REVIEWED: ADJ Focus Spot 6Z
As a brand, ADJ is well-established across the globe for its wide range of lighting solutions for the mobile entertainment, event production and installation markets – from the Pocket Pro to the Vizi Series and everything in between. The Focus Spot range of moving heads, in particular, has been a hit in the UK since it was released back in 2016 and has continued to evolve over the past four years with a number of new products, the latest of which is known as the Focus Spot 6Z.
Combining a powerful LED light source with an expansive collection of features, the Focus Spot 6Z is a serious moving head spot fixture. While it may be too big for smaller DJ setups, it is ideal for larger DJ rigs as well as for DJs who also undertake some production work (or would like to move their businesses in that direction in the near future).
Getting straight into the box, the first thing that caught my eye was the use of the new style locking power connections, which are designed to be safely connected under load, for both input and output. Many high-end brands in sound, lighting and AV are gradually phasing out the use of the standard locking connections in favour of this new design and events companies are following suit, so it is great to see ADJ pushing these as a flagship connection.
In addition to a change of power connection, the 6Z also integrates ArtNet and sACN input and passthrough options to take in signal through the integrated RJ45 etherCON ports along with the standard 3-pin and 5-pin DMX connections, which broadens your control options. This is also a feature mostly found on higher-end products aimed at the touring/rental market, where these methods of control are more likely to be utilised for sending signals over networks for larger rigs. These newer control protocols make sense here because of the high channel count of the fixture, regardless of which of the three available DMX channel modes you choose: Basic (21 channels), Standard (25 channels) or Extended (29 channels).
On the front, a large colour LCD screen is utilised for displaying system information and providing an intuitive menu interface for setup and addressing. To access the menu, simply hit the ‘MODE’ button and use the ‘UP’, ‘DOWN’, ‘LEFT’, ‘RIGHT’ and ‘ENTER’ buttons to navigate. The menu is comprehensive, allowing selection and configuration of everything from DMX and built-in programs to fixture testing and firmware information. Also found on the front of the unit is a USB socket labelled ‘SERVICE PORT’. This is what enables you to update the 6Z’s firmware, should there be a future update.
One great feature of this fixture is that you can power up the menu through an on-board battery by holding down the ‘MODE’ button on the front of the unit which brings the colour LCD display to life even if power isn’t connected. This means that you can set your DMX address, network control protocol, channel mode and check fixture information at home before a gig or on-site before mounting it onto your rig. This is especially handy for overhead truss rigs as you can prepare the fixture on the ground before it is out of reach without needing to run a separate power source on the ground. It is worth noting that the battery power supply will only power up the menu and not the complete fixture as it is only designed for preparing/programming and not testing/running.
Looking at more of the physical attributes of this fixture, both pan and tilt yokes can be locked into position quickly and easily with the low-profile locking levers. These are very handy to keep the fixture still during transportation, rigging and even servicing. Some other fixtures I’ve used have the tilt lock from the front through to the back of the yoke, which makes it easy to knock accidentally. Fortunately, the 6Z builds the switch into the side of the yoke so not only is it discreet, it also prevents the switch from being knocked. The attention to these smaller details by the R&D department at ADJ is very impressive on this fixture.
Now let’s take a look at the inside of the fixture. 14 colours (plus white) are available across two independent wheels. One of these wheels includes colour correction (CTO and CTB) as well as UV filters, which makes this a very flexible moving head. It is also possible to combine colours, one from each wheel, to create even more colour options (although, depending on which filters you select, this can seriously reduce the output).
There are also two separate rotating GOBO wheels inside, each with seven patterns (plus open) to give you 14 different GOBOs in total. Each of the GOBOs can be rotated in either direction at various speeds and the fixture also offers indexed rotation for precise positioning. All of the GOBOs are replaceable, which means that custom patterns can be swapped in if required. It’s worth noting that GOBOs from each wheel can be overlaid and, when the focus is switched from one wheel to the other, a ‘morphing’ effect can be created. In total, 189 different effects can be generated by combining the two GOBO wheels and adding one of the built-in prisms, allowing for the creation of some stunning mid-air beam patterns and surface projections.
On the topic of prisms, the 6Z is loaded with a rotating 6-facet circular prism and a rotating 5-facet linear prism. These cannot be overlaid but can be switched quickly and are also indexable, allowing them to be held in a specific position, which is a particularly handy feature for the linear prism!
The fixture offers a motorised zoom range of between 9 and 28-degrees, which is impressive for a spot fixture and allows for the creation of both tight aerial effects and wide surface projections. To find a wider zoom range on a moving head with similar functionality, you would need to look for a hybrid fixture which tend to have significantly higher price tags and are often too big to justify for mobile entertainment. As with all of the fixtures in the series, the Focus Spot 6Z also offers motorised focus, allowing GOBO projections to be kept sharp at varying distances of projection. In addition, the 6Z model also boasts a motorised iris, which is another pro-level feature.
Completing the fixture’s collection of internal beam-shaping tools we have the variable frost filters. ADJ have included not one, but two filters in this fixture, and for good reason. The first filter is a heavy frost and gives a wider wash which works best on the open GOBO, allowing the fixture to serve as a stage wash if required. The second filter is a lighter frost and creates a slightly blurred edge, making it ideal for use with GOBO and prism effects.
The Focus Spot series has become well known for fixtures that pack a punch whilst maintaining a compact form factor in comparison to equivalent fixtures on the market. This has always been a contributing factor to the success of the series and the 6Z continues this tradition. Despite housing a potent 300W cool white LED engine and a comprehensive set of features, it stands at 56cm tall and weighs in just under 20kg!
Having fired up my test unit, the colours built-in to the fixture really caught my eye as I flicked through the options offered by both wheels. The colours appear more saturated in comparison to previous models in the series. This is especially noticeable on the reds, yellows, blues and even the ultraviolet, which all have an even better effect through the wide frost filter. Speaking of UV, given the saturation of the other colour filters it would be a crime not to mention the depth of the UV filter when compared to similar lighting fixtures, those of which appear a little more unnatural when compared against the Focus Spot 6Z. The speed range of colour changes is also very impressive while using the ‘colour scroll’ feature. The motors do not stutter on extremely low speeds but also handle maximum scrolling speeds with ease.
Both GOBO wheels come pre-loaded with a selection of metal patterns (with one glass GOBO included on wheel 2), which are very finely cut to make the resulting effects crisp and sharp when in focus. As previously mentioned, you can overlay the GOBO wheels for a ‘GOBO morphing’ effect. Both wheels can also rotate in different directions at different speeds simultaneously, which allows for the creation of some pretty impressive effects. As with the colour wheels, the motors can easily cope with smooth GOBO rotation at low speeds, which to me is perfect for creating subtle lighting looks to accompany background music.
The focus/zoom assembly is considerably faster than on previous generations, making zoom and focus points easier and quicker to adjust. It also gives you opportunities to create very nice zoom chases thanks to the variable speed motor. Another nifty design feature is how the configuration of the LED engine combined with the high-quality optics produces a sharp projection with no hotspots. This is what happens when certain parts of the projection are brighter than others which can be caused by lower quality optic assemblies or uneven coverage from LED engines. Higher quality optics and focus assemblies also help combat soft edges on certain GOBOs, which I can safely say will not be an issue on the 6Z.
Standard and Extended DMX channel modes enable 16-bit pan and tilt control to allow finer pan and tilt movement control. This makes slower movements smoother and positioning more accurate. 16-bit control also applies to the dimmer in the Extended channel mode, allowing for nice smooth slow fades in and out. This is achieved by adding more dimming ‘steps’ via a separate ‘fine’ adjustment channel. A standard 8-bit DMX channel offers values ranging from 0 to 255 (256 steps in total). By adding a second channel, each of those steps then has another 256 steps between them. That means 16-bit control gives you 65,536 steps between the highest and lowest value in total compared to just 256 steps using 8-bit control. This is how 16-bit control makes movement and dimming much smoother in modern fixtures.
Having used the Focus Spot Two and Focus Spot Three Z in the past, I have been blown away by how far the Focus Spot series has progressed in the past four years. A few design quirks that I have seen on comparable fixtures from other manufacturers have all been properly thought out by the ADJ R&D team on this model and to say the 6Z is an amazing spot fixture is a huge understatement! Every aspect of the 6Z has been carefully considered with the mobile entertainment and smaller event production companies in mind to produce what I can only describe as the ideal spot moving head for those looking to take their lighting rig to the next level.
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music, insure your gear today and save 10% off your quote - from just £22.50 a year.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 103, Pages 80-83.