CPM Reviews: The Elation Power Spot 700
by: David Martin Jacques

Copyright © 2007 by David Jacques

Published in the September, 2007, issue of Church Production Magazine

Things are heating up in the automated lighting industry. A great deal has occurred since Vari-Lite was the only flavor in the store. Since the early 1980’s, Martin, Coemar, High End Systems, and countless others have joined the competition. When American DJ created its’ Elation subsidiary, some people in the industry doubted the prospect of success of yet another player in the already crowded and increasingly competitive moving light industry.

Well, Elation’s products that have been introduced over these past few years clearly demonstrate its worthiness to compete. This is most evident with the new Power Spot 700 moving light. This fixture not only matches its competitors’ more expensive moving lights, in some cases it blows the competition away.

We were fortunate to recently test the Power Spot 700 in our light lab and theatres at California State University Long Beach. It was serendipitous that at the same time we had several other moving lights being tested and reviewed, so a direct comparison could be made between these fixtures. I will not tell you which fixtures were included, but suffice it to say that they included some of the most popular moving lights used in the profession. But more on this comparison later…

The Elation Power Spot 700 is a moving yoke fixture that combines both excellent spot and wash characteristics. The fixture is housed in a sleek black enclosure that is both unobtrusive and relatively small in size. This is a welcome design from its much larger (and heavier) competitors’ models.

The fixture is controlled via DMX-512 in 16-bit resolution. 21 control channels are used to maneuver and control the fixture’s numerous features. All you need is a 3-pin XLR cable to hook the Power Spot 700 up to your lighting console. An easy to read 3-light LED screen allows the user to run diagnostics and set the fixture’s DMX address. We found the blue LED’s much less distracting than red (from an audience’s point of view).

What really shines about the Power Spot 700 is its superior optics. The optical design includes a high output luminous-dichroic glass reflector with a lens system that permits a 14 - 32 degree linear zoom. Although it would be nice to have a wider range of beam size, the 14 – 32 degree range is most useful for throws of 20 to 40 feet. We found the entire zoom-range very malleable, including the ability to easily sharpen and soften the beam while maintaining consistent focus of patterns and colors.

The fixture uses a 700 watt Phillips MSR 700/2 lamp. This lamp is rated at 7500°Kelvin (which is a very bright, daylight white colored light). Coupled with the fixture’s excellent optics, this lamp proves to be exceptionally efficient. In fact, compared to a major manufacturer’s popular 1200 watt fixture that we had in our light lab, the Power Spot 700 was about 33% brighter! How can this be? Well, you will have to ask the designers at Elation how they pulled this rabbit out of their hat.

Regarding color, the Power Spot 700 utilizes dual color wheels that work in combination to mix colors. The color filters overlap so combination of colors can be created. All these filters are interchangeable, so custom dichroic color filters could be added. Although the standard colors offer the designer many useful combinations, we would have preferred a CMY color mixing system. However, by the time you read this Elation will be offering an optional CMY color module with an animation wheel. We are very excited with this development!

For designers who love to pack their fixtures with gobos, the Power Spot 700 offers not one, not two, but THREE gobo wheels! That is 23 total gobos. All the gobos can be easily changed with Elation’s “Quick-Snap-System”. There are seven interchangeable gobos on one wheel that can be rotated and indexed. This means that you can rotate these gobos to any circular configuration. Once recorded in memory, the gobo will consistently return to this position. These gobos can be also be rotated at any speed. In addition to the indexing gobos, there are 9 gobos on a static wheel. My students commented on how usable the standard gobos were. They especially liked the dichroic colored gobos supplied with the Power Spot 700. The combination of these gobos offers the lighting designer striking pattern combinations and gobo morphing. Pretty cool!

One of the true tests of a moving light is its ability to smoothly dim and strobe the intensity. This is critical when using moving lights in conjunction with conventional incandescent lighting fixtures with electronic dimmers. This fixture’s advanced dimming and shutter mechanisms enable surprisingly smooth dimming. In addition, the Power Spot 700 is able to strobe from 1 to 10 flashes a second.

The Power Spot 700 also has an excellent variable frost feature that allows the lighting designer to soften the beam from a hard to a very soft edge. The iris in the fixture will reduce the full field of light from 4% - 100%. Finally, there is a wonderful 3-facet rotating/indexing prism that splits the beam of light. In combination with the fixture’s gobos wheels, the prism creates spectacular rotating lighting textures.

We found that the pan and tilt on the Power Spot 700 was certainly fast enough to preset the light between quick lighting cues. The fixture moved consistently and very quietly. As I design the lighting at the world’s premier opera houses, I am certainly a stickler when it comes to noise. We used this fixture on two shows and never heard it moving.

In addition to all these features, there is an internal microphone that sends audio signals to its control circuitry. This enables the light to respond to music (and other noise). We did not find much use for this in a traditional theatrical environment. However, we did have a lot of fun late at night when we played some techno music for the cast party.

So what does it cost for this powerful moving light and all its features? With a list price of around $8000 (and a street price only a fraction of that) the Elation Power Spot 700 is almost too good, and too inexpensive to pass up. Remember, a $14,000 - 1200 watt fixture from a major moving light manufacturer was blown out of the water by the Power Spot 700! And for those who are worried about quality, Elation is now including a two-year warrantee free with each purchase. This is a very important consideration when installing automated lighting into a church environment. The expense of maintaining this technology can be prohibitive. Elation’s program should put to rest most people’s concerns about maintenance.

We are very impressed with the Elation Power Spot 700. When it comes to features and quality at an affordable price, it is hard to beat this light. I am sure that the major automated lighting manufacturers have taken serious notice. At about half the price of its competitors, and with its excellent optical characteristics, the Elation Power Spot 700 may be the perfect solution for churches on a limited budget to enter into the exciting world of automated lighting.

David Martin Jacques is a professional lighting designer and consultant. He has designed hundreds of productions in the US and throughout the world. David also consults on new worship facilities and renovations. He serves as Head of Stage Design for California State University Long Beach and can be contacted at djacques@csulb.edu.