Martin RUSH Strobe 1 5X5 – An Atomic Alternative?April 16, 2018
The use of a strobe light in entertainment goes back a long way. Flashing an immensely bright light frequently to give an immersive stop-motion effect, blind an audience or give a gem-like flicker on a large stage, strobe lights are found on almost any lighting rig of a high-energy environment and used in a variety of creative ways. One of the first popular strobes to hit the market was High End System’s (back when it was LightWave Research) DataFlash back in the 90’s.
Then back in 2000, Martin introduced the Atomic 3000 DMX strobe, and to this day it remains to be one of the most insanely popular strobes lights used in almost every lighting rig. From nightclubs to big productions. The output of the Atomic 3000 quickly took the crown of popularity of the DataFlash with it outrageously bright output and high flash rate. To this day, the Atomic 3K is still sold and manufactured the way it was 17 years ago. Martin Professional has built up a strong and long-standing reputation for their entire product since they established in 1987, but they also have a built strong market dominance for professional grade effect lights first started by making the lighting industry’s ultimate strobe light.
Even though the Atomic 3000 DMX is still produced today, it’s not the easiest fixture to accommodate. It’s a massively powerful fixture but can require it’s own dedicated circuit on the distro just to produce it’s immense output atomic wave of lights. Using a 3000-watt xenon discharge bulb, just one Atomic 3K strobe can consume up to 33 amps of power. Using an Atomic 3000 on the same circuit as other fixtures on a rig can actually cause massive voltage drops throughout an entire rig resulting in other lights losing power and resetting moving lights.
Now with LED technology taking the stage lighting industry by storm, strobe lights were one of the first to see the LED alternative replace its xenon predecessors. Although the flash rate isn’t quite up to speed as xenon yet, Martin still followed suit and released a few LED strobe solutions in efforts to keep its dominance in the effect light industry. Of course, there’s the Atomic 3000 LED that was released last year as the LED version of the Atomic 3000. But before the Atomic 3000 LED, there was the Martin Rush Strobe 1 5X5. With the Atomic 3000 LED being significantly more expensive than the original Atomic and you may want to consider the Rush 5X5 if your budget or power load is tight.
What It Offers
The Martin Rush Strobe 1 5X5 is a pure white 5 by 5 LED panel that serves primarily as a strobe/blinder. The Rush 5×5 Strobe features 25, 5-watt CREE white LED diodes in rows of 5 that produce a 6500K color temperature. Although the word “Strobe” is in its name, it offers more than that by offering individual control of each LED with multiple built-in pixel effects and the ability to interconnect multiple panels together to increase the brightness or expand its unique pixel effect patterns. With the Rush strobe, you can interconnect the power of each panel through 2 PowerCON True1 in and out connections on each panel.
With the RUSH line being more of the entry-level side of Martin, the Rush Strobe 1 5X5 offers great advanced features but still keeps some entry-level features available to those who are looking for a reputable product from a brand like Martin. The fixture features 31 built-in pattern effects, built-in ability to display Letters, as well as Number patterns with count up/count down functions for effects. As for strobe/blinder functionality it offers dimming control, variable strobe effects w/ blinder mode. All effects and functions that can be triggered via DMX.
The Rush 5X5 3 DMX personalities which include individual control of each LED pixel for pixel mapping support through the console. It also offers stand-alone modes with 8 built-in standalone shows, sound active modes and 20 programmable standalone memory scenes. There are 3-pin and 5-pin DMX data connections, but even though you can physically connect each panel together there is no standalone master/slave mode to link each unit together and have effects stretch across multiple panels in a standalone setting.
Size wise, the Martin Rush Strobe 1 5×5 is definitely bigger than the Atomic counterparts measuring 19 by 19 inches but only 4 inches in depth, weighing in at 20 lbs per unit. Each unit has 8 rigging slots for hanging on truss or interconnecting panels.
Setup & Programming
Setting up the Rush 5X5 is generally pretty easy depending on how a user plans to you use it. Interconnecting each panel is easy having built-in slots and not requiring additional equipment. However, the only 4 units can be connected in single column or row, making the maximum total number of units connected to be about 16. Even with that many fixtures that weight bearing is still a bit questionable.
Using it in standalone mode is generally pretty easy, there are only 8 shows to access on the menu instead of the full capabilities available in DMX mode. When using DMX, programming the Rush 5X5 is pretty straightforward. If you’re just looking for strobe/blinder effects then it’s a breeze, even using the built-in effects are easily accessible. Getting into pixel mapping is the only way to make a large matrix effect stretch across multiple panels. Pixel mapping is also pretty easy as well since each pixel is only 1 channel, but interconnected setups can take some type to assign the order of each pixel to display the proper pattern of custom effects.
Performance & Quality
With each LED on the Rush 5X5 being only 5 watts it doesn’t sound like much, but with 25 of those LED’s all clustered together, it adds up and packs a punch. If it’s not enough, you can simply connect more together. It’s actually quite bright, not on the same level as the Atomics, but still offers the same effect to an audience in both strobe and blinder modes. Each panel consumes only 148 watts of power, which is significantly less than the Atomic 3000 models and doesn’t require a separate circuit, you can actually power chain each panel without any voltage issues.
LED’s in general still can’t flash quite as quickly as some xenon bulbs, but the strobe rate on the Rush 5X5 is pretty impressive. Martin hasn’t provided specs on the strobe rate, but it still offers a great immersive stop-motion flash of light that a strobe delivers and does much better than some other entry-level LED strobes available. It also can withstand the prolonged use of the strobe and blinder without a thermal cutoff that’s found on the average xenon strobe. The limitations of the strobe’s peak performance aren’t really noticeable to the average eye. Only extremely high rate flashes achieved by the Atomic 3000 are where the limitations would be noticeable if you had the 2 side-by-side.
The effects on the Rush 5X5 are also nice, but much better when used via DMX. You have line effects, numbers that can count up and down at variable speeds, abilities to display letters to create words across multiple panels. Easily controlled from the console. Although the built-in effects are nice, pixel mapping on this light is much more fun and a diamond chase across 8 panels looks amazing, as do other patterns.
The dimming on the Rush Strobe 1 5X5 is only an 8-bit dimmer, it’s not the smoothest dimming but no flicker and still good for dimmer or twinkle effects. Unlike other matrix panels, the lens of diodes have a nice wide dispersion of light instead of a beam.
Is it good for touring rigs? Depends. For outdoor use, probably not. Martin does warn that the lens on the Rush 5X5 are sensitive to sunlight and can develop a yellowish fading if exposed to the sun for too long. The fixture is also only IP20 rated, the slightest of rain or even excessive moisture could shut the unit off. Best for indoor use or in nightclubs.
Should You Consider It?
Without a doubt, the performance of Rush Strobe 1 5X5 is certainly on par. Should you consider it over the Atomic? Each rig is different and has different needs, so that’s decision for you to make. Of course, the Atomic series is more rider friendly. There are a few things to consider. While the original Atomic 3000 DMX is cheaper than the Rush Strobe 5X5, it is a serious power hog and has a thermal cutoff after prolonged continuous usage.
The Atomic 3000 LED has a much lower power consumption and similar performance but there’s a significant price difference between the two. Whereas the Rush 5X5 Strobe has a very modest price to add more as needed, and still take advantage of low power consumption compared to just 1 Atomic 3000 LED. The Rush Strobe 1 5X5 is a great choice for a variety of uses clubs, pixel mapping, etc. If you’re looking for a basic bright strobe that’s efficient in both cost and power, this would be the ideal choice. For more high rate strobe flashes and brighter output, you may need to sacrifice price or power to achieve the result.