For me, the distinction between haze and smoke/fog has always been a matter of subtlety. Haze is great because you don’t really notice it until you shine a beam of light though it. It’s like the tender whisper of sweet nothings from a lover. Fog is the atmospheric equivalent of receiving a collections letter. CO2 jets are more like a housebrick through the window.
Of course in the modern age there’s a time and place for everything. That said, with the popularity of small venues, and more recently an emphasis on producing online content, the call for the humble hazer is a little louder now than previously.
Swefog K1 is actually a bit more than a humble hazer. First up the design – it’s boxy but cool. The finish is nice. Boxy is easy to make a case for. It’s narrow so it fits easily into wings without becoming a huge trip hazard. Lights on the side of the reservoir shine through to the other side of the unit, so you can see how much fluid remains – don’t worry though, for theatre use you can disable those and run it in stealth mode.
Speaking of stealth, the K1 is quiet. Not quite silent, but very quiet. No hazer is absolutely silent. I did what would be considered a pretty unfair test of taking it to do a webcast in a house. We put the K1 into a 7x4m, reverberant, and completely silent room, and in the total absence of other sound in there we could hear the air pump running.
I thought it might be a problem but once I added two musicians and singers, plus the audio return from the webcast host, suddenly nobody was even aware of the sound the K1 made. Subtle!
The OLED menu is very straightforward to operate. Left/right arrows swap between fan speed, fog amount, and run/stop functions. Up and down changes the value, OK runs the hazer from the run/stop screen or takes you to the setup menu from the other screens. The big X button makes it stop. Setup is a doddle, and you’d certainly be able to get the unit up and running without reading the handbook. I managed, and I’m an audio person!
We ran the hazer on a very low output mode – I think 10% from memory for the duration ofthe shoot. The fan speed can be varied from 10% upward, but I let the K1 do its thing and just set it to “auto”. This lets the hazer adjust the fan speed in response to the requested haze level, and it seems to be pretty spot on.
You can achieve a variety of effects by varying the parameters individually. There’s a hinged waveguide on the front that allows you to direct the haze upward or forward.
On my test, the air-con saw the air in the room being constantly refreshed and yet the K1 held a nice level of haze; just right to pick up the movement of the light beams from my awesome “best ever sound-guy lighting rig” of two shimmers (thanks Wazza). I do love minimalist theatre.
There’s a nice solid carry handle recessed into the top of the K1, set at the right position to balance the unit correctly when you lift it. There are PowerCon in and XLRs for RDM capable DMX connection. I didn’t use the DMX connection because I didn’t have a console, nor did I bother with the timer because I could dial the output down really low!
As much as light, delicate haze is wonderful, sometimes you just want to fill the room with dense haze really quickly. No problems for the K1 on the “brute force” front, it quite contentedly kicks arse and still remains quiet doing so.
While I am the type of person who would never forget to switch on the hazer, others will no doubt find it comforting to know that should this happen, the K1 takes literally a minute to warm up and be ready. It also takes a minute to shut down, and this is an important step in using it.
Choosing shut down from the menu causes the K1 to purge any fluid still left inside its workings so it won’t leak during transit. I’m not sure but presumably this would help to avoid the problems of blocked thermoblocks that plagued the foggers of my early career.
The need to do the shut-down procedure is really the only weak point I can find about the unit, and to be fair I was told to read the manual before it arrived. So I knew. Now you know too, so shut it down as prescribed.
K1 uses Swefog Molecular Fluid which comes in a 3L “bag in a box” (think cask wine but non-potable). Comparing ongoing cost of operation is difficult, but I asked around a bit and did some loose calculations and it seems like the K1 is nominally no more expensive to run than other hazers.
We probably used 10mL or some equally inconsequential amount of fluid on my gig. The 3L bag in box is good for up to 75 hours operation, and the whole bag and box arrangement is completely recyclable which is super great. Better yet is that it doesn’t leak. Yep. Turn the K1 anyway you want during transit, and it won’t matter. Just make sure to set it upright before you switch it on.
The bag in box flips out from the back of the unit, and the nozzle connects to the K1 with a click on arrangement – just like your garden hose. There’s even a little sponge inside to collect any errant drips when you click the hose off and on. Thoughtful.
Thoughtful is really the watchword for the Swefog K1. It’s made in Sweden and equally at home on tour or installed. If you do install, there’s a 25L or even 220L fluid option, which is good for about a zillion hours of webcast use.
The Specs – Swefog K1
Type: Water-based haze generator.
Fluid type: K1 molecular haze fluid
Fluid consumption: Max 600 ml/hour at continuous operation 100% output.
Min 10 ml/hour at 1% output
Fluid container capacity: 3 litres
Power consumption: 1500 Watts
Dimensions & dry weight LxWxH 490x147x313 mm, 13 kgs
Air pump filter: 250 hours
Air pump: 500 hours
Fluid pump: 250 hours
CX Magazine – June 2020
LIGHTING | AUDIO | VIDEO | STAGING | INTEGRATION
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