Hands-On, Real-time LED Pinspot Comparison

Posted on June 15, 2011 by webmaster

CHAUVET® Pocketspot LED, CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 and the American DJ Pinspot

written by Nick Burke (aka DJ NickyB)
Originally posted on the GEAR BOARD at http://start.mobilebeat.com, re-posted by permission.

Here is my personal hands-on comparison of these three LED fixtures. I know many DJs seem to be only interested in “relative brightness” of a majority of LED fixtures since this is a fairly new technology. Let me add, that IMHO, these three fixtures cannot be evaluated or used as “generic” pinspots but are more suited to a particular application; more on this later.  I also try to keep my discussions in layman’s terms and stay away from the physics of light beam analysis.

Shipping and packaging:
My CHAUVET® fixtures arrived double boxed and individually bubble-wrapped as all electronic devices should be. Both were extremely lightweight and fully assembled. My ADJ Pinspots were purchased at my local Guitar Center, packaged pretty much the same way except it they had to be assembled by yours truly but this was not difficult or very time consuming given their relative simplicity. Both pinspot fixtures come with pre-cut color filters and auxiliary lenses that provide for wider area coverages.

First impressions:
From a construction and feel point of view, I preferred the CHAUVET® units. The Pocketspot LED was very sturdy and quite compact in size by comparison to the other two pinspots. The Pocketspot LED measures a mere 3.5” long and is 2.5” in diameter with a nice metal “U” bracket and two adjusting thumbscrews for mounting. The Pocketspot LED is a standalone, no frills unit with a single 4-watt white LED and it’s bright.

The CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 and the ADJ Pinspot were nearly identical physically measuring 6.75” and 6.5” respectively and both were 2” in diameter at the lens end of the barrel. I preferred the heavier ribbed construction on the LED Pinspot 2 as well as it’s full “U” bracket, dual thumbscrew mount. The ADJ model uses a single-sided “L” shaped bracket with only a single thumbscrew. The LED Pinspot 2 just looks more professional although the ADJ Pinspot  with it’s  “L” brackets  allows one to hang more units side-by-side due to its smaller overall width (3.5”). What this means … You could hang 12 CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2’s on a typical four ft. T-Bar but get 14 of the ADJ Pinspots on the same T-Bar but neither setup would allow for much lateral adjustment when aiming the fixtures. Both Pinspot fixtures come with a 6-degree standard lenses installed. An optional 12-degree lens comes with the ADJ Pinspot. With the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2, the optional lens is nine degrees.

Operation and utilization:
OK everyone, this is where you should pay attention because this is where the real differences in these fixtures begin to show up. I mounted all three units, side-by-side on a four ft. T-Bar exactly 10 ft. from the wall. I powered up all three fixtures and was really surprised at what I saw.

First, the output of the CHAUVET® 4-watt Pocketspot WAS NOT brighter to the eye than the other two 3-watt pinspots as would be expected. This difference was due to a warmer color temperature of the LED. It more closely resembled the output of a halogen lamp. Another thing I immediately noticed was that the spot (12” diameter) on the wall was very bright at the center with an unfocused edge and a rather large (36” diameter) “halo” that decreased in intensity as it approached the outermost edges. This could be very helpful in some applications and a hindrance in others. I did however like the warmer white color on skin tones.

Moving on to the ADJ Pinspot vs. the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2, again I can tell you there are tremendous differences in their outputs. With the standard lenses installed and from 10 ft. away, the ADJ Pinspot produced a not so focused circle 11” in diameter. The CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 produced a sharply focused circle 9” in diameter and was much brighter. Both fixture’s outputs had a blue halo at the beams edge which I fully expected from such a bluish-white light, very reminiscent of a metal halide lamp. The CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2’s “laser like” beam is quite capable of a really long throw. At 40 ft. the LED Pinspot 2’s beam width was 34” with a crisp edge. The ADJ Pinspot at that distance projected a 40” diagonal circle but edges were quite blurred.  Through a mild haze, both beams looked about the same except at the final target. The winner was clearly the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2. My curiosity got the best of me as to why the blurred edges from the ADJ Pinspot so I removed the lenses. The primary difference was that the mount point for the LED in the ADJ Pinspot was about halfway down the barrel. On the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2, the LED was mounted at the rear of the barrel. This clearly affects the focal point of the beam at the lens, hence the blurry beam edges of the ADJ Pinspot.

The next logical step was to mount the optional lenses. I installed the 9-degree optional lens on the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 and the 12-degree optional lens on the ADJ Pinspot. The CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2’s beam from 10 ft. was now 18” in diameter; the ADJ Pinspot opened up to 21” in diameter and with very sharp, crisp edges. Obviously a better lens fit for the ADJ Pinspot. The CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 was clearly brighter than it’s ADJ counterpart.

"My personal preference would have to be the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2."

Final analysis and opinions:
Of these three fixtures, I have to say my personal preference would have to be the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2. I prefer it’s professional appearance with the “U” bracket mount, it’s casing is more rugged, it’s focus is cleaner and crisper and it’s clearly the brighter fixture at comparable distances. The beam spread goes to the ADJ Pinspot and the warmness of the light goes to the Pocketspot. The bluish-white color of both Pinspot models makes skin tones look ashen so if you shine these on people, use a colored gel.

As for practical uses, if I were lighting a mirrored ball on a 4 ft. T-Bar, I’d recommend using two Pocketspots, one per side and they don’t have to be far from the ball to do their job without spill-over. Using either pinspot model, the fixtures would have to be further than four ft. away to do a mirrored ball justice.

For lighting a cake or table centerpieces, I’d recommend the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 with the 9-degree lenses as they can be a comfortable distance away and still have the intensity to do a great job. Use the 6-degree lenses for centerpieces that are further away. If those pieces to be highlighted are inside of 10 ft, you might want to think about adding a couple of the ADJ fixtures and using the 12-degree lenses on your CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2’s (Yes, the lenses are interchangeable).

If your purpose is for a “rainlight” effect, the CHAUVET® LED Pinspot 2 with it’s standard 6-degree lens is about perfect at any ceiling height. And now I’m thinking, what if I had a lens barrel cover with say a half inch aperture opening and put maybe eight of these on an eight channel sequencer. Wouldn’t that make for a nifty white laser effect?

Nick Burke (aka DJ NickyB)
Nicky-B Entertainment, LLC – Millersville,MD
Gear Board Co-Moderator for MobileBeat.com
40+ yrs computer experience for NASA
Musician ’65-’87 / DJ since ’87