Before I begin this review, full disclosure on what I specifically do for uplighting. I happen to only uplight a couple of gigs a year, partly due to the type of clients I attract that don’t desire additional lighting for their weddings, opting for the ambiance of the lighting that the venue has chosen. This tends to be more of the farms and barns, where cafe lighting or other subtle lighting is incorporated into their designs.
And when I did decide to invest in uplights I had to take into consideration not only the limited sales of uplighting I was generating but also that some of the local venues started to incorporate uplighting (or another accent lighting) into the venue itself. So with that in mind, I decided to go with the lower-cost option of Chinese lights. Now while these lights aren’t bad, they present their own challenges including inconsistent battery life, somewhat tricky operations with poor mapping to the remote, and just overall mediocre user experience.
Now while I don’t dislike the lights, I am always on the lookout for replacement lights. There are some out there that have some nice features, but at the lower price point they tend to skimp out on some really useful items, or they tend to be a bit more difficult to use. On the flip side, some of the more expensive lights out there are good, but still don’t quite tick all the checkboxes to justify their costs. One that has been on my radar for a while is the Ape Labs Ape Light maxi.
So thanks to Ape Labs I was able to get my hands on 12 units (thanks Ape Labs!) to give these a test run at three gigs I was doing.
The Technical Specs
So first, consider the technical specs on the Maxis:
- 3x15W LEDs
- 2.4GHz wireless remote for tremendous range
- 4 assignable groups
- Can take 150 lbs weight
- 14+ hour battery life on a full charge
- Dimensions of 5.31 x 5.31 x 2.56 inches
- A featherweight of 3 lbs per light
Now comparing these to my Chinese lights, they are absurdly small (in a good way). They have more than enough brightness to light up any wall that I tested it on.
And by simple chance, the water-resistant claims were put to the test on my 2nd gig when the tent was opened up on the sides and a rainstorm came and soaked everything. Out of habit, I pulled the lights, but not until they got rained on after a while. Absolutely zero issues with them, and what a peace of mind that gives you when you have lights setup and you don’t have to fear some water getting on them.
Simplicity Is Key
I can’t stress enough that the primary use case for these lights is the simplicity of it all, from the simple in-box charging capacity, how lightweight a 6-pack case is, simple one-button power control on the remote. It has been, by far, the simplest light to take out of the box and to get it working to the event’s need. And breaking down again is so simple with sliding it back into its case and having it ready to charge or even setup to the next gig.
As a solo DJ, this is absolutely critical. I don’t want to spend tons of time getting things ready. I don’t want to have to lug heavy cases and having to fiddle with things for a simple uplighting gig. Compared to what I currently have, these Ape Light Maxis are simply awesome.
Very Few Negatives
Not everything is perfect, but man these lights really are close. The very few shortcomings I can comment on are the following:
- The mirrored finish is a fingerprint attractor. While it does give the device a high-value look, I would rather it be more a color surface or even just a ruggedized look to deter the potential fingerprints that are now dotted all over it.
- I really wish there were amber as a color. I can live without the UV light that many of the lights in this class offer, but I do get specific requests for candlelight, and that would be a very welcome option.
- The charging plug does not use a standard IEC-320 cable. This could be a problem if you left the cable at home or somehow the cable got damaged.
This is really the only three negatives I could come up with on this light. This is how damn good it is.
Should You Invest in the Ape Light Maxi?
Naturally, you have to look at all the options out there and compare them. But personally, for my kind of use, this is almost a complete knock-out (minus the lack of amber). The size of it, the battery life, the slick charging case, the range of the remote, the simplicity of it all are total winners in this class of lighting. As a DJ that does not do much uplighting, but values quality, setup time, and offerings; I am seriously considering buying these for myself.
At a minimum, you would be missing out if you did not at least consider these lights.