Mega-Lite N-E Color FX9

in Road Tests

Mega-Lite N-E Color FX9Mega-Lite’s N-E Color FX9 is an LED strip fixture with matrix capabilities. Its nine tri-color RGB 3W LEDs (with 27 red, green and blue LEDs in all) are designed for smooth color mixing, and with the ability to generate a 2.5-foot beam with output measuring close to 100 lumens at 10 feet, the fixture is powerful enough to serve as a wall or cyc wash.

The N-E Color FX9 updates previous Mega-Lite models, including the N-E Color Pro Strip and N-E Color Strip, with the ability to blend the RGB output within a single optic.

I found the unit to be compact, lightweight and easy to work with. Measuring 21 by 4 by 7 inches, these 7-pound fixtures run on 62 watts with a potential power consumption of .87 amps. Neutrik powerCON connectors allow for easy daisy-chaining, and an auto-switching power supply is another plus.

The unit is controlled via standard DMX 512 protocol, and accepts three- and five-pin signal cable. There are pass-throughs for both power and control, easily accessible on the ends of each fixture, in the electronics and fan housing.

Four Modes of Operation

There are four modes of operation:

Mode A, for basic intensity control, requires only three channels of DMX and controls the level of output for the red, green and blue LEDs.

Mode P, like Mode A, also controls intensity of output, but also can be used to control strobe rate and macros for chase effects.

Mode F, which allows for individual control of the red, green and blue LEDs within each of the nine LEDs, requires 27 channels of DMX.

Mode L also allows for individual control of each of the nine LED, and also enables users to add strobe capability for each of the 27 RGB LEDs.

All of these settings are accessible via the on-board menu — designed with a legible yet easy-on-the-eyes shade of blue.

Stand-alone Operation

The N-E Color FX9 offers stand-alone operation through the menu as well. There are five different options: Flash, Fade Scroll, Flash Scroll, Chase Effect and Chase Speed.

The Flash option enables all nine LEDs to strobe in white. The Fade Scroll and Flash Scroll are macros that let users either cross-fade or snap the overall fixture from one color to another. The Chase Effect and Chase Speed options do as their names suggest.

Each option can be further fine-tuned with an additional 15 adjustable settings.

Although this fixture is not designed to respond to remote console programming and scene downloading, I discovered this wasn’t really so much of a practical limitation. The on-board programming is simplicity itself, and easily facilitated.

A Sturdy Yoke

The N-E Color FX9’s center mounting bracket is wide enough to keep the fixture stable when standing on the ground. It also has holes that are properly placed for mounting the unit to walls or ceilings.

When used together, the fixtures can be tightly aligned to create an LED panel effect. Software from Mega Systems Inc. lets these panels display low-res graphics.

Guillermo Cabada, Mega Systems Inc.’s corporate president, is also head of special projects and international sales. He notes that while daisy-chaining the fixtures is easy, no more than 10 fixtures should be daisy-chained at 110V, and no more than 15 should be daisy-chained on a 20 amp circuit.

Guillermo credits his brother,  Miguel Cabada, Mega Systems Inc.’s vice president and head of R&D, for the development of the tri-color LEDs through a single optic.

RGB vs. White LEDs

Guillermo Cabada noted that the reason the company opted against incorporating white LEDs in with the RGB LEDs is that “most DMX controllers don’t account for white in their pixel-mapping capability when building any kind of a matrix.”

The decision to omit a white LED was due to MEGA’s realization that “most dmx controllers don’t account for white in their pixel mapping capability when building any kind of matrix,” said Guillermo.

I found that a comparably good white output is achievable with proper mixing of the RGB. Primary red green and blue colors, meanwhile, are very well saturated.

I also found the color mixing to be smooth. To my eyes, the unit also appears to be flicker-free. The three-watt LEDs also seem to give the fixture more versatility.

I also appreciated that, when calling Mega Systems, Inc., I was able to talk directly to a human being — in this case, Judy — who answered the phone and put be right through to the people I needed to speak with.

It backs up what the company puts on its website: “The family of staff at Mega Systems, Inc. genuinely cares about their customers and always respond quickly to their needs.”

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Guillermo Cabada claims that the N-E Color FX9 already has more than its fair share of admirers, including as many as a half-dozen companies that are mimicking the design.

Although LED lighting fixtures are constantly changing, I believe that N-E Color FX9 will be around for a while, thanks to its combination of versatility and build quality — it’s made from sheet metal rather than molded polymers. Unfortunately for Mega-Lite, that also makes the fixture easier to emulate.

Mega-Lite N-E Color FX9

Size: 7” x 21.6” x 5.25”

Weight: 7 lbs

DMX Connectors: XLR 3 pin & 5 pin in/out

Power Connections: Power Con in/out

LEDs: 9 3W Tri-Color LEDs (9R, 9G, 9B)

LED Refresh Rate: 4.7k HZ (flicker free)

LED Lifetime: 60,000 to 100,000 hours

LED Angle: 25°

Power Draw: Universal 100 - 240V 50/60 Hz

Ballast: Electronic

Watts: 62W

Amps: .87

Control Protocol: DMX 512

How Much: $420 (MSRP)

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