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RadoStefanov

A review of Nova “OneUnit” and mrx214 wireless modules. 

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I have been testing Nova “OneUnit” and its wireless performance for a while. I am sorry it took me a while to write this review but I really wanted to put the system through some serious tests before making any conclusions prematurely 

Let's talk about Nova “OneUnit” first: Like I suspected “based on my own OneUnit “having the whole RF system and recorder in the same chasse not only help with RF noise, shielding and wireless performance but also reduces power by using a common screen and skipping a lot of needless electronics. The Nova does a great job using the least amount of power while not only preserving the wireless performance but increasing it.  

 

RF benefit 1: Using whips. I know Zaxcom has been very upset with me through the years because my statements about the wireless reception on whips but I believe my opinion was justified and true. Distancing the antennas just an inch away greatly improved the self-noise, reduced the RF noise of the recorder and the stabilized wireless performance. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE! Nova “OneUnit” is so quiet that whips work great and I have not found any improvement using dipoles. I will personally will be using whips most of the time. 

 

RF Benefit 2: Dual mode. Back in qrx100 days there was a big difference between using single and dual mode. XR modulation and the introduction of the better QRX200 receiver improved the dual mode performance but was still not equal especially in extreme RF environments and when using the second frequency antenna B. Now I don’t see a difference between single and dual mode which simplifies my setup and allows me to keep and not change input routings constantly and to make channel calculations. In my old ‘OneUnit” I had 3qrx. If I had 3 people laved, I used 3 qrx in single mode – channels 1,3 and 5 for maximum performance. If I used 4 people, I used qrx 1 and 2 in single mode and qrx3 in dual mode for channels 1-3 and 5/6. This is no longer the case. Dual mode is the same as single even if I only use the second frequency. I can use 1 and 4, 2 and 4 and don’t have to constantly chase single modes and different routing. I think this is the best improvement over the old wireless setups. 

 

RF benefit 3: General range: I have been on the same show and at the same set of warehouses for 8+ years doing 5 days a week. I know every inch of space, walls and wireless coverage. The Nova “OneUnit expands my RF reception by a lot especially when going through walls metal gates and people. And that is on whips. I don’t see myself using dipoles like before and will rock whips most of the time. I did 2 driving scenes with BlueFIn sharkfins in the follow van and even when the talent car got further away, I had drop out free reception. At the end of the day after the driving scenes when my DIT asked me to give him the cards from the transmitters, I told him that I don’t have to, while holding 1 CF card in my hand smiling, he was very happy!  

 

RF benefit 4: Compatibility with older qrx212. In my tests the wireless performance is increased even with qrx212. Qrx212 takes advantage like the other 2 major benefits I mentioned above. QRX212 works great on whips and has maybe almost as good if not just as good dual mode performance. My comparisons between QRX212 and MRX214 have shown that qrx212 performance is almost as good mrx214. The main disadvantage of qrx212 is that it runs a lot hotter inside Nova “OneUNit” while using twice the power. Apart from that If I used the qrx212 in my Nova it would not be a major disadvantage or a giant difference. Still the ideal setup is with MRX214 and lets me run cooler and longer. Which leads me to major benefit 5. 

 

RF and general benefit 5. The power consummations with MRX214 is unreal! I have not changed a battery during the day since I got the Nova “OneUnit”.  I go on jobs with extra battery in my back pocket. 🙂 I wish the Nova “OneUnit” come up earlier in the F115 degrees summer that I usually work in. It would have been a great extreme testing environment.  

 

RF and general Benefit 6. Zaxnet: I can confirm that zaxnet has more range and I actually returned ERXs to my cameras.  I can control the transmitters from further away and am really impressed with the range. It is greatly improved but off cource don’t expect miracles. It is still a 2.4gHz signal and should be treated as such especially when going through hard surfaces.  I will still use URX for IFB because the most important drop out is the drop out in the director’s/producer's ears! BTW I have used comtek option7 transmitter on the left side of the Nova “OneUnit opposite of the zaxnet antenna and it works fine! 🙂 

 

General benefit 7 and a major one. The front panel and operation. I was on the fence about sma antennas on the top “people who have seen my OneUnit know I  remoted all antenna connections to the bottom to not be in the way of my hands all the time” but since we only have 2 SMA in both ends of the “OneUnit” I am really fine with that. If I change my mind in the future, I might put them somewhere on the sides. 🙂 Sorry Glenn. 

THE FRONT PANEL IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE NOVA “OneUnit! The way the buttons and encoders are set up. It is so comfortable and innovative. Encoders are extremely fast and precise. The main menu has been reduced and all major functions have been given a special button. There is press and hold giving you more control. The LED levels on the encoders and the colors of the buttons are really amazing. I do changes and barely look at the screen  When dialing  trim and zaxnet level it makes it very uniform to make changes without any confusion and extra options barried in menus. When I need to change trim I press it to make a trim change. If I need to adjust transmitters gain, I press ZNet. THE LED DOTS AROUND THE ENCODERS ARE THE F*ING BEST. “Thank You Simon Bishop for making Glenn do that. He did not listen to me but you made him change his mind! (: ”  The LED dots give me so much valuable  information about the trim, transmitter levels and the channels levels. I don’t have to go in to special menu on the qrx to see the transmitter gain value anymore. Enabling channels, outputs, zaxnet, TC and TC slate , scene take and notes is so much easier with dedicated buttons . I almost never go in to main menu and the 6 function buttons around the screen are great shortcuts. If I get a shortcut for changing track names I wpuld not have to go in the main menu almost at all. The different colors on the buttons are great indicator “just remember to adjust it if you are using somebody else's Nova “ONeUnit” (: .  Different bank different colors. The banks on the encoders give you an unlimited possibility and will allow you to have the boom or the main talent on the same fader through different bank. NOW A DISCLAIMER. With great power comes a great responsibility. For some people this can be overwhelming and simplifying or disabling banks might be a better choice.  

 

All that extra button access, LED colors and level information has made a giant difference in my work.My mechanical work has been reduced and moved from lengthily going in to menus to quickly pressing dedicated buttons. The screen is not the only source of information anymore. 

But honestly one of the most innovative things about the Nova “OneUnit”  is the adjustment of the amount of hold. One of the best things about Nomad was the dual use of buttons but it was annoying how long we had to hold. The hold to record and hold to stop are a necessity for me. “When I first got my Nova ‘OneUNit” the record and stop were a simple press and I fucked up a few times by not being careful.”  Now I can adjust the hold time to my taste and be able to quickly enable a hold option. It makes everything much faster while safe. 

 

The Screen: I spoke about the 6 function buttons around the screen. Now about the views. Howy Stark and the team has been going crazy innovating new screens. The RF reception on the corresponding recording channel is a true innovation!! It still needs to be perfected a little more and maybe made but the possibilities are limitless. Zaxcom listens to all the users and implement a lot of great suggestions.  

In conclusion Nova ‘OneUnit” is a great leap in sound recording innovation and evolution.  It is almost perfect. And I say almost perfect because it still needs: mixing surface ala MIx-8 but a lot smaller so I can take all my gear on the road in a small backpack and lock everything in a hotel safe . It also needs MP3! There are a lot of users that for whom MP3 is a must have. MP3 is coming and a mix surface might be coming. (;. Other than that, I am sure the zaxcom team will work together to even further improve it.  There are still a few minor improvements needed that Howy and the beta testers have been tackling.  We have improved so much in just in the last month and after I am done with this review there is a list of things waiting to be sent to Howy. 

 

I am going to finish with one of the most important qualities of the NOVA “OneUnit”. The size, the weight and the “OneUnit” uniformity.  

 

We went through and era of 20-30 pounds bags hanging unnaturally on the front of our bodies. A lot of people are experiencing pain and serious injuries and if there are not at the moment a lot of them will in the future. This issue was an eye opener for me when I got extreme back pain that prevented me to move screaming in pain for two weeks. I had my wife help me pee and shit while I was crying in pain. I apologies for being graphic but I really want to express the importance of this issue that companies seam to overlook. I was helped by Boxing trauma specialists with a PHD and he enlightened me about the seriousness of the damage we cause to our bodies. This is what forced my pursuit for lighter bags and less weight. We are not mules and everything we do right now for $600 a day will have to be payed back in the future for surgeries and hospital bills. And once you get back problems there is no solution. It only gets worst with time. 

On the bright side Nova “OneUnit” “being....OneUnit 🙂 ” eliminates the need for rigid, big, heavy and expansive bags!  No need to assemble giant bricks of gear together, have all that combined chassis weight and heavy electronics assembled in bags that weight in a lot of cases as much as the gear they carry! No need for a constant waste of time redoing bag setups cable management and dealing with analog/rf noise, and ground loop power issues.  I realistically will reduce all the sound crap I owe by 2 thirds.  

All the amazing advantages mentioned combined with the total weight of my bag under or around 5 pounds “battery wireless and bag included” makes me an efficient and faster mixer, makes me very happy and most importantly MAKES MY BACK VERY HAPPY! 

Cheers  

 

P. S. Added to the review “Encoders are extremely fast and precise. “

 

 

Nova.jpg

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I had been following your “6 pounds development” since its inception and this is incredible fruit of your labors. Great review

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16 minutes ago, osa said:

I had been following your “6 pounds development” since its inception and this is incredible fruit of your labors. Great review

Thank You.

Glenn Sanders was able to make it in to 5 pound development.

🙂

 

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Nice review.

I want a MRX214 receiver with four separate transmitters (mono) in. That would be an instant sell actually.

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1 hour ago, Kvark said:

Nice review.

I want a MRX214 receiver with four separate transmitters (mono) in. That would be an instant sell actually.

8 wireless frequency receiver total in this small bag????  Haha I don’t think it can fit more things inside. 🙂 

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6 hours ago, RadoStefanov said:

it still needs: mixing surface ala MIx-8 but a lot smaller so I can take all my gear on the road in a small backpack and lock everything in a hotel safe 

Great review Rado and I especially like this quote. I too am keen to see a small mix surface and one that will also work with the Deva 24 when a breakaway option is needed. Great to hear about the MRX 214 as well it just gets better.

Thanks

Tony

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1 hour ago, Tony Johnson said:

Great review Rado and I especially like this quote. I too am keen to see a small mix surface and one that will also work with the Deva 24 when a breakaway option is needed. Great to hear about the MRX 214 as well it just gets better.

Thanks

Tony

I am sure zaxcom will make it since everybody wants it. 

Added to the review Encoders are extremely fast and precise. 

Added to the review “Encoders are extremely fast and precise.”

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11 hours ago, Kvark said:

Nice review.

I want a MRX214 receiver with four separate transmitters (mono) in. That would be an instant sell actually.


I'm sure it would already exist if it was insignificant engineering. That would require double the RF receiver parts packed inside the same size package. If the components *can* be packed in, there’s also a heat consideration. Not saying it’ll never be possible, but that’s a big leap because the module size is already set. It’s not like they can even make a new housing that’s 50% bigger or something, because that’s already defined. 
That said, I owned a Fusion 10 and soon will have a Nova. The difference in size is amazing, even if they’re 10 years apart. 
 

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13 hours ago, RadoStefanov said:

8 wireless frequency receiver total in this small bag????  Haha I don’t think it can fit more things inside. 🙂 

 

Sure it can. Most of it is digital anyway. That's why it's so light. I believe it can be done. 🙂 

 

 

3 hours ago, johnpaul215 said:


I'm sure it would already exist if it was insignificant engineering. That would require double the RF receiver parts packed inside the same size package. If the components *can* be packed in, there’s also a heat consideration. Not saying it’ll never be possible, but that’s a big leap because the module size is already set. It’s not like they can even make a new housing that’s 50% bigger or something, because that’s already defined. 
That said, I owned a Fusion 10 and soon will have a Nova. The difference in size is amazing, even if they’re 10 years apart. 
 

 

There is space, and no - it would not require double the parts. The proprietary connector supports four channels as well, so no limitation there.

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So Rado, at what point do you feel the need for a bigger recorder. Is 4-6 wires the sweet spot for the Nova or can it scale up?

 

Personally, that’s been a nice selling point of the 6-series for example. Small enough for most small jobs but can scale up and do an adequate job on fairly large jobs too. 

 

But as a daily driver for the small stuff the Nova looks great. 

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1 hour ago, Derek H said:

So Rado, at what point do you feel the need for a bigger recorder. Is 4-6 wires the sweet spot for the Nova or can it scale up?

 

Personally, that’s been a nice selling point of the 6-series for example. Small enough for most small jobs but can scale up and do an adequate job on fairly large jobs too. 

 

But as a daily driver for the small stuff the Nova looks great. 


 

My sweet spot is 3-4 channels so I don’t need any extra stuff but battery and condor bag. . But if I do need more  an extra qrx200 or 2 will give me 6-8. This thing is so small and still can handle everything. I would do 12 channels if I have to by using automated banks. Go 5 channels bank 5 channels bank and 2 channels in the end. It is very fast and the led lights give you all the info. It is very easy to operate that way. 

2 hours ago, Kvark said:

 

 

Sure it can. Most of it is digital anyway. That's why it's so light. I believe it can be done. 🙂 

 

 

 

There is space, and no - it would not require double the parts. The proprietary connector supports four channels as well, so no limitation there.

zaxcom has shocked me many times with their innovation. So nothing can shock me anymore. 

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3 hours ago, RadoStefanov said:

zaxcom has shocked me many times with their innovation. So nothing can shock me anymore. 


I would plump out for a Nova, two receivers and eight transmitters immediately. 😀

How do you find the re-record function? I really wish that was automatic as well.

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1 hour ago, Kvark said:


I would plump out for a Nova, two receivers and eight transmitters immediately. 😀

How do you find the re-record function? I really wish that was automatic as well.

I have not done rerecording yet. have not needed to.

 

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9 hours ago, Kvark said:

 

 

Sure it can. Most of it is digital anyway. That's why it's so light. I believe it can be done. 🙂 

 

 

 

There is space, and no - it would not require double the parts. The proprietary connector supports four channels as well, so no limitation there.


2x the RF stuff, but not the audio parts. I never looked inside one, so I don’t know what they look like. If it’s doable, I’m sure we will see them one day. Why wouldn’t they? It’ll make that machine that much more amazing. 

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1 hour ago, johnpaul215 said:


2x the RF stuff, but not the audio parts. I never looked inside one, so I don’t know what they look like. If it’s doable, I’m sure we will see them one day. Why wouldn’t they? It’ll make that machine that much more amazing. 

Very little space inside..

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On 10/9/2019 at 8:41 PM, RadoStefanov said:

The zaxnet performance is improved by a lot. Today I controlled transmitters over 4 walls 4 rooms away. I would not have been able to do it with nomad. 

Yes would very much like to know how they improved the zaxnet range and also improved the zaxnet 2k whine / rf spray so you can now use comtek 216 Tx etc.

Presume / hope they will release a new stand alone zaxnet IFB Tx with these improvements also?

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3 hours ago, cjh said:

Yes would very much like to know how they improved the zaxnet range and also improved the zaxnet 2k whine / rf spray so you can now use comtek 216 Tx etc.

Presume / hope they will release a new stand alone zaxnet IFB Tx with these improvements also?

I have used comtek 216 with Nomad and with Nova and as long as the comtek is physically away from the Zaxnet antenna and powered by a 9v battery there is no problem.

I doubt a new IFBX00 is on the horizon. A lot more important things to come out.

 

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Are there any samples of audio recorded on the nova available online? Something that has been through post production would be cool to hear as well.

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I know july was a pipe dream for delivery but has anyone other than Rado put their hands on one of their very own as of yet? I have been saving my lunch money since april 

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