CHAUVET DJ Freedom H1 X4 System
Over the last few years, CHAUVET DJ’s Freedom Series of wirelessly-controlled and battery-powered lighting fixtures have proved extremely popular with many mobile DJs. The Freedom Stick free-standing LED battens, particularly, have found their way into many DJs’ setups – mine included. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out the latest addition to the Freedom Series, the new Freedom H1.
The Freedom H1 is an extremely compact LED wash fixture that is primarily designed for up-lighting and other atmospheric venue lighting applications, where running out power and control cables would be impractical or overly time-consuming. The fixture houses a single hex colour (red, green, blue, amber, white and UV) 10W LED as well as an internal rechargeable battery and built-in CHAUVET DJ D-Fi wireless transceiver.
With dimensions of 97 x 75 x 139mm, the Freedom H1 is a very small fixture, however its potent LED allows it to kick out a significant amount of light that belies its tiny form. It is also very light, weighing in at just 700g, yet still has a very high quality feel. It is constructed from metal, with an elegant design featuring all rounded corners, and has a luxurious matt black powder-coated finish. It is also fitted with a Kensington Security Slot, which could prove useful for installations in public places.
A beam angle of 21-degrees makes the fixture ideal for up-lighting sections of wall with swathes of colour as well as for illuminating tables and other specific venue/event features. It is supplied with a diffuser, which slightly increases the angle and softens the beam when it is applied. This is held in place by a magnetic holder that detaches from the front of the fixture and is incredibly easy to remove, but that locks back into place very securely.
The Freedom H1 is an extremely flexible fixture and it is clear that a great deal of thought has gone into its design. It is supplied with a variable-angle bracket, but that can easily be detached by removing a single thumb-tightening screw. The base of the unit features slightly raised corners, which means that it can sit directly on the floor for up-lighting duties when the beam is required to point straight upwards.
If you wish to angle the beam in towards a wall, the bracket can also be used as a floor stand. It has a unique cross-shaped base design, which means that it can stand firmly on the floor – or any other flat surface – allowing the unit’s wash of light to be pointed in any direction. A standard M12 hole in the base of the bracket means that it can easily be attached to a truss clamp or T-bar. The base of the bracket is also fitted with a very strong magnet, which means that the unit can easily and securely lock onto almost any metal surface – such as a roof I-beam or suspended ceiling support – to allow added rigging flexibility.
The fixture’s controls are located on its base. Here you will find an On / Off rocker power switch together with a 4-button / 4-character LED menu interface for mode selection etc. The Freedom H1 is supplied pre-programed with 63 colour macros, which are easy to select quickly, however the menu interface also allows for full RGBAW+UV colour mixing so that any shade or hue can be selected without the need for a DMX controller.
The unit is also pre-programed with four different chase patterns, which can be set to run at a user-selected constant speed or triggered by an internal microphone (with adjustable sensitivity). The first program simply cycles through the six primary LED colours: red, green, blue, amber, white and UV, while the second program is the same but with smooth fades between the colours instead of quick changes. The third program cycles through many more colours, making use of different combinations of the six LED elements, while the fourth program is the same but with smooth fading transitions.
For DMX operation, the Freedom H1 is equipped with a CHAUVET DJ D-Fi wireless DMX transceiver. However, due to its compact size, it doesn’t have XLR sockets, which means that the only way to control the unit via DMX is wirelessly. This means that you’ll either need to use CHAUVET DJ’s FlareCON Air tablet / smartphone control system or a CHAUVET DJ D-Fi Hub to connect your DMX controller / software of choice wirelessly to the fixtures.
A choice of three DMX channel modes are supported. The basic 6-channel option simply provides 0-100% dimming of the six LED colour elements. The 8-channel mode then adds in Master Dimmer and Strobe control, while the 12-channel option adds in remote access to the unit’s internal colour macros and auto programs, with speed / sound sensitivity control, as a well as choice between three different Dimmer Speed Modes (fast, medium and slow).
The Freedom H1 fixtures are supplied in a set of four, known as the Freedom H1 X4 System. Alongside the four units the kit is supplied with a four-way charger, an IRC-6 infrared remote control and a convenient carry case. Constructed from a tough black synthetic fabric, the case is fitted with a dense foam inlay which makes it rigid and keeps the lights well protected. It has dedicated cut out slots for each of the four fixtures, the charger, remote control and mains power cable.
The plastic charger has an IEC input and four trailing DC plugs for connection to the fixtures, with two positioned on each side. This arrangement means that the units can be charged while sitting in their compartments within the case although (due to the heat generated) the case should be left open during charging. CHAUVET DJ quotes the time required for a full charge as seven hours, while the run time is 8 hours with all of the LED elements illuminated and up to 20 hours if just a single colour element is lit. This should be more than enough for most mobile DJ events, and certainly all evening parties.
During operation, the 4-character LED display on the rear of the fixtures provides a visual indication of the remaining battery power. The middle segments of the four 7-segment LED displays illuminate to indicate the battery level, with four bars meaning 100% and only one bar meaning the fixture is down to 25%. When the battery is about to run out, all four bars begin to flash to give a final warning that the battery is low.
The supplied IRC-6 infrared control can be used to remotely select colour macros, manually select colours, choose automatic modes and set the speed / sound sensitivity. Multiple units can then be connected Master/Slave, using their wireless transceivers, which means that whatever colour or program you set on the master head (either using the onboard menu or the wireless remote) the other units will automatically also pick up.
I found this very easy to set up, and it worked flawlessly when I took the system out to a gig. I used the four fixtures to up-light the wall behind me in the event’s colour scheme as guests arrived and then switched over to a slow colour fade as I started to fill the dancefloor and then a fast-paced colour chase when the dancefloor was in full swing.
I have to say, I was very impressed by both the Freedom H1 and also the case and charger arrangement that make up the Freedom H1 X4 System. However, there’s no getting away from it, this is an expensive product! At just over £600 for the set, it will require a serious investment to be able to fully illuminate a complete function room. That said, I think the price tag is very much justified as there have clearly been no corners cut during the development of this product. The combination of hex LEDs, wireless control, a flexible design and robust construction make this the ultimate wash light source for venue dressing. If you’re serious about transforming venues with light for your clients, then this is a professional tool that I’m sure you’ll love. If you just want LED illumination on a budget, this quite simply isn’t the product for you!
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 89, Pages 72-74.