Martin MAC Aura XIP: Raising the bar for optical quality and features

Wouter Verlinden, International Product Manager of Creative LED & Lighting, previews Martin’s latest wash light with smart outdoor protection and aura filaments.

What were the goals for the MAC Aura XIP?

“The goal was clear: make a workhorse even more versatile without introducing new compromises. We strived to maintain the size, weight, output and noise levels, closer or better, than the MAC Aura XB. Add outdoor rating, so that the product can be used in even more applications as well as indoors. We also wanted to improve the wash quality for hotspot, edge, and stray light purposes as well as incorporating customer feedback collected over the years. For example, the inclusion of omega brackets, battery powered display, and a more narrow beam. End users also requested a product suitable for outdoor use, with a narrower zoom and improved display, rigging, and handle ergonomics.”

How important is it to develop a lighting fixture able to handle all weather conditions?

“We wanted to create a single product that would work equally well indoor and outdoor, with close to zero compromises on either application. A single product that would cover ‘all’ applications would be such a benefit for our customers, making sure they never have the wrong fixture on their shelves. The goal for our R&D team was clear: make it survive outdoors in any weather condition, but don’t build a big, ugly, heavy and loud ‘metal tank’. To achieve this goal, a wide variety of new solutions were required, as we couldn’t rely on existing solutions on the market. Each of these solutions obviously needed to be tested, fine-tuned and tested over and over again.”

What was the testing process?

“The testing at Martin can be split into two categories. Laboratory testing: Martin engineering has an extensive set of laboratories in its R&D sites in Aarhus, Denmark and Shenzhen, China. Any combination of water, snow, ice, wind, dust, sand, low temperatures, high temperatures, vibration and more can be created in these laboratories. We always take it a few steps further than necessary. If the standards dictate that a product needs to survive certain conditions for a certain time, we always test it longer and harder, just to be sure. There’s also real world testing: From very early in the development process, we started to place early prototypes of the MAC Aura XIP on the roof of our R&D centre in Aarhus, Denmark. Being up there for close to a year where it was exposed to rain, hail, snow, wind and more, our engineering department had increased confidence in their solutions and also learned where they could be improved even further. After every test, our engineers identify how the product can be made even more robust and then test again, even if it already passed the test the first time. Our engineers aren’t happy until a product passes all the tests with a large safety margin on top.”

How important was it to include greater pixel control with video mapping capabilities?

“While pixel control might not be important for some customers, it is a must have for others. Some designers are looking for a damn good wash light without too many bells and whistles, and the MAC Aura XIP definitely ticks that box. However, the next week, a rental company might hire the fixtures to a designer on a TV show or tour – where the designer needs to create a wide variety of looks from the fixtures. This is where pixel control, video mapping, Aura filaments, and internal FX macros come into play. None of these prevent the fixture from being a good wash light, but add more versatility as needed for some applications.”

What challenges did you face bringing this product to the market?

“It’s no secret that the market is still struggling with component shortages, and these also affected the development and production start-up of the MAC Aura XIP. However, our teams took this into account from the earliest stages of the product development. As soon as a certain part or component within the design was finalised and tested by our engineering factory in Pecs, Hungary, we started to build up stock. This prevented us from having to wait until the finalisation of development and testing, before any components were sourced.”

Could the Aura XIP see the eventual end of indoor/outdoor-specific products? 

“Our goal is to challenge this status quo, and allow rental companies to increase their return on investment by offering a product that can be used all year long, both indoor and outdoor, with close to zero compromise in each environment. We will continue to do so with upcoming products.”