Lighting is an essential part of any mobile DJ’s setup. A good lightshow will help to set the mood for an event and add energy to the dancefloor when the party is in full swing. That’s why here at Pro Mobile we’re always on the look-out for interesting new lighting fixtures and that is definitely how I would describe the TWIST-40LED from new lighting brand LEUCHTKRAFT.
Before we dive into looking at the TWIST-40LED, let’s start with a word of introduction to LEUCHTKRAFT. It’s a completely new brand, which you’ve probably never heard of before, however the company behind it – German electronics distributor MONACOR INTERNATIONAL – has been around for more than 50 years! More recently the company has also built up a strong presence in the UK, distributing their own product lines – such as IMG Stageline – as well as other well-known international brands including Gemini and RocknRoller. LEUCHTKRAFT, which has just been introduced to the UK, has a tagline of ‘affordable German lighting’ and launched with two initial product offerings, both squarely aimed at the mobile DJ market. The PARL-7730 is a three-in-one LED par fixture that combines a central COB LED with a ring of white strobe LEDs and a further ring of RGB+UV LEDs. The TWIST-40LED, however, is the fixture that particularly caught my eye as it offers a unique take on the moving head concept in a compact form and with a very affordable price tag.
There’s no doubt that moving head beam effects look fantastic in a haze-filled room, but modern mobile DJs need to accept that smoke and haze won’t be an option at many venues. This means there is a need for lighting fixtures that look effective without haze and that’s where I think the TWIST-40LED comes in. This diminutive mover packs in both a powerful wash element and a unique ‘eye-candy’ effect, neither of which require haze to be effective.
The unit’s main wash effect is powered by a single 4-in-1 RGBW OSRAM 40W COB LED. The use of modern COB – which stands for ‘Chip On Board’ – LED technology allows for smoother colour mixing without the overlapping colour shadows that are present when traditional LEDs are used for colour mixing. The inclusion of the white element within the LED source also means that the fixture is capable of generating true white washes, instead of the ‘coloured-white’ effect created when red, green and blue LED light is combined to generate the appearance of white light.
For its ‘eye candy’ effect, the fixture utilises 12 RGB 5050 SMD LEDs which are arranged in a circle around the outside of the central COB LED’s reflector, behind an opaque frosted-plastic cover plate. These are grouped into four individually-controllable sets of three, which allows for visually-interesting chasing and multi-segment colour changing effects to be created.
As soon as I turned on the fixture, I was immensely impressed by the brightness of the main COB LED. It has a tight beam angle of 8-degrees and generates an intense shaft of vibrant colour that will project over a considerable distance even during the daytime when there is a lot of ambient light. The SMD LEDs are considerably dimmer, but are bright enough to serve their purpose of creating eye-catching chase patterns on the front of the fixture.
If you are at a venue where you are lucky enough to be able to use haze, the 8-degree beam angle is suitably tight to create mid-air effects in a smoky atmosphere. However without haze the fixture is ideal for injecting colour and movement onto a dancefloor in the form of intense splashes of vibrant light.
Adding to the flexibility of the fixture, it is also supplied with a plastic diffusion filter that can be easily placed in front of the main COB LED and held in place with the included sprung holding ring. This significantly reduces the beam angle to create a more subtle, wide-reaching, wash effect. Conversely, it is also possible to take off the frosted-plastic cover plate from in front of the SMD LEDs by removing four small screws. This gives each of the 12 LEDs more clarity, while removing the glowing effect from around them. It’s worth pointing out that removing the plastic plate does expose the LED chips’ circuit board, which looks a bit odd when the unit is switched off and house lights are on, although it isn’t noticeable when the fixture is in action.
Thanks to its small size, the TWIST-40LED is capable of extremely fast movements throughout its 540-degree (horizontal) and 270-degree (vertical) field of motion. However, due to the inclusion of 16-bit micro-stepper motors, the fixture is also capable of slow, smooth sweeping movements.
The unit is fitted with rubber feet to allow it to stand directly on a surface such as a truss plinth, speaker or table. It is also supplied (as standard) with a mounting bracket that can be easily attached to the base, allowing rigging to truss or an overhead lighting goalpost.
A standard 4-segment LED menu screen, along with four navigation buttons, allows for mode selection and customisation. For easy ‘plug-and-play’ operation, the unit is pre-programmed with four different Auto Shows. Each of these feature a combination of both the fixture’s effect elements, and can be operated either at a set speed or triggered by an internal microphone. Multiple fixtures can also be connected together using XLR cables to create a simple synchronised Master/Slave display using any of the pre-programmed shows, either running at a set speed or sound-activated.
Since the main COB LED is so bright, having its beam flash continuously across people’s eyes – especially if they are sat talking – could prove very annoying, therefore to get the most out of the fixture you’re likely to want to use DMX control to direct the beams down onto the dancefloor. For this, the unit offers the choice of either 16- or 21-channel control. Both options allow for full RGBW colour mixing of the main COB LED, individual colour selection for each group of SMD LEDs and independent variable speed strobing for each effect element. The 21-channel mode adds in fine pan and tilt adjustment as well as RGB colour mixing for all of the SMD LEDs together (in addition to the colour macro selection for each individual segment).
The TWIST-40LED unit itself is extremely compact, measuring just 155 x 280 x 145mm. It is also very light – just 2.8kg – making it ideal for use on the road by mobile DJs. You could pack a set of four fixtures in a case and still easily carry them on your own. However, despite its small size and low weight, the fixture has a robust construction and a professional look and feel.
In addition to its unique arrangement of LEDs and suitability for use in a haze-free environment, the other aspect of the TWIST-40LED that caught my interest was its price. At just £159, this really is an affordable moving head that is well within the budget of most mobile DJs. The fact that for a little over £600 you could invest in a set of four is really appealing, especially as – with a little bit of creative DMX programming – this alone would be enough to create a varied lightshow capable of filling a small-to-medium-sized function room dancefloor.
If I were forced to find fault with the TWIST-40LED I’d point out the lack of an IEC power outlet socket for allowing multiple fixtures to be daisy-chained from a single power supply. This does make life easier when setting up a rig and it has become fairly standard on most mobile DJ lighting fixtures over the past few years. However, given the compact nature of this fixture – not to mention its low price tag – it’s hardly surprising that the fixture’s creators weren’t able to fit this in to their design.
Offering a unique take on the traditional moving head wash, the LEUCHTKRAFT TWIST-40LED is an ideal fixture for mobile DJ use thanks to its small size, low weight, robust construction and affordable price. Add to this an incredibly potent COB LED and the flexibility of removable diffusion filters and the result is a fixture that I am sure many DJs will find a place for as a part of their rig.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 91, Pages 68-70.