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REVIEWED
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REVIEWED: ABSTRACT CANDI BLOX
By Jack Wilson.
Abstract seems to be returning to the mobile DJ market with some fantastic products post-COVID. The recently released XLite Pro really caught our attention and Candi Blox, the latest addition to the range, have gone even further. They’re so new that we only had one light for this review – it was pretty much the first one off the production line!

Providing a compact and elegant ‘eye candy’ LED lighting system, the Candi Blox feature a central array of LEDs surrounded by an edge halo effect. Each ‘pad’ consists of 45 RGBW LEDs; 25 in the centre section (in a 5x5 grid configuration) and 20 around the edge, hidden away under a well-disguised diffusion material that almost looks like it’s weather sealing (although to my knowledge the lights are not IP rated). The outer edge creates a halo-type effect that looks fantastic, while the individually controlled LEDs allow you to create a range of customisable effects in next to no time.

They may be small units (at 200mm x 200mm 70mm) but their colour and output is impressive. Even when fully on, each Candi Blox pad only draws 15w and they average around 5w per unit in normal use. This means two things: firstly, they are efficient and secondly, they’re not so bright that they blind people standing in front of them.

On the front of the unit, the LEDs are packed into a lovely metal housing with a rubberised texture that feels both strong and robust. There are also two lighting options: the standard ‘sharp’ option, or the ‘air’ option that adds an open diffuser to create a softer, diffused light. I’d certainly love to see a stage setup with a few off these dotted around as a backdrop – they’d look incredible!

Meanwhile, on the reverse of the unit there is a mounting system and a 4-pin XLR in and out, allowing you to link multiple Candi Blox together and attach them to a tank trap and pole. The M10 thread means you can attach them to a clamp, allowing you to mount them however you like – for example, up a piece of truss framing your setup or even up a set of poles attached to your DJ booth.

We were pleased to find out that the Candi Blox were plug-and-play compatible with our own X-Drive Duplicator 4 units.
They connected to the X-Drive via 4-pin XLR and sprung to life in demo mode (Abstract also mentioned that they can be controlled via an app with a certain version of their X-Drive unit). Although we only tested them using static colours and demo effects on our X-Drive, the units can also be run on DMX out of the box.

For those of you who love to get stuck in and have complete control, there’s the option to fully pixel map the Candi Blox via Artnet. It’s something we’d love to try but sadly didn’t get time. But we imagine that a slow, white, fade pattern moving diagonally across the units whilst the outer ring provides a circular effect in a complementary colour would look amazing – just one of many possible scenarios, of course.

Originally, a full Candi Blox set was going to be available as six pads on a single tank trap and pole, but when we spoke with Abstract we suggested that this wouldn’t work for most DJs, as there will be a preference for one per side of a setup. Instead, having tested an individual light for this review, we agreed on a different package:

six Abstract Candi Blox pads
one X-Drive Duplicator
two tank traps with 2m poles
carry bags for the tank trap system and for the Candi Blox pads
a complete 4-pin XLR package with 2x5m 4-pin XLRs and 4x1m 4-pin XLRs

And the price really surprised me – you can get a complete package for just £999!

The lights will be sold as a retail package of six units on a 2x2m tank trap system, meaning there will be three Candi Blox pads per tank trap. But the configuration is up to you.

This suggested setup provides a full turnkey system that’s ready to go out of the box. You can get started by setting up your tank trap and pole system and attaching your Candi Blox to the pole. Then choose to have the Candi Blox in a square shape or rotate them up to 45 degrees to form a diamond shape. You can then connect the 5m 4-pin XLR between the first Candi Blox pad and the X-Drive Duplicator, meaning that the two poles can be spaced up to 10m from the X-Drive unit.

After this you can use 1m 4-pin XLRs to link out of the first Candi Blox pad into the next, and keep linking as you see fit (although there will be a limit of how many Candi Blox pads you can output from the X-Drive units).
During testing we particularly loved the edge halo effect, which just adds something different to the effects and essentially make the pads ‘two in one’. Combined, the central and edge effects look fantastic, but separated I think they could look even better and blend seamlessly into many DJ and stage setups.

I also love the Candi Blox’s RGBW colours, especially the white, which is neither too warm nor too cold, mixing perfectly to create a lovely tone that can be further enhanced by adding or removing other colours. It’s also worth mentioning that the outer halo LEDs match the centre optic LEDs, meaning that the colour doesn’t differ between the two – something we have seen on other products that use a harsh cool-white LED on the effect section but lack any white at all in the main section.

When we get our own demo set (yep, we’ve put in an order for these already) we’d love to pixel map the optic array to display text. Just imagine a letter per pad with an effect running on the halo LEDs around the edge – hopefully something we can demo at the next SEDA Show Night. If all goes to plan, we hope to show off these new lights alongside our XLite Pro systems, so keep an eye on social media for updates. We’ve already seen what can be achieved with just one Candi Blox pad, so we can’t wait to see what happens when we get a whole system up and running!

The Candi Blox will also be on display at PLASA Focus in Leeds in May with our good friend Gordon from TechLED, another of Abstract’s retail partners. But if you can’t make PLASA, then I’m sure you’ll see them in action at BPM this October. If you’re considering an upgrade to your lighting rig and you’re after something new and pretty, then Abstract and its Candi Blox should definitely be on your radar.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 113, Pages 82-84.
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