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Chauvet COLORado Batten 144 Review

Chauvet COLORado Batten 144 Review

I love it when a company takes notice of what people are doing in their industry and how they are using the products.  Chauvet Lighting saw that I was teaching a breakout session on lighting at the Echo Conference, and asked if I would like to show some of their fixtures.  Being the lighting nut that I am, how could I say no?

One of the fixtures they sent was the COLORado Batten 144 and I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on it and how it can affect how you use LED in your church.

I could simply copy and paste the tech specs from Chauvet's website; but I feel like that's so typical and I want to give you some real-world scenarios.  The biggest fast-fact to know is that the COLORado Batten 144 has the typical Red, Green, Blue LED configuration, but also has Amber and White.  This gives the ability to do incredibly smooth and nice pastels, warm ambers, and cool magentas and blues that otherwise just aren't that pretty with typical RGB.

I took the COLORado Batten 144 to a local church where I knew they were using conventional ground-cyc washes, with 3-cells/colors; red, blue and amber, to wash their back and side walls of the sanctuary.  This was the church I used to be on staff at, and so I knew the setup very well and knew what it took to accomplish a nice, even color wash.

Let's look at the conventional cyc lights first - each fixture has 3 sections, each with a 500watt lamp.  There are eight, 3-cell 500watt fixtures on the ground, and four, 3-cell 1000watt fixtures in the air because the 8 on the ground just can't quite get to the top of the wall behind the band.  If you're counting, that's 24,000 watts of lamp juice required when they are all on at full.  Now true, it might be rare that you would have every lamp on at one time, but my point is that you have to have the capability to do so, which can be expensive infrastructure.  Also, think of the gel cost, lamp cost, and time to replace all the gels and lamps, and of course the limited color choice when using gel.

I started by simply comparing the colors in the existing cyc fixtures to the LED batten, starting with amber.  The first thing I noticed is that the COLORado Batten 144 didn't wash as wide, but remember that the conventional cyc fixtures have a reflector that's designed to wash up and out - the LED has a little bit of that, but to match the cyc fixture more, I would recommend using a clear cyc silk (Rosco #160 for example) to make the light from the Chauvet wash wider.  I tried it with a simple frost and it worked great!

This color is created with the amber LEDs at full with some red as well.  The beauty is that with the amber LEDs you can create any warm color so accurately, that it really does replace the need for gel.

When it comes to brightness, the COLORado Batten 144 wins every time!  My favorite color is a deep, rich blue, but the conventional cyc fixtures just can't output enough light through gel to give me the color I want, mainly because the blue gel is fighting against a warm color-temperature lamp.  The Chauvet 144 was so bright, it actually blew out my camera and I had to turn the exposure down so you can get a good reference.  You can also see how the COLORado Batten 144 streaks way farther up than the conventional cyc lights, making the top conventional fixtures unnecessary!

I figured out that ONE Chauvet COLORado Batten 144 could replace TWO of these conventional cyc lights.  Add that in with the power, lamp, and gel savings; and you really have an amazing solution to color wash your walls.

Red can be a subjective color - I personally like a deep, blood-red (Rosco 27 for example), but the Chauvet 144 was a tinge orange compared to these conventional cyc lights, plus my camera affects it a little bit when looking at these photos.  Overall, again, I was super impressed by the intensity and coverage of the LED!

The church also has white "sails" around the sides of the room to help with acoustic noise, and on the ground in front of the sails (every 5'-7') they have a group of three, 300watt small cyc lights with the same matching colors: red, blue, and amber.  There are 78 of these fixtures in the entire room; each pulling 300 watts, so that's almost another 24,000 watts of electricity that is needed to power them.  I put the COLORado Batten 144 where the first blue cyc light was, and the result was incredible.  Not only did it blow out my camera again, but it streaked high enough to reach the higher cyc lights that are hanging on the balcony edge, keeping brightness and color bright and true.  

For this scenario in this church, I figured out that instead of having 78 fixtures that only gave us three colors on the white sails, we could use 16 fixtures and have any color we wanted.  Factor in the cost-saving of not having to run all those dimmers and electrical, but instead put 8 on a single 20amp circuit.

Aside from washing walls with the COLORado Batten 144, you could do some really interesting visual effects by controlling each "block" of LEDs, giving you some really cool chase effects.  Also, in rooms with lower ceilings, these would be great as a way to wash your entire stage!  A youth room could use 2-4 of these to color the stage; instead of using lots of conventional PARs.

Overall, the Chauvet COLORado Batten 144 is a GREAT solution to washing cyc's, wall, ceilings, and even your stage.  If you're looking at starting to add lighting or upgrading, I would ask a local dealer for a demo in your space so you can really get a feel for how it looks. 

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