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REVIEWED: Equinox Helix Series
Over the years, I’ve reviewed loads of lighting products for Pro Mobile Magazine. I love seeing which fancy-pants new ideas the manufacturers are working on. But I also love seeing the changes they make to existing products in order to improve them.

Take for example the Helix XP 150W Gobo Flower, a product I reviewed back in 2022. This was a fantastic upgrade to the super-popular Helix, which I also reviewed in i99 (Jan/Feb 2020), which in turn was a rebooted version of the Acme Cheetah (another one I reviewed many years ago). These are all fixtures I’ve owned and still love to this day.

I’ve owned my fair share of scanners too: MadScans, the iRock 7S and 7B, Acme Dynamos, Dynamo Twins, Fusion Scans, and loads more from other DJ brands. However, I’ve always found them to be a bit…meh. Controlling them was always a headache, with mirrors bouncing all over the place to create that old ‘spin and puke’ effect on the dance floor. It’s no wonder that other types of lighting, such as moving heads, are a popular choice.

With all that in mind, it’s not very often you see a new scanner release. But Prolight have given it a go with a new scanner and barrel, released under its Equinox brand: the Helix Scan XP 150W and the Helix Roller XP 150W. Both products are designed to sit alongside the Helix XP, and I was given the task of finding out a bit more.

These lights feel extremely well made – not just robust, but well designed and nicely put together. The all-metal casing is available in a black or white finish – perfect for the discerning wedding DJ – and come with a decent hanging bracket. Despite the robustness of the cases, the units remain lightweight, coming in at just over 7kg each, which means you won’t need to hit the protein shakes and pump some iron in order to move them around.

The Scan XP and Roller XP both come with a 150W LED light source, as well as eight rotating and replaceable GOBOs, nine colours, and motorised focus. Essentially what we have here is what you get when you take away the parabolic dish inside the Helix XP Gobo Flower, take out the insides, and stick them in a scanner. You get the same vibrant colours, the same GOBOs, but now with the bonus of dynamic round-the-room effects instead of a static circular pattern on the dance-floor.
The colours are the same as you’ll find on the Helix XP, including the incredibly useful 3200K ‘warm white’, which is a lot less harsh for first dances than the 8000K ‘cool white’. Meanwhile, the movement of both the Scan XP and Roller XP across the room is smooth and just as you expect it to be. Both lights feature high-quality motors, so you can easily achieve effective panning and rotations, including slow movement when needed.

When you need a bit more energy, they won’t let you down. I forgot just how effective a scan and roller effect can be, although to get the best out of it, you really do need haze or smoke (the same can be said for moving heads anyway).

The Scan XP also includes a 3-facet circular rotating prism. It’s a feature you certainly see on moving heads, so it’s good to see it here too.
The beam angle on the Scan XP is 15 degrees, whilst the Roller XP offers just over 10 degrees.

In terms of GOBOs, the Scan XP and Roller XP come with eight rotating, interchangeable GOBOs, and all the usual shapes are included. However, for extra value, each unit also comes with a pack of 11 extra GOBOs, including a snowflake, heart, pumpkin, and stars. I think these GOBOs are perfect, but if none of them take your fancy, you can always reach out to GOBO suppliers online who can make you something custom.

The GOBOs are the same size as the Helix XP – a 21.6mm diameter with a 14mm image size and 0.5mm thickness. Fitting them is easy. You just remove the hatch, unclip the GOBO from the wheel, remove the retaining clip, and put the new one in.
On the rear of both units, you’ll find a PowerTwist input and output – the same that Prolight added to the Helix XP shortly after they released it with IEC. You also get 3-pin DMX in/out, although I do wish these were positioned next to the relevant power socket – DMX-in next to power-in and the same for the outs. This makes life so much easier, especially when you are daisy-chaining fixtures on truss or an overhead bar. I’ve mentioned this to other lighting manufacturers and they just look at you as if you’re nuts. Am I the only one who thinks this would be oh so helpful?

There’s also a ¼” jack socket on the rear panel, for plugging in a CA8 controller, alongside a four-button menu which you can use for setting up the fixtures if you don’t do DMX. Both the Scan XP and Roller XP have built-in auto, sound activated and master/slave modes, together with matching programs.
So, if you connect them together, you get the same colours, GOBOs and movement at the same speed – perfect for the non-DMXers. Speaking of DMX, I think the next improvement would be to include wireless DMX across the range. Prolight have just released the Mini Box G3, which works extremely well with the Colour Raiders, and it would be nice to have everything running wirelessly without pesky cables. Yes, you can buy dongles. But if the technology is there, it would be great to see wireless DMX added to this type of lighting.

On the positive side, what if you own a pair of Helix XP Gobo Flowers? Well, the fantastic news is that you can link all your Helix XP fixtures together and have a fully synchronised light show, controlled either automatically or from a CA8 controller. How flipping brilliant is that? (Now imagine if it was all wirelessly connected too – like magic!) For me, this is the best part about investing in one single brand when it comes to lighting; sticking to fixtures in the same series works really well because there’s very little you need to do to create amazing effects on the dance floor.

I have to say, releasing new scanners and barrels is a very bold move from the guys at Prolight. After all, we’re going through a period where many DJs live in a world dominated by moving heads.

Modern DJ stands do not tend to feature overhead bars, and there doesn’t seem to be much trussing on display anymore either.
Scanner and barrel effects are still capable of producing the striking visuals we all desire, but the scanners need to be up high and generally used in pairs or fours, so you’ll need a stand or two. In a world where venues want you to be ready in the least amount of time and the photographer is breathing down your neck because they’ve been there all day, the ability to set up this kit quickly is paramount.

Yet despite these challenges, scanners and barrels maintain their relevance. Their simplicity is a virtue and they offer a straightforward solution for DJs who want stunning, synchronised lighting without the complexity of programming moving heads. In the same way that vinyl records have maintained a devoted following in the age of digital streaming, scanners retain a loyal fan base.

The ever-evolving world of DJ lighting continues, and the Scan XP and Roller XP are worthwhile additions to your show, especially if you already own the Helix XP. These solutions all go together like peas in a pod, making connection and synchronisation a breeze. So, if you’re the type of DJ who wants to concentrate on the music and let the lighting do its own thing, safe in the knowledge it will look fantastic but with the option to take total control if needed, then the Helix Scan XP and Helix Roller XP should be top of your shopping list.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 125, Pages 70-72.
Photo Booth Expo London
13 / 10 / 2024 - 14 / 10 / 2024


£5.00 (INC P&P)