The form factor of any particular object may serve to obfuscate its unique features, to whatever extent they exist. Humans are wonderful at categorizing – at placing the things in our environments into kinds and sorts as a mental shortcut. Where this fails us is when it causes us to overlook what lies beneath the surface, to ignore the incremental but very real evolution of a familiar object. For instance, the humble LED wash light. There will always be similarities between luminaires – these are, after all, lights, but a peek beneath the hood will reveal the craft and care that goes into a fixture, and perhaps reveal an interesting trick or two the engineers have dreamed up for us. And so, today we’re looking at the Storm 1 Wash from Chauvet Professional, part of their successful and award-winning Maverick line of lights.
The instant standout feature of the light as it’s being lifted from its box is the IP65 rating, a rating broadcast immediately through sheer heft and real glass pane across the face. This is not a light that believes in being dainty. No indeed, my initial impression is that that Storm 1 has been hewn from a sizable chunk of Sunrise, Florida stone. It is – and more on the IP rating later – heavy.
The source for the light are nineteen Osram RGBW LED emitters, rated at 20W, for a total of 380W dedicated the LED sources. The sources are arranged in concentric ring pattern around the head, which also contains electronics and a large heatsink to help dissipate waste heat generated by the emitters. Dimming was very smooth, with no noticeable dips or bumps along the range. There are four dimming curves to select; the fixture as provided was set to a linear curve. I measured 2,020 lux at five meters at 50% zoom, which fell to 1,474 lux after allowing the fixture to run at full power for twenty minutes, a thermal drop of about 27%. That said, running your fixtures in full open white all the time is a worst-case scenario; I expect real-world numbers will be more reasonable. My test fixture also developed some fogging on the inside of the front lens, a known issue Chauvet Professional tells me affects some units and which can be remedied by running the fixture at full until the condensation evaporates, at which point it will no longer be an issue. The fixture includes a strobe channel with common functions, including fixed-rate strobes, random flashes, and bursts.
Color mixing is as expected from RGBW systems. The blue is a deep 460 nm emitter, so keep this in mind when mixing with other fixtures in your rig. The optics keep all the colors nicely homogenized, and I saw no multicolored shadows anywhere in the range, even at short distances and throughout the zoom range. Color stability was reasonably good, with little shift as the light was dimmed. (The fixture will also automatically throttle certain die colors to keep color stability as the dies lose efficacy due to thermal effects.) The white emitter helps in creating pastels and flesh tones, and there is a color macro channel for help in quickly dialing in specific shades of white along with a CTC channel for smoothly adjusting the color temperature down. (Side note: Chauvet also publishes the values for their white macros in their manual, so users can recreate them as palettes. Good on you, Chauvet.) The combined output of the individual LED emitters added up to more than 100%, indicating some load-sharing going on. This allows individual colors to be brighter on their own than when used in a mix, to get punchier saturated colors.
The Storm 1 comes with a large variety of operating modes to suit the needs of its users. In the higher modes, it is capable of full pixel-mapping, but it also has modes that allow the user to use macros to control the pixels on the face of the fixture without the high DMX channel counts required for actual pixel-mapping effects. Included are a large smattering of patterns, with dots, lines, sweeps, and individual pixel effects of all sorts. Control of the background is set via a macro channel in this mode, with the “virtual gobos” (as Chauvet calls this feature) having full RGBW control. I was able to get some great effects quickly and easily using these functions, and it’s great for times when one lacks either the required channels or the time to utilize the full pixel-mapping modes. Pre-built macros can be a lifesaver in time-sensitive scenarios – festivals come immediately to mind, or the last-minute addition of the CEO’s band to your favorite corporate gig.
The fixture’s zoom range is from 11º to 42º, which adjusts smoothly and can cover its range is under a second. Pan and tilt are very smooth, even during very long fades, but is also capable of speedy twists and turns when asked to do so: pan completes a full-range movement in 1.37 seconds, with tilt taking 1.05 seconds, with ranges of 540º and 270º, respectively. One interesting feature that I did not test was the integrated web server, which allows one to access the functions of the light remotely via a web browser. Assuming your rig is networked, this could be hugely beneficial in troubleshooting and general rig monitoring. All the moving features of this light – the pan, tilt, and zoom – were relatively quiet, with the cooling fans being the biggest source of noise.
The fixture, as mentioned previously, is IP65 rated, and is quite sturdy. There’s a lot of steel construction and seals to keep water and dirt from getting inside, along with a front pane of glass to keep particulates from getting into the head. On the base, rubber gaskets surround all the inputs and outputs to keep those sealed. All this weather sealing and sturdy construction, of course, makes for a stout fixture, with the Storm 1 weighing in at 27kg (59lbs.)
Power is via Seetronic PowerCON-type connector in and throughs, and auto-ranges from 100-240 VAC. Data is via either standard 5-pin DMX in and throughs, or Neutrik EtherCON ins and throughs. Plenty of control options here, too – in addition to standard DMX, the fixture can handle W-DMX, sACN, Art-Net, and Kling-Net as control protocols. The Storm 1 stands 477 mm (18.7”) tall with a base 395 mm (15.5”) by 319 mm (12.5”) wide. There is a full-color OLED menu display for setting the address and fixture mode, which you can also do via RDM.
At a glance: The Chauvet Professional Storm 1 Wash enters a busy sector of the market, with several other manufacturers making products that fill the same role. What this fixture brings is an IP-rated luminaire with sturdy construction, good brightness, and very strong protocol support. The IP65 rating makes it a strong contender when you need a high-quality light that will be exposed to the elements for long periods of time without failing.
(This review originally published in PLSN.)