Ibiza Light 9BEAM-MINI
In the last issue of the magazine, Mark Walsh reviewed a battery-powered portable PA system from Lotronic’s Ibiza Sound brand, and for this edition it’s my turn to look at one of the offerings from sister brand Ibiza Light. The 9BEAM-MINI is a compact multi-beam effect that is ideal for the mobile DJ market thanks to its compact size, powerful output, and affordable price.
As Mark explained last issue, Lotronic is a well-established sound and lighting company in mainland Europe with a number of brands including BST and AFX Light. Lotronic’s equipment has been available sporadically in the UK through a number of different distributors over the years, however the company has now setup a dedicated UK operation, so you can expect to see much more of their products over the coming months and years.
Ibiza Light is Lotronic’s primary lighting brand in terms of its offerings for mobile DJs and the 9BEAM-MINI is a great starting point for delving into what the range has to offer. It consists of three mini scanning battens, each fitted with three LED spots, mounted in a triangular formation on a rotating base. This is not a new concept, as a number of other brands have brought out similar fixtures, however what sets this model apart is its compact size. Although featuring the same layout – and not compromising on LED brightness – the 9BEAM-MINI is a lot smaller than other similar units. This, coupled with its extremely affordable price, makes it perfectly suited for mobile DJs.
The unit is powered by nine potent 10W CREE RGBW LEDs, each positioned behind a lens which focuses its light output into a sharp 5-degree beam. Each group of three lenses is arranged in a narrow fanned pattern on a motorised batten which can sweep up and down by just over 90-degrees. The three battens are then fixed to a rotating head, which can spin continuously in either direction at variable speed. Each LED can be individually controlled, which allows for chasing patterns and multi-coloured effects to be created. Each batten can also move independently, which makes for impressive sweeping and spinning beam effects when combined with the base rotation.
While testing the 9BEAM-MINI I set it up in my local church hall to find out how it performs in a gig-sized venue, and I have to say that I was very impressed. Even with the main lights on, the projected dots were bright and the colours were rich and vibrant. When I then turned out the lights, this fixture completely filled the sizable room with movement and colour. Finally, I filled the space with haze and that was when the effect became truly impressive. The razor-sharp beams reached all the way from the front to the back and were clearly visible across their entire length. The combination of the spinning and sweeping movements with the multi-coloured beams made for some really impressive effects and I soon realised that this has the potential to be much more than a ‘coloured dots’ light. It’s motor movements are very smooth and with a little bit of creative DMX programming some very nice sweeping beam effects could easily be created for a wedding first dance or other ‘feature’ moment within an event.
When it comes to control, all of the usual options are provided. This means that the fixture can be left to its own devices running its internal programmes or integrated into a larger synchronised lightshow using DMX to fully control every aspect of its effect. A backlit LCD display on the front panel of the base provides access to a menu-driven interface that facilitates mode selection and DMX addressing.
For simple ‘plug-and-play’ operation, the unit comes pre-programmed with four selectable lightshows. Each of these can either be set to run automatically at a pre-set speed, or triggered by the beat of the music. One or more additional fixtures can also be connected via XLR cables and set to Slave mode, which will cause them to synchronise with the Master unit and mimic the program that it is running.
For DMX control, three different channel modes are available for selection: 16, 24 and 48. All of the options offer full control over the unit’s rotating base and three separate tilt movements, with the channel differences effecting the way the LEDs are controlled. For the 16-channel option, the RGB colour mixing for all nine of the LEDs is combined, while the 24-channel option allows individual control of each set of three LEDs. Finally, the full 48-channel mode allows individual RGBW colour mixing for each of the nine LEDs independently, allowing custom colour chasing effects to be programmed.
Despite the 9BEAM-MINI’s diminutive form – it measures 298 x 278 x 185mm – I was pleasantly surprised by the apparent build quality of the unit. It is constructed from metal, with rubberised plastic elements, and has a professional feel that belies its low price tag. While I wouldn’t describe it as heavy – the unit weighs 4.5kgs – it does have a substantial feel. It is also fitted with two convenient handles, positioned at either side of the base, which makes it easy to carry and mount.
The fixture is fitted with rubber feat, which means that it can be used standing directly on the floor or on any other firm, level surface. It is also supplied with a hanging bracket which attaches to the base using a pair of threaded bolts (provided), which screw into dedicated holes in the base of the fixture. These bolts are fitted with moulded plastic tops, which means they can be screwed in by hand, therefore no tools are required to fit the bracket.
From a mobile DJ perspective, this gives a few different options for integrating the 9BEAM-MINI into a mobile DJ lighting rig. Used alone, it is an obvious choice for a centrepiece on a goal post rig, and its nine powerful beams will easily cut through wash lighting and hold their own alongside other popular fixtures such as moving heads or barrel scanners. For larger shows, the fixture could also be used in multiples, spread across a rig, to create a real blaze of moving beams and colour. Alternatively, I think a pair would look very effective positioned directly on top of speakers at either side of a setup to create a retro helicopter-style effect.
Having thoroughly tested the 9BEAM-MINI I find myself struggling to find anything to criticise. The LEDs are bright, the optics crisp, and the movements fluid. The build quality seems to be very good and the unit’s size and weight make it perfectly suited for use as a part of a mobile DJ lightshow. The only minor complaint I was able to come up with is the lack of an IEC mains output socket. These are now common on most mobile DJ lighting fixtures and are useful to help reduce the number of power cables running up to a lighting rig.
Overall this is a great dancefloor effect, especially if you are able to use haze so that the beams are visible in mid-air. It is bright enough for even the largest of venues in which most mobile DJs find themselves booked to perform, and offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to mounting options and operating modes. Whether you chose to use just one fixture as a centrepiece or multiples spread across your rig, and whether you decide to rely on the internal programs or create your own with DMX, as a mobile DJ, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the Ibiza Light 9BEAM-MINI.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 83, Pages 80-82.