written by Larz Hanson, owner of Detour DJ, Sound and Lighting
Newsflash! No, it’s not a catastrophe in a third-world nation, another scandal coming out of Washington D.C. or a UFO sighting. It’s new, it flashes and it’s a really nice strobe light from CHAUVET® DJ.
CHAUVET® DJ Impulse 648 is the kind of strobe light I’ve been looking for. For starters, it’s an LED based fixture that houses 648 white surface-mount (SMD) LEDs and doesn’t consume a lot of power. The LEDs, which are spread out in a roughly 8-by-16 inch rectangular housing, are not covered with a typical focusing lens which allows the fixture to project a smooth, wide wash with little “beam” effect.
Secondly, and I find this to be a big plus, Impulse 648 can be used in applications where traditional strobes can’t. For example, if you set the speed control to zero, it becomes a dimmable white light which can be used as an audience blinder on a musical cue. The lighting designer can also control the speed of the strobe effect and run it as desired. You can also use it to highlight band members as they enter and exit the stage. This minimizes tripping over cables in the dark and doubles as a strobe/effect light during the show. Really, it’s up to the lighting designer’s imagination how Impulse 648 is used. With traditional DMX strobe lights, you may have dimming and strobe control, but none of the constant, all-on feature options offered by Impulse 648. For those who haven’t jumped into the crazy world of DMX programming, this fixture includes several stand-alone modes to suit your needs, including a useful sound-active mode.
Additionally, Impulse 648 is built like a tank. I was expecting lightweight package to arrive with a fixture comparable in weight to disco effect lights. After all, it is just a strobe light, right? Nope. Impulse 648 is very stout and housed in an extruded-aluminum case with cast-metal side covers — not what I was expecting at all. A 100-240V auto switching power supply makes it ready to take on the world, while a newly-designed IEC power jack with a locking plug prevents the power cable from vibrating loose. Various inputs and controls include 3- and 5-pin DMX connectors, a power output (at least for the U.S. model), a microphone and sound sensitivity knob. A digital LED display, which is becoming very common, allows you to choose programs and modes. All in all, Impulse 648 is a complete and easy-to-use device.
I bet you’re wondering how bright it is. I asked myself the same question and dragged out one of my old, 800-watt DMX strobe lights for comparison. Let me first say that my old strobe lights have been very good to me over the years — they have done what I asked them to do (strobe) and never broke. It may not be fair to make the comparison and have Impulse 648 go head-to-head against an old school, element burning, hot-as-you-know-where 800-watt strobe light. In all honesty, the old strobe light was a little brighter, but not by a huge margin.
The fixture is absolutely amazing. If I was in a store right now trying to decide between the two, I would get Impulse648 in a heartbeat. It is super bright, includes way more features, great for multiple applications, draws less power and is cool to the touch — maybe this actually is a newsflash. Nice job, CHAUVET® DJ!
Check out this quick video* about Impulse 648 and see the strobe in action:
*video shot on the floor at LDI 2011