CPM Reviews: Wybron’s NEXERA LX Wash and Zoom Profile Spotlights
by: David Martin Jacques

Copyright © 2007 by David Jacques

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

It seems that almost every lighting manufacturer is jumping on the dichroic color changing bandwagon. Several designs have recently been introduced into the market including internal and external modules that allow the user to instantly fade from one color to another. All this is remotely controlled from your lighting console.

What are the advantages of dichroic color changers? Primarily, the freedom of changing color without stopping rehearsal and getting out a ladder. Unlike traditional color scrollers, dichroic systems fade from one color to another. In addition, the colors can be changed at almost any speed. Add to this the savings of never having to purchase color media as dichroics last for many years.

It is not surprising that the leading manufacturer of color scrollers developed a superb dichroic color system. A couple of years ago Wybron introduced two exciting new products that incorporated their excellent dichroic color system into their own state-of-the-art lighting fixtures. The Wybron Nexera wash and profile fixtures shook the lighting industry as these were the first viable “conventional” lighting fixtures that incorporated such an advance color changing system.

We had the opportunity to review the prototypes of Wybron’s Nexera Wash and Profile spotlights early in 2005. At the time we were quite impressed with the optical and color qualities of the fixtures. Being prototypes, there were problems that we noted with the focus quality and color mixing. However, we mentioned that we anticipated that these issues would be addressed in the final production units.

Several months ago Wybron sent us two examples of their production Nexeras LX wash and profile models to review. We are happy to report that the production models of these fixtures not only addressed the few criticisms that we found with the prototypes, the improvement in the quality of light and color mechanisms were astonishing.

First, an explanation of what Nexera really is. The Nexera line of theatrical fixtures includes a 575W wash fixture that resembles the light quality of a classic soft edged PC or Fresnel spotlight, and a 575W zoom profile spotlight that compares quite favorably to any new generation leko from the major lighting manufacturers. The zoom profile comes in two basic models, a 19-26 degree and a 25-40 degree zooms. The wash and zoom profile fixtures are available in both a tungsten and CDM (arc) lamp models. But most important, the Nexera line of fixtures incorporate integrated CMY dichroic filter color mixing. The Nexera LX’s also feature a full 512 DMX addresses instead of the previous 46. This allows the user more color and fading options.

Unlike a typical color scroller that is placed at the front of the light, the Nexera CMY dichroic mechanism is located very close to the center of the light path. This allows for a much smoother blend of colors. The fixtures are convection cooled and servo driven, and therefore do not require noisy fans. Both units use Wybron Coloram power supplies and are controlled with three DMX channels (one channel for each color, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow). Similar to high-end ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, the Nexera models share common lamp housings and have cold mirror reflectors. Both fixtures even share the same color mixing mechanics for ease of servicing.

We tested the Nexeras in the light lab at California State University Long Beach. We also put them through their paces for two productions for a “real-world” test. We also had on hand several color mechanisms that we could compare the Nexera to.

When we unpacked the Nexeras we were immediately impressed with the improvements in construction design. Unlike the prototypes, these fixtures we robustly built and felt solid. This is very important in the cruel world of lighting when fixtures are routinely moved and dropped. We were also struck with the improvements in the shutter design of the profile and the zoom handles on the wash fixture.

The base is very easy to remove for easy lamp servicing. The Nexera remains nicely balanced and surprisingly easy to focus. Zoom lekos have a tendency to be heavy items with a lot of mechanics to adjust the lenses. The Nexera is surprisingly light compared to many of their competitor’s zoom lekos.

We set up the Nexera profile along with a matching 36 degree ellipsoidal reflector spotlight with a 575W lamp. There was no contest as the Nexera leko was significantly brighter than the conventional 36 degree leko. Beam intensity tests showed as much as a 50% brightness advantage at the zoom’s 36 degree setting. Unlike the prototype, the field stayed consistent with different zoom settings. This is the true “make or break” test of a zoom leko.

The optical rendition of both metal and glass gobos was extremely accurate throughout the zoom range. We were quite pleased with the sharpness of the image, and the ability to soften the edge without losing the contrast of the gobo.

We compared the Nexera wash unit with a 750W Fresnel, a 1000W PAR, and the Zoom Nexera profile. We were quite surprised at the level of intensity that emanated from this fixture. Not only was the intensity of the beam twice as bright as the PAR and Fresnel, the quality and evenness of the field of light was outstanding!

As in the prototypes, we found that the color range and saturation outstanding! The resulting colors were extremely vivid. One very surprising discovery was the amazing primary red achieved with full magenta and yellow. The same is true for other colors most often used in theatrical lighting, including primary blue, light amber, light lavender, light pink, and the difficult to mix Lee 202 color corrected blue.

In both the profile and wash units we found that color mixing tests showed consistent color fields throughout the spectrum. As stated in our review of the prototypes, the dichroic systems require you to keep the lamp in perfect alignment with the reflector. If the alignment is off, you will see uneven color fields.

Color mixing between the fixtures was identical. This means that you could purchase a mixture of the profile and wash fixtures and be assured that you can create consistent color washes. Color consistency is a challenge to manufacturers of dichroic color mixing systems, and Wybron has seemed to master it.

One issue that we discovered was with the overall noise level of the fixture. Although there are no fans, you can hear the dichroic panels moving from several feet away. Although we would like it to be silent, it is important to realize that it is much quieter than your typical color scroller.

The price for these fixtures is reasonable considering what you get for your money. Current retail pricing is $1,618 for the tungsten wash and $1,697 for the tungsten profile. The prices increase about $1000 if you want the arc version of these fixtures. If you were to purchase a top of the line zoom ellipsoidal reflector spotlight, add a dichroic color changer or CMY color scroller, you may find that you will end up paying more than just purchasing a tungsten Nexera. Since the CMY color mechanism in the Nexera is internal, you do not have to deal with modules and hooking up external color changers. This alone may be worth the cost.

The Wybron Nexera LX zoom profile and wash fixtures will surely add a great deal of flexibility to your church’s lighting system. These fixtures make it extremely easy to instantly change the color of the stage, or add a special for a soloist and have the light change colors with the mood of the music. Instead of purchasing expensive moving lights, you may find that adding a few Nexeras may better suit your lighting needs.

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