If you manage the Intelligent lights at a club or run a mobile DJ rig, you have likely spend more hours up on ladders changing bulbs than you want to admit. You thought why has nobody taken a High power LED and put it in a mirror based scanner? Well my friends the time has come! A new company SDE Lighting has finally built the fixture we have all dreamed of! Don't waste another penny with American DJ, Chauvet, High End or Martin. The guys at SDE Lighting have made an 60 watt LED Intelligent Scanner, and priced it at about $325.
How did I find this LED Scanner?
First of all I was searching Ebay like most guys trying to find some cheap Halogen Scanners for our Night Club. I have always wanted to replace our current lights with LED Scanners, but until now every LED Scanner on the market was either way under powered, or cost way too much. While I was searching I came across an auction by SDElighting. They were selling an 60 watt LED scanner. I thought this had to be a mis print. So I opened the link and read up on the specs. Nope it was no misprint. They really were selling a 60 watt LED Intelligent Scanner Light. But as with everything on Ebay, when in doubt its good to contact the seller to do some research before you consider buying. So I contacted the seller asking for information about the light, and I got a response a few hours later.
Who is SDE Lighting?
They are a New Jersey DJ Company called Sound Defying Entertainment. They serve primarily the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania areas with DJ services. These guys have been running DJ setups since 2001. Just recently they took all their knowledge of Intelligent lighting and decided to start making their own fixtures. They don't make very many lights, currently they just have 1 mirror scanner called the Sixty Scan ( stands for 60 watt LED ) and a Forty-Five RGBA Flat Par. If the quality of the fixtures is what they say they are, then these guys have the potential to become a major player in the Intelligent DMX lighting business.
Specs on the Sixty Scan ( 60 Watt LED Intelligent Mirror Scanner )
The Sixty Scan is an LED scanner that contains 1 x 60 Watt LED source. This is a very bright LED with superior optics to produce a very bright effect.
Features of the Sixty Scan
7 Colors + White
7 Rotating Gobos + Open
Separate Color & Gobo Wheels
Electronic Dimming ( 0-100 )
Electronic Strobing ( 1 - 18 Flashes / second )
180 Degree Pan, 100 Degree Tilt
Time for Full Pan (0.35 Seconds )
Time for Full Tilt (0.2 Seconds)
Mirrors Feature Micro Stepping Motors for very smooth movements as slow speed, while still having the torque for quick Pan and Tilts.
3 Modes: DMX, Master/Slave & Sound Active
Built-in Lighting Programs
Manual focusing lens
Strobe in every color
No Duty Cycle
Specs of the Sixty Scan
9 DMX Channels
80mm 3400 RPM fan which provides airflow over the LED's Large Heat Sink
60mm 5000 RPM fan which provides direct cooling over LED
Built in Microphone
1 x 60W White LED ( 50,000 Hour Life )
Lux: 9,200 @ 1m
Full 1 Year Warranty
Total Power Consumption: 90w
DMX Channel Assignments on Sixty Scan
5 Gobo Rotation Speed
8 Built in Macros
9 Macro Movement Speed
Disclosure: First let me be clear I have yet to physically see or test one of these fixtures so everything I am stating is based on the specs and interactions with the support staff of SDE Lighting
How the SDE Sixty Scan 60 watt LED scanner compares to other fixtures
To put it simply nothing else can compare. The closest competitor is the Chauvet Intimidator LED 300 which also boasts an 60 watt LED, but is priced at $600 each. The Chauvet Fixture also is rated at 120 watts for power consumption, which is more than the SDE Sixty Scan, but it does support Daisy Chained Power, which is a nice convenience. However The Chauvet looks to be made of Plastics, and the Sixty Scan appears to be an All Metal housing. If you are a mobile DJ, durability is a must. Also the Sixty Scan has manual focus opposed to the Chauvet's remote focus. But I have no problem manually focusing my lights. Not that remote focus is a bad thing, but its surely not a feature I would be willing to pay more for. One feature that stands out is the Sixty Scans have dual fans for cooling. Most Halogen fixtures will feature only a single 80mm fan which provides minimal airflow, which in my opinion is never enough. Well the Sixty Scan has two fans, one for airflow over the heatsink, and one that blasts cool air directly onto the LED chip. Both fans are 12 Volt DC. Meaning if you require extreme cooling, you can replace these with some aftermarket computer fans. ( which are very inexpensive! ). I recently had to order some replacement fans for our High End TrackSpots. Since the TrackSpots use 24 VDC fans you can't just swap them out with a computer fan, and have to hunt pretty hard to find a replacement. Buying them from HES direct cost $24 each, which is very over priced.
SDE Sixty Scan 60 watt LED Scanner Pros
Aside from the 60 Watt LED that will cut your power consumption by 75%, to me the big pro of this fixture is the the Electronic Dimming and Strobing. Halogen Fixtures use mechanical Shutters that are powered by an Stepper Motor. Let me tell you from experience. If you use strobing in your lighting sequences, then this stepper motor will be the first to go bad. The amount of power and torque need to rapidly move a shutter puts extreme wear and tear on the stepper motor. Since this LED Scanner features electronic strobing you will never have to worry about replacing an expensive stepper motor for your shutter. The fixture is light weight, and has an attractive black metal housing. The company informed me that the name will be printed on the front, but they decided to move this to the rear of the fixture for the second batch ( which I feel is a good choice ). Also this fixture is priced at $325, making it almost 50% less than the closest competitor. The LED is supposed to last 50K hours, and if it finally burns out, a replacement is only $40. It uses a 12 Volt 80mm Cooling Fan, the same kind used on computers, so if you want to increase your airflow, or save some money on the replacement, you are just a newegg click away.
SDE sixty Scan 60 Watt LED Scanner Cons
No Ability to Daisy chain the power. The LED light Source is rated for 100K hours. But considering most other fixtures on the market are only rating theirs at 50K hours I kind of doubt this one will really last for 100K hours. Still even if it only lasted 20K hours that is still a bargain. The company is new and has yet to establish a reputation on the market. According to the company replacement parts are available, just takes a call or an email to Customer Support. But as of right now there is no dedicated Parts Store on their website. Not a huge negative as they are just starting up. The Fixtures themselves judging from the quality of the build in the photos appears to be made in China. But keep in mind most companies ( Chauvet, American DJ and others all have their fixtures manufactured in China ). Very few companies manufacture their lights here in the states. Martin and High End are the only two I know of, and we all know how expensive their fixtures and parts are.
Why SDE over other Companies?
First of all I have worked on my share of scanning fixtures from various brands. Martin, High End, Chauvet, American DJ, Elation, ext.. After you have repaired a few fixtures you start to identify its weaknesses.
For the Martin's which use Discharge Bulbs, their biggest weakness is the replacement cost of the bulbs. New bulbs can cost sometimes $100 each. The other problem is they reverse polarity on the DMX ( meaning pins 2 and 3 are reversed ), and to get them to work with your other lights you have to use inverter plugs. Even though martin does stock replacement parts for repair. They charge way too much for replacement parts. However I will give martin credit where its due. I have never had a problem reaching their technical support, and whenever I have need new fixture profiles for lights that were not in light jockey they would get one built very quickly. As for customer support after the sale, Martin from what I hear is terrible. I personally know the guy who built HUSH Nightclub, he said after Martin got their 300 Lights installed at his club. He said they were unreachable for support when fixtures started having problems.
Elation and American DJ
Then you have Elation and American DJ, which do a pretty good job making affordable fixtures, and have parts for repair. But after they stop making a fixture for a number of years they will stop making replacement parts for it. Not sure if this is their way to force customers to buy new fixtures or if they just can't get them anymore. This is the problem I have with our Mighty Scans. So now each one is a ticking time bomb waiting to die with no replacement stepper motors available.
High End Systems
High End makes very good fixtures, but unfortunately their priced high and have nothing to server the lower end of the market. Still today their Discontinued TrackSpot fixtures are highly sought after on the used market. Known for their tank tough construction, very cheap replacement bulbs ( $3 each from some sites ). Our club has some which are 20 years old and still running. They still have parts available, but they are not cheap.
I have worked with the Intimidator 1.0 fixtures and honestly I was not impressed. Who at Chauvet thought it was a good idea to have a combined color / gobo wheel? Honestly ditch the gobos and just give me full circles. I found the fixtures Stepping motors to be choppy, and they would constantly loose their center positioning. Even though Chauvet has come a long way, now with their LED Intimidator series. Their fixtures are still very expensive for what you get. Plus their tech support takes forever to get back to you. If you ask them anything highly technical they will just not respond.
SDE has made a LED Scanner that is affordable, has a ton of features. and is made to last. I have reviewed the specs and design. They use very high quality parts and components in their fixtures. They don't liter their fixtures with ton of stickers, or add stupid plastic bumpers. Its a clean design, and a very simple construction. Customer Support is excellent with answers to all my questions. So far so good. Only time will tell.
Final thoughts on Sixty Scan and SDE lighting
Unlike American DJ which seems to be obsessed with making hundreds of different useless lights, SDE has chosen to make a Par, and a Scanner. Which in my opinion are the only two fixtures you really need for most establishments. Some people get infatuated with buying the most lavish lights such as the High End Cyberlights that feature a ton of effects and will take up some serious real estate on your light controller. But keep in mind all things with mechanical parts eventually fail. The more moving parts a fixture has the more prone it is to failure. Once I get some of my old Halogen Scanners sold, I will try to purchase one of the SDE 60 watt LED Scanners, and then give a full review of the performance. If they are as great as I am hoping, then I intend to replace all our lights which include 10 High End TrackSpots, 16 American DJ Mighty Scans, 2 American DJ 250 EX, 2 Venue Scan 250, 4 Martin Roboscan 812, and 2 Accu Spot 300 moving head fixtures with SDE's sixty Scan 60 Watt LED Mirror Scanners.
Update 3/19/2011 We got in our first batch of 4 x 60 watt LED scanners from SDE lighting today. The internals are excellent, but the outer shell is a little thin, so don't be surprised if UPS ground manages to dent them up a little. 2 of our 4 fixtures were dented , but it was nothing a pair of pliers couldn't fix. They are slightly brighter than our 250 watt halogens. Saturday Night we had a big party. These fixtures looked awesome on our dance floor. Even though I wasn't using DMX to control them, they do a pretty good job in a master / slave mode. Lots of compliments from our party guests on the new fixtures.
Update 3/23/2011 Today I put in an order for 6 more 60 watt LED scanners. Once I get this next set of fixtures, I will be setting them up with Martin Light Jockey over one of our stages where they will run 14 hours / day. Just a note we are selling our 12 Mighty Scans for $200 each, so if you are interested feel free to contact me. Plus I have 2 AccuSpot 300 moving head fixtures for $600 each. We also have 10 high end trackspots, but those are not yet for sale. Once we clear out our other lights, we will consider selling the trackspots too.
Update 3/30/2011 The 6 Fixtures arrived today. Unfortunately UPS Ground was less then gentle with them. One of them had a broken mirror, However Upon closer inspection it appears that the manufacturer ( not SDE lighting ) forgot to put in a second alan screw on the mirror assembly, resulting in the entire assembly falling off during shipping. Also two power cables were missing. I informed SDE lighting, and they apologized for the missing cables, and broken mirror. They said they would ship me the missing cables, a replacement alan screw,and a replacement mirror, at no cost to me. Even though I am a little disturbed by this set back, I do understand that UPS can be brutal on packages. Thus far the customer support with SDE lighting has been excellent. Also as a side note I checked all 6 fixtures to see if they powered up, and all 6 worked perfectly. Once the replacement parts arrive I will be installing the 6 fixtures at the Ritz over the alternate stage.
Update 4/4/2011 The replacement parts ( 2 power cables and 1 Alan screw ) arrived today. SDE Lighting has a bunch of replacements parts ( LED chips, Mirrors and such ) that are arriving in a week from China. Once the parts batch arrives they will be shipping me a replacement mirror. Its nice to work with a smaller company like SDE lighting that takes customer support so seriously. Thus far I am very happy.
Update 4/8/2011 This morning I installed the 6 LED scanners over our 3rd stage at the Ritz. They replaced 4 American DJ Mighy Scans ( which are for sale ), and 2 American DJ Accu-Spot 300 Moving Head Fixtures ( also for sale ). Getting them hung was easy. Just to test their functions I set them all to the same DMX address, then went through the various controls on Martin Light Jockey. They use the same Fixture Profile as the EuroLite TL-200, though unfortunately Martin does not include any gobo images on the gobo controls. This can be fixed by Manually configuring the fixture profile. I am hoping I can convince Martin to make a custom fixture profile for SDE Lighting, and to include it on their master updates. Once I confirmed all their functions worked correctly, I gave each of them their own address block, and then programmed them to do some scans over our 3rd stage. I was amazed by how smooth the movements were. Also I will say that these are just as bright, if not brighter than all our 250 watt halogen fixtures. The only negatives are the limited number of colors ( no red and no purple or UV ), but the colors it does have look excellent. The orange actually is more of a red color than orange, which is a plus. Normally we have to change bulbs on our Halogen fixtures at least once a month ( due to running 16 hours / day ). If these do what they are supposed to do, the next time they are taken off the truss will be several years from now.
Update 5/31/2011 A week ago I had a huge install with these lights. I hung 16 of these scanners on our upstairs truss, plus I also setup 8 of the 45 PARs by SDE Lighting against our back wall shinning upward for ambient lighting. The LED Scanners were setup in Master Slave Mode. I would have liked to program them but this setup was for a smaller event and we didn't have the budget to do custom programming. Overall the effect was great. Even in Master / Slave Mode they still look great. Here is a video of the setup. This was before the crowd showed up.
Its been a while so I thought I would update the blog again. Since last update we have had 3 more lights burn out the chips. Mike has gotten me 2 replacement LEDs, but is waiting on a parts shipment before he can ship me another one.
Also I decided to move our lights around. I moved our Mighty Scan fixtures to our upstairs truss where they run for maybe 8 hours once a month. I then moved all Sixty Scan LED Fixtures to our main stage where they run from 14 hours / day. This move was before last Halloween. It has been about 5 months since moving the fixtures, and I am glad to say that we haven't lost a single fixture yet. ( no LEDs have gone out ). This is running 16 sixty scans. In this same time period if we had been running the Mighty Scans or any halogen based scanner we would have gone through 90 bulbs, and probably replaced about dozen wire harnesses. I figure that in parts and labor the LED Sixty Scans have saved us about $2000 in the last 5 months.
Update 3/20/2013 We lost 2 more fixtures due to bad LEDs, which brought our total down fixture count to 4 units. Mike finally got some replacement LEDs to me. I installed them and everything seems to be running great. The new LEDs are slightly larger than the originals, but this helps assist in cooling issues. As of now all 16 of our LED Scanners are working at 100%.
Remember our LED Scanners run 14 hours / day every day. This is while running in an environment full of dust and cigarette smoke. Even though we have had some issues here and there, the cost savings over halogen have been huge. I highly recommend these Scanners.
Reliability and Performance At this point we have been using these fixtures for just under 3 months. They have been running for 16 hours / day, 7 days a week. We have not had a single problem with any of them. The only issue we had was with the first batch of lights being dented due to UPS ground, and insufficient packaging. However our last 2 batches of lights came in much thicker packaging and arrived flawless, so this should no longer be a concern. The DJs at our club have become huge fans of them. While we have to change out the bulbs on all our Halogen fixtures once a month ( HES TrackSpots and ADJ Mighty Scans ). We have not had to touch these fixtures once.
Below are the benefits I have observed since we put these lights into action.
Never have to change bulbs.
Low Power Consumption ( about 105 Watts vs 375 Watts on trackspots )
This means you can run 3 x as many lights on a single circuit
Low Heat ( meaning your AC won't have to run extra hard to keep your venue cool )
Easy to program and configure
The Beam on these is much wider than our trackspots and at the same intensity too.
Very smooth mirror movements.
If you don't know if you are ready to spend just a little more to get these LED Scanners, and are still considering some cheap Halogen scanners, Here is something to think about. If you are a club and don't see yourself being in buisness more than 3 months and will only be open on the weekends, then get the Halogens, but if you plan to be open longer, than I highly suggest the LED Scanners. The long Term cost savings make them a huge value.