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30 Sep 2015

Review: High End Systems SolaSpot Pro 1500

The big giant head

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Initially I wasn’t too sure what to make of the SolaSpot Pro 1500, because its physical appearance seems so at odds with what I’ve come to expect LED fixtures to be. It’s physically large, and at 39.5kg it’s hefty too. Why is it so big? Given its name, you might expect the light source in the SolaSpot Pro 1500 to be a 1500W LED engine, but in actual fact it’s only 400W (I can’t think of a fixture with more than about a 700W LED source anyway). More and more puzzled I was.

I pulled the lids off to find out exactly what was going on inside, and discovered that the physical bulk of the head of the fixture and its weight is accounted for by a very comprehensive beam feature set and optic train. The engineering seems to be quite sturdy too, with lots of metal accounting for the kilograms. While I had the lids off, I noted that under specific conditions the fixture engages additional cooling fans. It’s like it somehow knows that the optic path is holding more heat, so it reacts appropriately with more cooling. Obviously this is a boon for reliability, and I really like that the High End has paid enough attention to implement a solution. Clearly they’ve spent some time properly developing the product.

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Aside from the LED engine, the head contains an array of optical features. CMY and 6+open position colour wheel, linear CTO, 6+open rotating and 7+open static gobo wheels, iris, animation wheel, 3 facet prism, 8 to 45 degree zoom, focus, frost, four blade framing shutters, and a lens defog system.

Of course there’s the obligatory High End indigo highlighter function too. All up it’s an extremely solid feature set, and really more typical of what we’ve seen in discharge powered fixtures. There’s no space wasted inside the head, and the reality is that despite perception, the SolaSpot Pro 1500 is about as compact as it can possibly be.

I put it next to another LED fixture with a more powerful engine, and at the same distance and projected beam width, the SolaSpot Pro 1500 was actually brighter. Not by much, but there was a discernable difference. Gobo projection is pretty clean, though I found it harder to achieve crisp focus on all four framing shutter blades simultaneously. Possibly I just need a little more throw distance – 7 metres was kind of on the short side. The zoom is really good, and you can maintain focus nearly all the way to the narrow end of the range.

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Movement of the head itself is not especially fast, but it’s certainly acceptable for the size of the thing. The split colour beams look good, and a bit uniquely, all the adjacent colour combinations seem to work really well together. Position recall seems quite accurate, as does the location of the framing shutter assembly. Getting the shutters to the right position is a little fiddly, but no more so than on any fixture with this feature.

Ultimate the rub with the SolaSpot Pro 1500 is that it’s not what I expected it to be. It does heaps more than I thought it would, and yet it achieves all this with a ‘meagre’ 400W LED source. It’s chock full of features, and good value to boot.

  • Brand:  High End Systems
  • Model:  SolaSpot Pro 1500
  • Price: AUD$16,500 Inc GST
  • Product Info:  www.highend.com
  • Distributor:  www.lexair.com.au

First published in CX Magazine (September, 2015)

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