CHAUVET DJ Intimidator Spot 260
Wiggle lights, MLs, moving heads, movers… whatever you call them, this type of fixture has a history that goes back as far as the 1920s when units containing carbon-arc lamps were operated not by motors, but by cords that were pulled manually to control pan and tilt! That was 100 years ago folks… how times change.
So it’s the beginning of December and Pro Mobile Editor Eddie Short gets in touch and asks me to review the CHAUVET DJ Intimidator Spot 260. I’ve reviewed plenty of moving heads previously but one of the biggest problems was that manufacturers only send one unit. Everyone knows that movers look best in pairs so I said “Yes” but on the proviso CHAUVET DJ sent not one but TWO units. Having two fixtures would give me a better insight into their internal programming, how they react to each other in a master/slave environment, and allow me to try them out in a real life gig environment. Luckily for me, CHAUVET DJ agreed!
The Intimidator Spot 260 (not to be confused with the older Q-Spot 260) is an upgrade to CHAUVET DJ’s uber-popular Intimidator Spot 255 IRC, one of the company’s biggest-selling mobile DJ sector products I should imagine. It arrives in a nice glossy-white box inside which you’ll find the Spot 260, a manual, a power lead and a hanging bracket.
Visually, when you compare the Spot 255 IRC to the Spot 260, they look reasonably similar apart from one glaringly obvious difference. The base of the new unit is much smaller than its predecessor, which means it fits nicely on a DJ booth corner bracket.
On the front of the Spot 260, just like on the Spot 255 IRC, you’ll find a large full colour display which allows selection of all the different modes and settings that the unit offers. These mini-screens have certainly come a long way and are really intuitive compared to the 4-digit displays you still find on some other products.
Around the back we find one of the biggest differences between this new model and its predecessor: the change from IEC to powerCON. I’m a big fan of this purely because when you insert the power lead you get a nice reassuring ‘click’ as it locks in place, which means you know it’s not going anywhere. A pass-through powerCON socket is also included, allowing you to link up the power supply to nine other units all from a single mains socket.
The back panel is also home to standard 3-pin XLR input and output sockets for DMX control or linking together multiple fixtures in a master/slave setup. There’s also the on-board mic that can be used to pick up the beat of the music when the fixture is set to run in Sound Active mode.
Inside the Spot 260 there’s a 75W white LED source, upgraded from the 60W engine in the Spot 255 IRC. It’s not massively brighter, to be fair, however you will find that the boost really comes into its own in larger rooms of say 200+ capacity. In smaller rooms of up to 100 people it’s insanely bright, you may even want to dim it slightly so that it’s not overpowering!
You get a choice of eight colours plus white, and they’re really gorgeous and vibrant. This includes the red, which I always found particularly suffered on other moving heads with a not-so-bright LED source. GOBO-wise you get seven, rotating, easily changeable patterns plus open, one of which can be glass. The supplied GOBOs are quite nice actually and generate lovely breakout effects when projected through haze. One of the patterns is that perennial classic the hazard-warning GOBO which, when used in conjunction with the 3-facet prism, actually projects a gorgeous flower shape.
The included GOBOs can all be swapped out and changed for others if you don’t like them. They’re 24mm in size with a 20mm image area. This is exactly the same as the Spot 255 IRC, so if you’ve already got loads of custom GOBOs then you don’t need to replace them! Changing the patterns is very simple. You simply loosen four screws, flip the head back, click the current GOBO out and slot the new one in. It can be a bit fiddly at first, but once you’ve done it a few times it becomes pretty easy.
The lens on the front of the fixture can be manually altered to vary the beam angle between 12 and 17 degrees. This means that GOBO projections can be made larger for small rooms with minimal projection distance and smaller for large rooms where the beam will need to travel a long way to hit the back and side walls.
A new feature to the Spot 260 is motorised focus, which is a very welcome addition. This allows for crisp, sharp-edged GOBOs regardless of the distance between the fixture and the projection surface. On the other hand it can also be used to deliberately un-focus the projection to the point where there is no GOBO definition at all. This can add a whole new dimension to your lighting and looks awesome during the first dance. Introducing a split colour effect – for example white on one head and pink or blue on the other – can then look really amazing!
By the way, if you’re the type of DJ with totems or corner brackets on your DJ booth and you have a mirrorball behind you, the Intimidator Spot 260 makes an AMAZING light-source! Again, different colours on each head brings a different effect and one that looks pretty cool!
Out on the road I tested the units under DMX and also in a master/slave configuration. The huge colour display on the front of the fixture made all aspects of setting it up really easy, including mode selection and DMX addressing.
The Master/Slave mode features four different slave settings which allows for synchronised, but offset, movement. This means that an impressive display can be created that goes beyond a basic ‘every head does the same’ master/slave lightshow but without the need for any programming.
For DMX control, you get a choice of either 8 or 14 channels. With the former option ideal if your control software/hardware is short on spare channels, while the latter allows exacting control over every aspect of the Spot 260’s operation. This includes both fine pan and tilt adjustment, as well as alteration of the pan/tilt motor speed.
The 14 channel mode also allows remote access to the unit’s built-in movement macros, some of which are sound activated. I love this as it allows me to have full control over the heads when I want it (for example to spotlight the first dance) but then I can make use of the unit’s built-in movement patterns to save programming time when I just want the beams to shoot around the room.
One test I particularly like to put LED fixtures through is dimming the LED source, as on many products I’ve found it to be noticeably jerky. I’m pleased to say that the Spot 260 passed this test! Its dimming was nice and smooth; not quite silky-smooth, but it’s almost there and that was quite refreshing to see.
I was equally impressed when I tested out the pan and tilt, using DMX to move the head on both axis I found the movement to be incredibly smooth with no jarring glitches. They reacted quickly under DMX control and, although the heads don’t go from one positional extreme to the other in the space of an eye blink, the results were fast and certainly more than acceptable.
The fixture can also be controlled using CHAUVET DJ’s IRC-6 infrared remote, and this actually allows for quite an impressive level of control! You can use it to set the position of the head, choose a GOBO, select a colour, activate the prism and select rotation as well as focus values. This means that you could use the remote to setup up the fixtures with a static ‘look’ early on and then, when it’s disco time, just pop them in to auto or sound mode whilst occasionally using the remote to add in a strobe effect for build-ups in tracks! Ok, so yep, it’s a bit lazy! But the basics are there to allow you to control the fixtures to some degree throughout the night without the need to use DMX. One thing that is slightly annoying, however, is that the IR sensor is on the front of the fixture, making it awkward to control when you’re stood behind it.
One super-cool feature of the Spot 260 is ‘totem-mode’ which is a forward-facing show that restricts the pan and tilt of the head stopping it from facing BEHIND the DJ. Additionally it DOESN’T concentrate too much on the dancefloor because, let’s face it, when people are dancing on it (hopefully) you can’t really see the GOBOs anyway. So instead the head will pan across hitting the walls to the left and right and also the ceiling, which I think is a far better program than one that just restricts light on to the dancefloor.
To conclude, if you are an Intimidator Spot 255 IRC owner currently, it’s probably not worth rushing out to upgrade. However, if you aren’t, the Intimidator Spot 260 is a superb moving head with a huge feature set and is certainly well worth the £599.00 asking price.68
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 93, Pages 68-70.