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Zaxcom File Delivery Best Practices


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Hi Jw.

I’ve been a long time lurker on this site and credit it with teaching me countless things. I don’t often post, because I’m mainly here to listen BUT I would love to hear the communities opinions on delivering files when working with Zaxcom recorders. On productions I work with DITs want WAV files and they want them right when we wrap. I’ve heard more than a few of my colleagues have issues where data was either corrupted or takes were missing or other nightmare scenarios when delivering mirror cards from Zaxcom recorders. Is this real?  What are the best practices to avoid this. I normally work on documentaries that roll extremely long takes. Should this effect my purchase decision when is comes to being able to deliver all of the audio I think I recorded? 
thanks so much for your time. 

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7 hours ago, iloveyourusername said:

Hi Jw.

I’ve been a long time lurker on this site and credit it with teaching me countless things. I don’t often post, because I’m mainly here to listen BUT I would love to hear the communities opinions on delivering files when working with Zaxcom recorders. On productions I work with DITs want WAV files and they want them right when we wrap. I’ve heard more than a few of my colleagues have issues where data was either corrupted or takes were missing or other nightmare scenarios when delivering mirror cards from Zaxcom recorders. Is this real?  What are the best practices to avoid this. I normally work on documentaries that roll extremely long takes. Should this effect my purchase decision when is comes to being able to deliver all of the audio I think I recorded? 
thanks so much for your time. 

I work with one client for the most part, and I give them everything. MARF, and Wav. I've only had a couple instances where the recorder (Maxx) hiccuped, and didn't mirror properly, but giving them both is good practice even if it means a little more drive space is needed. This way you'll have the ability to re-mirror later if needed. 

 

I remember mirroring issues being more of a thing with the Nomad recorders, which were apparently underpowered so they had trouble writing a mirror, and primary simultaneously. In which case it was best to mirror consecutively to avoid freezing the machine (iirc).

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Also, I used to carry around Zaxconvert on a thumb drive just in case something happened. That way if there was time a mirroring issue could be fixed on set rather than getting an email during post. I will say that when I had mirroring issues it wasn't without warning, I remember the percent mirrored counter freezing prior to the issue. 

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Have been using Nomad and now Nova for 1,500+ productions across maybe a decade, and never had any mirroring problems at all.
Even when running multitrack files hours long, I have been slightly nervously waiting for the mirroring to finish whilst packing up, but it's always just made it in time.

I always use good quality cards mostly Sandisk, and format the cards in the machine.
I never give productions my MARF files or cards.
I once had a slight Zaxconvert backup inconvenience in China when the new version of Zaxconvert on my Mac laptop (faster mirroring than the Nomad) had a number of folders limit and couldn't see my 21st folder I think it was, as there was a 19 folder limit, but it was soon fixed by Zaxcom.

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I've run into issued many times when delivering the mirror card.  There used to be issues updating metadata whenever a false take was deleted, as well as a number of other bugs.

The good news is that, to the best of my knowledge, all the bugs are fixed in the latest firmware (v8.09).  I still run into the odd issue with the wrong mirror folder being selected by default, but when that happens it's obvious and doesn't cause silent errors.  Kind of shocking that it took the better part of a decade for Zaxcom to fix such serious issues.  The metadata issues weren't corrected until VERY recently ... I think it was either v8.08 or v8.09 when they finally got it all fixed.

 

I don't think Zaxcom is issuing any updates for the Nomad any more, but as of Jan 2022, these are the bugs that are still outstanding with v8.09.  These are only the bugs I'm aware of (and have personally verified) ... I'm sure there are others.

1. VFader labels in ENG mode - labelled 9-12, not 7-10
2. Ret 3/4 (aka 9/10) not assignable to faders
3. Mirroring stops without warning & cannot be corrected without formatting card if folder name is changed after mirroring has happened.
4. Menu inconsistency, exiting Mode->Input Config jumps to Zaxnet menu instead returning to Mode

5. Headphone routing for playback works inconsistently, and doesn't seem to work as described in the manual.  This one I haven't fully diagnosed the cause.

For what it's worth, I did learn to work around the bugs before they were fixed (which usually involved re-mirroring everything whenever I did certain things — most notably deleting false takes, and changing track labels).

 

Given my experience, I regret committing to Zaxcom without field-testing the recorder, and I won't trust them again.

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1 hour ago, Jack Norflus said:

Zaxcom will mirror as a WAV file - In all the years of using Zaxcom recorder (Nomad, Maxx and Nova) I had never had any issues with the mirror files. 

So what’s your secret? What types of things do you do to avoid the kind of issues that people bring up (takes missing or data being corrupted?). I appreciate that there are tons of Zaxcom users that haven’t had problems with mirroring. I’d like to be one! 

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Long time Nomad user here and now happy Nova maven. No mirroring issues. 

 

My best suggestion is to learn your gear well before you use it or decide it has issues. Throughout my career experience has shown me that all gear, from all manufacturers, exhibits less "bugs" the more familiar I am with it. Funny how that is. 

 

Always use recommended cards, and if you experience any card issues, change cards. Manufacturers have been known to alter the firmware in their cards without notice. Always carry spares. 

 

A plus of Zaxcom is their responsiveness to user suggestions. That also results in a negative. They've been known to  release beta firmware at a frequent rate which users who like to adopt new features delight in. However, many people who shouldn't, also install "the latest firmware," and then complain if they find any bugs, then some non-user "internet experts" talk about those bugs. The purpose of beta firmware is for knowledgeable users to try to find, and report, any bugs or issues. 

 

So, if you want a stable system, install known official releases, and if they work well for you, stick with them. The constant quest for every one of the latest gee whiz features can result in less stability -- true also with computers and much of the other equipment we use that is now microprocessor driven. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Blankenship said:

Long time Nomad user here and now happy Nova maven. No mirroring issues. 

 

My best suggestion is to learn your gear well before you use it or decide it has issues. Throughout my career experience has shown me that all gear, from all manufacturers, exhibits less "bugs" the more familiar I am with it. Funny how that is. 

 

Always use recommended cards, and if you experience any card issues, change cards. Manufacturers have been known to alter the firmware in their cards without notice. Always carry spares. 

 

A plus of Zaxcom is their responsiveness to user suggestions. That also results in a negative. They've been known to  release beta firmware at a frequent rate which users who like to adopt new features delight in. However, many people who shouldn't, also install "the latest firmware," and then complain if they find any bugs, then some non-user "internet experts" talk about those bugs. The purpose of beta firmware is for knowledgeable users to try to find, and report, any bugs or issues. 

 

So, if you want a stable system, install known official releases, and if they work well for you, stick with them. The constant quest for every one of the latest gee whiz features can result in less stability -- true also with computers and much of the other equipment we use that is now microprocessor driven. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This makes a lot of sense and has reduced my anxiety considerably. Stability is my chief concern on location. I think after reading these horror stories I had just made the assumption that they were apart of using Zaxcom recorders. But this idea of installing a new firmware when it’s not released as stable and things going squirrelly can be rightly judged as user error and not necessarily the fault of the manufacturer. As long as the manufacturer has a firmware release that is stable.

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5 hours ago, iloveyourusername said:

 As long as the manufacturer has a firmware release that is stable.

 That is the key gotcha.  For the first 2-3 years I had my Nomad, the official "stable" release was v7.91, which had all of the mirroring and metadata bugs people complained about, plus several key features disabled.

v8.09 is stable for me, aside from the bugs I noted above.

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