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The PFX edition: In-Depth

Turning Audio to DMX: The audio signal coming into the PFX is analyzed across the frequency spectrum and divided into four blocks; Bass, Low-Midrange, High-Midrange, and Treble frequencies. These blocks are assigned specific colors; the Bass is Red, Low-Mids are Blue, High-Mids are Green, and Treble is Amber. In addition to frequency as color, there is also an amplitude component to the light output; relatively louder sounds than average are brighter. If you use a lighting fixture that has a UV component like a HEX light, the PFX will add UV to these colors when they are at high levels in order to give them a bit more pop.

• It may seem intuitive that if you turn the volume up on the console supplying audio to the PFX that the lights will be brighter and, conversely, if you turn the audio down they'll get dimmer. This is not entirely the case; you can affect the the brightness of the lights this way momentarily but the PFX relies on the average amplitude of the signal to generate dynamic lighting, so, the new audio level will quickly equalize within the PFX and it will resume its optimal level of lighting dynamics. Of course there is a limit, if you turn the music down too far there's not enough signal and the lights will be off, too high and distortion will create audio garbage and your lighting will suffer. Experiment with the output level of your console going into the PFX to find the useful volume range.

• As the audio signal is analyzed, the PFX constructs the appropriate DMX value for each color. If at this moment it hears a bass beat, the PFX assigns a high DMX value to the red block. In the next moment it may hear the high frequency of a cymbal and the Low-Midrange tone of a voice, in which case it assigns values to Amber and Blue. The DMX values it creates at any given moment are transmitted to the light which in turn displays the colors.

The DMX architecture of the PFX: In order to accommodate the array of Par lighting on the market and the different performance styles of the PFX, the values for Red, Blue, Green, Amber, and UV are repeated in various configurations throughout 420 channels of DMX output. Having your light in the correct DMX MODE and at the correct START ADDRESS is vital for its proper function. In addition to outputting variable DMX values (0-255) for the color channels, there are numerous channels which have static values of either 0 or 255. These are in place to accommodate lights which feature a Dimmer as its first channel and/or macros, strobes, or other functions after the color channels which must be disabled. This is why setting the Mode and Start Address is so vital for your light, any mistake and the light is receiving the wrong values to its DMX implementation and will not react appropriately to the audio input.

• If you're not familiar with how DMX works, think of it as a train and each car on it does something different. Let's say you have an RGB Par light and you put it in 3 Channel Mode. This means it will pay attention to 3 of the cars of the train. If the train is 420 cars long, it will listen to the first 3 cars and then ignore the rest. But let's say the DMX data that your light needs is over on cars 38, 39, & 40. This is where you set your START ADDRESS to channel 38. The light only starts listening to the three cars starting at car 38. It ignores 1-37 and 41-420.

The Performance Styles: Each light you connect to the PFX can be assigned to one of 4 different performance styles; All-In-One, Static Banks, Dynamic Banks, and Non-reactive. In the PFX Manual, Start Addresses are listed for each performance style according to the type of lighting you have. Here are specific details on each Style:

All-In-One: Lights assigned to Start Addresses associated with this style will all perform exactly alike. In this style, the color displayed is a combination of the frequencies in the audio at any given moment. The appearance of the light itself depends on whether your light has separate single-colored LEDs or multi-color LEDs. For example, if your RGB fixture has separate Red, Green, and Blue LEDs in an array, then you will see the different LEDs light up according to the music. If you have a light with multi-color LEDs, the light emitted will be a blend of the color values produced at any given moment.

Static Banks: If you have 4 Par lights, you can arrange them into a bank of lights. This means that the four lights work together to present the range of color. As the word 'Static' suggests, you can assign each light to a specific color (frequency block) and it will always react to just that color. By assigning one light to red, one to blue, one to green, and one to amber, you will then see the whole frequency spectrum represented in the lighting bank. If you have more pars, you can assign them to any color you want; maybe you want two lights on each color, maybe you have four on red and two each on the other colors. It's all in assigning the correct Start Address to each light. Even if you do not have a light with native amber, an RGB or RGBW light for example, you can assign one to the amber block because the PFX will synthesize amber from the red and green LEDs. Naturally, if you do have an RGBA or hex light, the PFX will use its native amber.

Dynamic Banks: Like the Static Banks Style, Dynamic Banks also requires four or more Par lights in order to fully display the audio content. Lights assigned to these start addresses cycle through a variety of patterns, all of which together show the full audio content. These patterns include variations of the Static Banks style but where the individual colors shift from fixture to fixture. Another pattern includes color blending where each light is not a discrete red, blue, green, or amber. Part of the cycle also includes variations on the All-In-One style where there is more complete color blending. These patterns combine, progress and cycle over time to provide a level of dynamic lighting that is constantly fresh.

Non-Reactive: Rounding out the styles is the Non-Reactive. At first glance, this may seem an odd addition to the performance styles but it's actually a powerful tool in your lighting arsenal. While you have a number of Pars assigned to the three reactive styles above, you can simultaneously have pars which only react to the positions of the color knobs on the PFX unit. This is perfect for lighting a specific part of the venue independently from the dance floor, or it can be used for mood accent on the floor itself, adding a general overtone to the reactive lighting. Just turn the knobs to change the colors.

Notes on Lighting Design: The design power of the PFX lies in the fact that you have access to all the performance styles simultaneously. You're only limited by the number of fixtures you use. Adding several Static Bank RED pars along with a set of Dynamic Bank pars will accentuate the beat of the music. Mix and match according to which styles look best on your lights. Don't disregard the walls! Projecting color onto the walls and ceiling of the venue can dramatically increase the impact of your lighting instead of shining all your light onto people directly, which should be done sparsely and judiciously. The PFX allows you to get creative with your lighting fixtures.

The Performance Modes: The three-position switch on the left side panel of the PFX next to the DMX Output Jack toggles between the two sound-reactive modes and the off position.

Live Mode: The DMX stream in Live Mode is updated over 30 times per second so the lighting reacts in real-time to the music. This level of refresh rate provides reactivity which is essentially locked to the audio with no discernible lag.

Beat Mode: In instances where your lighting requirements are such that you need calm, lower energy reactivity, Beat Mode does just what it says; the PFX updates the DMX stream on the beat of the music. Be forewarned that beat detection is an approximate art at best and because of the nature of music, it's not always possible for the electronics to feel the beat the same way humans do. It does its best to figure out the beat based on the content of the audio signal. You will definitely see a big difference between these two modes.

OFF: Turns off the lights that are assigned to the three reactive styles. Lights assigned to the Non-Reactive style are not affected and will continue to display the colors as directed by the color knobs.

The Function Switch: Located on the face of the PFX to the left of the color knobs, this two-position switch toggles between the two functions of the PFX.

Sound Reactive: Switched to the left, any lighting that is assigned to the three reactive performance styles will be reacting to the audio input consistent with the performance mode selected by the mode switch.

Color Assign: Switched to the right, the function switch passes control of the lighting completely to the color knobs. No lights will react to the audio input.

The Control Knobs: Lighting that is correctly configured in both DMX Mode and Start Address will respond correctly to the control knobs when the Function switch is on Color Assign. The Red, Green, and Blue knobs can be set to produce any color in the RGB gamut. If your light has White and/or UV colors, the combination White/UV knob will add those colors. White and UV is combined in one knob because you would use either white or UV in any given situation, there is no point in using them together as the white light cancels out the UV. These knobs also control fixtures assigned to the Non-Reactive performance style.

The control knobs utilize a custom Dimming Profile which provides smooth transitions.

Ligting Fixture Compatibility: The best way to run par lighting with the PFX is to put the light in the DMX Mode that controls only the colors of the light. For an RGB light this means putting it in 3 channel mode, for a HEX light (six colors), 6 channel mode. In order to take advantage of the Static Banks and Dynamic Banks Performance Styles of the PFX, you need at least four Par Lights each set to a different start address. Many popular "4Bar" style lighting systems use only one start address but feature four par lights. These lights aren't compatible with those performance styles so we developed the PFX 4Mod expansion unit. Used with the PFX, the 4Mod makes these types of lighting systems capable of performing in the Static and Dynamic Banks Styles. Examples of these lights include: Chauvet's 4 BAR USB, 4 BAR LT USB, 4 BAR TRI USB, 4 BAR FLEX T USB, and 4 BAR LT QUAD. American DJ lights include the Dotz TPar System and the Starbar Wash System. If you have these types of lighting systems, the 4Mod will make them completely compatible.

If you have any questions about the PFX, send us an email. We're here to answer your questions. If you are not sure if your lights are compatible with the PFX, tell us what you have and we'll let you know if it will work. CONTACT US



*Chauvet, American DJ, REVO III, and REVO4 are trademarks of their respective owners. AEON RAVEN is not affiliated with American DJ, Chauvet, or their affiliate companies.