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FDP Forum / Non-Fender Gear Reviews / Review of American DJ TRI18 LED Flat Par stage lighting

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

Built for comfort, not for speed.
Feb 17th, 2012 06:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Well, I have finally had a little bit of time to finally sit down with my business partner to check out the two American DJ TRI18 and the American DJ RGB-3C controller that I recently purchased.

Keeping in mind that my intended use is for a stage wash for performing bands, we tried to conduct a test that would put the lights thru that type of exercise. We sat the lights on the floor (tripods were not readily available where we were set up...) and spread them about 15-16 feet apart and about 14-15 feet from the wall (painted flat white).

We crossfired the fixtures, stage right fixture aimed at stage left back wall and vice versa for the other fixture.

The light was very rich and easily washed the entire area from about 6 or 8 feet in front of the wall...so it took approximately 6 or 8 feet for the light to spread. The light easily covered at least 8 feet above the floor, and had they been pole mounted they would have easily covered from a height of approximately 10 feet.

The RGB-3C controller was simple once we figured out the different features. Not a big deal, just took us a couple of minutes to work our way thru the various controls. Using the same three faders for RGB control or for Program, Speed and Flash took just a couple of minutes to comprehend the operation. It probably took a total of 15 minutes from opening the boxes of the TRI18 and RGB-3C to having a nice stage wash on the wall.

We toyed with several of the internal programs, sound active, manual use of the preset color selections and the use of the faders...we were very pleased with the system's ease of operation.

Prior to purchasing these items, I posted some questions on another formum. One comment that I received suggested that the RGB-3C needed a master fader. While that might be a nice addition, I did not find I required that feature. I simply switched from using the preset colors and started using the RGB faders to create my own colors...and thus I could also adjust the intensity of the fixture as well. Granted, it would be simpler if there was a master fader since you could leave the intensity of the Master at a selected level and then push a "preset" button to change colors.

And I need to point out that other DMX512 boards/controllers will easily work with the TRI18 LED fixture. In fact, they have "stand alone" controls on the back. These fixtures do have internal "controls" meaning you do NOT have to buy a DMX-512 dimmer in order to operate the TRI18 LED.

How "bright" was the light? Well, it was a strong enough light from just one fixture that it was uncomfortable to look directly at the light...both lights on at 100% made it difficult to see anything behind the lights (audience side).

The "intensity" of the colors was outstanding. Full, rich, deep colors at 100% and still plenty of color depth even at 50% fader.

Even the "white" was a very useable color and would be far more than adequate to illuminate activities such as public speaking (wedding, conference, awards ceremony, you name it)...and, for that matter, it would be pretty handy to pack your gear using the white for illumination.

Keep in mind, I wanted a simple STAGE WASH system. However, I can assure you that if you are a mobile or club DJ/KJ, these lights would work well to pump up the dance floor...the multiple auto cycles and strobe programs and other features would combine to make this a very nice rig for DJ/KJ application...throw in a few effects lights and you have a nice, simple set up.

For those who have never used color changing LEDs, I should note that each fixture or device is capable of every color you could want, with slightly varying degrees of "success". All you have to do is adjust the Red, Green or Blue content. Thus, the RGB-3C controller has faders that have that ability to manually over ride any preset to change the color to the one you want/need. Also, this is a simple, basic controller so it is not intended to operate other types of fixtures (meaning incandescent or conventional PAR38 or PAR56 or PAR64 fixtures.) Nor is the RGB-3C intended to operate effects lights such as moonflowers or scanners, etc. However, if you are using LED panels or bars as a "wash" or "mood effect" it would be a nice option.

Two last comments on the controller: You cannot "spotlight" one performer during a solo when using this device for a stage wash. It is all fixtures or none. Of course, you could take one controller that runs one fixture, and with the low price, you could even buy one for each fixture if you wanted. But then you lose the ease of Master-Slave operation for a wash... Second, if you wanted to use conventional DMX512 protocol you would require as many as 7 channels per fixture to control all the internal features...so two light fixtures such as I own would require 14 channels to control all colors, strobe, scanning, speed, etc. So, consider what your actual use of the fixtures would be and buy the right controller.

(This is probably not a good place to teach all of the differences between LED and conventional incandescent or sealed lighting.)

About 3 years ago, I had an opportunity to watch some 1 Watt LEDs from Chauvet COLORado 6...to be honest, from my limited experience, the TRI18 was every bit as impressive and two TRI18 LED retailed at about half the cost of the one Chauvet product. At the time we were watching the Chauvet COLORado 6, I commented to my crew that I felt that my 10mm LEDs in six P64 LED fixtures were nearly as bright as two of the Chauvet product. Each Chauvet COLORado 6 has three banks of 36 1 Watt LEDs per fixture (two 3-bank fixtures). At the time, my two crew members told me that if I purchased just two more P64 LED, that we would produce more light than the COLORado 6. Well, maybe not...but it was "too close" for the price difference. I would have less invested with eight P64 LED than one COLORado 6. Now that is "wrong".

There is NO QUESTION in my mind that the TRI18 goes beyond either of those systems. My two TRI18 together cost around $700 ($350 each) which is about half what the market price is for the COLORado 6 ($1400). If I were to spend an equal amount as that other product costs, I could have four TRI18.

I would not hesitate to provide lighting for a "small town" outdoor street festival with four TRI18 flown above the front line of the stage. And if the opportunity to bid such a job comes up this summer, I intend to go after that contract.

In conclusion, these two TRI18 out perform the six old technology (first production models) P64 LED fixtures I had previously used. Brighter, richer color, easier to use, simple to control with the RGB-3C.

I realize that in 3 or 4 years, there will be a newer technology and newer products that will out perform these lights...so what? In 3 years I will be 65 yrs old...I will be in the audience, not on stage or behind the mixer. I will be happy that I don't drool on myself...or worse.

Shawn told me that he thought I made a very good investment. I thought so myself. He did ask if I would consider allowing him to use the lights at his "real job" (theater tech at the local city government auditorium and conference center)...I told him anytime he needed them.

In case you have not figured out, I am impressed with these lights. If I could add another pair of the TRI18 and then bring in about 3 of the LED bar style fixture for "back lighting" behind the band's backline and drummer. Now that would be a nice band lighting set up...not low cost, but very effective.

If you are considering new lighting for your band, seriously consider LEDs regardless of manufacturer or model...buy the MOST you can afford and buy the most recent state of the art. You will be glad you did. The 1 Watt, single color LEDs are much brighter than the 10mm LEDs that I previously owned. The 3 Watt-tri-color LEDs in my new TRI18 goes beyond the 1 Watt single colors by a lot. LEDs in general are more "band friendly" in my perspective. They are not HOT on stage meaning you don't sweat because of the heat from the light AND you can touch the fixture while the light is on and not burn yourself. Additionally, LEDs draw less electrical current meaning you don't have to run extension cords to every outlet in the venue to get enough power. My full band, PA and my two TRI18 LED can plug into ONE 20 Amp circuit and not trip the breaker. I have not tried, but I suspect that I could probably add an LED panel or long bar device without tripping the breaker as well...

Hope this helps you find what you need...

(This message was last edited by Tony Wright at 06:53 AM, Feb 17th, 2012)

Gaukdawg

Ohio

I'm with you fellers!
Feb 17th, 2012 08:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks for the Review Tony. I am one of those guys and while our band does not sell itself on the light show, it is something we pride ourselves on, a DJ light show with a full live band experience. I am currently "looking at upgrading our up-lighting. I don't know if you remeber but I had previously mentioned that I was using a couple of lights from Stage Ape, well these are now on the workbench, I have to replace the dip switches on them. The ADJ TRI18 might be a little too much for up lighting and maybe might be a little too much money. But I am looking at the ADJ Megapars. I definitely agree that you should buy as new of technology and spend as much as you can.

To be fair to Chauvet, the Colorado stuff is a littel older. I've found there is not too much difference in the brands at similar price points. Every once in a while one of them will jump ahead and the other will soon compensate. A third player is Blizzard Lighting. I do not have any of their products yet but they seem to be very interesting.

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

Built for comfort, not for speed.
Feb 17th, 2012 06:26 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I do not plan to use these as "up lighting". Oh, they might be assigned that task at some event, but my primary purpose in purchasing was for a down light (mounted on a tripod stand) stage wash.

The TRI18 is designed so you can attach a clamp (I bought the O-clamps because they are quick to put on or remove) and then hang the lights from a tripod.

Since I will likely just use the two fixtures, positioned one on each side, I plan to clamp them to a tripod stand...but I will not use the "T-top" on the tripod stand since I won't need to clamp anything else. In your application, you could clamp other fixtures to a "T-bar" and just party on.

But, you are correct, at $350 each, these are not "budget priced lighting". On the other hand, I was serious when I said that the TRI18 outperforms the standard 10mm LEDs and also the 1 Watt LEDs such as in the COLORado 6 fixture. It is significantly brighter.

One thing I noted on the ADJ site is they gave an output rating in lumiens...not just some fat bass player's opinion, real numbers.

My understanding is there is a "smaller, less expensive" model from American DJ called the TRI7. The TRI7 has seven, instead of eighteen, tri color 3 Watt LEDs and it sells for $200 each (I checked a couple of sites). Obviously, it has less than 50% of the LEDs so it would produce less light...but maybe closer to your budget.

You owe it to yourself to drop by a retailer that sells either of these TRI LED fixtures from ADJ.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

I'm with you fellers!
Feb 18th, 2012 09:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

We played a wedding reception this past weekend and I was paying close attention to how well lit the stage was. We have 2 Chauvet Colorplash 200Bs on each side for front lighting and 2 Colorbars for back lighting. Our stages for most wedding receptions is appoximatly 20 foot wide and 10 to 12 foot deep. These lights do a pretty good job illumitaing the whole stage area. Sometimes I think I'm a little too worried about lighting the stage. I've linked a photo page from our web site. If you scroll down you can see several photos showing the stage lit.

There are not many local places to preview these lights. I've mostly used reviews online and you tube video reviews to decide on purchases.

our lighting

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

Built for comfort, not for speed.
Feb 19th, 2012 08:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The one possible area that I need to address is center stage front.

When you look at the output of a light, it tends to be a "V" shape outwards from the light fixure...so it is next to impossible for lights on the "corners" to light the face of the person center stage front. I was thinking that one of the ADJ TRI7 LED Par for a foot light fixture...it is the "baby brother" of the TRI18 LED Par that I recently purchased. The price of an LED Bar or the TRI7 LED Par would be similar.

Why not one of the LED Bar fixtures? Well, go look at the photometrics on the ADJ site. The ADJ Mega Bar LED produces 84 lux at 2 Meters...while the TRI7 LED Flat Par produces 399 lux at 2 meters.

For reference, the TRI18 LED Flat Par produces 791 lux at 2 meters.

Each of the three fixtures mentioned (TRI18 LED Par, TRI7 LED Par, Mega Bar LED) each have a 40 degree spread on their lighting output. So they are similar in that aspect.

Obviously, it would be nice to have lighting across the back as well, but that will have to wait until everything is paid off and I see if I need to address anything else on the front, before I can move on to the back line.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

I'm with you fellers!
Feb 21st, 2012 06:27 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Tony, you targeted the same area of the stge I think I have the least coverage for as well. I have considered some small centerstage up lighting to help. What I found has helped some is using the Stage Ape Studs from the corners pointing up across the stage. These lights are very bright, 1,521 LUX at 1 meter with all LED's on at 100%, and look great. But the DMX commands have stoped working, and I think it might be due to the dip switches. I have bought a couple and can replace them fairly quickly.

I have been looking to upgrade our Par Cans. The 200bs are plenty bright and have a nice wide angle but the LEDs are not covered and we always have to make sure we handle them more carefully.

You have me really considering just spending a little more and getting the brighter cans with covered LEDs.

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

Built for comfort, not for speed.
Feb 21st, 2012 02:20 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think you will find that the TRI18 LED Flat Par has a higher lux at 1 meter. According to the cutsheet, it is 2920 lux at 1 meter.

I believe I was told that all light "decays" at a similar rate...especially true when comparing similar type of sources (LED vs incandescent vs Halogen vs florescent)...It has been a long time since that was explained and my memory is not what it was when I was only 60...(sheesh, "only" 60...sigh).

I previously quoted the 2 meter rating because I believe that is about the average distance the performers' faces will be on stage from a fixture hung on a tripod light stand.

It is all a guessing game anyway...smoke and mirrors...and pretty lights.

I will observe that another option for center stage front is one of the LED bar devices...not directional lighting focused on the performer, but it looks "pretty" to the audience AND shines some light on the performer. Kind of...

It's good to know YOU can replace those dip switches...I will start sending my repairs to you if I ever have any...

But speaking of dip switches, there are a couple who play in my band that....oh, wait...never mind.

American DJ Cutsheet for TRI18 LED Flat Par

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member
*****

Merrill, Wisconsin

Dangit! Hot weather.
Feb 21st, 2012 02:37 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I bought a couple of these for $49 each (these days usually on sale for $59). They are great and are enough for most of our band's needs. 4 would be plenty for most bands.

They have come out with 1 and 3 watt LED lights. The more LED's the higher the price.

LED light

(This message was last edited by Steve Dallman at 02:39 PM, Feb 21st, 2012)

Gaukdawg

Ohio

I'm with you fellers!
Mar 2nd, 2012 10:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I did get the two Studs from Stage Ape working again. They have samll circuit boards and I was able to replace the dip switches on one and on the second there was actually a broken solder joint for one of the cable jacks where it was soldered to the board. I also touched up all the solder joints that did not look good to me. Anyway, they are both working so I'll move forward with them to see how things look.

rythmpyg
Contributing Member
**********
*

wi

you'll thank me in the end
Apr 10th, 2012 07:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Go Blizzard Lighting


Blizzard

FDP Forum / Non-Fender Gear Reviews / Review of American DJ TRI18 LED Flat Par stage lighting




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