Equinox Saturn Spot
The new Saturn Spot from the Prolight Concepts Group’s Equinox brand first caught my eye when I saw a photo online of the company’s stand at PLASA Focus in Leeds. It looked intriguing, but my initial assumption was that it was a fixture aimed at concert touring and nightclub installations and would sit outside the budget of most mobile DJs. However, when I got the full details from the guys at Prolight, I was pleased to find that this innovative fixture is squarely aimed at the mobile DJ market.
Essentially two fixtures in one, the Saturn Spot combines a traditional moving head spot with a unique LED ‘eye candy’ effect to create a versatile fixture that can be used to generate a wide variety of different ‘looks’. The advantages from a mobile-DJ-perspective are clear: transporting, rigging, and wiring one fixture adds more than one effect to your lighting arsenal.
Three concentric rings of opaque white plastic form the unit’s ‘eye candy’ element. These are mounted at varying depths, with the larger outside ring sitting in line with the front of the fixture’s casing, while the smaller inside ring is set back within it by around 2”, and the middle ring is equally spaced between the two. Behind each ring are mounted RGB SMD LEDs, 76 in total, which cause the rings to glow brightly when illuminated.
Each LED can be controlled individually by the unit’s internal circuitry. This means that multicoloured chase patterns can be generated that ‘zoom’ across the three rings from back to front. Even more impressive, chases within each ring can be created with colour changes circling independently around each of the three rings. Described by Prolight as ‘meteor’ effects, these eye-catching patterns are extremely effective.
I was really quite impressed by the effects created by this unique triple LED ring setup. The opaque nature of the plastic used for the rings means that the individual LEDs aren’t really visible, rather the whole thing glows with the light from adjacent LEDs blending together. The in-built chase patterns are extremely effective and, depending on which you choose, can be used to generate both decidedly retro and thoroughly modern effects. One point that is worth making: the output from the LED rings isn’t bright enough to provide a wash of light. This is purely designed for those ‘eye candy’ effects, not as a source of dancefloor illumination.
Moving on to the beam element of the fixture, this is powered by a single 30W white-light LED. It features independent colour and GOBO wheels, each offering nine slots as well as open white/spot. The colours – red, green, blue, yellow, orange, magenta, green, pink, and cyan – are rich and vibrant, while the GOBOs offer a good variety of simple shapes ideal for mid-air beam creation and more complex patterns that are suited to projection onto venue walls, ceilings, and floors.
At 3-degrees, the beam angle is extremely narrow. This means that the projected GOBO patterns are much smaller in diameter when compared with other common mobile DJ moving head fixtures over the same distance. A potential advantage if you find yourself working in particularly large rooms, it does mean that the fixture is less-suited to GOBO projection over short distances – for example adding interest to a dancefloor from plinth-mounted fixtures. On the other hand, the tight angle makes the beam more powerful than those of other fixtures with the same light-source. This means that it is particularly suited to creating mid-air effects in a haze-filled environment.
A manually-adjustable lens is included for optimising the focus for different projection distances and the fixture also offers digital dimming between 0 and 100 percent. Other features include temperature-controlled cooling fans, IEC input and output sockets for linking the power supply to multiple fixtures, variable speed strobe effects, and pan/tilt auto correction.
The fixture offers a pan range selectable between 540-degrees and 630-degrees, while its field of tilt motion is 210-degrees. This latter figure is certainly on the low side, but that shouldn’t be a big problem in practice unless you have the unit mounted on a high plinth and need to hit the floor directly in front of it. It does offer 16-bit pan and tilt movement, which allows for both smooth movements and precise positioning.
In line with the rest of the Equinox range, the Saturn Spot offers a choice of operating modes ranging from simple standalone operation to full DMX control. It features an in-built microphone (with variable sensitivity) for sound active operation and is supplied pre-programmed with three selectable lightshows. All of these combine both the beam and LED ring effects: at times with one or the other element active and at others with both running simultaneously. Personally, I’d have preferred to see one program dedicated to the beam aspect of the fixture, another purely for the LED rings, and the third combining the two together. This would have allowed standalone users to choose which effects they want active at any given time.
Multiple fixtures can be linked together for synchronised Master/Slave operation with any of the pre-programmed shows selected. Pan or tilt inversion can also then be used to create different, but complimentary, movement across a multi-fixture standalone setup.
For complete control over the unit’s features, and for integration into a larger lightshow, the fixture can also be operated using DMX. It offers a choice of two DMX channel modes: a basic 12-channel option or an advanced 23-channel alternative. The difference between the two is the inclusion of fine pan and tilt alteration on the 23-channel mode as well as advanced control over the LED rings. On the basic mode a single channel provides access to solid colours and pre-programmed zoom and chase patterns, with a separate channel providing speed control. For the advanced mode an additional nine channels provide independent red, green, and blue LED dimming for each of the three rings.
It's worth noting than even the 23-channel mode doesn’t provide pixel control over the individual LEDs, only remote access to the pre-programmed ‘meteor’ effects in a choice of single and combined colours. However, I’d say this gives more than enough flexibly for even the biggest ‘control freak’ of a mobile DJ. Considering the number of channels that would be required for individual control of the 72 LEDs, I can fully understand why the designers chose not to provide it.
The fixture itself has a sleek design with a luxurious matt-black rubberised finish. Measuring 370 x 260 x 160mm it sits somewhere around the middle of the Equinox moving head range in terms of size. It is certainly portable, and weighing in at just 4.8kg is easy to carry, rig, and transport. Two of the fixtures cased up together should be a manageable one-man lift, perfect for mobile DJ use.
This certainly isn’t the quietest moving head I’ve ever come across, in fact its motors could perhaps be described as noisy, however that won’t be a problem in a disco environment. It is supplied with an Omega bracket for hanging from a lighting stand or truss setup and is also fitted with chunky rubber feet allowing it to stand directly on a floor or stage.
I think it’s fair to say that the Equinox Saturn Spot is one of the most exciting new moving head products to hit the market in the past couple of years. However, as with any unconventional fixture such as this, it is sure to split opinion. I’m confident that many DJs will love the effect, but it wouldn’t surprise me if others aren’t impressed. Personally, I love the ‘eye candy’ effect and think this is a perfect choice if you’re a DJ looking to create a rig that stands out from the crowd. If you’re replacing existing movers or looking to introduce them to your lightshow for the first time, this option is well worth considering. Four of these mounted on truss plinths at various heights would create a versatile lightshow of both potent beams and eye-catching LED chase effects.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 84, Pages 68-70.