Testing out the Freedom Series – Part 1Posted on November 15, 2012
Chauvet contacted me to demo and review some gear — I enthusiastically agreed. To my surprise they sent me the wireless CHAUVET® DJ Freedom series — one Freedom Par and one Freedom Strip Mini. I immediately thought of ways to use them with my band’s lighting rig.
Freedom Par is a portable PAR uplight that is very easy to position and reminds me of a lantern. Due to the weight (7.8 pounds) and size of the unit (9.3-by-8.5-by-8.8 inches), I would recommend keeping it on the ground and not mounting it. The Freedom series includes built-in wireless DMX and a rechargeable battery which greatly reduces the need to run wire and fish around for power. Basically, it is as simple as taking the unit out of the box, setting it in place, turning it on and you are done. It also features an adjustable tilt so you can position the light wherever you need it.
Configuration is at your fingertips with the easy-to-use configuration panel. The unit can be programmed in basic 3-channel DMX mode, or for more advanced features, 4-channel DMX mode opens a ton of features such as color macros, strobe effects and quadrant control. The manual describes all the available features and menu structure. Since there are a lot of options, the manual is essential if you are not familiar with this fixture’s setup. Since it is fully DMX ready, it can be used with your favorite DMX controller.
I used the Freedom Par to supplement the uplighting for our lead singer who is typically located center stage. Sometimes, the side wash lights don’t illuminate him as much as I would like. I was able to place the Freedom Par directly in front of him, tilt the fixture a bit and turn it on —boom, done. I didn’t have to run a power or DMX cable. Prior to the show, I pre-programmed the DMX values and setup the wireless DMX so I didn’t have to mess with it during setup.
One small annoyance was setting the DMX value. Holding down the “up” or “down” key didn’t automatically scroll through the DMX values. When you have as many fixtures as I do, setting the DMX value to 169 required a lot of tapping.
Since the Freedom series includes a built-in D-Fi 2.4 GHz transceiver, I used Freedom Par as a receiver and Freedom Strip Mini as the transmitter. The manual offers several options when setting up wireless DMX. The setup is a bit confusing — so again, having the manual handy is essential. I wanted Freedom Strip Mini to act as the transmitter, which means wiring into the DMX chain and sending the signal to the Freedom Par. First, you have to configure each unit as a receiver or transmitter. Then, you have to sync both units at the same time by holding down the sync button for about 20 seconds. I was able to control the Freedom Par from across the room using my controller. However, I think I lost signal to the Par at some point during our show. Or, other objects in the way could have caused the interference or blocked signal. It is also possible that I didn’t have the units properly synchronized. Make sure you test the fixtures before the gig so you’re not fretting 15 minutes before the show. If your application is critical, I recommend running DMX cable just to be safe.
The battery life is great and there is a handy battery-life indicator on each unit that shows the remaining amount of battery life. I used both the Freedom Par and Freedom Strip Mini during two, four-hour shows and didn’t have to recharge them in between. After the second show, I was left with more than 50-percent battery life.
Overall, I liked the Freedom Par — it is very easy to position and adds extra light where you need it without having to run power or DMX cables.