Sparmax – ARISM Viz Compressor
MSRP – $171.50 US / £129.00 UK
As part of this review, I created a written and video review of this compressor. The video includes footage of some of the testing I preformed while taking this compressor for a test drive. My full written review begins below this video.
Since 1978, Sparmax has been a major player in the airbrush industry providing design and manufacturing of airbrushes, compressors and many related accessories to this market. As part of the DHCL Group with its anchor company, Ding Hwa Co. Ltd., Sparmax has had the opportunity to push forward with a renewed focus on the airbrush market offering a growing selection of airbrushes and compressors.
With the support from the great folks at Airbrushes.com in the UK, I have been allowed the opportunity to see firsthand for myself one of Sparmax’s latest releases, the ARISM Viz Compressor. As part of this review, I will discuss the design specifications of this new compressor, some of the new features included with it as well as taking the compressor for a test drive to put it through its paces to see how it preforms for normal everyday use and possibly a touch beyond.
ARISM Viz Compressor
The ARISM Viz Compressor is delivered in a somewhat classy cardboard box imprinted with the Sparmax logos and a color photo of the ARISM Viz compressor on the front and back. All of the contents within the box have been secured safely within a protective cardboard inserts and all of the components wrapped individually in plastic. Inside the box we find the ARISM Viz Compressor itself, an AC adapter power supply, a 2 meter (6.5 foot) air hose, a clear acrylic airbrush holder (part of the Smart-Stop Control), the new Silver Bullet™ Plus Moisture Trap and two instructional sheets. In addition to the provided instruction sheets, Airbrushes.com also supplies a few more helpful pieces of documentation to go along with the new compressor.
The Sparmax ARISM Viz compressor features:
- Low maintenance, oil-less single piston air compressor
- Working pressure from 0 psi to 50 psi (3.4 bar)
- Silver Bullet Plus moisture trap
- 2M Braided hose
- Airbrush holder
- Pressure gauge
- Air flow: 16 – 18 lpm (0.57 – 0.64 cfm) at open flow
- 1/8 BSP outlet on compressor
- Size: L20 x W12 x H18 cm (7.9″ x 4.7″ x 7.1″)
- Weight: 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs)
- Voltage: 220-240V 50Hz
- AC adapter: INPUT: 100-240V~47-63Hz 1.45A OUTPUT: 12V-5A max
- Noise level: 45±dB
- 1 94HJ E183744 I.T.E. POWER SUPPLY
After unboxing the ARISM Viz Compressor, the first thing noticed is the overall size of the unit. Measuring 20 cm long by 18 cm high and a width if 12 cm (7.87 in. x 7.08 in. x 4.72 in.), the size is certainly and area Sparmax has made an effort in reducing. Space is a valuable commodity when it comes to a modelers sometimes, so the reduced size is a something most welcomed. The weight of the ARISM Viz is only 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs). This is another plus, especially if you travel with your airbrushing tools, such as I do form time to time.
The ARISM Viz Compressor comes with an AC adapter for powering the unit ( INPUT: 100-240V~47-63Hz 1.45A OUTPUT: 12V-5A max). Since this compressor was supplied to me by good folks over at Airbrushes.com, which is located in the United Kingdom, I needed to use a power plug conversion adapter. This adapter converts the Type G plug on the power supply to fit the standard two prong type A 120 volt receptacles we have here in the US. While this conversion adapter can be purchased just about anywhere around the globe, it is best to contact the vendor and inquire if a suitable power cord is available at time of purchasing.
Okay, for starters, the Sparmax ARISM Viz has a pleasing look to it. The unit is compact and has a sturdy handle on top. The simplistic design boasts mirrored chrome plates on the front and back and the center casement has a grey-colored textured finish. On the back of the ARISM Viz you will find the on/off switch located at the top left corner and in the lower left corner, the input for the AC adaptor. Moving around to the front of the compressor, you will see the pressure gauge dial which is labeled in both pounds per square inch and kilograms per cubic meter squared (psi and kg/cm2 ). Both the front and back plates have stamped holes for venting of the compressor inside as well as the Sparmax logo which adds to the ventilation. Below the pressure gauge you will find a standard 1/8 BSP outlet for the air hose.
Within the documentation provided, Sparmax mentions that the ARISM Viz incorporates two new innovative designs, The Smart Stop and Silver Bullet Plus. “When used in conjunction with each other the result is a compact, ergonomic, and intuitive compressor for airbrushing.” On the top front edge of the unit, next to the carrying handle, there is a black plate with a square inset. This is Sparmax’s Smart Stop Power Saving Function. Provided in the box is a small clear acrylic airbrush holder which slides snugly into the square opening on the Smart Stop switch. With the main power supply to the unit on, the compressor will run at a steady pace. With power to the compressor and the power switch in the ON position, place your airbrush into the holder and the motor to the compressor will stop as the weight of the airbrush will trigger the off switch. By picking the airbrush up, the switch opens and the compressor starts.
There is no regulator included with this compressor, instead, Sparmax provides a line water trap called the Silver Bullet Plus. Improved over its predecessor, the Plus version of the Silver Bullet comes with a small bleed valve installed into the side of it. This works similar to the MAC Valves installed on some airbrushes. Effectively it assists the user in changing the flow rate and basically the overall output of the airbrush. In this case, the bleed valve, (MAC valve or flow control, if you will), is located inline on the Silver Bullet. The one downside to this bleed valve is that when you open the valve, which effectively causes a leak in the air supply, you do hear a slight hissing sound of the air coming from the valve. This valve does exactly what it is intended to do; in that it allows the user to change the flow rate of their airbrush. Not wanting to bother with mindless scientific calculations to explain this, I will say that closing the valve causes the velocity of air and fluid to increase, the pressure actually decreases when this happens …all this allows you to control the output of paint and air with you airbrush.
As Sparmax states, both the Smart Stop and Silver Bullet Plus work hand in hand. The Smart Stop allows the user to maintain the working pressure of the compressor once the compressor has stopped by pacing the airbrush into the holder. This best resembles the constant pressure supply, “stabilizing effect” witnessed when using an external tank in conjunction with a compressor. I suppose the best part of this is that this is all done without the external tank which takes up space. In addition to maintaining the pressure, the Smart Top effectively eliminates the constant starting and stopping seen with traditional tankless compressors and the variation in pressure they may cause. With the constant pressure issue solved, the Silver Bullet Plus then allows the user to make minor adjustments to the flow right in their hands.
Early on in this review I gave a list of features of the ARISM Viz; on this list was the decibel output. I wanted to check to see how close the output was, and this might give some people a good indication to the overall sound created by this compressor. Using a decibel meter I recorded a range of decibel output between 50db and 65 db. This of course was directly next to the unit while it was running. I also placed the compressor in a location next to me on the floor in the same location of my current compressor, approximately 2.5 feet way. The decibel meter then recorded exactly the 45 +/- db levels as outlined in the products documentation. This all equates to the compressor running very quietly, something similar to that of about a normal voice level of a person talking. (Please see video review)
Using the ARISM Viz
I noticed in the documentation provided that there was a listing of “suitable” airbrushes that have “low air consumption”. Sadly, I do not have any of the airbrushes on this list, however, I do have a number of top quality airbrushes to use and even one of Sparmax’s own SP-20X to give the compressor a run for its money. It is best to note that the ARISM Viz has a constant output from the compressor of 60 psi which is recorded on the pressure gauge. Working pressure I have set in my standard system now is 12psi to 18 psi., no more than 20psi typically. I have these settings for the sole reason that the acrylic paints I use tend to not respond well at higher pressure settings. The higher pressures will dry the paint much quicker causing clogging.
Sparmax’s suggested list of suitable airbrushes to use with the ARISM Viz
- Sparmax SP35 / SP35C
- Sparmax MAX-3 / MAX-4
- Sparmax HB-040
- Neo for Iwata
- Iwata Revolution
- Iwata Eclipse BCS/BS/CS/SBS/SA
- Iwata HP
- Iwata HP-Plus
- Iwata Hi-Line
- Iwata Custom Micron
- Iwata Kustom series (except K-TH)
- Paasche CC
- Paasche F
- Paasche Talon
- Paasche V
- Paasche VJR
- Paasche VSR90
- Paasche VV
- Badger 100
- Badger 150 (except with HD head)
- Badger 155 (except with HD head)
- Badger 175 (except with HD head)
- Badger 200 (except with HD head)
- Premi Air G35
- Asturo C3 (from 8 to 24 psi)
- Rio tanning airbrush (at 20 psi)
As part of my testing, I found that in each case the compressor preformed exactly as it is promoted. The air flow is extremely constant with no indication of any lag in flow as seen with many start and stop models of compressors. I ran the Silver Bullet through its paces as well. My normal setup when airbrushing consists of a compressor mounted regulator which allows me to adjust working pressures as I work. This is somewhat different than what I am used to, but the learning curve is small. I was able to control the overall flow rate adequately with the Silver Bullet and work with a number of different applications checking is versatility. As part of the review, I wanted to see what changes in flow actually occur when using the Silver Bullet. Using an anemometer set to cubic feet per minute, there is a considerable change in the velocity of the airbrush flow over the entire range of the bleed valve control. There is no calibration markings on the bleed valve other than the one line located on top of the control knob. Setting of the bleed valve will have to be by trial and error before one is comfortable with knowing where they like the settings. During my testing using different airbrushes, I did need to resort to using my current air hose for my Badger Renegade due to the lack of the correct 1/8 BSP fitting for two of my airbrushes. However, there was no noticeable change in performance witnessed.
Outside using the Silver Bullet Plus with the external bleed valve, there is now way to control the pressure output of the compressor since there is no on board regulator installed. Since the compressor comes with the Silver Bullet Plus, this is not and should not pose an issue for most. However, in the case of where an individual, not unlike myself, that are used to using a regulator in place of the bleed valve, I do not see any apparent issues with possibly adding a small inline regulator to the line either on the hose or at the output fitting of the compressor if you so desired. To check how well the airbrushes responded to the system without the Silver Bullet Plus in place, I did run all of my airbrushes through the same testing without the bleed valve in place. What I found from using each of the five airbrushes previously used for earlier testing is that with the exception of two, the Harder and Steenbeck Evolution and Infinity, the was little control over the amount of air one can introduce with the airbrushes’ trigger. The two H&S brushes have a different trigger configuration which does allow me to control the flow of air at finite levels compared to other brushes.
Additionally, as part of the testing, I chose to use Vallejo’s Model Air as my test medium. Acrylic paint has a tendency to respond differently at higher pressure levels and this gives me a better understanding on how the compressor works. While using the Silver Bullet Plus in conjunction with the Smart Stop feature of the ARISM Viz, there was actually no really difference in performance than what I typically witness using my standard air compressor. Without the Silver Bullet Plus installed, I did experience drying of the airbrush tips on all brushes but my two H&S brushes; again, they do have different trigger assemblies which allow more finite control of air and paint flow. With that said, I will suggest using the Silver Bullet Plus is essential in controlling the airflow better, not to mention there is a built in water trap on the Silver Bullet Plus which is an added benefit to any air system we use.
The ARISM Viz compressor is comprised of a DC motor for universal usage (100-240V) and Sparmax offers and optional rechargeable NiMH battery/charger; this is ideal for travel.
When approaching an evaluation of any air compressor, there are a few key factors I look closely at to help me determine the overall performance of the unit in review; the size, output, features, maintenance and decibel output. Beginning with the size, the ARISM Viz get high marks with me. The unit is very compact and light and streamlined in appearance, which is perfect for static use at home as well as most suitable for travel. When discussing the features of the Sparmax ARISM Viz, the combination of the Smart Stop function and Silver Bullet Plus is an invaluable design feature when using this compressor giving the user control over how their airbrush preforms when using the ARISM Viz. I also look at the size of the ARISM Viz as one of this compressors highlighted features. The smaller size allows for easy transportation when on the go as well as making a smaller footprint in your work space. The performance, or output, of the compressor is one of the largest factors that go into deciding which the best air compressor for your needs. At a working pressure of 60psi (16 – 18 lpm (0.57 – 0.64 cfm) fully open), there is certainly enough output for all airbrushing needs. Due to the fact this compressor maintains its working pressure when off as well as a steady flow of air while in use, the ARISM Viz is ideal for both long and short application sessions when painting. This is a zero-maintenance, oil-less piston air compressor. So with that, there is virtually no need to do anything to keep the ARISM Viz from running at its normal operating design specifications. Finally, the output of sound, or decibel level, of this compressor. As the documentation outlines, this compressor runs extremely quiet; only putting out 45 +/- decibels a placement of between 2.5 and 3 feet from your working area. Even when the compressor is right in front of you, the noise levels are less than most mainstream compressors sold today. The looks of a compressor do not fall into my overall judgment, however, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the simplistic design and rugged look of the textured metal body with polished chrome plates looks great.
In closing, I will recommend the Sparmax ARISM Viz to anyone looking to invest in a high quality air compressor that runs quite with enough airflow for most if not all airbrushing needs. The listing price of the ARISM Viz through Airbrushes.com is a reasonable $171.50 US / £129.00 UK. When adding this pricing to the quality of what is provided by Sparmax in this compressor, the ARISM Viz is a great value when compared to similar compressors offered today.
Airbrushes.com has a history dating back to 1947 of providing the highest quality airbrushes, compressor and airbrushing supplies for not only the Modelling Community but for Food Industry, Art/Graphics, Automotive, Craft/Textile and Beauty. Stop by and see what Airbrushes.com has to offer! Remember, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of their extremely knowledgeable staff, they are always willing to help!
The Modelers Social Club and MSC Review Connect would like to thank Airbrushes.com for providing the Sparmax ARISM Viz Compressor for this review.