ADJ Elements Series
ADJ’s Elements Series of wireless LED uplighters – a bright idea! (Fnarr fnarr). Ok, sorry, I’ll try to resist the puns for the rest of this review, but I can’t make any promises! Instead, I’ll start by laying my cards on the table and admitting that I love these fixtures. In fact, I ended up buying three dozen I liked them so much! So, while I may be a bit biased, I’m also in a good position to write this review as I’ve got a LOT of experience of using these units on a regular basis.
Before I go on, I also want to acknowledge the fact that these fixtures couldn’t really be considered ‘new’, having been on the market since last summer. However, because battery-powered units have a tendency to degrade with use, I thought it would be a good idea to write this now that I have not only had a chance to really put these fixtures through their paces, but to do it over an extended period of time.
ADJ is, in my eyes, the one company that constantly brings out useful, efficient, user-friendly lighting products, at realistically affordable prices, for mobile DJs like me and you to rock gigs and events week in, week out. Thanks to their focus on the above, combined with advances in both LED and battery technology, the Element Series is a range of truly wireless up-lighting fixtures that are ideal for use by mobile DJs.
All good reviews start with the first impression, right? The look, feel and build of the item you’ve already studied in all those YouTube rundowns and sexy Facebook posts witnessed for the first time in the flesh. Well, the first thing I noticed and loved was how sleek they look, with no giant contrasting logos on the exposed sides. I immediately knew they would be great for the work I do, from elegant weddings to modern conferences.
Size-wise they follow the form factor of what we have come to know as ‘standard wireless uplighter size’ comparable to their dearer CHAUVET and Smartbat counterparts. The next big green tick was how solid they feel. They have a tank-like build but weigh less than 3kg each, so even when stored in a case of six or eight they are still easy to manoeuvre.
So, now that I’ve given an introduction to the range, let’s look at the differences between the four Element Series uplighters, which can be easily split into two separate categories. First we have the Element QA, which consists of six 5-watt 4-in-1 red, green, blue and amber LEDs. The amber element is especially handy as it allows for the creation of warmer hues and popular colours such as gold, which was simply impossible to achieve using the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) LEDs of fixtures from previous generations. The QA features a 14-degree beam angle making it perfect for accentuating walls and columns, amongst many other architectural features.
The brother to this unit is the Element QAIP, which contains all of the aforementioned attributes but comes with the added benefit of being IP54-rated. This makes it the perfect fixture to plonk outdoors, rain or shine! The IP54 rating means its protected from dust as well as splashing water from all directions. If you’ve got a building front, statue, tree or marquee, the Element QAIP is perfect for lighting it up with a splash of colour without the fear of mother nature claiming your investment(s)!
On the other side of the family there is the Element HEX. This unit features four 10-watt LEDs each with red, green, blue, amber, white and UV elements. This results in a wireless LED uplighter capable of true white AND, thanks to the inclusion of the UV element, the ability to achieve pinks and purples that isn’t possible with lesser LEDs. The beam angle is a tad bigger, too. At 20-degrees it's capable of covering a wider area with its colour wash.
The brother to this one is the Element HEXIP which is… you guessed it… IP54-rated! So it’s all of the features you’re already sold on (I’m confident!) in an enclosure ready to face the elements (sorry, couldn’t resist the mini-pun!).
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that the IP-rated versions have the same dimensions as the non-IP variants (140 x 140 x 190.5mm) but there are a couple of subtle differences. The first one is the menu access is recessed and under a flap on the IP version, as is the IEC inlet for charging. The non-IP units feature the menu on the front (with a handy display timeout feature so they won’t be seen by your guests). The non-IP versions also have the added advantage of IEC input AND output sockets on the bottom of the unit, to facilitate daisy chain charging and mains powered use with ease.
All of the Element Series models feature an integral carry handle on the top of the unit, so they can be simply plonked into place and not worried about. They also have a cool kickstand design, which I find really useful for angling the beam to a wall or particular focal point for a more intense effect. This also minimises light-spill, onto a ceiling for example.
Battery life is advertised at 11 hours. However, my personal units – which have easily seen 150 charging cycles – manage well above this (12-16 hours on a static single colour), which is awesome. The only trait they carry that I’d class as a niggle is that the first 20% of the battery life indicator falls within about half an hour, which initially will lead you to worry that they won’t last a full night. But from there the drop in power slows so they can easily last beyond half a day. On the other hand, all four Element Series uplighters can be charged from 0-100% within 4.5 hours, a feature I’ve come to love after owning other battery-powered uplighters that can take up to 8 hours to charge!
We’ve covered the LEDs, the casing design and the battery, but what about the wireless DMX? Well, each of the four models is fitted with a wireless DMX transceiver equipped with ADJ’s EXR technology. This stands for Extended Range and means the wireless DMX signal can reach as far as 700 metres! This is what I call ‘divers watch peace of mind’. You’ll buy a divers watch with a water resistance of 1000 metres. Chances are that you’ll never find yourself a kilometre under the sea, but it’s nice to know your watch will be able to withstand being dropped in the sink or at the bottom of the pool in Tenerife and still live to tell the tale! The same applies with DMX range; I don’t think I’ll ever need 350 metres, let alone 700, but I feel confident selling a ‘wirelessly-controlled light display’ that spans 150-200 metres knowing the EXR is up to the task.
For wireless DMX control you can either use one of ADJ’s dedicated wireless controllers, such as the WiFLY NE1, or use the ADJ EXR Battery wireless interface to hook up your preferred DMX hardware or software control system wirelessly to your Element fixtures. If wireless DMX doesn’t float your boat, you can also connect up regular DMX using 3-pin XLR cables or control the Element fixtures using ADJ’s UC-IR remote (cheap!) or Airstream IR interface (allowing remote control from an iPad or iPhone app).
You don’t actually need a controller at all. If all you want is simple up-lighting to match with a party’s colour scheme, wireless Master/Slave operation is easy to setup. With all of your fixtures set as Slaves, all you have to do is choose a colour on the Master head and the rest will follow suit.
So, if you’re looking to up your uplighter game (pun three? I’ll stop now!), the ADJ Element family is certainly worth joining. They can make you more money as an add-on or create extra value for your existing clients with no headache to set them up, make them work or pack them down!
I’d definitely recommend them. In fact, after writing this review, I think maybe I should buy some more…
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 91, Pages 76-78.