Massive Uplight Review: Ape Labs Maxi vs. SkyBox 5 vs. Freedom Par Quad 4 vs. CUBEecho MKII


If you’re watching this video you’re
most likely comparing battery-powered wireless DMX up lights from a few
different manufacturers and if I’m right, you’re getting ready to throw down a
nice little chunk of change. If this is true, then you my friend are in luck
because you’re about to watch the mother of all reviews for three of the
industry’s most popular uplights and one you’ve likely never heard of. Here’s the
shortlist of contenders: Blizzard Lighting’s big and bright Skybox 5 RGBAW. It sports 7-15 watt LED’s for a total of a 105 watts at 21 watts
per color. If you’re looking for lots of light and a really wide beam Blizzard
has you covered. Here lighting giant Chauvet Freedom Par Quad 4 IP RGBA is
outdoor rated with 4 -10 watt LED’s with a total output of 40 watts at 10 watts per
color they have a couple of nice features like a built-in folding handle
and a light deflector and a decent battery life to boot. Eternal
Lighting’s CUBEecho MK2 RGBWA + UV sports 4 – 18 watt LED’s that produce a
total output of 72 watts at 12 watts per color. It has an easy to read display
that’s written in plain English which makes it intuitive to navigate and also
has some nice graphics that display actual color intensity via a vertical
bar graph. And last but definitely not least, Ape Labs Ape Light maxi RGBW with
3 -15 watt LED’s giving it a total of 45 watts at 11.25 watts per color. It’s the
smallest and lightest of the bunch by far with an independently verified 14
hour plus battery life along with some smart features that set it apart from
anything else on the market in my not so humble opinion. Spoiler Alert: I’m gonna cut to the
chase and tell you that my pick for best all-around up light of the bunch by far
is Ape Labs Maxi, and here’s why; the Maxi is incredibly easy to program and
use and the remote has a wickedly long RF range of over 200 feet and also has a
wireless DMX range of over 3,000 feet. It’s massively smaller and lighter than anything in its class but even using all four high output LED colors at once it still
has a 14 hour battery life. Its battery technology is much less volatile than
lithium-ion it lasts for hundreds of charging cycles. It’s a lot less
expensive to replace, it’s blindingly bright and has premium optics The Ape
Labs Maxi is also water resistant and it’s 100% made in Germany not China. It
has an insanely long three-year warranty which is the industry’s best and every
Ape Labs product works with the same remote and is forward and backward
compatible with the entire line. Now I’m not saying it’s the best up light out
there, because there really is no such thing as the best up light. I’m saying
it’s the best uplight for our DJ business and if the Ape Labs Maxi’s
features sound appealing or intriguing to you then hang in there with me to see
if one of these bad boys might be a good fit for your business.
Full disclosure: after being hired by Ape Labs USA to do some comparative testing
and shoot some related video I really I fell in love with these up lights. I was
asked if after my testing was completed if I would share my story and I agreed
with one big stipulation; I’d be allowed to report everything I found during my
testing – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And guess what?
Ape Labs USA agreed. Hey look, this is not a puff piece. I hope you find this review
to be educational and informational as well as brutally honest about everything
I experienced during my time getting to know all of these manufacturers up
lights. One more word of warning before we continue; all four of these up lights
are wireless DMX programmable but I’m not going to get into DMX programming
here. The focus of this video is to see how easily these battery operated up
lights can be integrated into your gigs. This is a massive review. I’m not gonna
spend time giving you background on Blizzard, Chauvet or Eternal because
they’re fairly well known and established brands here in the US. You’re
most likely not familiar with Ape Labs however because they’ve just come to our
shores. They’ve been around the European industry since 2007 though. Ape Labs is
based out of Einsing Germany where they design, engineer and manufacture all
their LED uplighting products. Yes, you heard me; these lights are not made
China. They’re made in Germany, a country whose engineering and manufacturing
expertise are globally revered. In a recent global survey conducted by
Statista, LLC, over 47,000 respondents ranked the perceived brand strength of
countries of origin and Germany came in, you guessed it, first and China came in 49th
out of 52. Now that’s not to say you can’t get
great quality products from China but I’m a huge fan of companies that control
their entire manufacturing process. Engineering, design, sourcing high quality
components, programming the software used to control the lighting, manufacturing
and eventually shipping the product. We’re gonna start out our review by
taking a look at the ease of non DMX programming and the functionality of the
road control for each product. How easy is each uplight to program and how
powerful, flexible and useful is the included or optional remote control? Can
these lights be easily controlled without DMX? Let’s find out. First, let’s
take a look at Blizzard’s Skybox 5. This is a typical four button two line – 16
character, 5 by 7 matrix LCD control panel. From a user perspective it’s not
very intuitive. Listen I am NOT the brightest bulb in the box but I managed
to bumble around and figure things out. For manual programming of the Skybox, I
found myself constantly going back to the instruction manual. In fact, I even
called Blizzards support once to make sure I wasn’t being too thick-headed. It
just wasn’t easy to program. I spent way too much time thinking about what I was
doin. A manufacturer can, and frankly should make programming easy for
end-users by designing the software to keep us from having to think too much.
This was a huge issue for me with these uplights. I’m not gonna beat around the
bush folks, from a programming standpoint I just couldn’t warm up to the Skybox 5. Let’s take a look at the remote next. The IR receiver for the remote is located on
the backside of the unit and that renders the remote virtually unusable in
real-world scenarios. How am I supposed to use the remote when the back of the
light is typically facing the wall? On top of that the 24 button remote control
basically acted as a wireless IR extension of the control panel in the back of the unit and that required me to look at the back
panel at all times when using the remote. Not intuitive and not practical for a
real gig. Look, this light is primarily intended for up lighting, right? But get
this: to use the remote you have to be on the floor between the light and the wall,
pointing the remote at the rear display and the IR receiver in order to see what
changes you’re making. At this point you might as well pick up the unit and
access the back panel directly. I also found myself accidentally bumping one of
the menu buttons occasionally when placing the unit on the floor which
required me to have to reset the function I previously selected. My star
rating for the Blizzard Skybox 5 for ease of non DMX programming –
I gave it a 1 out of 5 for remote control functionality a big fat 0 out of
5… Now on to the Chauvet Freedom Par Quad 4 IP. This uplight with their 4 –
character red LED display wins the “most cryptic” commands award. While it was
easier to navigate through the menu functions than the Blizzard, it was
confusing to decrypt the abbreviations. For example, the word “SET” is abbreviated
using an upside-down capital “L” in place of a “T”. This is due to the limitations of
each of the 7-segment digital displays they sourced. You pretty much have to
either memorize or have a cheat sheet readily available to decipher
abbreviations like “dim” which is displayed as “din”. My personal favorites
where the codes needed for D-Fi settings. Yeah, you’ll probably need an Enigma
machine to make any sense out of these. Hey there is no way in H E double
hockey sticks I’m gonna remember these settings or intuitively program these
lights without some major focus on my part. The included Chauvet remote had a better feel of quality to it than Blizzards. The
IR receiver for Chauvet’s Freedom Par is located on the top front and center of
the glass that protects the LED’s. This definitely makes it more functional and
usable than Blizzards, however I pretty much had to be right on top of it to get
any response out of the light which is the Achilles Heel of infrared remotes…
The commands were also fairly limited to the usual suspects; you know, blackout,
auto, sound, strobe, speed, sensitivity and percent and fade buttons, in combination
with the plus and minus buttons. With a total of 27 buttons on the remote I
could change several parameters however when using the remote I had to look at
the display on the back of the unit while holding the weatherproof cover
open in order to see what percentage or value I had selected, otherwise I would
be guessing about how high or low of a percentage of value the unit was
registering. From what I could surmise the remote could be used to control all
lights without using DMX programming but only in master slave mode and then in
either auto program mode or sound active mode, so it didn’t appear as though I
could control different groups of up lights with the same remote. Here was the
killer for me – This is actually printed in the user manual, “to ensure strong
signals the units should be elevated 5 feet or higher off the ground or remain
in an unobstructed line of sight of each other”. If my uplights have to be
elevated 5 feet off the ground or higher to ensure a strong wireless signal, are
they really up light? Read this statement again and then try and imagine complying
with its recommendation. They’re kidding right? Chauvet receives one star out of 5 for both ease of non DMX programmability and remote control functionality. Now if I sound like I’m being critical, that’s
good. Because that’s what I need to be to make an informed decision, just like any
of you should be doing before dropping some serious coin on these uplights.
Next we’re gonna look at Eternal Lighting’s CUBEecho MK2. Of the
three up lights we’ve reviewed so far it appears to me that eternal lighting has
put the most thought into their display panel and programming. They still use a
four button navigation panel but Eternal Lighting’s LCD readout was bright and
each row was 32 characters using a 5 by 7 matrix. That meant most everything
could be read in plain English. A lot more attention and effort seemed to go
into thinking about how the user, (that’s me) would interact with the control panel.
I mastered this menu in a matter of minutes. Blizzard and Chauvet could
certainly take some cues from Eternal on their programming forethought. As for the
remote its build quality was good and of the four remotes, it was the largest. It
felt a bit clumsy because of its overall length and overwhelming because of the
number of buttons on the face. It held the title for the “most buttons on a
remote” at 44. While it allowed me to change all DMX values by one digit
increments and access for custom color presets as well as select from 12 preset
colors, if I wanted to simply change from a DMX value of red 0 to 125 I would have
to press the red + button 126 times… that’s just crazy nuts, isn’t it?!
there the CUBEecho will technically control all
lights with its IR remote but only after setting one light to master and the rest
of slave, enabling the IR function in settings, flipping the wireless receiver
switch on the bottom of the master unit and all slave units and then selecting
one of seven ID color codes via a button on each slave unit. Remember, you need to
be pointing their IR remote at the top of the master up light directly in order
for it to receive commands. That’s fine if the master is close, but it’s not so
convenient if you have to walk over to make any changes. Also, one remote cannot control multiple groups of uplights. You can see here that the CUBEecho was able
to receive commands from its optional IR remote from a further distance than
Blizzard’s or Chauvet’s uplights but that’s like saying, “I own the world’s
tallest pony…” Who really cares?? My star rating for Eternal Lighting’s CUBEecho
MK 2 for ease of non DMX programming – I gave it a 3 out of 5 for remote control
functionality I also gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.
Alright – now we’ll take a look at the Ape Labs Maxi.A quick scan of the Maxi and it’s
clear we’re not gonna spend any time reviewing the display or menu buttons…
because there are none… There’s just this one power button on the back of the
light. Whether you’re using DMX or not this is a huge time saver. There’s no
menu buttons to accidentally hit or program. Just one solitary power button.
you can’t screw this up! All programming and controls are done wirelessly. With
one remote you can mix and match an unlimited amount of Ape Labs lighting SKU’s use and control all of them at the same time.
And by the way, this remote works from some pretty amazing distances. We’re
talking hundreds of feet. That means you can have up to four different uplighting scenes at your venue and control them all independently or
simultaneously with this 2.4 gigahertz RF remote. Oh, and best of all Ape Labs
accomplishes this not with 44 or 27 or 24 buttons, but just nine buttons. Okay,
technically it’s a 10 button remote but the button on the bottom center of the
remote activates a small white LED light. All four lights we’re looking at today
technically have the ability to be controlled by remote but only Ape Llabs
remote is able to control an entire room of up lights without the need for
complex and time-consuming wireless DMX setup or the hassle of master slave
programming and syncing issues. Ape Labs specifically wanted to create a
remote for their up lights that could be used in ninety percent of all uplighting scenarios without the need for DMX programming. And this is a real
game-changer… And get this – if you’re running these lights, say the week
before but just wanted to use the remote for a gig this week, you don’t need to
change any settings. All Ape Lab’s up lights automatically look for a DMX
transmitter when you turn them on. If there isn’t any signal, they go into RF
remote control mode automatically… Simple dimple! The Ape Labs remote is the only one in our test group that can control any number of uplights without having to
hover over an IR receiver. This is because Ape Labs uses 2.4 gigahertz RF
technology to transmit commands, and that means you can control an entire room of
up lights from anywhere in that room without pointing the remote in any
particular direction! Hallelujah! Ape Labs specs state that the range for the ape
lab remote is a hundred feet. Our independent tests showed accurate
control at over 600 fee, but more on that in a bit. If you want to see how
easy it is to use the remote again I’ve placed a link in the description below
with a detailed explanation and walkthrough. Now we’re going to do remote
distance tests.In my first distance test of the Ape Labs remote, I went to a local
soccer park and set up three Ape Labs Maxi’s on three corners of a soccer field. Here you can clearly see how each light
responds is a single group and in separate groups. The furthest distance in
this test was 300 feet diagonally for the Ape Labs ApeLight number 2. Again,
the user manual states the remote is functional for a hundred feet so Ape
Labs stated remote distances are clearly very conservative. It got me thinking,
just how far can these lights be controlled by the remote? I placed the
same three Maxi’s at two – four and six hundred feet and set out to answer this
question. The first test shows three lights connected to Group 1 via the
remote at measured distances as I said of 200 400 and 600 feet from my position.
It worked like a charm. The remote controlled all three lights easily. You
can see me putting them through their paces here. In the second test, I assigned
each Maxi to its own group to test each group’s ability to operate independently
and then I synched all three groups with a long button press on the remote. After
doing this test I became fairly certain this remote could fully function in just
about any venue you threw at it. If your venue is larger than this scenario you
can always use the wireless DMX functionality and you’ll be able to
connect to distances of over 3,000 feet between lights. This is because each
light has a repeater that rebroadcasts the signal to each successive Ape Laps
uplight. My star rating for the Ape Labs Maxi on ease of non DMX programming – I
give it a five out of five and the remote controls functionality I gave it
also a five out of five. Are you starting to see why I fell in love with these up
lights? If not, hang in there with me. Size and weight testing – When it comes to
lighting size and weight matters for DJ’s. Many of us have or are looking to
purchase 12, 18 or even 24 up lights and with the average battery powered
wireless up light weighing between five and ten pounds and some resembling the
size of a small toaster we’re talking about a significant amount of size and
weight. It’s really hard to get across the relative size of these four uplights using video so I thought this visual might give you a better
perspective. Look how much smaller than Maxi is than the others. It’s so much
smaller than the others that I had to go out and buy a damn
toaster to show you. And here’s something to consider as well: look at the total
weight of six or more of these up lights packed up in their respective road cases.
There are some significant transport and storage factors to deal with, and don’t
forget, where do you hide some of these road cases while you’re up lights are
being used? Back in your trailer? Because of their small size, we found
that we can store the Ape Labs cases in a storage closet or other out-of-the-way
location without attracting too much attention. In terms of size and weight
Ape Labs Ape Light Maxi has a huge advantage over the other guys. with the
other guys you need two people to move these road cases up steps, over curbs or
into vehicles. In this time-lapse video our lovely assistant Molly is packing up
12 of the Maxi’s and her male counterpart is packing up his 12 uplights you’ll notice Molly doesn’t have cords to deal with and that’s because
Ape Labs has a modular case design that allows you to simply drop any of
their lights into the case and the charging connections are instantly
docked at the bottom of each uplights slot. All the other cases from Blizzard, Chauvet and Eternal require you to physically plug each light in using a powercon or
IEC connector. In this comparison test both our roadies fill two cases that
store six up lights each but Molly finishes four times faster and she still
has time to help her fellow crew member carry his hundred plus pound rolling
cases down the steps. Now I wouldn’t recommend recreating this picture but
here’s my wife holding a total of 24 Ape Labs Maxie’s in four cases. It’s pretty
damn impressive… Find me any DJ who can hold 24 up lights in their cases long
enough for me to take about 20 pictures and I’ll buy that man a beer! God I love
that woman. And how tough are these Ape Labs Maxi’s? Let’s just say they stand
up to tremendous pressure – literally.They each have a rated load weight of a
hundred and fifty four pounds. That’s the maximum that can be placed on top of
each unit, which means you can highlight centerpieces, liquor bottles, or your
favorite roadie. We all know time is money and the more time and people it
takes to pack up and transport your gear the more money it costs you. And compared to the others, Ape Labs is simply faster and easier.
Here are my star ratings on each uplight’s size and weight: Blizzard is the
heavyweight of the group and should frankly go on a diet. I like the positive
locking functionality of a powercon connector but not for up lighting. this
type of plug is simply not convenient for this application. I give the behemoth
of the group a one star out of five. It’s too damn big and heavy. Chauvet has a
decent footprint. I like the built-in folding handle and glare deflector but I
don’t like its weight or having to lift up the rear weatherproof cover to plug
in the IEC connector. I’ve seen IP rated lights before that have separate covers
for each plug or switch. I’m not sure why they chose to go this route. I give it a
2 out of 5 stars. Eternal is much lighter than the other
two but has a large footprint and isn’t really convenient to pick up. You also
need to move the stand to access the IEC connection when charging it. It gets
three stars out of five. Eternal does now offer a smaller case that holds five
uplights and it comes in at around 50 pounds packed. It’s lighter than their
other option but not much less expensive and it doesn’t look as if one person
could carry it very easily. Ape Labs is the lightweight of the bunch and it is so
nice not to have to plug or unplug a cord into these up lights to charge them
in their case. This system is easy-peasy. I’m given the Ape Labs Maxi a 5 out of 5.
Now we’re onto battery technology and longevity testing.All manufacturers
manuals have published run times for various settings. Frankly all the
published numbers seem credible except Ape Labs. Their user manual and website
both claim a 14 hour duration using a nickel metal hydride battery technology
that’s been around frankly for quite a while.
Their claims just seemed a bit unrealistic to me especially given the
old battery technology. So I conducted some real-world tests. Through the
miracle of time-lapse once again you’re about to watch a short series of battery
longevity tests using a combination of one, two, three and four LED’s. All LED’s are set to 255,
their brightest intensity. The first test shows battery life using a single color
and the resulting test. All up lights had respectable numbers. In
this first test Blizzard’s battery lasted 12 hours and 25 minutes the
Eternals LED’s went dark a few minutes later at 12 hours and 36 minutes Ape
Labs battery lasted the second longest at almost 14 and a half hours and Chauvet had the longest duration at a very impressive 22 hours and 58 minutes.
However, once I started adding more colors, and consequently placing more
demands on the batteries, things started to get interesting. Here I tested the
duration of each up light using the two colors green and blue. Each was set to
intensities of 255. The Maxi was the last man standing at 14 hours and 57 minutes
with Chauvet, Eternal and Blizzard coming in at second third and fourth place
respectively. This third test shows the ApeLight Maxi beginning to pull away from
the others. Blizzard went dark at the five hour mark,
and you can see that Eternal hung in there for just over six hours. Chauvet
brought in a performance of nine hours and 45 minutes, which is very respectable,
but Ape Labs lasted the longest in this more demanding test at 14 hours and
eight minutes. My last test shows the result of four colors; red – green – blue and
white, however since Chauvet’s uplight had amber and no white, we used that color as
an alternative to white representing its fourth LED in this test. This was the
most demanding test and frankly Ape Labs walked away with it.
Blizzard was the first to bow out at 3 hours and 44 minutes. The Eternal’s
battery gave up the ghost two hours later at 5 hours and 44 minutes.
Chauvet hung in there for 7 hours and 49 minutes but Ape Labs almost doubled that
worthy performance by holding out for an amazing 14 hours and 43 minutes.
If I hadn’t conducted these tests myself I’m not sure if I would have believed it.
The Ape Labs Maxi consistently outlasted the others in arguably three
of the more demanding tests and it uses the proven and safe nickel metal hydride
battery, not lithium-ion like the other three. After my testing I did some
serious research on the two battery technologies and here’s what I found out. The biggest advantages lithium-ion has over nickel metal hydride are weight and
its ability to hold a stored charge over a longer period of time.
Both of these are really non issues for Ape Labs though because before a gig, I
charge my uplights and I also charge them after my gigs. So the advantage of
longer storage times isn’t really an issue for me. Now maybe for you, but it
isn’t for me. And even with the heavier batteries
Ape Labs is still the lightest to the bunch. Through clever design and
engineering and a focus on miniaturization the overall weight of
each Ape labs uplight is almost three times lighter than Blizzard Skybox. So
how does a plans accomplish this? “As you can imagine they they don’t let us out much…” Ape Labs resident engineer and software designer extraordinaire, Gisbert
Muller says their secret is a combination of things their software
consistently monitors and adjusts power consumption and Ape Labs sources super
high efficiency LED’s from one of the best manufacturers in the world.
Then they direct their light through premium German optics which enables them
to use a less volatile and much less expensive battery technology than
lithium-ion. And by the way the batteries in all Ape Labs uplights are user
replaceable. All three of the other brand state “no user serviceable components
inside”. In fact Eternal and Chauvet’s owner’s manuals state you’ll void your warranty
by attempting to repair or tamper with their products, so make sure to add
shipping and labor to the cost of a battery replacement if you’re
considering Blizzard, Chauvet or Eternal. With an investment like this you’re gonna
keep these lights for a while and most likely the batteries are gonna need to
be replaced at some point. All rechargeable batteries have a finite
number of cycles and other variables that take a toll on them as well. So just
remember to factor this inevitable cost into your decision. Then there’s the
safety issue. Both the Chauvet Freedom Par and Blizzard Skybox owner’s manuals
specifically state their units should be placed twenty inches or 50 centimeters
from the wall or other objects. Is that really practical though. Do I really have
to choose between having my guests trip over the up lights and risking setting
the place on fire. Blizzard goes even further by saying to place the Skybox in a fireproof box – to be an attendance at all
times when the batteries are charging and to have a fire extinguisher present.
Who the hell is gonna do all that?! And look, I get it, the attorneys make the manufacturers post these warnings. But you have to
acknowledge that lithium-ion batteries don’t exactly have the best reputation,
do they? There are plenty of well-documented cases of lithium-ion
batteries exploding or catching on fire. coincidentally Eternal had no warnings
or limitations on their batteries but did caution users about never flipping a
non-existing battery button and a red power button on at the same time. I think
this might have been meant for an older unit and the documentation perhaps
wasn’t updated. So here are some quick facts on nickel metal hydride battery
technology: it can be recharged hundreds and hundreds of times – there’s no memory
effect – there’s no need to keep lights 20 inches from walls or other objects –
there’s no need to charge them in a fireproof box – you can leave them
unattended while they charge and this is a biggie – you don’t need to have a fire
extinguisher present – they can be fully discharged – that’s not going to hurt them –
they’re very stable – they’re not volatile or explosive, and they’re extremely
inexpensive. They’re less than half the price of the lithium ion batteries. They
can be replaced by you the owner if needed without voiding the warranty as
well. How’s that? My assessment of all four uplights for battery life, safety
and technology is as follows: Let’s start with Blizzard – it’s the only one of the
four up lights with an internal fan. I have to think that cooling fan eats up
some of that precious battery life. I’m also really floored with all the
warnings and restrictions concerning the placement and charging of the Skybox. With 7 – 15 watt LED’s and the cooling fan constantly running, you’d expect it to
have the shortest battery life of our four units and you’d be correct. So I
gave the Skybox two stars out of five. Chauvet was the second best of the bunch
for overall battery performance with three second places and one first place,
but it takes a ding for having to be placed 20 inches from the wall and the
suggested placement of at least 5 feet in the air. Chauvet’s Freedom series also requires a user to place their uplights upside
down in its road case to charge and then you have to pull it out
and place it in the case in an upright position before transporting it. I was
impressed with its battery performance however and I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars
Eternals CUBEecho MK2 performed well and the manual talked a lot about setting
DMX values lower when mixing colors in order to extend battery life which is
true however that takes research and programming time. While it didn’t have
quite the longevity of the Chauvet, it still had an admirable battery life even
when pushed. It received 3 stars out of 5. Ape Labs gets 4.5 out of 5 stars for
their surprising combination of endurance, safety and ease of charging. I
really never expected them to even compete with the three others in this
category let alone win handily in 3 out of 4 tests. Let’s see where we’re at so
far. Here’s our running tally of how our lights have fared up until now. We’ve
reviewed the ease of non DMX programming and the functionality of the remote
control for each product. We’ve also tested remote distance and compared
relative size and weight and now we’ve added the battery longevity tests. This
next test though is arguably the most important of all. What do these up lights
look like when placed at a venue or gig? Specifically, can the Ape Labs Maxi
compete with uplights rated as much as two and a half times its output? By the
way I’ve posted several additional video links of side-by-side comparisons in the
description below for anyone who wants to geek out, but one word of warning; a
camera cannot truly do justice to the dramatic transformations and impact all
of these up lights can bring to a venue. The human eye can capture so much more
detail and nuanced color changes than even the best camera in the world can, so
what you’ll see with any of these comparisons is merely relative
performance. With all variables considered – ambient light, ceiling height,
room lighting, number of up lights used, your results will look different at
every venue. Please keep that in mind as you view these comparisons. With that
being said, what these up lights look like side-by-side? I ran red, green, blue
and white for all lights except Chauvet Freedom Par, which only has red, green,
blue and amber. I used the Maxi’s RGBW preset to create amber and I thought it
was pretty damn good compared to the others who use an
actual amber LED. As a comparison, in one of the shots you’ll see my attempt to have
Chauvet’s RGBA create a white. It was noticeably different than the others who
had a white LED and from my perspective it didn’t look very natural. Now a side
note: Would I like to see Ape Labs add amber and maybe even UV sometime? Sure but for my needs these lights are great. They make a
pretty decent amber and I would personally never use UV in up lighting
but if they ramped up the power enough to compensate for the relative loss in
RGBW performance when adding more diodes, even more color mixing
possibilities would be nice. As for my two test locations, I used an industrial
warehouse with 23 foot ceilings and a tobacco barn that was converted into a
gorgeous wedding venue in Mannheim Pennsylvania. It’s called the Booking
House, check it out. Without getting too subjective, I really wanted to see any
significant difference in the visual aesthetics and actual output between
these lights. Would I be pleased with these lights ability to cast light?
That’s the bottom line. I came to the ultimate conclusion that I’d be totally
happy with the light output or brightness color selections and beam
pattern of any of these up lights. That conclusion allowed me to go deeper into
my selection process and make decisions based on all the other tests that you’ve
just witnessed. If you’re a rule follower however, you won’t like having to jump
through the hoops that Chauvet and Blizzard are recommending in their
manuals. I know if anything happens at a venue and you haven’t followed the
manufacturers requirements you’ll most likely still have coverage from your
insurance company, but don’t expect them to renew your policy. Oh, I almost forgot
to mention the PA the resistance – what each manufacturer is willing to back
their products with – the $64,000 question… What’s their warranty coverage? Blizzard, Chauvet and eternal all require the following: a return authorization – OK
proof of purchase receipt – you must be the original owner of the equipment – you
pay to ship the product to the company for repair -makes sense – if you open the
unit it voids the warranty, even if you’re just replacing
batteries as stated by Chavet and Eternal. Blizzard has a two-year warranty
which by the way, I need to take advantage of because this knob broke in
half during my testing. Hey, it looks like a decent warranty that seems standard
for most name-brand industry lights. A thorough review of the terms reveals I need
to purchase the light from an authorized dealer, so watch out Amazon buyers. And I
need to return the product in its original box – hmm… Chauvet’s warranty is 24 months as well and has very similar warranty language as Blizzard and Eternal
with one big caveat that made me – hmm… Check this out:
If I buy a shove a light manufactured 18 months ago my warranty is only good for
18 months, not 24. Also, how do I know the date of manufacturer when ordering
online. Do these lights have a shelf life? Come on Chauvet, it’s kind of a crappy
way to limit your liability if that’s your objective. Eternal impressed me right
up until I saw the length of their warranty – one year is all they offer.
Doesn’t exactly give me a lot of confidence in their products. Again Ape Labs comes out ahead here with their industry-leading three year warranty.
want to replace your own batteries? No problem. Want to buy you set up lights
less than three years old and still have them covered by Ape Labs? Just get the
previous owner to provide you with the original sales receipt and you’re
covered. Hell, these units are even splash-proof
“Prost” Ape Labs has a high-tech coating that they apply to all their electronics
in the ApeLight Maxi, so an occasional rain shower even an incident like this
isn’t going to knock them out of commission. Then I got to thinking…
everything else with the Maxi has outperformed its specs so I decided to
really test this splash proof claim. Now remember, the Maxi is not officially IP
rated let alone submersible. Don’t put it in your pool. This is just German build
quality at work. This was intended as a stress test and although Ape Labs
prevailed, their warranty would not cover damage from a submerged fixture. So again, don’t attempt this. After these tests though, I can confidently call these
fixtures splash proof. In the event your uplight does need some special attention
during the three-year warranty Ape Labs USA has a simple process; call in and get an RMA number – check – send in the light with your
RMA number and receipt – check – and they’ll take care of the rest.
Hey if you made it this far thanks for hanging in there. Hopefully you’ve
learned a few things about up lights including that they don’t need to be
prohibitively complicated to use. In fact I trust you’ve seen how simple it can be
and quite frankly should be to use up lighting in most cases. Lastly, I put the
manufacturers minimum advertised pricing in the description below this video for
all four of our contenders and yes, Ape Labs lights are very competitively
priced. They’re not the most expensive nor are they the cheapest, but from
everything I’ve seen I feel I’m getting a great light for a really great price.
Rumor has it mobile app is being developed to enable users to even have
more control over their lights and that means current versions too. I don’t have
a release date yet but I’m told it’s soon. “that’s classified”
I only reviewed the Ape Labs Maxi today but it’s one of a family of a
uplights and accent lighting from Ape Labs. You can check all their products out at
apelabsusa.com. Keep your eyes and ears tuned in for this company. They’re
definitely onto something big with their innovative designs and simple but
powerful features. Prost.

16 thoughts on “Massive Uplight Review: Ape Labs Maxi vs. SkyBox 5 vs. Freedom Par Quad 4 vs. CUBEecho MKII

  • Cool video, albeit a bit long. I'd like to see what exactly the light can do using the remote, such as sound active mode, any chases, fades, etc.

  • Nice job on this. I would have picked the non-IP Chauvet Freedom Par to test and the remote for Eternal can be a smaller one than the one you picked that goes with the Echomate. The only other thing is the small size makes them easy to pick up and carry away. Always leave your up-lights on when packing up so you don't miss any. The price of the charging case is a bit high.Other than that the video should help most people out with their choices. Good job again. Mark

  • I’ve been around lighting for over almost 35 years in one way or another. These maxi’s are some of the most innovate lights we’ve ever used in a professional production environment

  • Great Vid bro…im in the market for a uplight system I did look at the ape labs. But i was leaning for eternal… cause the UV&A leds… from what i seen… ill go ape…
    Thank you so much…

  • By the way Chauvet, ADJ, Eternal, and Blizzard ALL HAVE (battery protection board) I have never had a light catch fire. At the end of the day the client will still pay the same amount no matter what the brand of light you have!

  • I made the mistake by buying the cheap china direct garbage. I decided to sell them because of all the problems I was having with them. I decided on the eternal lighting cube echo mk2’s. Glad to see they did pretty good in this video. I plan on using mine without the bracket which will save on a little bit of weight and I’ll be using my showcube up above my head as a master probably. This may help range of wireless but may decrease battery life. I’ll be getting a light weight skb case for transport. So far they are 100% better than the Chinese knockoffs. But if I still have problems maybe I’ll consider ape labs.

  • Honestly, one of the best reviews I have ever watched. The only downside for me here where I'm from is that amber rules the market. I may have to wait it out or just bite the bullet and do my best at color mixing. The battery life and case are the strongest selling points for me, I would've definitely jumped online to buy the 60-80 units I need but that no Amber is a scary thing since my current lights are RGBAW-UV which so happen to be the Eternal Echo you have there, lol. Way to make me feel crappy on my investment! haha however if they give me a stupid deal on the number of fixtures I have to buy I may take that chance. Again, GREAT REVIEW!

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