LEDJ Mood Bar
The new LEDJ Mood Bar is the Prolight Concepts Group’s take on the vertical LED panel idea that has been offered in various styles by a number of manufacturers over the past ten or so years. Although not a brand new concept, what the Prolight team have done with the Mood Bar – as with many of their previous equipment releases – is to create a more refined product and, most importantly, make it available at a very affordable price.
Consisting of seven independently-controllable panels, each measuring 23cm x 23cm, the front of the Mood Bar is covered in white opaque Perspex. Each panel is a separate piece of moulded Perspex which sticks out from the main unit in a kind of rounded-square shape that reminds me of my young son’s Duplo bricks! Behind each of the panels are arranged 16 tri-colour (RGB) SMD 5050 LEDs which cause the panel to glow in any one of a huge variety of different colours. When chase patterns are introduced across the seven panels an effect is created that is probably best described as a modern take on the ‘light screens’ that were a lighting staple of mobile disco setups in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Of course, since it is possible to set any panel to any colour, the creative potential for what can be achieved with the Mood Bar far surpasses that of traditional screens where each panel could only be just one colour.
Now, before we go any further, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that the Mood Bar won’t appeal to all DJs. In fact I know that some of my DJ friends wouldn’t even consider something like this for their rig. However, I also know that other DJs will love the effects that can be created by the Mood Bar. I think it’s definitely going to prove to be a ‘Marmite’ product. That said, if on first glance this isn’t the sort of thing you would normally choose for your shows, I would encourage you to consider the fact that it can be used in a variety of different ways, to create very different effects, before you discount it completely.
The Mood Bar is pre-programmed with colourful chase patterns which are ideal for retro events, but it is also possible to select a static solid colour – directly from the rear menu screen – either choosing from one of seven pre-programmed macros or by using RGB colour mixing to dial in a specific hue. The unit is also compatible with DMX control, which means that custom chase patterns can also be created that are subtler and more suited to other types of events such as weddings or corporate functions.
An internal microphone also allows the Mood Bar to react directly to the beat of the music through a choice of eight sound active patterns. For some of these the beat advances the chase to the next step, while others react directly to the music (so if there is no music all panels go out), including one that uses green, orange and red colours to emulate a ‘VU’ meter.
Multiple units can also be linked together as Master and Slaves for synchronised effects, either in auto or sound active mode, without the need for DMX programming. However, I must admit that this is the one area that I was a little disappointed. I had hoped that it would be possible to set up the Slave units so that the effects / patterns ran over multiple panels, but the Slave units can only be set to mimic the pattern running on the Master unit. To create effects that use the separate panels on more than one Mood Bar as individual pixels, DMX control is required.
The Mood Bar is supplied with a fold-out leg, which allows the panel to stand up vertically (leaning slightly backwards) without any additional support. This is secured in place by two plastic thumb screws that lock the leg to two supporting bars. These also each independently fold out from the main unit and, when all three pieces are locked together, the resulting stand makes for a relatively sturdy free-standing unit. To be clear, it isn’t going to withstand a head-on collision with a drunken dancer! However, it is as robust as I think can be expected.
In addition to the floor-stand, the Mood Bar’s back panel is also fitted with two brackets – one at the top and one at the bottom. These can be used to attach rigging clamps, which means that the bar could also be secured vertically to a truss podium or hung horizontally from a goalpost stand.
Perhaps the most obvious way to integrate the Mood Bar’s effect into a mobile DJ setup would be to purchase two units and stand one at either side of your rig. With a retail price of £200 each, that’s certainly not an extravagant investment for most of us. However, if you really wanted to push the boat out, you could line up multiple units – say six or even eight – to create a backdrop behind your DJ booth (due to the unit’s height of 1.6m, a raised platform to stand them on would help to make the most of this effect). Alternatively, you could stack three or four units horizontally, attached using their brackets to a supporting frame or a couple of small truss plinths, to create an impressive DJ booth.
When I first unboxed the two Mood Bars I was sent for review, I was surprised that each individual unit was a little lighter than I had expected. At 9.1kg they are easily portable, yet despite this low weight they still have a very robust solid metal construction. The DMX XLR and professional-calibre locking PowerCon mains input and output connections are located on the bottom of a raised section that sticks out in the middle of the back panel. This means that cables have to be plugged in from the bottom, which is a little bit awkward for setting up (when using the floor-stand) but makes for a neater finish. It also means that if you choose to rig the panels the cables won’t be in the way.
Considering the rather bulky nature of the Mood Bars, transportation is a key concern. I can’t imagine that they would stay in pristine condition for long if left to rattle around inside a van unprotected. Fortunately, a dedicated carry case – the GB 383 Mood Bar Gear Bag – will soon be available from Prolight’s Equinox brand. This padded carry bag is sized to comfortably accommodate a pair of Mood Bars with a removable divider and Velcro straps for securing the fixtures in place.
As I’ve already said, the Mood Bar is sure to be a divisive product among DJs. If you didn’t like the look of it as soon as you saw the picture, it’s unlikely my positive review will have changed your mind. However, if you like the concept, I can assure you that the reality is as good as the pictures. This is a solidly-built unit, which has clearly been well thought-out, and looks great… assuming you like this kind of effect!
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 89, Pages 64-66.