By Jimmy Den-Ouden

The Source Four LED was introduced a couple of years ago and held appeal because it allowed users to simply attach a new light source to their existing lens tubes. First generation Source Four LED was good, and now they’ve added version 2 to the range and it’s even better. All the great existing features like the friendly user interface, red shift and 3 200K white point setting still apply, so I’m going to focus on what’s new.

Source Four LED uses the x7 Colour System to mix colours. Rather than use only RGB or RGBW, there are seven sets of differently coloured LEDs within the engine. “What’s the point, a colour’s a colour right?’ you might wonder – I know I did. The x7 system gives you different ways to make the colours, which in turn allow you to highlight differently coloured set or costume elements within them. It didn’t make sense to me until I saw it, but trust me it’s pretty damn cool.

The Source Four LED 2 uses 60 Luxeon Rebel emitters in a different combination of colours to the original Source Four LED. A higher concentration of red LEDs is balanced with the addition of lime green to the array. There are no white LEDs in the new engine at all, which again initially seems weird but actually isn’t.

The change in the colour mixing system has allowed about a 70% increase in white light output over the series 1 fixture – this seems weird when you consider the white chips are gone. I think it’s a case that the lime green now allows better balancing of more output from all the other colours when making white light. There’s still a slightly opaque filter which you need to sit in the lens tube to properly homogenize the colours, but that’s no big deal really. It’s still not quite up to the same output as a tungsten fixture in open white, but it’s pretty damn close. In saturated colours the difference is even smaller, with the LED fixture brighter in some cases.

Control over the fixture is much the same as the first generation unit, with the addition of a range of ’quick colour’ presets you can dial up directly from the back panel. PowerCon and 5 pin XLR provide in and loop facilities for power and DMX. Control modes include HIS, HSIC, RGB, Studio and direct. You can input HSI to the fixture and it will figure out which LEDs to turn on at what intensity to generate the required result. The back panel is otherwise the same as the first gen, so it’s an easy migration. A safety wire attachment point is cast into the fixture chassis, and the whole thing just smacks of quality. Hardly a surprise, given the price.

There’s no hiding from the fact that Source Four LED has a higher initial cost than other alternatives. Considering the price it’s pretty important that the fixture be as versatile as possible, since ROI tends to be a big influence when purchasing. Maybe in recognition of this, ETC has released a Cyclorama adapter specifically to match this unit (don’t put it on a tungsten Source Four because it will melt). The cyc adapter fits onto the fixture in place of the lens tube and turns the fixture into a cyc light. It also allows you to re-purpose your cyc lights to other duties when they’re not being used, so they stay busy and billable all the time.

A clever addition to this is a free iPhone app called ’Cyc Tool’, into which you punch the required throw distance from fixture to cyc. The app figures out the appropriate tilt angle, and marks it on a rotary scale. Then the clever bit happens – sit the phone on the fixture then tilt it back and forth until the scale turns green to show the angle is correct. Nifty!

ETC makes a big point about the quality of light from the fixture being good enough to light up people in addition to set elements, and really I think they’re understating it a bit – while it’s a viable tungsten replacement it’s also versatile in ways a fixed colour source can’t be. I like it.

If you’re investing in a LED engine, it probably makes sense to get an accompanying EDLT lens tube to squeeze every Lumen out of the source, as well as yielding sharper gobo projection. The engine is available with optional integrated shutters, so if you’re using EDLT fixed angle tubes that’s the option you want. If you plan to use zoom tubes with their own shutters or the cyc adapter, go for a plain engine instead. One thing is for sure though, LED just got even better.

Brand: ETC
Model: Source Four LED Series 2 & Cyc Adapter
RRP excl Vat: Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr+ Engine – R 42 629.00 excl VAT or
R 44 411.00 excl VAT with shutter barrel. LED Cyc Adapter – R 6785.00 excl VAT.

26 degree EDLT Lens Tube – R 4875.00 excl VAT. Price correct at time of print and subject to change

Product Info: