A few weeks ago, I received a nice little box in the mail. It contained an LED-based lighting fixture from a Lexington, KY company called Barge Heights. Bill Swaringim originally turned me on to this company, and I’ve been waiting since last fall to get my hands on one of these lights.
We threw it up in the truss and gave it a whirl. From an appearance standpoint, the LED 36 looks a lot like an ETC Parnell. It has a gel frame on it, though other than a frost, I’m not sure why. The unit has an LED display on the back for setting up addressing and the various operating modes. It can run in stand-alone mode, or be controlled by 4 or 7 DMX channels.
Sadly, it’s a 3-pin XLR for DMX; I really wish the lighting world would standardize on 5-pin and leave 3-pin to the audio world. That would keep a lot of people from using mic cables for DMX runs (you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?).
Setup was very easy, simply setting the address on the LED panel and four buttons. If you’re looking for a simple color look, you can set it up to run in a non-DMX mode in one color, or in a variety of patterns, or even audio activated. Not sure that has a lot of use for us, but it’s there if you want it.
Anyway, once we pulled out our 3-5 pin adapter, we patched it into the Hog. As a fixture profile wasn’t available, Isaiah had to create one. Once that was done, we were ready to rock. Our first impressions were that the fixture was reasonably bright, had good color saturation and a nice dimming curve.
When turned up to full intensity in a color, the output is reasonably close to our Studio Color 575s. The LED 36 has a 15º beam angle with a 23º field spread. The 15º is nice and tight and at normal throw distances (about 24’ for us), we see minimal color overlap.
Since we shoot video on the stage every week, flicker is an issue we’re concerned about. This fixture doesn’t flicker at all, at any color or output level we’ve tried. At full output, it uses 50 W, which is impressive considering it hangs right there with our 575 discharge fixtures, at least in color. The Studio Colors are brighter when open (white), but once you start dialing in color, the output is similar.
Now for the kicker; the price of all this performance is $305. My main lighting guy, Thomas, said he would put this up against any Elation fixture of similar LED count, so for the cost it’s a good value. The only sticking point is availability. They seem to have problems getting inventory; it took 9 months to get a demo, and their website says they’re out of stock until August 26.
If they can get their inventory issues worked out and ship in quantity, they could have a real winner on their hands. Obviously I can’t comment on reliability or longevity, but for $300, if they last 3-5 years, I’d be pretty happy. They also have another fixture called the LED PAR which is a 108 LED fixture for $145 that I hope to be able to test soon. I’m looking at those for our student room.
The tag line for Barge Heights is “Dirt Cheap LED Lighting,” and I think they’ve done a good job with this fixture. They’re certainly a company to keep an eye on.