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cal2vin

Shadow Caster vs Lumitec vs Liquid Lumens vs Abyss vs Lumishore

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cal2vin

[PICTURES IN MULTIPLE POSTS DUE TO PIC PER POST LIMITS!]

 

I posted this on the Mastercraft forums, but figured its useful information for any brnad of wakeboats. Maybe itll help someone out in their search for underwater LEDs

 

I decided to tackle underwater leds for my 2013 Mastercraft X-25 this year.  After looking all over the forums for info on the brightest lights, I found there wasn’t a lot of information to get a true comparison of all the newest lights from some of the top companies. I wanted to see these lights for myself before drilling 16 holes in my transom (plan to do 4 surface mount lights).  I obtained a pair of lights from each of these companies and built a testing setup to truly compare these lights with all equal variables with my own eyes.

 

I wanted to film and take pictures so that everyone else can see the comparison first hand without having to rely on people’s opinions that may not have seen all the different lights. 

 

I’ll give my opinions and my final choice and why, but mostly I want the pictures and videos out there for people to see the differences for themselves.

 

I used both an iphone X and gopro hero 6 to do this comparison.  I locked the exposure for each set of pictures as well as the color temperature on the gopro to give all lights completely equal variables for visual comparison purposes.  Im not a photographer by any means and these pictures don’t look pretty but they serve their purpose for comparing.

 

I AM NOT BEING PAID BY ANY OF THESE COMPANIES OR DOING THIS FOR ANYONE BUT MYSELF AND THE READERS OF THE FORUMS.  I am completely unbiased and just trying to decide which lights to put on my boat permanently. 

This is a visual comparison only. I am not measuring any lumen values.  These lighting companies each have testing facilities to obtain those lumen numbers, and I am not concerned with them for this comparison. 

 

I wanted an RGB setup so the lights I chose to compare are all RGB versions.  The lights being tested are:

 

- Liquid Lumen RGBW

 

- Abyss Medium starfish multicolor

 

- Lumishore SMX153 (SMX93 is identical in performance but controlled with toggle switching instead of their lumi-link system that is required for the SMX153)

 

- Shadow-Caster SCR-24 Color Changing

 

- Lumitec SeablazeX2 spectrum

 

 

These are all the most current lights from each company.  I know the Liquid Lumens light has been around for about 4 years now vs some of these others were released much more recently.  The Lumitec Seablazex2 spectrum and the shadowcaster scr24cc are pretty new if I recall.

 

Initially I was only trying to compare brightness and not controller features. After installing and using 5 separate RGB light systems, I realized how important it is to have a good way to control the lights.  I figured what’s the point of having multi color without being able to easily control it.

 

This was done on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, KY.  KY lake has a muddy bottom.  The water is very murky. Keep that in mind with these images and videos. This is more of a test to compare all the lights with equal variables than it is showing off the raw performance of these lights.  I have no doubt they would look much better in clearer water but this is where I boat and I  am sure many other lakes are similar to this as well.

 

 

Comparison Video Link! (see pics below as well)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvlQG5X23DM

 

 

 

THE TESTING SETUP

 

I have 7 XS power XP3000 batteries on the boat for a total of an 840 aH battery bank.  There is more than enough power here to keep each light operating at optimal performance.  I ran knukonceptz 4 gauge OFC wire to two bus bars mounted on a board in the storage compartment as pictured.  All lights and/or their controllers were wired directly to these bus bars so each light has equal electrical setup.  This looks like absolute chaos but everything worked well. 5 of the batteries are pictured here and 2 more are hidden in front of the drivers helm.

 

 

XPf8EN0.jpg

 

I4f6Lpp.jpg

 

8NZD4oT.jpg

 

 

 

 

All light pairs were mounted to a test board. Each light in a pair was 21 inches apart.  The liquid lumens light was removed when illuminating the other lights since they are so thick and could potential hinder light spread from the adjacent lights.  The board was submerged underwater under the platform of my X25 with a weight to hold it steady from floating up.  The lights were all submerged in about 12 inches of water.

 

 

 

Q1aEJRd.jpg

 

PtjJwKw.jpg

 

KT8UEiB.jpg

 

OKfSpPa.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRIGHTNESS, COLOR, AND SPREAD

 

If I learned anything doing all this it’s that nighttime photography with pitch darkness and very bright lights is very difficult.  Below are the pictures that seemed to best represent what the eye saw. Some colors were better depicted with the iphone than the gopro and vice versa. 

 

 

This video is from my iphone with exposure and focus locked throughout the entire video.  (I tried to embed it but could not figure it out.) I feel it gives a very accurate overall perception of the lights compared against each other.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvlQG5X23DM

 

 

 

Brightness in white

 

To me Liquid Lumens seemed the most intense bright white but it was a very narrowed beam and actually did not project much further than the other two brightest whites which were lumitec and lumishore. They both spread light much much better as well. The projection distance would probably be different in crystal clear water but in KY lake water Liquid Lumens did not project noticeably further than competitors. Lumitec may be slightly brighter than lumishore but to my eye it was pretty close.  

 

Next would be Shadow Caster. They still sent light about the same distance it just didn’t feel as intense. Then Abyss for the white brightness.  These two lights use a combination of red green and blue to produce a “warmer” white.  They do not have white LEDs whereas Liquid Lumens, Lumitec, and Lumishore do. 

 

 

 

Colors  (see pics bellow and in following posts)

 

Blue

 

Abyss and Lumishore have a very deep blue color that I thought looked absolutely awesome as well as good brightness. Liquid lumens blue seemed a small bit lighter in comparison and about the same brightness.  Shadow Caster’s blue was more of a light blue or baby blue than the Lumishore and Abyss..  Lumitec has a bright blue but it seems like they mixed in white led’s with it so it doesn’t have near the appeal the Abyss and Lumishore blues do.  I’ll touch on this in a minute but it was also hard to stop exactly on the perfect blue with the Lumitec since there is not a controller available for it yet so I got the closest I could and white led’s may partially stay on for their blue color or I didn’t get stopped on blue perfectly.

 

 

Red and Green

 

Lumishore and Abyss had similar very deep colored green and red. Liquid Lumen was a slightly lighter hue of each. Lumitec again was hard to stop on a perfect green and red but they seemed just as bright as Lumishore and Abyss with not quite the deepness in color. Shadow Casters green and red both had a lighter hue than the others. 

 

 

Light Spread

 

Shadow caster seemed to have the widest spread of all the lights tested. Lumitec Lumishore and Abyss had about the same spread. 

 

Liquid Lumens has the least spread of the 5 lights compared. As mentioned earlier this is by design in this particular model (RGB only comes in one lens) to concentrate light for better projection. I did not appreciate significantly further projection but I think that has to do with murky waters. 

 

 

Controllers

 

Lumishore takes the cake hands down here with their LumiLink control system and is a large reason why I have chosen Lumishore for my permanent installation. This requires the SMX153 light.  The SMX93 would operate very similar to the seablazex2 which I’ll touch on below. The lumilink control system allows for complete control through their EOS STV 2204-i display. Which requires a 83mm x 83mm mounting location. It can also be mounted in a hidden location and controlled completely through smart devices. (iphone android etc).  It puts out a wifi signal and allows for browser control of the entire system with any web-enabled device. No app required.  I used an iPhone for testing and it worked very well as it mirrors exactly what the screen on the controller shows.  I’ll get more into that below but here are some pictures.

 

LAJRkpF.jpg

b2wArnX.jpg

d2i17gA.jpg

 

Second in controls would be Shadow Casters zone controller kit.  4 separate zones can be set. They work with rgb wiring so you could potential incorporate any brand rgb lighting (speaker rings, led strips, etc) into the underwater lights all using the same controller separated by zones.  The SCr24cc can be controlled through toggle switch only but the zone controller makes it quick and simple. No display readout but it illuminates the zone number with the color it is set to. 

 

NLj1SdL.jpg

1G1jgl2.jpg

 

Music integration is available on the Lumishore system as well as the Shadow Caster Zone controller system and Liquid Lumens system.   Lumishore and Shadow Caster connect to the audio signal with a 3.5mm aux jack. Liquid Lumens does not require this step and integrates music using a microphone.  

 

Liquid Lumens has the music sync option on the remote and can be set to two different modes. I did not try this so I forget exactly what they are. 

 

Lumishore music sync can be adjusted very specifically by choosing colors for specific frequencies and the background as well as the sensitivity and background intensity. Multiple “scenes” can be set with different adjustments for different genres. 

cdVc8Hi.jpg

 

Shadow Caster has 3 music sync modes.  One changes color with frequencies and the other changes light amplitude with frequencies. The third is a combo of both with colors cycling while amplitude beats to music.

 

Liquid Lumens and Abyss come with similar wireless remotes. These both seemed to work well and had no problem with range inside the boat.  

 

Lumitec ramps up to full brightness over 4 seconds when switched on.  You can toggle the switch at anytime during this ramp up to stop at that brightness level.  If you leave the switch on it begins to cycle through every color in its spectrum. To leave the light on a certain color you have to switch the light off and back on within 3 seconds and it will remain on that color.  The lights move decently quickly so sometimes it was hard to stop on the perfect red green or blue for the comparisons.  After the first few cycles it begins to cycle much slower and can be left on that mode. It cycles all colors over 3 minutes I believe and then repeats.

 

 

Final Notes on each system

 

Instead of saying in each lights section I’ll say up front. All these lights are at about the highest end of the underwater led surface mount quality spectrum. All the lights felt extremely solid and well built.  I didn’t pick up any of them and think this feel cheap. The major differences are the wires provided with the lights. All companies provided adequate screws for mounting as well.

 

Abyss Medium Starfish Multicolor

 

-First of all I think it’s very important to note these come with a free controller and wireless remote. They can probably be had close to the cheapest. At $780 for a pair and the controller with free shipping direct from Abyss using their discount code posted at the top of the website

- They don’t have the white LEDs but their color choices for blue green and red are awesome.  

-Particularly their blue. Abyss and lumishore’s blue are almost identical in their spectrum of color and they look amazing. Very deep colors.

- These use RGB wiring and were straight forward to install. The DMX controller is not waterproof. Wires were about 8-10 foot long and probably 16 guage per color and 14 guage for ground so may need to make extensions to get to a dry compartment depending on your setup.

 

1TK4MUK.jpg

 

- Each controller box powers up to 3 lights and can be linked together for more than 3

- Great price for a great performing light. I opted for a light with a white LED in the array as well as the smart phone control capability. 

 

 

 

Lumitec Seablaze X2 Spectrum

 

 

-These are RGBW meaning they have the white LEDs as well.

-3 wire install. Positive, negative, and switch wire. Only about 6 feet of wire so definitely need to splice more and with a 5 amp draw if your batteries are a ways away you’ll need to up the gauge as well.  Seems like it was 14-16 guage wire. 

-Needs a controller. The light itself is very bright. The switch mechanism is simple if you want to just turn your light on and leave it in color sweeping mode. Any further actions require toggling on and off and waiting for the right color to illuminate.

- I mentioned this a couple other times but a few of the color pictures for the lumitec may not be their true color because some white LED is mixed in.  This also may give it an appearance of a brighter color.

- Overall the brightness was very close to Lumishore. Maybe a tad brighter white. The colors in my opinion did not look as deep and true as lumishore or abyss or liquid lumens.  The small edge in brightness was not enough of a difference to make me consider going with it over having a full control system. Even though there is extra cost involved for lumishore with the controller.

- It is not out yet but it looks like Lumitec has a controller device in the works called POCO. It is OEM only currently but expected to release to the public later this year. I was told it will not have a sound to light music sync function. 

-Looks like the going price for a Seablaze X2 spectrum is about $589 per light.

 

 

Lumishore SMX153 (SMX93 identical for visual light performance just no controls)

 

 

-This is the system I decided to go with for my boat’s permanent install. 

 

-First off I want to clarify the difference in the SMX153 and SMX93.  The SMX153 requires the Lumilink command center to function.  It CANNOT be operated without it.  You can hook these into select MFDs but most wake boats do not have that so the STV2204i display is going to be required component. This can then be hidden away and use only smart devices to control the system if desired since dash space is often limited in wake boats. I plan to mount it to the drivers right in some of the free space on that panel.

- The SMX93 is the exact same visually functioning light so all the pictures and videos are accurate representation of the 93’s performance as well as the 153.  The 93 is controlled by toggle switch. I cant comment on how that works because I did not have that setup. 

- SMX153 Requires installation of a hub and “command center” see pics below. They made it very simple and clean to install.  The wires coming out of the light were about 12 feet long and had water tight IP68 rated connectors that just plugged straight into the hub.  Same connections take a DMX control wire to the Command center. From the command center an Ethernet cable runs to the STV2204-i display. Then power to the command center and display with positive and negative wires.

- Connections to the battery are from the hub. Fuses are all included and an indicator light is next to each fuse showing it is still intact through a waterproof glass.

-A downside to this system is that it has to boot up each time power is turned off and back on. This takes about 60 seconds before it is functional.

  - The command center draws 0.5 amps at rest as does the display (total of 1 amp at rest) so it is not plausible to leave power hooked to these units. I plan to use a relay triggered by my stock underwater lights switch to power on these units. Extra steps required and a 60 second wait after the power is switched on but the benefits outweigh the extra work in my opinion. 

- The Lumilink command center and STV2204i are very new products so accurate pricing is not readily available online.  Call an authorized dealer.  The prices are not always what you see online these are just the minimum advertising prices. The SMX93 is considerably cheaper with the same visual performance, but less control.

- The amount of control allowed by this system blows everything else I tested away. They don’t currently sell accent and strip lighting to the public but plan to soon and it can all be controlled through this unit using multiple zones and can sync up with underwater lighting.

-This is also the only system I tested that allows smart device control.

-The sound to light function allows for complete customization of colors by frequency. Heres a quick demo video of my trying it out.

 

https://youtu.be/UitRt367Aas

 

UJEVRZ3.jpg

Q7NHsRU.jpg

 

 

 

Liquid Lumens RGBW lights (LL)

 

 

- As I mentioned before this light design is about 4 years old and the others are much newer technology. Currently this is still LL newest tech light.

-  I think this one would have performed better in clearer water or with a more wide angled lens. Their RGBW light only comes in the narrow beam lens. They have a “surfrider” lens that is a wider angle but does not come in RGBW models. 

-The white from this light was the brightest as mentioned before but only in the center of the light and no further away than the other top brightness lights in white.

- LL uses a voltage upconversion to run the lights at 34 volts. This requires a separate box, which can be seen on the picture of the board with all the power supplies at the beginning of the post.  Its capable of powering 2 underwater lights as well as one of their topside lights. This box has a master switch to ensure no amp draw for off-season and in season storage. The included remote is easy to use and works as expected. 

-These lights are heavy duty. Built very sturdy in a large housing. The wire is sealed up very well in the house. Also it comes off the light towards the edge which can help when trying to avoid stringers during mounting.

 

D7ac3mS.jpg

 

-The wire that comes out of each light is nearly double in length of any of the other brands! I didn’t measure it but it’s close to 20 feet.  The power box is not waterproof so it must be ran to a dry location. The length of these wires really helps make that simple. They have a thick protective jacket as well.

-LL included everything you need to do this install even including zip ties.  The power cables came with the inline fuse holder and ring terminals already attached so install was a breeze.  

-Connections are the screw down clamp type so you’ll need a screw driver. 

-They even include 20 feet of jacketed wire for your accessory switch wire run.

- These lights worked great and had great central brightness, but in murky waters the lumitec and lumishore lights looked overall better in my opinion. 

-These lights have a 100 led array under that glass dome and draw the equivalent of about 9.75 amps if it was at 12 volts.  That’s about double what I counted on any of the other lights.  The brightness is there it was just too concentrated in the middle for my tastes.  The out of water white pictures below really show how intense the light is in the middle but fades quickly to the sides.

-Liquid Lumens does not use distributors so they must be bought from dealers.  Like I say with Lumishore talk to dealers about pricing. What you see online is just the minimum advertised price.

 

 

Shadow Caster SCR24 Color Changing

 

-Like Abyss these are an RGB only light array. No actual white LEDs it blends all the colors together for the white color. The white is a warmer white as well. In green murky waters it actually produced a color that was closest to a true white but it was not as intense as LL, Lumitec, or Lumishore.

- It is very apparent these lights have the widest angled lens. The spread is very wide.

-Blue Red and Green on this light are not a deep color.  They all seem like slightly lighter hues. Some may prefer this. I preferred the deeper hues. 

-The blue from Lumishore and Abyss was very deep colored and didn’t light up as much water as this light blue shadow caster did.  My preference is the deep color but keep this in mind if you think you’d like the lighter blue it was bright in comparison. The video and pictures illustrate this.

- These lights came with a 5 conductor wire. Positive and negative, a momentarily switch line, and two shadow net wires. The sheath over the wires is very heavy duty. No worries there. About 10 feet of cable included. When using the zone controller. The only wires that will carry current are pos and neg and can be ran straight to your power source. The shadow net wires can be small gauge and ran longer to the mounting location of the zone controller because they don’t carry much current.

-I used this system in conjunction with their zone controller so I did not get to experience the momentary switch functions.  Toggling the power gets a different color when done within 10 seconds and the momentary button allows you to get fade and strobe features without the controller.

-Using the shadow net controls with the zone controller made controlling these lights a breeze. 

- The arrows cycle you through different shades of each color as well as brightness adjustment with the up and down arrows. 

-I touched on music sync earlier. This can be adjusted for how quickly the lights reacted to music as well as the sensitivity of the music sync.

- These lights can be had for about $475 each.  The zone controller will cost you around $400 if you want to go that route. Otherwise you’ll operate with a toggle switch.

 

 

My decision and Why

 

I’ve mentioned a couple times, I am deciding to go with the Lumishore SMX153 system. I will be adding two more lights as well to make it 4 total.  I loved the amount of control and functionality of the STV2204 system. Their quality of light and the connections all felt top notch and so simple to hook up.  Once I get two more lights I’ll just have to drill the holes and plug them into the hub and the command center will find them. I’ll assign then a specific order and this allows left to right sweeps and vice versa. 

- The brightness in all the colors was near the top of the line if not equal with the lumitec and had great spread in the water.  I completely love their choice of blue. Pair these things with the capability of using smartphones to control everything in the system and that had me sold. 

- Everything worked perfect when I plugged it in and was so easy to operate.  They even have a control to adjust the type of white you prefer. Warmer or cooler.

-To me their controller system took it to a whole new level along with having one of the best performing lights in the comparison.

-Before you google the lumishore SMX153 and see the price contact a dealer and get some real world pricing if you’re interested in this system. Also realize almost all the listings for that light are showing prices for a pair and the old controllers.  No website I found has the new controller display and the command center in a package with the SMX153 lights.

-I recommend this system if you want the best total package in my opinion.

-If you are on a tighter budget I think I’d have to recommend the Abyss lights unless you are wanting to leave them on white all the time but that’s usually not the case when buying RGB lights.

 

 

This project was fun and ended up being a lot larger of an adventure than I anticipated. I’m glad I did it and got to see all this stuff first hand as well as share some back to back to back comparisons for anyone else who’s shopping for RGB underwater lights.

 

I’m not a professional blogger, reviewer, or photographer. I just had an idea and ran with it doing the best I could, I know it’s a litte unorganized but the info is here. I hope this information helps someone out who’s in the position I was trying to find up to date information on the best lights out there!

 

I want to thank Rob at Liquid Lumens, Chris at Lumishore, Johan from Abyss, and Mick from Lumitec for allowing me to perform this comparison with their products!

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cal2vin

White in water (night 1 tests) (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

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White in water (night 2 tests) (exposure and color temperature locked throughout this group)

 

hptCJbj.jpg

 

ubRhW5U.jpg

 

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Somehow the abyss file from this night got corrupted.

 

 

 

 

 

White out of water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

Nyw52bZ.jpg

 

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Blue in water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

TXRFlNd.jpg

 

HDuMHGA.jpg

 

nG0cdvn.jpg

 

5rB3UCC.jpg

 

1DJSVks.jpg

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cal2vin

Blue out of water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

kLeheID.jpg

 

AeUI2Rj.jpg

 

Wr9rOer.jpg

 

78wyVdk.jpg

 

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Green in water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

jviErRB.jpg

 

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Green out of water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

KIFvSn5.jpg

 

c2D8mjz.jpg

 

VKo1nHW.jpg

 

WrUsdpy.jpg

 

xyTDozP.jpg

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cal2vin

Red in water (exposure locked throughout this group)

 

jPNzpcb.jpg

 

dksyTq2.jpg

 

ahtaY8d.jpg

 

vq8oDJL.jpg

 

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Red out of water (exposure locked throughout this group) Lumitec has some white mixed in because I didn’t get it stopped perfectly on red. Im not sure it even does stop on only red, it moves through the colors so quickly its hard to stop on the right one.

 

iFn0PKI.jpg

 

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Zlh49ur.jpg

 

GLwStWk.jpg

 

EffdzV6.jpg

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AussieSkier

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MFknK

Really really great write up and photos. 

I have been trying to make a decision on what to buy as well. This helps temendously. Thank you.

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cal2vin
8 minutes ago, MFknK said:

Really really great write up and photos. 

I have been trying to make a decision on what to buy as well. This helps temendously. Thank you.

Awesome! Glad it could help out. This was why I posted!  Curious what you decided on based on the post?

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formulaben

Awesome writeup, @cal2vin!  Thanks for the info...I see one of these in my future ;)

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cal2vin
7 minutes ago, formulaben said:

Awesome writeup, @cal2vin!  Thanks for the info...I see one of these in my future ;)

I’ve got some left. PM me for pricing! 

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