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Jeff Wexler

Zaxcom Nova FAQ

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Glenn Sanders wrote up a good listing of frequently asked questions regarding the Zaxcom Nova recorder. 

 

Zaxcom Nova FAQs

Can I use all of Nova inputs at the same time?

Yes, there are no limitations all 12 AES inputs and 6 analog inputs are always active and use separate connectors for each input.

 

• What are the ergonomic benefits to a Nova bag?

Overall the Nova with its internal receivers is about 1/3rd the size weight and power consumption of other solutions on average.

 

• Does Nova produce any interference to the internal or external wireless receivers?

No, the Nova has been designed to eliminate the typical interference that can be caused by mixer/recorders spraying low level RF radiation that interferes with wireless microphones that can cause loss of wireless range.

 

• I am a bit uncomfortable with the 5 continuous faders will that be something I will get used to?

This new system of control will most likely become the standard for bag production mixers. Nova offers the ability to control 25 sources with 5 banks of the 5 faders with instant access to related input trim values.   Zaxnet remote control is instantly accessed as well. Nova fader control is just amazing in its simplicity speed, feel and accuracy.

 

• Can the Nova be used on the sound cart as 4 channels of wireless receiver and as a backup recorder with the ability instantly change it to a sound bag configured system?

Yes a single connector on Nova will take in up 4 channels of AES audio and output the audio from the 4 internal receivers to the main cart recorder. The 4 receiver isos and the mix from the main cart are recorded on Nova for emergency backup.  A memory can be recalled to instantly configure Nova for cart or bag operation.

 

• Is the Nova Mirror card compatible between Deva24 and the Nova so I can hand in one media at the end of the day? Yes the same mirror card can be used in both recorders recording audio for post to different folders.

 

• When will auto-mix and MP3 recording be available?

We hope to have both available before the end of the year. The Auto mixer will be a new improved version of our Nomad auto mixer. Now that Nova is delivering we can announce the MP3 feature as we now know we have excess processing capability to do it.

 

• How long will Nova run in a sound bag on a single charge with 4 channels of wireless?

With a 98WH inspired energy battery 7 hours of continuous run time is typical.

 

• How long does it take to set the frequencies on the 4 channels of wireless controlled by Nova?

After a frequency scan by Nova the 4 transmitters and 4 receivers can be tuned to the 4 quietest frequencies in 1 second through Zaxnet control with no need to disturb the talent. Nova will also disable the 4 transmitters during the Scan and then automatically re-enable them so that all frequencies can be properly scanned.

 

• Are transmitters automatically set to the receiver frequencies?

If the function is enabled the transmitters will automatic follow the receivers channel selection.

 

• Can I use any Zaxcom transmitter with the Nova and is there compatibility with any other brand of wireless?

Yes you can use any Zaxcom transmitter. No, there is no compatibility mode for other brands.

 

• Does the internal micplexer filter the RF outputs of the Nova?

Yes the 35 MHz tuned flux capacitor filter is in line and external receivers will benefit from the filter and the Nova intermodulation free design. All external receivers must be tuned within the 35MHz window.

 

• Can the Nova power external antennas?

No. It would not be an advised thing to do as the powered antennas will degrade the receivers in the Nova on both a filter basis and a noise basis. An unpowered shark fin will work best with Nova even with long runs of coax.

 

• Will the Nova support Oasis and Mix16?

It will support Oasis but not mix 16

 

• Will Nova generate a sound report?

Yes it generates the CSV file that Nomad and Devas do. We will be adding more data fields as well.

 

• Will a URX work with the Nova?   

No but an ERX3TCD will. Zaxnet is on 2.4GHz and a URX is a UHF receiver. The URX can monitor all of the Zaxcom bodypacks and would require a UHF transmitter to be connected to Nova to monitor it directly.

 

• What external gear must be added to Nova for ENG use? For the most part none. Nova functions as a mixer, recorder, 4 channel wireless receiver, time code distribution, IFB transmitter and Zaxnet remote control transmitter. The only addition might be a stereo link transmitter if 2 channels of audio to camera is a requirement.

 

• How much would a Nova sound bag weigh?

With the Ktek Jr bag and a 98WH battery about 6.5 pounds. The Nova itself weighs 3 pounds 7 oz.

 

• Can each of the 2 plug in receivers use different 35MHz windows?

No. They must both be within the same 35MHz range. Any external receiver fed by the Nova must be as well. This is actually an advantage as it gets rid of a lot of interfering signals.

 

• Why does Nova not use multiple batteries?

With the MARF operating system there is no need for more than one external battery. Power can be lost at any time without corruption or loss of the recorded audio data. The system automatic closes files on power up allowing recording to immediately start again with no loss of recorded audio. Multiple batteries do nothing to prevent loss of recorded audio data in the unlikely event of a system lock up. Multiple batteries add significant weight to the sound bag and unnecessary time, effort and expense needed to keep multiple batteries charged.  Nova provides 2 redundant power inputs to allow for any external power choice with no need for more than one power source.

 

• What can Nova and Zaxcom wireless offer over other solutions?

The integrated system has many benefits. Remote transmitter gain control, automatic frequency selection and instant receiver and transmitter tuning, remote transmitter sleep control, time code distribution with no hardwire jam of recording transmitters, remote transmitter naming, automatic transmitter name identification and transfer to and from Nova ISO tracks, virtual multitrack recording and playback with Zaxcom recording wireless (Patented) , Power roll automatic transmitter power control (Patented), Automatic wireless transmitter transport control and transmitter scene/ take file metadata from Nova are some of the benefits.

 

• I am not a Zaxcom owner now, can I benefit from the Nova without Zaxcom wireless?

No matter what wireless you may own now you can use that with the Zaxcom Nova. Nova will accept up to 12 channels of external audio via its AES inputs providing the best audio quality enabled by the digital connections. With Nova you also get the benefit of the internal Micplexer that enhances the performance of any connected wireless receiver from any manufacturer with all of the operational benefits of the NOVA track tuned wireless filter. Nova outputs RF with 3dB of RF gain that can go through an external RF splitter with no loss of signal to external receivers. Optional Receiver replacement modules offer both Nova AES inputs and RF outputs to the external receivers.

 

• Do I need to use proprietary media?

No, any store purchased CF Card media should be fine.

 

Will Nova ever have Dante?

No. Dante is great for getting lots of audio from point A to point B over a long distance. It is not necessary or desirable in a sound bag as the power to encode and decode the Dante format would almost double the power consumption of the Nova sound bag. AES connection between an ENG receiver and the Nova is both power efficient and fool proof as there is no Dante routing to set up or to go bad. AES is the more desirable interface to use allowing multiple unlocked AES sources to be utilized at the same time.

 

• Why does the Nova not have a word clock interface?

The Nova has sample rate converting AES inputs that eliminate any need for a word clock reference. This allows all AES sources and the Nova itself to operate at any sample rate with no issues.

 

• How easy is it to change out the wireless receivers?

They are held in with a single screw and can be hot swapped in seconds.

 

• What are the channel effects and are they available on all inputs analog and digital.

Yes the effects are common to all channels. Variable frequency high pass, 2 notch filters, compressors and delay are available on all inputs.  Input trim level is also available on AES inputs.

 

• Can I use AES42 microphones?

Yes, 2 separate AES42 mics are supported with 4 channels of audio input.

 

• How good are the Nova preamps?

With 140 dB dynamic range from input through the dual A-D Neverclip conversion stage and the 32bit floating point mixing engine nothing can compare to the Nova analog inputs. Input compressors are not needed and their use is limited only to artistic preference.

 

• Is this a new headphone amp for Zaxcom.

Yes, it uses a very high resolution D to A converter with better low frequency response that can drive impedances as low as 16 ohms.

 

 

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Pretty slick setup they have going with the Nova.  I hear though that Zaxnet shouldn't be relied upon as a hop due to the 2.4ghz nature of it?  Would have been sweet it they would have offered an addon module that was a UHF hop for a truly all in one unit for us folks that are constantly bagging it.

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16 minutes ago, Mattias Larsen said:

Will it do 32bit float files or just internally? 

Nova does not do 32 bit floating files. Personally, I do not think 32 bit floating files are needed (on any of our recorders) but I know that there are many who do think this is a very important feature, often, though, this comes from a lack of understanding of the value of a 32-bit file. Sure, it would be a good thing to support 32-bit files but in my opinion looking at all the features and functionality of Nova, it would be rather short-sighted to make this a significant deciding factor..

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32-bit floating point is definitely advantages in post mixing where lots of EQ and sub-mixes can cause internal buss levels of some frequencies or subs to get out of hand. 

 

If you're EQing or arbitrarily boosting levels that much in the field, post will not be happy. 

 

This doesn't mean that the increased internal dynamic range is a bad idea for a field mixer, it just means it's typically not needed. 

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32bit is handy for whenever you're in a drop bag scenario, such as for car rigs, when it is much safer to leave the bag by itself in the car than to ride along in the boot! So yes, bag mixers can benefit from this feature as well. 

But that is a scenario which for some people never happens, or only sometimes (although for me last year it seemed to be happening on average every month!). 

However any time you're forced to do a drop bag, rather than monitoring it, the producer/director should know sound is being put in a bad spot and that is a serious compromise they're choosing already (no matter if you've got 32bits or not!). 

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I'm not sure 32-bit floating files will help much in the typical "bag drop" situation you describe You are right that lots of sound mixers just do not work this way so it isn't even an issue, but for those who do a bag-drop (unattended and possibly even un-monitored recordings) a typical setup utilizes wireless mics (either on talent or planted or both) transmitting to the receivers in the bag connected to the recorder. In this case, when there are unexpected levels encountered, the mic preamps in the wireless transmitter may be seriously compromised (distorted, limited, etc.). This results in compromised audio delivered via the wireless receiver to the inputs of the recorder. The potential value of the 32-bit file of this audio, the ability to have a wider range of adjustment, is irrelevant. If with the bag drop the microphones are hard wired directly to the recorder and the gain on the recorder's mic preamps are set conservatively low, the 32-bit file could be helpful in post.

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I think what’s more important is the 140dB dynamic range. That is similar to what the new MixPre IIs can do and it means that with many mics the entire dynamic range can be converted. So there probably won’t be any analog gaining on the recorder, only in the digital realm. This is especially useful when hard-wiring mics...

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4 hours ago, Jeff Wexler said:

I'm not sure 32-bit floating files will help much in the typical "bag drop" situation you describe You are right that lots of sound mixers just do not work this way so it isn't even an issue, but for those who do a bag-drop (unattended and possibly even un-monitored recordings) a typical setup utilizes wireless mics (either on talent or planted or both) transmitting to the receivers in the bag connected to the recorder. In this case, when there are unexpected levels encountered, the mic preamps in the wireless transmitter may be seriously compromised (distorted, limited, etc.). This results in compromised audio delivered via the wireless receiver to the inputs of the recorder. The potential value of the 32-bit file of this audio, the ability to have a wider range of adjustment, is irrelevant. If with the bag drop the microphones are hard wired directly to the recorder and the gain on the recorder's mic preamps are set conservatively low, the 32-bit file could be helpful in post.


For bag drops I have often wired two plant mics, or even three or more.  Exactly because it is better to have them hardwired, especially if you're not monitoring them.

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11 hours ago, Jeff Wexler said:

I'm not sure 32-bit floating files will help much in the typical "bag drop" situation you describe You are right that lots of sound mixers just do not work this way so it isn't even an issue, but for those who do a bag-drop (unattended and possibly even un-monitored recordings) a typical setup utilizes wireless mics (either on talent or planted or both) transmitting to the receivers in the bag connected to the recorder. In this case, when there are unexpected levels encountered, the mic preamps in the wireless transmitter may be seriously compromised (distorted, limited, etc.). This results in compromised audio delivered via the wireless receiver to the inputs of the recorder. The potential value of the 32-bit file of this audio, the ability to have a wider range of adjustment, is irrelevant. If with the bag drop the microphones are hard wired directly to the recorder and the gain on the recorder's mic preamps are set conservatively low, the 32-bit file could be helpful in post.

 

6 hours ago, IronFilm said:


For bag drops I have often wired two plant mics, or even three or more.  Exactly because it is better to have them hardwired, especially if you're not monitoring them.

 

 

I have to do unmonitored vehicle bag drops at least once a day for many of the docu-series I work on and have been doing so for 20 years...

 

Jeff is right— 32bit is unnecessary. Wireless on talent and proper gain staging is all that Is needed.  

 

Cheers,

Evan 

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Re F/P 32bit and a bag drop: I'm thinking it lets you play conservative with levels on the front end because you can bump them up, after the recorder's AD (for a decent mix level and monitoring). Unless the environmental noise is low enough to make the self noise of the pre A/D signal chain conspicuous why would you do otherwise? The goal being maximum deflection for the best SNR in the environment.

Nova doesn't need f/p 32bit as it has Never Clip (as do the wireless if you're using Zaxcom). 

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7 hours ago, IronFilm said:

For bag drops I have often wired two plant mics, or even three or more.  Exactly because it is better to have them hardwired, especially if you're not monitoring them.

 

I totally agree. I almost always preferred plant mics vs. talent mics and always tried to do hard wired (for all the reasons mentioned). When I started using Zaxcom wireless with Neverclip I started to use wireless, even for the plants, more than  I used to.

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Does anyone know how the filters in the Nova / Micplexer compare to the ones in Audio Wireless's DADM226DT ?
I find the DADM226's filtes are not too steep, even if the bandpass window is smaller than Zaxcoms (25 vs 35 MHz), I still find transmitters over 100Mhz away (reduced in RF power of course but still there)

Thank you!

 

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Here is a sweep of the filter in the Nova. It is 200MHz wide (20MHz per division) set at 541 MHz. It shows that signals at 460MHz are attenuated by 36dB. This is enough to totally eliminate interference by walkies. It would be nice to see what filters from other products look like. I do not believe that there are any filters out there that are as effective as the ones we use in our products. The sweep was obtained by connecting to the antenna of the Nova with the output coming from the RF output of the Nova. In terms of distance a walkie that would cause interference at 40 feet from the receiver would now need to be 1 foot from the receive antenna to cause the same interference. The big advantage to the Nova filter is that it can dynamically change to allow for frequency scans and receiver tuning and channel selection. Filtered antennas can not do this necessary function.

20190920_100215.jpg

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• Will the Nova support Oasis and Mix16?

It will support Oasis but not mix 16

 

just curious is Oasis supported by the nova upon initial release or is this support coming in the near to not to distant future?

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On 10/7/2019 at 9:57 PM, osa said:

• Will the Nova support Oasis and Mix16?

It will support Oasis but not mix 16

 

just curious is Oasis supported by the nova upon initial release or is this support coming in the near to not to distant future?

Oasis support is not currently in Nova - but it isnt that far away.

The next major feature that will be added will be MP3 support. Then the oasis support should come not to long after that.

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On 9/20/2019 at 4:42 PM, glenn said:

Here is a sweep of the filter in the Nova. It is 200MHz wide (20MHz per division) set at 541 MHz. It shows that signals at 460MHz are attenuated by 36dB. This is enough to totally eliminate interference by walkies. It would be nice to see what filters from other products look like. I do not believe that there are any filters out there that are as effective as the ones we use in our products. The sweep was obtained by connecting to the antenna of the Nova with the output coming from the RF output of the Nova. In terms of distance a walkie that would cause interference at 40 feet from the receiver would now need to be 1 foot from the receive antenna to cause the same interference. The big advantage to the Nova filter is that it can dynamically change to allow for frequency scans and receiver tuning and channel selection. Filtered antennas can not do this necessary function.

20190920_100215.jpg

 

 

Thanks, very interesting!
I would love to see this too for other manufacturers.
DADM226DT would be interesting, as it also has the feature of changing the filter band

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Am I able to use a RF Venue Diversity fin with the nova? Will I still need to used a PSC SMA Multi Splitter or something similar?

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On 10/12/2019 at 2:09 PM, abuela said:

Am I able to use a RF Venue Diversity fin with the nova? Will I still need to used a PSC SMA Multi Splitter or something similar?

You can use any antenna.

How many receivers are you using - because nova already has a built in micplexer. 

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On 9/18/2019 at 5:29 AM, codyman said:

Pretty slick setup they have going with the Nova.  I hear though that Zaxnet shouldn't be relied upon as a hop due to the 2.4ghz nature of it?  Would have been sweet it they would have offered an addon module that was a UHF hop for a truly all in one unit for us folks that are constantly bagging it.


I was thinking the same thing.  Would have been a weapon if they had built in a camera link for 2.4 and uhf in one.   Still a crazy setup. Will be using my camera link for uhf / second 2.4 feed.  
 

 

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On 10/14/2019 at 4:58 AM, Jack Norflus said:

You can use any antenna.

How many receivers are you using - because nova already has a built in micplexer. 

What is best practice for cabling antenna with the Nova? A SMA to BNC adaptor on the nova end? Or the antenna end?

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1 hour ago, Dave Pullmer said:

What is best practice for cabling antenna with the Nova? A SMA to BNC adaptor on the nova end? Or the antenna end?

 

I kind of see that as a "Is the rope twelve inches long or a foot long?" question.

 

Actually though, I would base my decision on what is comfortable physically.  i.e. If you're using a somewhat bulky BNC cable, maybe a short (6"-12") light weight male SMA to female BNC adapter cable at the Nova end to reduce torque on the Nova SMA connectors.

 

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