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NJD IQ250 & IQ-MX40

Intelligent Lighting System

Article from Music Technology, August 1993

It's easy to be drawn to bright lights

Musicians and DJs can shed light on their stage acts. John Wright takes an IQ test...

Faceless, imageless, anonymous, lacking in character. What am I referring to here? The Tory cabinet? The Shadow cabinet? The new Ford Mondeo? Nick Faldo? In fact, it's none of the these. They are all terms which have been used in the British press over the past two years to describe bands performing live dance music.

Exporting studio-based music to the stage just isn't that easy. Most of it is produced using a considerable amount of immovable equipment, making the music itself difficult to recreate in a live situation. And if you do finally manage to haul your collection of analogue synths and samplers onto the podium, actually working all that technology to create a 'live' performance takes a considerable amount of concentration - leaving you little time to choreograph dance routines, prance about with a microphone or thrust your groin at the audience.

It can also be argued that the focus of dance music is the groove itself, not the people creating it. And many would say this was a good thing. But people like to have both their aural and visual senses bombarded when they go to a gig of any sort - which is why an increasing number of dance, techno and ambient bands are turning to complex lighting, video, projection and special effects to enhance their performances.

And this is exactly why NJDs IQ250 and IQ-MX40 lighting system is attracting so much interest from musicians and DJs alike. Basically, NJD have come up with a 'robot' light which emulates many of the effects of much larger club and touring systems, but which represents ridiculously good value for money. If you've ever been in a club, or watched a dance/pop gig, or worked as a DJ, you'll have seen robot lights in action.

They consist of a high-power projector lamp, a series of interchanging colour and shape filters to alter the beam, and a moving mirror to bounce the light around in a host of different patterns. For the gigging technohead, they can transform a lacklustre lighting system into something very special indeed. Suddenly, you and the stage is bombarded with a constantly-evolving spectacle of light; not only do these things move exactly on the beat, they can even be programmed from your MIDI sequencer - providing you have the right interfaces.

The IQ system at present encompasses the IQ250 lamps themselves and the IQ-MX40 controller. Up to 16 lamps can be run from a single controller, creating some pretty stunning visuals. But you don't even need the controller to get the lights working - they already incorporate individual microphone sensors for responding to sound. So you can employ a whole bank of IQs, or just one on its own, to illuminate your gig. Flexible or what?

As I said earlier, the IQ250s include a set of internally-changing dichroic colour filters, and shape filters (known as 'gobos'), which can be controlled externally by the MX40, or which change randomly in time with your bass beat. Eight colours are available - red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, pink and orange - and the five gobos cover normal circles, squares, dots, stars or tunnel shapes. The mirror then bounces the light in a variety of preset patterns, such as up/down, side-to-side, diamond, octagon, figure-of-eight - the list goes on.

The actual power of the lamp is impressive given the physical size of the IQs; a 250 watt dichroic reflector is focused to provide an intense beam of light that will sweep across all but the largest of stages. It's worth mentioning that the lamps are also very portable: get a couple of cases made up, and one person could easily carry four at once.

Although normal use would involve them hanging from a standard lighting bar or wall bracket, the interesting thing about robot lights is that they can be angled in almost any direction and still look good. Power can be taken from a common 240 volt switching pack (or a 13amp socket, come to that!); sockets for DMX In and Out can be used to chain the lamps together and/or connect them to the MX40.

The MX40 doesn't include MIDI control itself - it's basically a preset pattern/colour/gobo switcher - but we'll be looking at dedicated MIDI-DMX interfaces in the near future.

So, once you've hooked your IQ250s (I used two for the purposes of this review) to the MX40, you can set up various repeating pattern, colour and gobo changes, which either work in time to a sound signal (via the audio input at the rear) or according to the speed set up on the MX40s front panel. The sheer number of permutations available should keep most people twiddling away for hours, but even this controller doesn't show off the full potential of the IQ system - you need to get into some serious sequencing to do that.

That said, a set of IQs with an MX40 still represents something of a bargain. The effects have to be seen to be fully appreciated, and actually having an automatic light show thumping along to your tracks is an experience not to be underestimated - whether you're a performing musician or a DJ.

The system is incredibly easy to operate, capable of stunning results and offers one of the simplest ways to give your gig that extra 'something' that no amount of stage presence can provide.

More and more, these days, musicians are faced with the task of producing an exciting stage show which matches the multisensory environment of the club, the rave and the imagery of TV. With the release of the IQ, NJQ have made life much easier for musicians who have realised the need for a controllable lighting system simply by making it available at a value for money price. With a set of IQs in your rig, you'll be creating nothing short of a dazzling performance. Faceless techno? Bollocks.


Ease of use Couldn't be simpler
Originality At this price, highly original
Value for money Excellent
Star Quality Essential for any stage act
Price IQ250 - £351.33 inc. VAT each
IQ-MX40 - £151.57 inc. VAT each
Special Offer - for four lights and one control unit £1408.83 inc. VAT.
More from NJD Electronics, (Contact Details)

DMX — ride on time

DMX, for the uninitiated, is the industry-standard lighting control protocol; keyboards have MIDI, lights have DMX. Interconnection is performed by simply chaining lights on a DMX buss together with a single 2-core-and-screen cable. DMX carries all the information required to control colour, movement and gobo changes; each light on the circuit is given an 'address' (like a MIDI channel number), and a master controller such as the MX40 will then identify individual lights for control.

Featuring related gear

Previous Article in this issue

Ensoniq TS10 synthesiser

Next article in this issue

4T/FX and d2d Edit

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Music Technology - Aug 1993

Quality Control

Review by John Wright

Previous article in this issue:

> Ensoniq TS10 synthesiser

Next article in this issue:

> 4T/FX and d2d Edit

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