Sunday, 13 January 2013

Review: Mighty Bright Orchestra Light

     The time had come for change.
     For too long I had been playing in orchestra pits where there were not enough lights to go around. For too long I'd been peering at my music and trying to read it by the dim glow from other people's stand lights. For too long I'd been lent cheap battery-powered lights that only illuminate a couple of bars on every page.
     Yes, something had to give.
     It was time I bought myself a stand light.
     So I thought to myself, if I'm going to buy a stand light I'm going to buy a good one. I did a little bit of research and soon came across the Mighty Bright Orchestra Light which, in addition to having a catchy rhyming name, could do everything I needed. It wasn't cheap, with a retail price of £62.99, but I managed to get mine for £45 on Amazon, and I reasoned that it was worth spending a bit more in order to free myself from the horrors of pitch black sight-reading.

     I must say, I was not disappointed. The first thing to note about this light is that the name is no misnomer. It's called 'Mighty Bright' for a very good reason. It has two brightness settings, but even on the lower one you could probably use this thing as a street lamp. Every little detail of the music is clearly revealed, and the fact that the lamp is so wide means that its illumination stretches right to the edges of the page, unlike with many smaller lights. The first time I ever used this light in a pit, I got a comment from the cellist remarking how bright it is. If you take a look at the picture below you will see just how much light it gives out on the low setting:
     I did try and take a photo of the high setting as well, but it didn't look much different on my camera. And to be honest, you will probably only ever need the low setting. Having the high setting there as well is quite a nice feature, but perhaps an unnecessary one for most musicians.
     One important thing that is often neglected by stand light manufacturers is the effect on the audience. When an orchestra is visible but not the centre of attention (e.g. playing beside the stage in the absence of a pit) then poorly-designed lights can be a distraction and detract from the audience's enjoyment of the musical. The designers of this light have considered this, and been savvy enough to add a lip on the rear of the lamp. This does an excellent job of blocking the light from the audience, as you can see here:
All the light is directed onto the player and his music, and none into the eyes of the viewers.
     Another great feature of this light is its versatility, brought about by the fact that it can be powered either by the mains or by three AA batteries (included). Given a choice I would always use the mains because you never have to worry about it dimming, but in many situations this is not an option so the batter power comes in very handy. I recently did a four-performance run of H.M.S. Pinafore using the batteries, and the original set survived for the whole run (although understandably the light did get gradually dimmer as the week progressed). For long runs, though, I would be tempted to employ an extension lead and power it from the mains.
     While we're on the subject of mains power, there is a small complaint I feel I must make about this product. Namely, although the mains lead supplied is nice and long, it does not seem particularly robust. As you can see in the pictures below, it has a thin wire that may become damaged or broken if not treated with respect. The reason for this flimsiness is presumably the effort of the manufacturers to make the light more portable, but personally I would prefer a more sturdy cable even if it did take up a bit more room.
     This does seem a strange oversight, especially seeing as the rest of the light is so well-built. I imagine the light will lasting for many many years and many many encores. On the whole it is clearly a high quality product, but then again at that price I would expect nothing less. As an example, take a look at the clip, which is strong enough to hold itself secure even on weaker music stands:
     What really makes this product special though is the attention to detail in its design, and I think this is best demonstrated by taking a look at the protective case that comes with it. The case has straps to hold the light in place, along with pockets not just for the mains adapter but also for the operating instructions. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into it, and the result is something that just oozes class. I've taken a photo of the light in its case, but the limitations of photographing black on black have made it a little unclear. Hopefully, though, you can still get the general idea:
     The case is closed using a couple of zips, and on the outside is the logo that proudly proclaims your victory over darkness:
     However, there is one small niggle that I have with this case, and which seems like another strange oversight on the part of the designers: why is there no carrying handle? Admittedly most players will transport this in a bag or case of some sort, but still would it really have been too much of an effort to add a little handle on top for the occasions when it might be needed?
     On the whole, then, would I recommend this light? Wholeheartedly, yes. One hundred percent, to anybody who often has to battle with the gloom of the orchestra pit. Although it is expensive, it is of exceptionally high quality and will no doubt last a long time. I have picked up on a couple of tiny niggles here and there, but really they are insignificant compared to the overall excellence of the product. I look forward to a bright future where I can actually see the notes I'm meant to be playing.

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