TEST: Noise level of the RPS Studio CoolLED 100 (Alzo 3000)
The Alzo 3000* LED light has generated a lot of online buzz. Most of it good (a lot of directional output for an LED, inexpensive) some of it bad (green spike in the color spectrum, noisy fan.)
I do plan to do a more thorough review in the near future, but I wanted to immediately address the aspect of the light’s performance that seems to generate the most debate…the volume of the fan.
If you spend any time at all researching this unit, you will read reports about the fan noise that very wildly. Some people report that it is inaudible, others states that it is unusable for any situation where you are recording sound. What’s the truth of the matter? I decided to find out for myself.
Rather than add to the noise (pun intended) with my opinion, I’m going to post the objective results of a simple test and let you judge for yourself.Click to download (1.5mb)
- This file is a WAV extracted from the MOV straight out of the camera.
- The light was placed 2m from the “talent.”
- Audio was recorded with a Rode NTG-2 going into a JuicedLink Riggy Micro 222 pre-amp feeding my GH4.**
- The microphone was off-axis from the light…as any shotgun mic should be.
I said I was not going to editorialize…but I can’t resist. The amount of BS cluttering the Internet angers me. Clearly, this light is perfectly fine for interviews and close-quarter narrative work. My breathing was much louder than the fan noise. The noise floor on many preamps is greater than the output of this fan. Why is anyone wasting bits saying otherwise? Maybe a few people got duds with bad fans, but so many people have complained about the noise, I can’t believe all of their lights are louder than mine. Evaluating gear is a pretty objective enterprise. if you can’t back up your opinion, then you should just keep it to yourself rather than confuse others.
* As with most Chinese gear, this light is sold under a variety of different brand names. Search for the best deal…they’re all the same.
** Anyone who says that the only way to capture clean audio is with an external recorder is full of shit. The JuicedLink pre-amps are super clean. Cleaner than the Zoom recorders that many swear by. Dial down the GH4’s gain to its minimum and let the Riggy do it’s thing. It’s also got plenty of power for even very quiet mics like the NTG-2. (You’ll notice I actually overdrived the signal in my test trying to give the fan noise the best chance to be heard.) There are many reasons with external audio might be the right choice, but noise level isn’t one of them. Don’t even get me started on bit depth!