Selador is another manufacturer showing up on the LED scene with its premiere product, the X7 striplight. Many of us have seen other LED striplight products and have a pretty good idea as to what they can do. So what is different about X7? Just as the name implies, it is color times seven or seven-color mixing. The result is great color mixing.
The typical red, blue, and green LED array is supplemented by amber, red-orange, cyan, and indigo. The added colors are interesting on their own but ultimately result in an impressive ability to make colors never before seen in a color-mixing LED system. Pastel colors — like surprise pink or bastard amber — appear far cleaner and more believable when compared to the RGB mix. Comparing the difference between RGB and X7 mixing is easy, since the fixture has both.
Control is via seven channels of DMX, making it a bit tricky on most controllers not equipped for so many channels of color. The same could be said for getting just the right color out of the light. It's hard to tell which one of the color channels is going to shift the output to just the right color you are looking for. With so many possibilities, there is not just one way to reach a particular color. Similar results can be reached in a number of combinations, and this makes the control quite confusing if you are not thinking in seven colors.
Adjusting the seven channels and seeing the mix subtly change in one direction or another quickly shows how X7 has the color advantage. It's fun to play with and is truly amazing. One way to fully grasp how this works is to do this experiment: first, look at RGB colors and then add in the additional four hues. Blue is blue, but mixing in indigo, the blue takes on a far different character. This is equally true with white, where it is said that color temperature can be varied from 1,000 to 20,000°+K. Does it look good all the time? No. It still looks like LED white — weird, but it gets interesting when you pull out a bit of cyan or red-orange. There is a definite shift in color, and it's something that has to be seen to be appreciated. Certainly, no RGB system can give the X7's level of fine adjustment; 255 steps of resolution per color might not be enough in some cases.
Turning to the fixture itself, the X7 is larger than the competing strips. Selador says this has to do with heat management and makes a strong point about the X7's ability to deal with the heat generated by the electronics associated with LEDs. In essence, the housing is a large heat sink and is supposed to help the LEDs achieve a longer, more consistent life. Designers are finding LEDs to be troubling in the long run, as they age and individual color shifts affect the overall mix. Perhaps Selador has solved this with a larger housing? Two-, four-, and six-foot strips are standard.
Optical control is quite good using diffusing lenses. There are two lens-holding slots allowing lenses to be mixed and matched with relative ease. Labeling on the lenses themselves leaves a bit to be desired, though. Selador's beam spreads vary from wide to narrow and horizontal and vertical dispersion patterns. Control and the effect of the projected light is very good; the lenses really do something. Without lenses in the X7, you get a terrible mix, so be sure to specify the optics you will need.
Regarding overall fixture design, the tilt lock is a bolt-through design requiring a wrench to lock. Power is supplied via a surface-mounted, not recessed, PowerCon® connector that could conceivably break off, as is the case with the DMX I/Os. Addressing is via dipswitches, rather than a simple digital display and buttons.
Furthermore, using large Luxeon LEDs and having to fit varying numbers of seven different colors onto the circuit boards means that the individual sources become widely spaced. This wide spacing results in pronounced rainbow color shadow when an object stands between the fixture and a surface. This is a real problem if the idea is to evenly light anything that is not a smooth, solid surface, like a cyclorama. X7 really is a cyc light replacement in applications where the color rendering issues of LEDs would not be a problem.
Of course, the question of intensity comes up, and the X7 seems to be bright enough to hold up with the competition. It is certainly not taking on a typical bounce, white or gray RP screen, and black scrim cyclorama configuration, without a lot of fixtures for some colors. I say “some colors” as it could be that saturated colors in LED light could be on par with tungsten sources with gel. But Lee 201 or Rosco 07 would usually be no contest with a conventional source being more intense.
My demonstration fixture had a strange little flicker at the bottom of the amber channel's fade curve. This could have been a function of any number of things and is really no different from any other LED fixture at the bottom end of the curve. Quickly strobing white (all colors) gave a bizarre effect with not all colors flashing in sync. The dizzying result apparently has to do with the fade profile set at the factory. X7 can be ordered with either a fade curve (reviewed here) or with a linear response that should solve this issue.
This being said, the color-mixing system is quite revolutionary, and when compared to the competition, there is no question that the Selador X7 is making its mark. Since this is the company's first shot at a product, it is understandable that the fixture itself might not be at the level that the visible light is. This will be improved over time just like everyone else's first product. But the X7 is a good light and should definitely be on your list of must sees.