An Introduction to ZHD Modulation
Zaxcom Announces New High Density Wireless
Zaxcom Wireless 2.0 Overview
A Look at the Zaxcom TRX742 Plug-On Transmitter
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Nurse Jackie’s Jan Mclaughlin
What is Zaxnet?
Get to know the tech that drives the sound industry's best gear.
FP8 Modification for ZaxHub Compatibility
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ERX Software v2.0
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The Hobbit: A Production Sound Perspective
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Kelsey Wood on Set Challenges and ZaxNet
Using ZaxNet on Nomad
All of Zaxcom’s wireless microphone system uses only 100% digital modulation, this results in audio quality superior to any analog or digital hybrid FM wireless system.
Zaxcom transmits its audio as 1s and 0s in a 100% digital form so no companding is needed to alter the audio content; this results in a much higher quality reproduction of the original audio under all circumstances.
Conventional FM wireless systems, including standard companded FM and digital hybrid wireless, use analog FM modulation and contain no digital content. Noise reduction systems, pilot tone squelch, FM distortion and RF interference all contribute to system performance that cannot begin to match that of a pure 100% digital system like Zaxcom’s digital wireless.
The range of Zaxcom’s new digital wireless 2.0 is now equivalent to, or better than, that of any FM radio system.
Digital wireless overview
Zaxcom TRX transmitters and ZFR miniature recorders have the ability to transmit its own audio via its built-in ZaxNet 2.4GHz transmitter. That audio can be monitored by an ERX receiver tuned to the same ZaxNet frequency of the transmitter. The purpose of this is for confidence monitoring. So you can now mic up talent and listen to how the mic sounds without having to return to your cart. The range of the ZaxNet confidence monitoring will not be as far as a normal ZaxNet signal – you can expect a range of about 10 feet.
In the TRX and ERX menu you can set the ZaxNet audio out of the recorder so that there is an audible record beep sent to just the ZaxNet feed, so when start recording and you are monitoring the ZaxNet monitor feed, this allows the user to
insure the TRX/ZFR is in record mode while monitoring the audio on an ERX
ZaxNet confidence monitoring
An Auto-Mixer is a gated mixer that when enabled, and a speaker starts to talk, will automatically open that microphone and add it to the mix. Then when a speaker stops talking that microphone will be attenuated “closed” and essentially be removed from the mix.
Removing unused microphones will result in a lower noise floor giving you a cleaner, better sounding mix without having to manually ride the faders. Manually riding faders in unscripted dialog often results in missing the start of when a person begins to speak.
The Zaxcom Auto-Mixer has no limit on the number of microphones that can be active at one time. The Zaxcom Auto-Mixer also has a last microphone on feature; this means that even if no one is speaking there will always be one microphone included in the mix, which will be the last active microphone. The last mic on feature allows the mix to never go to absolute silence
Intermodulation occurs when the RF from multiple transmitters, in close proximity to each other, mix together in the transmitters amplifier, and combine their outputs. Intermodulation can occur even if you are running just two transmitters on set, or in a sound bag. Intermodulation is undesirable because it creates spurious emission which can greatly interfere with reception and degrade audio reception.
Zaxcom’s fully digital wireless is immune to most intermodulation. This will give you the confidence that you will be getting the cleanest RF signal possible with no need to worry about special channel spacing. And without the typical channel spacing limitations, that are necessary in other wireless systems, the number of useable channels that can safely fit into a frequency block is greatly increased.
All of Zaxcom wireless has a unique feature that is not available in any other wireless systems. Each of Zaxcom’s TRX belt pack, plug-on and, camera link transmitter features a built-in two track timecode recorder. This feature allows the inputted audio to be recorded directly to a removable micro SD card.
You can use the transmitter as a standalone recorder. So if you need to record talent for long periods of time or, if they are going to wander off on their own out of reception range, just wire them up and you can cleanly capture hours of high quality timecoded audio. In that situation you can also optionally shut of the RF transmitter portion and use the TRX in record only mode to extend the battery life.
The recorder can also give you the confidence that you can cleanly capture high quality, drop out free audio regardless of how harsh of an RF environment you are in. You can set up the recorder to be in constant record mode where it is recording all the time, or you can set it up to go into record when the scene begins. This system is like having an infinite virtual multi-track where you have no track or range limits.
The recorder is capable of recording 96 hours of full bandwidth 24 bit timecoded audio on a single card. The recorder utilizes Zaxcom’s Mobile Audio Recording Format or MARF. MARF is an ultra stable, loss-less fault tolerant recording system that will give you confidence that in the event of power loss, due to dead batteries, all audio up to the exact point that the TRX lost power will be preserved. The files are recorded as a .zax file extension and can be quickly and easily be converted to both industry standard BWF and MP3 file, while maintaining its timecode and metadata. All that is needed is ZaxConvert, a free utility that can be downloading from the Zaxcom web site.
Zaxcom Digital Recording Wireless Transmitters are protected under patent #’s: 7,711,443 & 7,929,902
Internal Recording Wireless
Timecode is a sequence of numeric codes generated at regular intervals and is used for synchronization, logging and identifying record material in film, video and audio production.
All Zaxcom mixer/recorders recorders, TRX recording transmitters, ZFR miniature recorders, ERX receivers and, QRX receivers with QIFB option feature fully functional timecode readers and generators.
The timecode reader in each of these units will allow it receive external timecode that the unit will lock to. Zaxcom mixers/recorders and QRX receivers also allow you to enter in your own timecode manually.
After inputting, or locking to, an external timecode signal the timecode generator will now take over and generate it own frame accurate timecode. The timecode generator in all of Zaxcom products, with the exception of the ERX, are very stable and use TCXO temperature compensated crystal oscillators that give a clock accuracy of 1.54 PPM which equates to 1 frame out in 6 hours. In the case of the ERX an TCXO chip is not necessary since it is constantly updating its timecode from the source All products can read and generate all standard SMPTE timecode frame-rates: 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97NDF, 29.97DF, 30NDF, 30DF.
Traditional FM wireless audio can be hacked into and listened to by any commercially available scanner. In some situations this isn’t an issue, but there are times where privacy is necessary. For example paparazzi with an inexpensive device can listen in on your set. Or in the case of some corporate settings where there may be sensitive or legal matters discussed and you want to ensure that you have maximum privacy.
Zaxcom wireless systems, both the UHF transmission as well as audio sent via ZaxNet, features full digital audio encryption. Digital encryption is the only way to keep all audio transmission private.
The way it works is if you set an encryption code the transmitter, the audio will be encrypted and can only be listened to if the receiver has the matching encryption code entered. If you are trying to receive an audio signal and the codes do not match, all that will be heard is white-noise or silence.
Zaxcom’s encryption system features two sets of three numbers that form a single six-digit encryption code; this provides a total of 16,777,216 possible code combinations. So when using Zaxcom digital encryption you can ensure that your audio will only be heard by those who you want to hear it.
Mobile Audio Recording Format or MARF is Zaxcom’s lossless fault tolerant recording system. MARF is a very robust recording system where the recorded digital files don’t need to be closed or finalized. So if power is lost during recording, all audio right up to the point where power is lost, will be preserved. MARF’s robustness lends itself often be immune from viruses and corruption that can affect standard recording formats.
All Zaxcom MARF files can be quickly and easily converted to both industry standard BWF and MP3 file by using the ZaxConvert utility. All timecode information and Meta Data is preserved and carried over when using ZaxConvert.
ZaxConvert is available for free and can be downloaded from the Zaxcom website.
Prerecord allows you to hold incoming audio in an internal buffer. You can choose to buffer up to 10 seconds of audio in Deva, Fusion and Nomad and 5 seconds of audio Maxx (some time limitations may exist for higher sample rates – see the products specific manuals for addition details).
From the point the recorder is powered up, any sound coming in from any input is always being processed whether you are recording or not. So when pre-record is enabled, that processed signal can be held in a buffer that is constantly being refreshed. When you press the RECORD key, all audio stored in the buffer will be included the current take with the corrected time code. Since the recorder is always processing the incoming audio no additional battery power is use when prerecord is engaged.
The pre-record buffer is dumped after any of the following settings are changed:
Sample-rate, Time code, User-bits, Frame- Rate, Track count
When designing the IFB200 we wanted to pack as many useful features as we could into as small of a unit as possible. After lots of tinkering we came out with something that we are very proud of.
As far as the physical unit we made it lightweight, small and we paid special attention to the layout of the 200. The result is something that works well on a sound cart, in a bag, but also mounted on a camera.
Like its predecessor the IFB200 has all the standard ZaxNet transmitter functions plus a whole lot more.
We also added the ability for the IFB200 to act as a ZaxNet receiver.
First and foremost you can control any Zaxcom TRX wireless remotely, so there is no need to approach talent and fumble with the transmitter anymore. If you notice that your selected frequency is now getting hits, just scan the spectrum with the QRX to find a clean one – then with the IFB200 remotely change the frequency. Talent starts yelling mid take? No problem – just remotely lower the gain. The IFB200 also give you the ability to start and stop the TRX’s internal recorder. So when a scene starts you can put the TRX into record mode, when the scene ends you can stop it, and if you like you can put the TRX into playback, so you can listen to the TRX’s recorded audio all while the talent is on set wearing the transmitter. The 200 also enables PowerRoll. PowerRoll allows a TRX transmitter to stay in the lower transmit power setting of 25mW to conserve battery power – then when you begin to record the transmitter will increase its output power automatically.
We also added the ability for the IFB200 to act as a ZaxNet receiver. So now if you put the IFB200 into receive mode it can receive confidence audio from a QRX235 that is mounted on a camera, or you can listen to confidence audio from any TRX transmitter or ZFR miniature recorder. The 200 can now also receive and lock its internal timecode generator from any other ZaxNet transmitter.
The IFB200 will also broadcast audio and timecode over the same ZaxNet 2.4GHz frequency, which allows you to send timecode and audio throughout your set. The IFB200 can take in two channels of either analog or AES audio and send that audio out to the ERXs – you can chose to send either channel or a mix of both to anyone on set with ERX receiver.The same signal also has timecode embed in it, so the IFB200 can also transmit frame accurate timecode, at any selected frame rate, to a camera, timecode slate, or any other device that has a ERX attached to it. The design of the 200 allows it to be easily mounted on a camera. So now the camera can be a master timecode generator – distributing wireless timecode throughout the set via the IFB200. The camera’s audio out can also be sent to anyone wearing an ERX receiver.
But wait there is more. We added a micro SD card slot on the IFB200 – the card slot serves two purposes. First it lets you update the software at home on the unit in just a few seconds with no additional hardware necessary. And secondly it is a high quality two track audio recorded with timecode. Now you will always have an extra recorder with you. 96 hours of two tracks of analog or AES audio can record on a single micro SD card. The tracks are recorded as a .zax file which utilizes our ultra stable robust MARF recording system. The .zax files can then easily and quickly be converted to either a BWF or MP3 file using the free ZaxConvert utility.
Please contact your dealer for any additional information.
The many uses of an IFB200