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Do they worth it?


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Hello forum. I am new here. I just made it to take a few money on the side to buy my first lights. I was looking out and asking for quotes a lot. What I see is that the prices of some Chinese markets are sometimes even 10 times below the others. I found a head with that description "Computer Moving Head Light-1200W(AC110V/A C220V ,OSRAM HMI1200 / S bubble,24CH ,1500W PowerConsumption)" and the price is about $700.


I mean, come on! This is like heaven if the beam is strong and the quality if fine but the question is. Do they worth it? How can I know if they do worth it? Sure I can buy one head but what if the quality isn't what I expected. What I also think of is that the manufacturer wouldn't take a change to ship some bad quality items. I don't think someone wants to have a bad company name behind. So, should I trust one of them? Do you have any experience on that?


Oh by the way. The reason I wouldn't look for a Martin head or something like that, are the prices. I just can't afford them.



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If it seems to good to be true it usually is. Saying that, I have used, several times, I-Solution moving heads on school shows and have never had a problem with them. They are about £1250 for a 575MSD type fixture with iris, 2 colour wheels, gobo wheels etc. I wouldn't use any cheaper movers than these, reliability is often an issue further down the price bracket and the ones you describe seem to be in this cataogory unfortunately. Having said that, I have never used or seen these fixtures, so I may be proven wrong.
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Bill - not sure where you are or what you do, so advice will be difficult. I'm confused a bit by "do they worth it?" - if you fill in your profile people might be better able to give advice.


There are dozens of topics on Chinese lighting equipment - but I'll try to sum the comments up.


Pros -

feature set


value for money

access to equipment types your budget will not normally allow


Cons need explanation.


Never buy equipment from China if you intend to buy an identical one in three months if you like the first. Product lifespan will be weeks, not months or years.

Spare parts will be unavailable in a similarly short period of time.

Specifications and photos - very often the people selling the products have an office in a big business centre and have never even seen the product. They simply shift boxes. Nothing wrong with this, but it means that they have no understanding of the technical details so the specs could have errors in them. Many of these 'dealers' will let you pay by paypal or credit card. This indicates they are usually a small business and you are not dealing with the factory - however, you do get an element of protection via the credit card issuer, much less so with paypal. If you deal with the factory, you will pay in advance by international bank transfer in US Dollars and have to trust them. Check delivery comes by DHL or similar. Some offer free/cheaper delivery but on a heavy item it could be by sea and take ages. You will need to add 20% VAT and perhaps 5% import duty. Sometimes the people who collect this - DHL, UPS, Parcelforce etc take up to a month to give you the bill for this - so build it into the budget. Occasionally a single item may be considered a gift and they don't levy the import duty, but it's rare for the VAT to be missed - plus a handling charge - maybe £10?


If it goes wrong, then they will want you to send it back to China at your cost - probably at least £110 for a mover using the secured services. If you identify the fault yourself, then you might get the right part to fit yourself, but it takes ages and is prone to error - if you send back a board and it turns out to be a sensor it could be a 3 month event!


Best advice is never buy more equipment than you can afford to lose - If you have struggled to raise £2000 - then I wouldn't buy from China. If the two grand is 'spare' then the risk can be worth it.



The real issues are quality control - in a proper factory, somebody signs off the item to a set standard - buying from China removes the possibility. The products generally are good - but they're based on standard designs that get made into a product by a sort of mix and match process. So there could be just two or three cases, a few psu boards, and then the gobo modules, colour modules and similar for focus, zoom, iris, prisms etc - From time to time you can find designs with gobos that also have a CMY colour mixing unit - but they couldn't then fit in the prism unit - so you need to always read the attribute list properly - this is usually produced after the module choice has been finalised - so use this for exact details. Don't assume it is CMY because the word is used - check that there is a colour wheel AND a CMY group of channels - there may not be, and the person at their end forgot to edit out CMY!


Be aware the people you deal with may have no stock, so only order the parts when you give them the money - this home style business is very common.



I've had some excellent products - but you must remember that a CE mark, denoting the product conforms to European safety and quality standards is only a sticker and a photocopied compliance sheet. Very often CE can mean China Export - the CE font being slightly different.


I PAT test each item. They don't all pass. The cure is usually loose earth bond wires - and a five minute job to fix - but I have had other items where the wiring loom passes directly over the hanging bolt holes, and the act of screwing in the wrong, overlong bolts would have chopped straight through it!


This sounds like doom and gloom but isn't really. You are buying cheap - VERY cheap. So if the product is good, you win - if it's bad you probably sell it on ebay.


I'd never, ever, buy a single mover. 2 or 4 you can work with and if one ends up being used for spares in a years time, you still have 3. What can you actually do with a single mover? Not a lot.


If you have little money - buy a Stairville from Thomann in Germany with a three year guarantee - still a good value mover. No risk at all. Same thing applies to buying another - if you leave it too long. I just discovered that buying identical means two different lamp types - the gap in time producing a new interior layout using the old case, and latest lamp type.



Your profile says you don't work in the industry - so I hope you understand what I have said - if not, please ask. Paul

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Hi and thank you both for your answers.




What do you mean my profile? I am not into business. I don't have a big profile so I can't fill in fakes. My real business has to do with advertising. Things went well and I put to the side about 5.000 Euros. I knew from the very first begining what the money was for. I don't have any loans or something so it was a goal for me because I like heads. Now that money I must handle good. Sure it is not a lot but I can't just throw them away. Thats why I asked you the experts.


I really can't believe time span can be a few weeks! Is this real? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.! So why are they doing this? How come they don't get in trouble with the law or something?

I wasn't going to buy just one head. Maybe a mixture of them. Two 575w, two 1200w, and two Wash 700w plus a controler. But it seems I won't.


And again. I don't work for the business but I would love to have a very small rental company. Thats why the Chinese market seemed to me so tempting! Thanks.


Edit: The companies I get quote from have warehouses, offices and they were on exhibitions. Isn't that a good quality clue?

Edit 2: Wow! Stairville looks good! Thanks!

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First things first - it's important that your Blue Room profile is complete so we know where you are and what sort of experience you have in the industry, and many of us like to see an age there, as that also can affect the feedback and responses we post.

It's clear that your first language is something other than English, yes?


As for why the Chinese have product lifetimes of just weeks in the case of budget gear is simply that they buy in bulk the cheapest components they can get, but the next month they may use a different supplier as the new company may put a cheaper tender in - so similar spec of components but slightly different tolerances applied, or different manufacturing processes, and that can mean the end product behaves differently. A good example is LEDs. Not only might the LED components have slightly differing colour outputs from manufacturer to manufacturer, but speedy development in LED technology means they may even change the type of those components as time progresses.


The difference with the biggger, more expensive brands is that they'll have a fixed relationship with their suppliers with far tighter control on the quality of components.


The old saying is "You get what you pay for" and that pretty much does apply in most cases.


Looking at your surprise, there's nothing illegal about this - I don't think Paul meant that the products will FAIL in just a few weeks - just that the product lifespan is the time taken for these small but noticeable changes to be made to these lanterns is short.


Hope that helps.

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Thanks Tony - I ordered a batch of 4 fixtures. They arrived in two weeks via DHL. I was pretty pleased, so ordered a further 4 unit. The second batch had differences. The lamp holders were of a different style - although they still had the same lamps. The focus and zoom on the first batch were a little jerky and stiff. The second batch had a different mechanism - totally different!


If I were you I would standardise on two products - and buy more of them for your new hire idea. Buying many different types is not good.


If you start a hire company and hire out two 575W units and one goes wrong, your customer will demand a replacement. A 1200W unit is NOT a replacement, they need something with identical spec that can just be swapped. You cannot do this with a different unit. So you buy more of 575 or 1200 and keep a spare. If as a small hire business you don't have spares available you need to let your customers know. A good plan is to offer and extra one unit free, and give them the choice of using it as a spare, or they can use it - but know another spare is NOT available. They may like this and accept it.


You mention controller. You should NOT buy a cheap controller because as new lights become available, they may not be able to control them. Look up magicq on google - this is cheap and easy to make control almost anything!


In the profile it helps us give correct advice. If your English is difficult, and you live in a different country, we can choose words better so you can understand. Many people, me included, often use english badly - and if we know this will confuse you - we can easily write more correctly. The other problem is with your location - some products may be unavailable to you, so again, knowing where you are really does help. We need to know if you are a student, or a technician, or a businessman with a good idea? Some things like lighting for hire are quite difficult. The other thing to investigate is flight cases. It is always a good idea to buy a case - hire customers are rarely gentle with the equipment. It can be a problem buying budget equipment to hire out as it may be worn out very quickly. How many hires does it have to last? Big name makes like Martin, Robe, Clay Paky are much more expensive - BUT may well last longer and be better to hire?


Many people in the UK try to hire out equipment and find it very expensive to buy enough stock. A small hire company will have a more limited range so bigger events need you to hire in more equipment. Not a thing to go into without very detailed research.


The Blue Room profile just has boxes for you to tell us how old you are, where you are and other useful things about you - read some other people's and you will see it is not a business thing.

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Hi Bill and welcome.


If you click on your name at the top right of this page a new screen will open and just below where your name is there is an "edit profile" box which you may click on and open yet another page.


When you get there, tell us a little about yourself. That is all the profile is though you can choose an avatar or picture of yourself. I would suggest you take a look at Ynot's profile by clicking on his name.


When you have done that take a look just below your name, top right again, and there is a search box where you can enter terms like Chinese lights, or Cheap LED's and search the forum. Many of the "popular" topics have been covered many times and there is a huge amount of information deep in the BR dungeons on an amazing variety of subjects.


As for your sentence; "The companies I get quote from have warehouses, offices and they were on exhibitions. Isn't that a good quality clue?" The answer is no it isn't! The business contains some very shady characters and extremely dodgy equipment.

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Hire companies like equipment that can be serviced, and for which spare parts are easily and quickly available. Unless you buy lots of items for canibalising then you will never get spares for Chinese unbranded equipment -next week's manufacture will be different.


Chinese made stuff to western standards can be much better but not as cheap

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One big point no-one has raised, much Chinese gear is 220 volt, Australia and UK have up to 254 volt supplies, the Chinese gear will fail unless you get the right voltage.

A lot of Chinese gear is very noisy, this may or may not be an issue.

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I am sorry for any inconvenience I may caused but as far as I can undestand my profile is Complete. And sorry it took me so long to answer. I had some health issues. I have said in the begining that I am not in the industry but it is something I would like to do. Thank you all for your comments I will try to answer quick to them.


I have no experience. Only experience is when I go to a club or a concert. And yes my first Language is not English. You can use all the terms. I understand everything only I don't talk and right well. (as I can understand)


So I thought since I like moving heads why should not raise some money and start a small business? In my municipality they do some small conserts and dance shows every year and many times a year. Every time I see another guy from a big city with a van bringing a few lights. I 've seen Martin and Robe till now. But their prices are not for me. That is why I looked on the chinese market. David we work at 220V too.


Another thing that came on my mind is about the Stairville you mentioned before. Isn't that a "second" brand too? Its not a BIG name right? So is your money secure with that brand?

Why I ask about it is because I saw that thomann also sells some Futurelights. As far as I have read here, they are also Chinese and they do not worth they money. But I saw that Futurelight refurbished their site a year ago or more and they try - as it seems - to make better products.



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To be honest the advice that most will give you based on what you've said will be the same.

It may not be what you want to hear, but all the same.


You say you have no experience, and no knowledge of the gear. From that I assume you have no knowledge of maintaining or repairing ANY lighting equipment.

I'm guessing you have no prior experience of running a hire business.


So that advice is quite simple.

Save your money and RENT what YOU need when YOU need it from someone who DOES know what they need to know to run a hire company.



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How can I get training? There must be a way to start.


I think most of us worked for companies or gained experience of events first, and then learnt how the business side worked for our industry. Just having a pile of equipment doesn't mean people will hire you or the gear. Knowledge, service and the ability to consistently deliver are very important factors. People are often happy to pay more money if they believe it will guarantee a level of support and professionalism. Learning how to do it is probably best done by working with others first?



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The snag is that hire companies do not just hire - they give advice, solve problems and in areas where there may be only one company servicing them, they're expected to be experts at everything. So people will call you and tell you their problem. They won't know what they need and rely on you to advise them. If the hire company only knows their own equipment, then they can't do it.


Also people ask you for things without bothering to do their research. I do it myself. When I can't be bothered to research something properly - I simply call the hire company and ask them for "breakup gobos - whatever you have as long as they look more like foliage than abstract shapes. Please also send some kind of clamp that will let me hang the moving heads you are delivering from a TV spigot - the big one not the thin ones!" As a hire company - that's what they expect - and they expect you to be an expert. I have a large stock of equipment that I could hire out, but my feeling is that it is not something I could make money at - because what I have would never be what clients want. If you have moving heads for hire - will they be the right ones? Budget movers are not, in my view, suitable for hiring.

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