the day, you could get away without a DMX lighting controller – LED lights can often be set to a fixed colour or change colour based on a sound input from an internal microphone. Cheap and easy to use.

    If space is tight, you can cross light your singer and band (lighting positions at sides of stage area) using cheap lighting stands to get some height.

  24. Geoff:

    I run the lighting for a “village hall” amateur operatic group. We own/rent some oldish incandescent type stage lights (500W lamps mostly). I never have enough lamps for the coloured gels I would like to use. We also have limited power supplies (maxed out for most productions) Would 8 STAIRVILLE LED PAR64 PRO type lamps mix well with the old incandescents ? is there information somewhere about the actual light intensity from different types of flood/spot including the various LED types ? This is to give mostly colour washes to various areas of the stage. Is there a focusable LED colour mix spot at a reasonable price ?
    All assistance and advice gratefully received.

  25. Rob:

    @ Geoff

    In a Village Hall, PAR64 LED fixtures have a bit of poke (not like a traditional PAR, though). The colours can be a bit rough on the cheaper units. Using them alonside halogens is fine, as long as you not trying actually match the colours up.

    As for flood, spots etc – Most units available are really more of a splodge , it’s best to try them out. The beams are not as uniform as stage lanterns. LED units are said to be architectural “eye candy” – not suitable for “real” theatre lighting yet.

    I don’t think that LED colour mix profile spots are worth looking at yet (for most applications).

    Don’t forget your extra control for the LEDs too.

    Thanks for question.

  26. Alan Patience:

    Hi – currently using NJD Spectres for lighting a 4 piece band. Can I buy a similar LED based system to replace this to provide stage wash? If so….what type?

    thanks & regrards

  27. Matt:

    Hi people,
    I am putting a lighting system together for a Solo Musician stage 2 x 3 meters.
    LEDs Par 64 seem the light of choice but why is there a choice between matt black and shinny silver for the enclosures?
    Any tips?
    Tar
    Matt.

  28. Rob:

    @Matt

    The silver (aka “chrome”) PARs are good if you want make a feature out of your lighting rig, like the monster concert PAR rigs a la Whitesnake etc. Chrome cans also are hotter to touch. The black cans hide in the shadows just blasting out light undercover. Thanks for your question.

  29. Peter:

    I’ve just been asked to light a small pantomime in our church hall. 2 nights only probably very limited budget.
    Unknown power availability.
    I’d appreciate any advice.

    Current thinking is two good follow spots which can open out to cover the whole stage area if required plus a couple of sets of LED lights to provide interest.

    What do you think?

    I need to hire everything. Do you have any recommendations for all-in kits?

    Many thanks

  30. Rob:

    Hi Peter,

    Most lighting hire companies have good small lighting kits with a few dimmers, 500w fixtures and tripod stands. I would advise against relying on followspots to light your whole stage and, as mentioned in this article, LED fixtures are not the answer in many situations.

    Call you local hire company with some details and see what they recommend.

    Thanks for visiting.

  31. Haydn:

    Hi, I work at my schools theatre which has your standard lamps and cases. I am trying to convince the school to convert to stage LEDs what advantages would they have to offer the school and external useers who use the centre for all means.
    Thanks very much

  32. Doug:

    I am starting a new drama team and plan to get eight 300 watt par 56s, two stands, 2 dimmer boxes, a small follow spot and a dmx controller. with about a $1100 budget. I have seen some cheap packages of eight led par 64s for sale that will put me a little over budget but would it be worth it? I like the idea of having less power consumption and being able to change colors without using gels but will they be bright enough for my performers? Usually I will be trying to light up a 16ft by 12ft stage from stage left and stage right down front corners of the stage.

  33. Kim:

    Having seen some horribly cheap LED kit and what it does (or perhaps more accurately, what it doesn’t do) I’d stayed away until now. But I wanted something that would sit as unobtrusively as possible on the stage (nothing to hide behind) for a groundrow to light a gauze on Witches of Eastwick. Having Googled the options I’d have loved a set of Thomas Pixeline 1044s to play with but budget ruled that out so in the end I hired some cheap Miltec LED battens with heart slightly in mouth. Fortunately this wasn’t so much for even wash, more for effect and I was also able to rig a bunch of conventional Iris 2s across the top.

    Result? Apart from some unreliability due to what was finally diagnosed as dodgy DMX connections on internal circuits we really got some great effects from these LED battens and they certainly added something to the show. They even competed well on the bottom third of the cloth against the Iris battens. Some of the RGB mixes were surprisingly even although an attempt to get a true white, as stated elsewhere on comments here, were doomed to blotchy failure. This was compensated by getting a nice flame effect for the church faling apart by programming in a simple chase.

    I guess that’s a good illustration of where LEDs work best right now, if you are looking for something a bit more artificial and different and can protect the effect from high levels of conventional stage lighting LEDs are getting to be more interesting. The bonus for me was getting the very small form factor, the line of battens could barely be made out as being much different to the seam line of the gauze. I simply wouldn’t have got away with rigging a conventonal groundrow, even the more compact examples would have been too visually intrusive and, given tightness of space, impossible to place safely.

  34. Rob:

    @ Doug – None of the LED PARS I have seen are really up to the job of “performer” lighting for many of the reasons stated above. However LED kit has improved immensely in the last few years and continues to get better. We might just have to sit tight for bit longer.

    @ Kim – Thanks for letting us know about your experience Miltec LED battens. I have just realised that the colour temperature issue was not featured heavily enough in the original article. Even the 1044s blast out a dirty, patchy white – the effect gets worse as the LEDs themselves get older.

    I’ve got a show coming up in January with a load of Pixeline. The one part of the set that needs a good clean white is going to be lit in a less hi tech way – Good ole Howie Battens, CT blue and some directional frost.

    Many of the latest generation of LED fixtures have dedicated white LEDs, making them RGB + W. An improvment, definitely.

    Thanks for your comments.

  35. Peter Garner:

    Hi Rob,
    I’ve recently started photographing live bands again and am coming up against some “interesting” white balance problems. The main problem is that my cameras (most digital cameras I believe) don’t yet have a setting for LED, and the other settings such as tungsten, fluorescent etc just don’t give a good result. Is there a standard colour temperature for these units? If not then I’ll have to set up a custom white balance but that’s not always convenient in the middle of a gig :-) Any info greatly appreciated!

  36. Rob:

    Hi Peter,

    The colour of white LEDs can be expressed as a colour temperature (in Kelvin) but the actual number depends on the LED type. That can give you a headache as a gig photographer, with a mix of “open white” tungsten front light mixed in with other sources including LEDs.

    I have just been talking to an LED expert who reminded me that Colour Rendering Index or CRI is another measure of colour temperature. It’s an indicator of the amount of the visible light spectrum output.

    So, no standard colour temperature for LEDs. Sorry.

  37. Peter Garner:

    Thanks Rob – I suspected it wouldn’t be a simple option. Looks like I’ll be shooting a lot of black and white/greyscale from now on …

  38. Ville:

    I’ve had some good experiences on Led pars while using together with conventional lighting. Eg. I had 16 pcs of led pars with 10mm by Eurolite, on a club-gig. They were on the back of the stage, focused upwards, flood-like beams creating a “wall of colour” into the haze, behind the band. It looked quite nice, plus the ability to do almost anything with these separately patched dmx-controlled fixtures. A solid colour, multiple colours, a colour chase or even a strobe effect.

    I usually grab some of these cheaper led fixtures along when doing a pop/rock gig on a small or a middle-sized venue. Good for adding some spice to the show and maybe washing surfaces etc. Due to the low power consumption and heat emission so you can basically drop them around on the stage.

  39. Mark:

    Hi there,

    I’ve been doing a bit of video work and have an area with white flat walls. I like the idea of colour-changing led lamps to provide variable colour – either for plain background colours or for chroma-key.

    However, video is pretty picky and tends to show up uneven illumination, so is the a LED lamp which could provide the variable colours and provide even illumination on a wall say 5m x 5m? I’m in quite a small space. I have some soft diffusor so possibly could put that on the lamp to ensure the lighting is very flat – but I do need a fair bit of light.

    Can you recommend a really good way of getting flat, even lighting over this area that wouldn’t cost a fortune? (I’m demanding but cheap!). Based in the UK.

    Thanks

    Mark

  40. Mark:

    …me again – should have said, I have some variable Dedolight aspherics lights for spotlighting / backlighting etc, so what I’m looking for is something to light the background behind a subject. Hope that makes sense – I’m not really a lighting person.

  41. Jukes:

    Hi

    We are a live circuit band looking to buy some led par cans. We liked the idea of a 3 by 3 grid of pars and have also picked up from you that you get exactly what you pay for.

    There seem to be a lot of very cheap budget cans on the market for £50 to £80 but we are not sure whether this would give us the quality we need.

    So…..what sort of price should we be looking at per led par can to get reasonable quality based on the idea of having two 3 by 3s, and also can you recommend any specific manufacturers please? If we had a budget of £100 per par can would this be sufficient?

    Many thanks.

  42. Rob Sayer:

    @ Jukes – From a Lighting Designers point of view, cheap LED PAR cans have their weaknesses but we still use them. A lot of reputable lighting hire companies buy them to perform their function cheaply and ditch them when they break.

    Not sure if a gigging band buying gear really needs high quality LED lighting, in all honesty. Cheap and cheerful all the way, if it was me.

    Thanks for your comment.

  43. Rob Sayer:

    @ Mark – Getting an even light is the same with any type of light source: No gaps, uniform throw distances etc. If you are planning on using video with LED, you might want to take a look at LED Lighting and Cameras.
    Cheers

  44. Matt:

    Hi people,
    I have Eurolite Par 64 LED’s and a stairwell Par 56 – don’t worry about the cheaper 56′s – go with the 64′s.

    I’m very happy with them: Connected to a DMX controller I can really vary the tone / mood of my solo singer/songwriter show.

    Load in and out is way simplified with a road bag that fits a full 2 x 4 rig on the crossbeam – Plug and play !

    Enjoy the music!

    Matt

  45. Ella:

    I am trying light 6 spandex shapes 16 x 16 for a graduation event. since the school has limited power and the LEDs not getting hot would be nice too. I want a bright wash of color it could shift to a different color but not like a dance club strob effect. what size of LED light should I look for I don’t have the budget for a DMX controller. (I have no budget and am buying this on my own) some units list foot candel 39 and some list Par-64 how do I compare with say 500 watts etc? As you can tell I need help! or should I just use par cans with gel? Thanks

  46. Jeremy:

    Hi,
    I heard a rumour that LED’s have a high failure rate in a theatre application, primarily due to heat sink issues.
    Can you comment on the reliability issue.
    thanks
    J

  47. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Jeremy – I think that it’s still too early to really tell where we stand on the reliability although I haven’t heard of any specific problems with heatsinks or cooling.

    Many of the LED units I have worked with have been in high use areas such including exhibition stands which have been running 24hrs a day. I also don’t know of any co’s specific issues with LED hire stock which would infer inherent problems with LED as a robust light source.

    I am aware of issues with build quality directly related to the purchase cost of the LED units in the first place. But that’s to be expected.

    Let us know if you hear of anything further.

    @ Ella – The kind of LED units best suited to your application depends on a number of factors, including position related to the surface. There are a number of decent “flood” like LED arrays that do a good colour wash (probably more use than PAR type LED) – although you don’t need a DMX controller, some of the units use a power supply that can also control some colour changes. Regarding power/brightness, most of the units in this kind of range output <500w of incandescent floodlight.

  48. mark:

    Your write up about the led fixure was good , but sometimes for me lacks clearity. I am setting out to explore this new world of lighting. I do like the low ampacity draw of this technology As for your comments about seleador, Bob’s fixtures use seven leds to achive remarkable results. Each primary spectrum has two chips, to acheive these results.
    With the use of trichromatic chips in a single source, this helps eliminate the deaded color reflections that you mentioned. This is due to the rgb’s focal source. Also the intoduction of the zoom pc lens over each 1 or 3 att tri chips has ceated a focusable source.

    Keep up the good work,

  49. Lesley:

    Hello,

    I am looking into replacing the lobby/seating area lighting in my laser tag facility. We currently (unconventionally) use 27 par56 wfl with colored gels on 9 tracks of 3 lights each. While we are happy with the overall effect, we would like eliminate some heat and save on utility bills. I was hoping we could retrofit our existing cans with LED bulbs. Is this possible? They are used daily for 7-12 hours. I would be interested in hearing your recommendations.

    Thanks!
    Lesley

  50. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Lesley. Usually, the most expensive bit of a PAR can is the lamp so time spent trying to retro fit with LED PAR56 lamps might not be worth it for minimal cost saving. A PAR can without a lamp is just a cheap lump of metal. Unless your PARs are specially adapted for the track (I assume that the track is not dimmed power) it’s probably just as easy to replace the can complete.

  51. Alex Mead:

    Hi Lesley,

    As a follow up, a good site to try for LED Pars is:

    http://www.stagelighting.co.uk/stage_lighting_store.htm

    They currently have an offer on where many Pars are 1/2 price…

    Hope this helps,

    Alex

  52. mark:

    Just a note to Rob, good work on keping your readers straight about conventionals, Most people look for the easiet fix for their lighting problems or solutions. Like you said leds are eye candy for the most part, On the low end of the spectrum. However on the high end, Trichromatic chips are solving the distored colors, (by giving them a focal point) portrayed by the individual rgb chips.

    There is already a zoom rgb 1 watt or 3 watt trichromatic Par., It utilizing the k2 chip. the unit is available in 18, 24 and 30 Trichromatic k2 chips. The focus is acheived by the same number of small pc lenes. It uses a worm gear through the center of the pc lens plate. The design claims, 10-50 degrees.
    I have one on order I will let you know the results I find. Now where did I put my DHL account number?

  53. Keith:

    Hi, I’m new to stage lighting and looking for some advice. I manage a youth cafe and we have regular gigs for teenage bands. The venue is small and bands are usually 4-5 piece. I was advised to get a few LED par cans and am looking at getting 3 Lightmaxx LED par 56′s. I am just a bit worried that they might not be powerful enough. I tried 4 5w LED pars which were absolutely hopeless – I dont want to repeat the mistake. The ones I am looking at now have a power consumption of 20w each – is that a good enough indicator of power?

  54. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Keith – I wouldn’t use power consumption as an indicator of LED PAR brightness as a lot depends on the LED design. As a lot of these cheap LED units don’t usually provide a lot of information when it comes to photometrics, I would simply try before you buy.

  55. Trace:

    Hi – I keep stumbling on this site and get the idea it’s a good source for honest lighting information and I really need some of that right now. I’m totally new to lighting and have been thrust into it because my wife and I are puppeteers and are currently building a small theater inside a 16 foot trailer. Any information about this venue is next to impossible to find because no one is doing this. It is a mobile outdoor theater traveling along the east coast. Because of the scale of puppet theater, the proximity of the lights, the ability of dimming is important. The inside of the theater is totally blacked out. The stage area opening is 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep and 3 and a half feet high. The playboard (stage floor) being only 12 inches in depth. There are two additional left and right stage wings behind front stage so a minimum of six LED floods would be necessary. Two LED fresnels for front of acting stage. Ceiling lights probably can not be used as they will be too close to the top of the puppet’s heads. Also will need back lighting for screen backcloths. From the wings the LED pars would only have to throw 4 feet to center stage. With such close distances I suppose I will have all kinds of troubles. At those distances I wonder if getting good white light is improved because white light is mainly what we need with these puppets and RGB for scenery. I want to use dedicated white LED’s for the puppets and RGB’s for scenery and effects. Dimming is also important to start, stop and move between acts. DMX software is planned as we will not have someone to run the lighting. Any recommendations and as to what size LED pars etc. to use would be helpful. Sorry for the long text.

  56. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Trace,

    As far as which fixtures to use, you really need to get some on demo to try them out. Information on LED kit, beam sizes, colours and brightness is pretty random and most LD’s will only specify kit they have tested rather than relying on the data. Find what fits your budget and try it before committing to buying anything.

    Two points strike me about colour. If you really need a good white for the puppets, have you considered using straight white LED fixtures rather than RGB colour mixing ones. There are a few white LEDS with a decent CRI (the amount of the colour spectrum they output).
    If you are planning on using RGB LEDs for the set, be careful with the set colours. LEDs have a habit of outputting a large amount of a very narrow wavelength, like a specfic blue for instance. This can really make certain reflected colours zing out if they happen to match this wavelength.

  57. Mark:

    check out Seledor/ETC wash units, nice even washes and they can match the Rosco line up of color. Rob’s right about led wavelengths. In china the low cost ones just buy chinese Silan chips. the Q.C. is not the best so wavelenghts can vary from batch to batch. This will always be an issue between manufactures chips.

  58. James P:

    Thanks for the information regarding LED fixtures – not the sort of thing that appears in the sales literature! Most of the dealer sites I have looked at (e.g. Thomann) imply that LED’s are pretty much equivalent to their tungsten counterparts, but the light output figures are conspicuous by their absence!

    I’m faced with buying some portable lighting for a small theatre group, and am attracted to a pair of NJD Spectres for general illumination. Similar money would buy a couple of conventional lighting bars, but that complicates the dimming and control side, which needs to be simple as I also manage the sound reinforcement!

    Any thoughts or advice welcomed…

  59. mark:

    James , the best bang for the buck is the Selecon acclaim series fixtures. The fresnel and P.C. with doors is best way to use them. Add a gel changer with cue fades and you have a great combinaation. For control try the DMX soft, software it is very cost effective, and a good solution to control

  60. Rob Sayer:

    Hi James P. If you are looking for portable lighting for a theatre group, I wouldn’t consider units like the NJD or LED PARs as general lighting. Even though conventional fixtures require dimming kit as well as control, the light they produce is suitably controllable and good enough to “light” stuff (for visibility).

    Options like LEDs are great to colour and add effect, but very few would be suitable for general illumination. Especially not at the price point you would be looking at in your situation.

    Thanks for your question.

  61. James P:

    Thank you both for the prompt response! I have to admit that this is newish area for me, as I’m more familiar with sound than light, and although there is a huge amount of choice, objective information about much of it is lacking. As Rob suggests, the budget is the chief constraint, and while I get the impression that LED’s are beginning to cut it at the expensive end, it’s difficult to know the provenance of budget items.

    I hadn’t come across the Selecons, so will go looking now. I’d rather control manually, I think, as I’m only too familiar with computer crashes!

  62. James P:

    As a matter of interest, Rob, why not the NJD’s (or possibly iColour equivalent)? Is it that mixed colour doesn’t give a true white, or the lack of focussing, or just general construction/reliability?

    We’ve got by in the past with assorted floodlights and no control beyond on/off switches, so almost anything would be an improvement!

  63. Rob Sayer:

    @James P.

    If you have so far got by using odd floods and on/off switches, I can see why you might not get where I’m coming from on this one. All these kinds of units are not lights (as anyone trying to light a performance would understand them) They are “coloured light blasting equipment”. Lighting any size of show succesfully requires the light sources to be reasonably controllable, have a good colour rendition and a decent quality of even light.

    That’s not to say they don’t have their place, I just wouldn’t be using them as a starting point. 500W fresnels are the staple light source of all kind of small scale shows for good reason.

    Mixing colours additively with this kind of gear invariably ends up with a dirty, uneven and unpleasant whitish light that just doesn’t compare to a tungsten fresnel. If you want white, use a white light source. Need colour, use gel. The best tool for your job is unlikely to be found in the DJ FX section of a music shop.

    Hope this has helped you to understand a bit more, without sounding ranty. Best wishes :)

  64. James P:

    “The best tool for your job is unlikely to be found in the DJ FX section of a music shop”

    Fair comment! I do hear what you say, and I suspect that a few PAR lights with a mixture of flood and spot bulbs might be a better starting point. The budget might run to a couple of fresnels, although that won’t leave much (!) for control gear. I’d quite like to keep that local (ie. on the light stands) rather than have long runs of chunky (and electrically noisy when dimming) mains cables. Any thoughts or recommendations?

    Thanks for the input, BTW. Much appreciated.

  65. Rob Sayer:

    Hi James,
    PARs are fine for a variety of uses, especially with well chosen lamps in them. The only thing to remember is that while PAR units can be relatively cheap, the lamps are not so.

    Localised dimmers are idea for stands, the usual being 3/4 channel. There are plenty to choose from in various price bands. I don’t have a lot of experience with the cheapest but for professionals we regularly use small dimmers from Pulsar and Zero88 in the UK.

  66. James P:

    Thanks, Rob

    PAR56 bulbs seem to be around £10-12 online, which doesn’t sound too bad (although I realise you can also buy the cans for similar money!)

    Is there any point in spending more? Given the physics, I assume that they all have a similar life, but I appreciate that quality control might make a difference…

  67. mark:

    as we say in the states motor oil is motor oil, or blue is blue,just finish so we can go home.
    As for pars the brand name does make a difference, In the usa G.E. is the brand of choice, while philips and sylvania Osram are a distant second. I have found that usually their are one or two bad right out of the box.. Stay away from the chinese brands, wasted monies

  68. Bud Barnes:

    We are thinking og going to LED lighting in our church sanctuary. I’m concerned about the throw distance of LED’s. Where can I find the throw distance of a LED PAR 64 PRO and other LED lights?

  69. James P:

    Funnily enough, our church is also considering LED lighting, largely prompted by H&S rules that now prevent churchwardens climbing ladders to change bulbs (!). We had a visit from a local lighting supplier and I thought the LED downlights were dismal. Very cold and not very bright – the old 300W halogens looked very good by comparison. I think LED’s can provide nice colour accenting of stonework, for instance, but for general lighting I was not impressed.

  70. James P:

    Displaying my ignorance here, I suspect, but if I have two DMX dimmers set to the same start address, will they operate in tandem when the same channels are controlled externally?

    Thanks

  71. Rob Sayer:

    @ James P, yes, they will. Doubling up addresses is an occasionally useful technique if you need to control a large powered rig with not enough desk channels. Obviously, you have to be careful choosing which fixtures end up running in tandem so you retain a good level of intensity control.

  72. James P:

    Thank you, Rob. I was hoping that would be the case! You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve settled on a simple rig with PAR56′s, a couple of fresnels and gels for colour, with no LED’s or colour mixers. I’m sure LED’s will make inroads eventually, but for decent light levels, halogens still seem far superior.

  73. Steve K:

    Hi Rob, My band have been using a simple set up of four par64 cans with coloured gels for a few years now. We have a little four channel dimmer which we power them through and we leave the sliders static. This is very limited. We tried using the lights as ‘sound activated’ but could never get over the problem of the lights all going out each time we finished a song, leaving everyone in darkness!

    I’m in the process of sourcing four Par64 DMX LED cans, which I hope to use with a DMX controller. As we don’t have an extra pair of hands to manage the lights we will again be depending on a simple automatic chase sequence to react to the band’s music and add a bit more life to the lighting. We can then use the old par cans as floor standing lights. Are there any particular DMX controllers that will do the job and do you know if they will allow me to set lights to ‘on’ when the music stops? I realise that we can still leave the old Par64s on in between songs but if there are any occasions when we are short of space, we’ll be leaving these behind.

    Thanks
    Steve

  74. nark:

    Steve, you can use a software controller, EASY SOFT is affordable and a snap to use. You could also use sunlite, it has a 10 pin port on the box, it is a trigger for allowing you to access 8 scenes that you create on the computer. You down load the scenes into the hardware box(dongle). You can make a simple foot switch box with. eight on-off switches to recall the scenes. Just a thought
    Mark

  75. Rob Sayer:

    Hey Steve,

    Some of the cheap LED PAR64 cans I have used only change colour when activated by their internal mic and don’t black out. Obviously you don’t get too much choice about what the do when they are chasing but some may have a Master/Slave configuration that ensures a uniformity of colours. As you have previously been using dimmers and conventional PARs, the dimmer obviously shuts off with no sound at all – not all sound to light setups are like this, though.

    I would have thought that the level of DMX controller you would be looking for would at least have some way that you could control your blackout. Another idea would be to use your floor cans, left on as you suggest in the larger venues and leave some of your LED kit “set”, no sound to light, on occasions where you don’t have the full rig.

  76. Steve K:

    Having looked into things a bit more, it seems the way we should be going is to use a MIDI foot controller to trigger certain commands in a DMX controller. There are, however, so many of these around and the MIDI implementation details are sketchy.

    It seems the main question I should be asking here is this:

    I want to trigger chases on a DMX controller via a MIDI pedal and have them controlled by the ‘sound/music’ facility. If I set the DMX controller to ‘sound/music’ mode then select chases via MIDI will the ‘sound/music mode’ remain active or do I need to re-select this each time I change chases?

    Does anybody have experience of this?

  77. Steve K:

    Just as an addition to the above, I’m not talking about any particular make/model of DMX controller here yet, I’m hoping for recommendations.

    Cheers
    Steve

  78. Lizzie:

    Hi

    I am a third year student and have to put on a production which we will be touring to local schools. The topic is on global warming and I am in charge of all the tech! Coming accross LED PAR lighting, I see that it is energy efficient, uses less heat, are brightly coloured etc and so are perfect for this project. I have usesd fresnels and profiles in the past and want to know if these LED lights are easy to use also. I have not set-up a DMX lighting board before and feel as though it could be difficult.
    The directors are very keen to show that we ourselves are using energy effiecient technology and so I am keen in using this type of lighting. Should I carry on down this route or just stick to what I know?

    Thanks.

  79. Lizzie:

    Also, can you get a ‘natural’ light effect for the outdoors or a soft lighting colour for indoors, or are the colours just bright and harsh?

    Thanks again!

  80. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Lizzie

    Commonly used LED lighting fixtures are great for creating garish colours and generally splatting light around the place, but no one could accuse them of being natural. I wouldn’t let the thought of setting them up put you off, just understand that they can bring you efficiency and low heat with vivid colours but won’t do a beautiful, soft and natural light like a tungsten fresnel. HTH

  81. Kim Hollamby:

    Recently trialled a Showtec 3W PAR and then just got involved with rigging six of them in a show yesterday on a reasonable sized stage, flown at around 16ft. Of all the ‘cheaper’ fixtures (bearing in mind these Showtec 3W units are not exactly bargain basement) I have to say they are reasonably impressive. They look quite punchy on a black stage although you can rapidly wash them into oblivion with conventional fixtures; matching colours to gels could prove interesting too. But they show how the technology seems to be creeping forward a bit; beam angle is around 35-40 degrees and with the built-in diffusers the light level across the beam seemed reasonably consistent. The fade was remarkably flicker-free too, a bit juddery on the tail end of the reds but transition across colours was surprisingly good a lot of the time.

    It didn’t come off but I had plans to rig 18 of them in three rows of six on up/downstage trusses to throw in some colour on a stage with only 18 ways of conventional dimming available; I think having seen them yesterday it would have worked quite well.

  82. Rob Sayer:

    Hi Kim, I used some of the slightly better quality Showtec PARs recently and I agree they are improving in colour rendition and light quality. The 7 colour Seladors have some great colour capabilities and some of the recently emerging battery / wireless DMX units have a real market in the quick turn around world of events.

  83. Charlie Simpson:

    I am looking for information on a high power LED white Par Can. Not RGB. Approx 5000K white and would like a lumen output over 14K. I have not seen anything out there. I want a Par Can that is as bright as a 1000W halogen Par64. Any info would help. Thanks

  84. Callum Noble:

    Im not aware of any specific fixture that meets your needs, you might want to look at LED Pars which feature the RGBW configuration as these give a far better white than RGB only fixtures. Not sure if these are available without the colour mixing as this seems to be a major selling point with LED lighting fixtures.

    Hope this helps.

    Cal

  85. Zoe J:

    Hi there,

    I am a singer in a 5 piece band, and we recently moved to a set of LED spotlights on a high stand. I play keyboards too, and last night after having the lights on me for a good hour, I felt really sick, and all my vision down one side went black. all I could see were tiny white points, and my memory seems to go! It is the 2nd ttime we’ve used these lights, and I am worried about them. Has anyone else had this problem, and without knowing what make and model they are until tomorrow, I wonder if there are any warnings on this subject?

    Thank you for you attnetion in this matter.

    Zoe

  86. Callum Noble:

    As part of my studies this year (Im a 3rd Year Neuroscience student) we touched on the fact that certain LED light fixtures can trigger photosensitive epilepsy in rare circumstances. My advice would be to consult a doctor or other health professional before you use them again.

  87. James P:

    Interesting (and slightly alarming) comment from Zoe. I assume colour mixing and fading is achieved by pulse-width modulation (switching on and off very quickly) and there may be some odd subliminal strobing effects between the colours. The quick fix should be to leave them full on, although I realise that limits the impact on the audience!

    This looks like something that needs investigation…

  88. Chuck Haskins:

    Hi Rob,
    I just found your site and wish I found it 3 years ago. We are running a worship service in our gym and have two stands on either side of the band with 4 par 38 w/dimmer pack on either side for 8 lights total. I have a par 56 led for lighting effect each side.
    I need white lighting on the front for the pastor/speaker. I can mount a light weight light on the pipe/drape that surrounds the audience. The distance would be approximately 30 feet. Do you think 2 par 64 led cans can provide white wash at this distance? (1 each side so they are off to the front/side of the person speaking) I would rather not have to deal with hot traditional par lighting as power is also an issue. What brand would you recommend for 2 lights under $500.00 US total?

  89. mark:

    Brother where art thou??
    If you use 10mm chips , it is not going to be satisfactory. you will need to use 1 -3 watt per. Look at the trichromatic chips, smd type of course. I like the zoom pars
    3x 24 , or 3x 30 some are even 3 x 32. with a zoom of 6 -60 degree
    Elation sells a 3 x 24pc zoom.
    It’s zoom is actually good for 15 -50 degrees however., as for price you get what you pay for.
    Blessings brother…

  90. Chuck Haskins:

    Great feedback, thank you. Is there an all white LED to produce a bright white? I do not have to have color for this specific application but would use it if I had it…; )

  91. Mark:

    There is a 3 x 30 zoom fixture that would do nicely 10pc are amber chips and the remaining 20 are white. the zoom is 10-60 degrees same as the rgb. Let me know if you would like some

  92. Martha:

    WE have a 1921 theatre with a full stage that we are renovating. I want to be a green friendly and cost effective as possible. Can LED instruments be used successfully on the stage? Can a theatre have both conventional and LED fixtures?
    My proscenium opening is approx 40 feet wide by 40 feet high. It has a complete grid system that we will also renovate with a new fly rail. How high can I trim my electrics, if they have LED on them?

  93. Trace:

    Hi Rob,
    I’m a complete “Newbee” to theater lighting but I’m extremely interested in learning for my unusual theater application.

    My wife and I are starting up a puppet theater and has been in the making for five years.

    The theater is actually located in a 14 foot trailer which we pull around and will do booked shows outdoors in it. I am in the last phase of the theater project which is the lighting. I purchased Chauvet “ShowExpress” lighting controller software, Chauvet DMX-4 dimmer/relay for controlling a few 120 volt devices like a fogger and curtains. Purchased one LED Rain 36 White spot and one LED Splash Jr PAR 38 for experimentation.

    Since we are operating on a battery bank and then inverting to A/C, LED lighting is perfect for much lower energy requirements and in such a small space the practically no heat is a necessity.

    That said, the problem is the stage size and how to light it in such a small space. (Maybe that’s good for LED lighting)

    The stage opening measures 8 feet wide and 3 feet high. That is the major problem the height. The puppet acting stage floor area is 12 inches deep.

    The overall stage depth is 5 feet where we will use backdrops and scrims.

    I guess one of my big problems is understanding what kind of a beam I will get on a puppet which stands 14 to 16 inches tall in a stage height of only 3 feet?

    I was thinking maybe a a LED stage bar hung up in the ceiling about 4 feet away and at some angle that would flood the fronts of the puppets well.

    I’m at a loss in what to do. All the stage lighting I’ve read about pertains to regular size stages and no information seems to be around for these small stages.

    Maybe it’s a no brain-er. Everything is so close that LED’s will be plenty bright enough to do the job. Maybe the biggest problem is hanging them so they aren’t in the way of the viewers.

    Anyway, any information/encouragement that you could offer would be appreciated. I realize I’m asking a lot and really where would you start with this situation anyway?

    Really enjoy the site and I have learned a lot of basics from here in the answers you provide.

    Thanks, Trace
    Fox’s Puppet Troupe Theater

  94. Jamie Robertson:

    Hey – im looking into buying some LED lights for our theatre group – and after quite a bit of looking – iv come to the decision between LEDJ Stage wash 18 or LEDJ Stage wash 36 – Any you guys have any experience with these lights and could offer any information or advice :)

    I was hoping that they’d be able to fill my stage = 33ft x 25ft :)
    I was looking at buying around 8 of them. L)

  95. DuncanM:

    Hi y’all – I recently bought two “tri-led” LED PAR64s – they have RGB in each individual LED, at 1W per colour per LED, x18 LEDs =54W total. Colour mixing was excellent, with a mixed colour being evident at the end of the can, about 6 inches from the LEDs. And it’s not so ugly to look down the barrel, as the lenses in front of the LED seem to have some gentle frosting so the LEDs look the mixed colour. Still 18 coloured dots, of course, but at least they’re all the same colour!

    I used them for a small concert gig, washing straight across the stage either side of the drum kit, sitting on the stage (these ones have a split yoke, which I love!). Out front were 8x PAR56′s and 2x 500W fresnels for singer lighting. The good news is they did a great job, and they are way brighter than PAR56′s with saturated gels in. I didn’t do a side-by-side, but I reckon they’re getting on for as bright as a PAR64 with a deep gel. And I could get meaningful variations of colour, from a magenta through a true purple to a warm pink, for example – more than seven colours, anyway!

    AND the white was OK – not great, and I’d never use it for theatrical lighting as a front light. But… I might consider using it as a top light, if it’s already in the rig. And I’m definitely going to use them in theatre, to get those saturated washes which are so hard with lower-powered fixtures.

    cheers
    Duncan

  96. Ryan:

    I run a mobile disco and want to go all LED on my lights, currently use 2 Acme Boogie’s at small gigs and add a 300w standard spinner with normal bulb.

    I think adding 2 more Boogies would do it but I want another effect rather then all the same, thinking of add some flashers such as PARS to it, I like the big area of light shown to the audience rather then a small beam like the Boogies.

    Im looking for something similair to a 150w to 250w but in LED form, any recommendations.

    People like seeing flashing lights at discos so not bothered about effects, a RGBW would be good as the white would brighton things up, the boogies dont give off any ambient light like the old spinner if you get what I mean, the LED’s are very direct.

    Last thing is I would like a pair to link up via DMX but its not a deal breaker.

    Thanks in advance RY

  97. Kim Hollamby:

    As this post seems to be immortal here’s a further bit of feedback.

    I recently (was it really May?!) rigged 16 Miltec MTC-PAR3WT – LED Stage Wash 108T units on a large stage (Hexagon Reading) to get more Disneyesque colours into Beauty and the Beast than a purely conventional rig would have allowed. These relatively tiny units (smaller than PARs) needed extended hook clamps to allow them all to be pointed cross stage when rigged alongside fresnels and profiles but they worked really well for punching lively pinks, purples, blues, reds and greens into the show at really impressive light levels, both in their own right and to tint up the conventional washes.

    The only downside was the last 10% of the dimming which was as flickery as anything (and kicked in at about 30% on the board). We got around this in most cues by edging them in at low levels in brighter scenes ready for the more delicate moments but we just had to live with a bit of flick in and out on a few cues…probably less noticeable than I thought it was.

    The DMX runs were fun as I had the Milteks rigged four each on four lighting bars but despite fears to the contrary they all fired up first time and ran faultlessly through the production (five shows).

    Clearly more expensive units would have been better/safer but budget dictated taking a risk which fortunately more than paid off.

  98. Adrian Ball:

    There’s some superb comments up here regading the use of LED PAR’s.
    I’m just starting up an online shop selling these, based in Manchester. At the moment its PAR56 standard and slimline, plus PAR64′s. Next year will have Tricolour & RGBW PAR’s.
    Product videos online – Drop me a line for a quote or any technical questions
    http://www.hollowsphere.org/shop.html

    Discount available on large orders

  99. Tom:

    I help run a small wedding venue and needed some stage lights for the band stage. The LEDs are not the best solution, but the heat, the use of power and the need to change the bulbs tipped us to the LED version. For the price, they are great.

  100. Aaron:

    I am setting up stage lighting for our youth group. We are in a 50×40 building with a 24 ft. wide stage. The ceiling is only 15 ft. high. We are looking at two separate truss with 4 LED Par64′s on each. Is this a good idea for stage lighting and if so, what would be a good light board/software to control these lights. We may be adding a couple of minispots/washes also. Any suggestions?

    Thanks

  101. Blake Cox:

    I have recently been introduced to the ETC Express 24/48 console. and my question is with this console can you control RGB-led fixtures and scanners such as the Martin Roboscan 518PRO? I know it can be done but with the dimmer racks that i’m using i’m somewhat confused.. Help is appreciated.

    Thanks!!
    Blake C.

  102. adrian:

    hello.,
    I recently bought myself a 24 stairville credetima lc console and beautiful please help me and give me I have not managed its head fail to make any program or use LED lights seem scena ca 64 mounted on a T-bar . where I find myself tutorials or even a manual for beginners or a site where they can learn.
    Thanks !!!!!!

  103. Abraham:

    Hi, I’m planning to buy lights to control with my ELATION DMX OPERATOR 192

    I have 2 questions:

    1- What would you choose:
    Chauvet Color Palette LED Bar Wash
    American DJ 64B LED Pro

    2- are this LED lights good enough to light the singers face(small stage), if not, what led light would you recomend, that would help me light faces.(I can’t have warm / hot lights)

  104. Bee:

    Hello Rob

    I’m just starting an event decorating business -mainly for weddings. I have a low budget at and need advice.

    I have no lighting experience whatsoever but thought it would be nice to have wall-washers and up-lights to set the ambience for venues. I’ve bought 10 par56 cans (not LED) but everyone keeps talking about LEDs so I’m getting jittery. Are par cans totally off?

    Also, I need to get lamps for the cans, do you think I should get the narrow spot or the medium flood beams having in mind what I need them for.

  105. mark:

    1.If you have them use them. You can purchase leds in the future

    2. It all depends, depends , meaning, power available. Conventional lamps draw as much as 90 percent more electricity. This means if electricity is scarce, then you will be limited in the amount of lanterns you can use. I say check out the venue to determine what will work.

    3. In a static look such as set lighting . One color or two complimentary are acceptable. remember colors of the same compliment each other. Nice thing about color filters is you can get the exact color/hue you want . RGB lacks this ability.
    The disadvantage is heat. Heat means fading, the darker the color better the chance of this happening. This bring us to the next answer.
    4. The lamp., Your choice is 300w or 500w, Narrow, medium, and wide. You can google the beam spreads Narrows are good for slashes ,, cris croosing the lights are efective. also good for columns. If you choose narrows, you can change the beam angle by using diffusion. A material know as silk works great for rotating the beam.. To bad par color holders are not round. They work well with medium floods also. It also allows the use of darker colors .. It limits fading.

    Led is nice because of the convenience. of color. and its powe consumption.. In the end it will be the better choice for you.
    My opinion anyways..mark

  106. Shane:

    I have a customer wanting to replace 500 & 1000w par64′s….do they make LED pars that will match that brightness??

    Thanks,
    Shane

  107. mark:

    It depends,,, on qty of chips,, power of the chip,, and the grade type.. also if light has white chips, or amber chips.. the combinations can easily out power a conventional when compared to colored plastic filters.. I would say anything above 36 , 3 watt chips can equal a 500w source and 54 x 5w can out put as a 1kw par.. As a full on white source then it would have to be measured.. Just my opinion, Mark

  108. Patrick:

    Hey,

    I’ve just been asked to design a light plot for a black and white set. What is the best way to provide lighting but keep the black and white feel?

  109. Sue:

    Hi,
    I am in a 6 piece band and we are looking for stage lights. I’m on the LED Par Can vibe, but how on earth do you tell how bright each light is going to be? I always thought it was measured in Watts….but none of the descriptions seem to include the watts!! Im confused!! Sorry if its a dumb question!!

    Thanks in advance for your anticipated help!!

    Best,
    Sue

  110. Adrian Ball:

    Sue
    You need to compare the lumen output of the led pars to compare brightness. I may be able to provide this data on the qtx light products I sell.

  111. Derek:

    Hi Rob-
    My query is…..I’m buying a lighting rig for my son’s band and price wise have came across 2 different types of lighting for more or less the same price…the first one is 2 sets of 4 LEDS (4 each side)and the second is 2 sets of 2(2 each side) BULB type of lamps(with changeable gels) in cans with the option of adding another 2 sets.
    In your opinion am I best to go with the LEDS or the more traditional changeable Bulb/gel types
    Thanks
    Derek

  112. Tony:

    Hey I’d like a second opinion, can you use LED MR16 lights in normal low voltage transformer ?

    I would of thought it would reduce the life of the lamp

  113. mark:

    as long as the the power supply is a constant voltage power supply..the lamp needs 12 v to operate.,, If you want to dim you will need a PWM type dimmer.. If you want to dim and also use dmx to control it, you will also need a dmx encoder, unless the dimmer has an encoder circuit.. Try http://www.liteputer.com.tw/ also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmPziPfaByw and you may want to build your own,, goodluck

  114. Greg:

    Hi Rob,
    mate i will be constructing some tall boy dry bars for a hotel renovation and just wondering what would be the best RGB LED fittings with the most muliple colour change options to use to fully illuminate the inside stems of the bars as i will be rebating the name of the hotel through the craftwood stems for the light to shine through – Dry bar stems will be 1100mm high x 400 x 400 square. I will be facing the cutout outs with clear arylic and obviously the RGB for colour changes – Thanks mate

  115. Steve Fisher:

    I take photos / videos of bands at smaller venues around Nottingham, the move to LED lighting has given me a few problems. The ‘purity’ of the colours ( narrow wavelength ) gives big white balance problems. If only the Red of Red, Blue, Green LED is used it drives Digital cameras mad. Digital cameras only seem to see about 4 shades of red and you can not produce any sort of decent colour image from these type of setup ( this is why you see so many black and white live music images, its the only way to get a presentable image). The same applies to using only Blue or Green LED light, only its not as bad.

    Do you know if a partial defuser is available of LED lights, it would help mix the light and spread the light in smaller venues ( in smaller venues the cool running LED lights are being installed only 1 metre away from the musicians heads).

    I have also noticed an issue with video, a lot of LED lights have a 50 hertz flash. The eye does not see it, but the video camera does, this results in phasing of lighting on the resulting video or even problems focusing as the focusing system starts hunting under LED lighting. This is only a problem with LED’s as they appear to switch on and off a 50 hertz, old fashioned Tungsten / halogen bulbs never had this problem as they took to long to cool down and stop radiating light.

    Do you have any tips on how to reduce these issues, I would pass on the advice to lighting engineers at Venues. But part of the problem is these guys are being seduced by the vivid lighting LED’s give.

    thanks in advance

    Steve

  116. Murray:

    Hi,

    I’m looking for advice regarding LED UV lights. I supply UV active backdrops to raves and want to invest in some lighting. I have a couple of traditional 400W UV cannons which take bulbs. I’m thinking in investing in some LEDJ stagewash 18 or LEDJ stagewash 36 units. I’ve got over 20 backdrops, the biggest in size being 15m x 1.6m, but approx 150 m sq in total. Any advice? Or better units than the LEDJs to consider?

    Many thanks,

    Murray

  117. E:

    Please bear with me on what may seem like dumb questions, I’m a sound guy….
    I would like to add some normal incandescant lighting (par56 or some ray lights, small spots, etc) to my small, 8 can, PAR64 LED system. The LEDs are sufficient for wash but the system just needs a little….umph.
    Can I combine regular par cans via a DMX dimmer pack? How do I go about that? Do I program that dimmer pack’s channels beyond the LED programming I already have, i.e., my programming ends at DMX channel 128 so the dimmer pack would be set to operate beginning at 129? And, do I set the programming, intensity, etc., the same as I have for the LED pars? Will the lighting operated by the dimmer pack (par 56, ray lights, etc) come up where desired the same as the LED pars? Will all 4 channels od the dimmer pack come up in every programmed scene?
    Thanks.

  118. Amie:

    Hi!

    I am a novice, to say the least, with lighting. I have developed a program with a very specific application for LED lighting. I am looking to take a darkened space of approx. 500 square feet and “bathe” the room in various colors of light, one color at a time… blues, green, red, orange, pale purple &, my most challenging, yellow. Quality and mobility are also of great importance. I have sought guidance via several phone calls to on-line stage lighting companies and, it seems, I get as many “definitive” answers to my specific lighting needs as representative I speak with. I purchased 4 RGB “Hamsters’ at the suggestion of “rep #1″ The intensity of lighting was ok(ish), but I couldn’t get my yellow & found the levers in the back to be a bit, shall we say, sub-par (one broke right off.) When I called back I was told I absolutely needed RGB “Studs” then I was transferred & told I needed RGBA “Turtles”. Then I was transferred & told what I REALLY needed was 6 RGB “wide 64′s” I have also been escalated from about $200.00 for the 4 “Hampsters” to upwards of $700.00 for the 6x’s “64 wide”… I told them I’d “get back to them.” I also need a DMX w/ 8 pre-programmable settings (I’ve been told this should be about $100.00.) As I have completely lost faith in anything this company tells me, I could REALLY use some guidance! If you could please suggest the best type of lighting for this application as well as what I should expect to spend for something of good quality & transportability… that would be GREAT!! Thanks so much!

  119. OS:

    Hi,

    I am looking for something similar to the discontinued Element Labs Versa Pixel square 50mm.

    I would like to know if there is a replacement or a similar product can do the same effect.

    Thanks. OS

  120. Jamie Robertson:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2q0pok-708

    A comparison between cheap Leds + 1 Watt Leds

  121. Rob Sayer:

    Interesting video Jamie. It looks like the auto iris on the camera is kicking in which makes the brightness comparison less obvious in shot, as it appears the iris stops down when the brighter units are used. Anyone else thinking of shooting this kind of test should remember to turn off Auto White Balance on the camera as it wrecks any colour test.

  122. Adrian Ball:

    We will soon have a “new on the market” eLumen8 100 watt LED zoom cool white fresnel fitting available for demonstration purposes.
    Here is a link to the product.

    https://prolight.co.uk/PRO/item.php?id=509399

    The fitting has

    •1x 100W Cool White LED (5600K)
    •Beam angle: 10-50 degrees, manually adjusted
    •400Hz refresh rate
    •0-100% dimming and variable strobe
    •4 dimming curves in both LED and halogen profiles:
    Linear, square law, inverse square law and S-curve
    •DMX channels: 1 or 3 selectable
    •Dimming, master/slave and DMX
    •4 push button menu with LCD display
    •Powercon in socket
    •5-pin XLR in/out sockets
    •Fan cooled
    •Filter frame included

    The fitting also carries a one year warranty, repairs can be carried out by Prolight in the North West (in and out of warranty) if required.

    Several theatres in the Manchester (UK) have shown an interest in this product from a maintenance an energy usage perspective, we now need to test it out.
    Retail cost is expected to be around £500 inc VAT, pm me for further details.

  123. Adrian Ball:

    Murray

    RE: LEDJ UV lights for raves – The LEDJ UV36, UV18 and stratos have a 40 degree beam angle, therefore if you mount one 10 metres away from your backdrop you will cover an area approx 7.2 metres wide. Two should be ok for your 15 metre back drops. The UV36 is £255 each and the UV 18 is £169 each inc VAT.
    We can supply them if required.

  124. Tim:

    Fantastic site by the way !

    I have a quick question… would a 18 X 8W RGBWA par 64 work well lighting a boxing ring ? say 28 of them.

    The event is filmed and would need to be bright ! We have the above units and i cant see a problem but i could be very wrong lol :)

  125. mark:

    I think personally they are ok, also you can adjust the color temp appearance of the picture, Since it is a 5-1 chip. You may need barndoors, but most overseas units do not have this third ear/tab located at the bottom of the fixture. This would also allow for use of diffusion, like matte silk or silk. , You can purchase the tab from Elations parts department and drill and tap them yourself , if you have the ability. just my thought.

  126. Cyiza Rwanda:

    Thanks So Much for Information…

    I am an upcoming reggae musician based in Lilongwe, Malawi. I am now building a Musical Band and we have settled on an 11 Members Band… 1 Lead Vocalist (Me), 4 Backing Vocalists, 2 Guitarists, 2 Pianists, 1 Drummer, 1 Percussionist… Since there are no ready built arenas, or already lighted up venues or record companies, it falls on the musician to invest in his business… We are spending about $80,135.00 on band equipment, but now we are stuck on lighting… we want to revolutionize music as a strong band but, we need help on lighting… What exactly do I need to light up my band? We are targeting 3000 to 4000 maximum attendants at our concerts. I need help…

  127. Tim:

    Thanks Mark for your feedback, these are the units we have http://www.truesoundhire.co.uk/key-products/lighting-effects/ledj-alu-quad-par-64-hire do you think they are up to spec with the likes of Pixel Par 90′s etc ?

  128. mark:

    Tim, This type is better, each chip is really a 3watt chip , but to conserve the life of the chip, it is underpowered at 2 watts. the pixel par is 90 x 1 watt@ red =30 green=30, and blue is 30. yours is 18 x 4 or 54 pcs@ 2 watt per color or 108w, this excludes fan draw and on board electronics and driver etc. The unit you have mixes the color at the chip , as the pixel par mixes the rgb in the air,, this can be as far as 3-4 mtrs from the fixture. If yours is a recent purchase , you may have the ability to also change beam angles with a retofit lens plate. Also you have a high colortemp white chip, this allows for you to make pastel colors, light pinks , etc.. The 5 into 1 has amber in the chipset and allows for more additive of colors. In reality it is called subtractive mixing.

  129. Tim:

    So these were a good buy then by the sounds of it….

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