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Test Driving the Zaxcom RX-8

Jeff Wexler

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Aaron ‘Cujo’ Cooley, C.A.S. has posted an incredibly thorough review of the Zaxcom RX-8. I am re-publishing this here for our JWSOUND members. It is a long read but well worth it. Cujo has a lot to say about the RX-8 because there is so much it can do in a really small package.



Test Driving the Zaxcom RX-8

By a Non-Zaxcom User…

Aaron ‘Cujo’ Cooley, C.A.S.

March, 2022


Back in 2020, during the early days of Covid, my colleague, fellow sound mixer, and good friend, Scott Beatty and I made a couple of videos where we talked about Dante integration in the modern set-sound workflow.


These two videos seemed to jump start conversation about remote deployment of modern sound recording equipment and inspired many to take a fresh look at those possibilities.


Remote RF box with Dante - Better range on a post Covid film set


WHAT'S IN THE BAG ?! - Dante audio in a drop bag


In these videos, we discussed the merits of creating a workflow and system that helped us remain socially distant from set, secluded in a safe work space, and able to still receive pristine audio. To be sure, this was a project that I have been working on since sometime in 2015, but Covid pushed the accelerator to the firewall and things have been rocketing forward ever since.


In that video, Scott and I showed a very rudimentary, but very effective, method to get “Dante in a Bag” that would deliver lightning fast and very compact deployment of receivers to a distant set. The idea was to introduce an alternative deployment method for bag mixer, cart mixer, news teams, or almost any other team that had a need for a micro-footprint with nearly all the power and reliability of a full sized system.

We made an open challenge to manufacturers that basically said, “If you are not chasing this technology, you are leaving the table open.” –

The challenge was boldly laid for a multi channel, battery powered, Dante capable, audio interface with remote command and control that could be stuffed in a bag and land almost anywhere with near-zero effort and at record setting speed. A significant challenge, no doubt.

Well, one manufacturer apparently took this challenge personally and proceeded to get the design team in full-tilt-boogie mode.

Enter the Zaxcom RX-8. A pint sized package with mind-blowing horsepower…


First, I need to mention that while I have been a Zaxcom user in the past, I am not currently running any Zaxcom gear in my audio packages. It’s not that I dislike Zaxcom or am not a Zaxcom fan, it’s more that I sold all my Zax gear before the FCC change and replaced it all with Lectro. This was, in large part, due to the Dante and digital networking capabilities  the Lectrosonics gear included. So..this is not a fanboy review or sales pitch. It is an honest and open look at new technology and gear from the perspective of: “Can this help me do my job better?”


The RX-8 actually creates its own new class of device with this receiver/interface combo. It does not exist, to my knowledge, anywhere else in the world except at Zaxcom. Sure, it’s a digital audio receiver that will take up to 8 channels of Zaxcom transmitted audio and send it to wherever destination that you want via AES, or over a Dante network. But wait…there’s more.. SO MUCH MORE.


Straight away, the sound is exactly what it should be. Decades of field performance, awards, and accolades from the finest mixers around the globe still stand true, and the RX-8 delivers perfectly on all fronts with audio quality. The digital transmission and lack of perceivable audio noise floor is exactly what one would and should expect from pro gear.

Radio range is on par with my Lectro gear. For my test I compared the ZMT4 directly to my SMWB digital transmitter from Lectrosonics. The ZMT4 patched in with the RX-8 and the SMWB patched in through a Lectrosonics D2. Both receivers tied in the network over Dante, both fully digital, both tuned to clean and coordinated frequencies, and both on the same walk at the same time. Range was dead equal to +/- a few footsteps going all over the stage, off stage, outside, inside, in front of the antenna, behind the antenna, buried in the armpit and exposed to the air. Mind you, this was not setup to be a range test shoot-out, this was simply a “take these for a walk” test like any mixer would do on the day at any filming location. I did not try to crush them with 5G (600-700MHz) bands or any other hard-core test. Just the real world, plug it in and walk. Results were near enough to equal so as to say there is no practical difference in range from either brand. A shootout under rigorous tests may show otherwise.


The RX-8 is a TRUE multi-channel Dante converter and audio interface.

It is not simply another radio receiver with functionality exclusive to a single brand.


It is Dante I/O native. It has AES I/O. It runs on direct battery power or PoE. It slots in 8 channels of Zaxcom digital receivers. But wait, there's more? Yeppers.. A Lot more.


Up to 16 channels of AES3 input can be converted and sent to Dante and AES output simultaneously in various configurations, and filtered RF distro with loop out for expansion with additional outboard gear. TWO RX-8 units can be stacked and run on the same Dante line with PoE for double the performance. Staggeringly, it’s only a third the size of a box of tissues. Somebody paid attention and this is what came of it.

On the face, the Zaxcom RX-8 starts life as a premium, 8 channel capable, digital receiver for Zaxcom Digital radio transmitters. When loaded with two MRX-414 receiver modules, it operates in antenna diversity mode to receive 8 wireless channels, or in receiver diversity mode for a total of up to 4 True Diversity channels. This mode is optimal in severe RF environments, when signal dropout is an absolute no-go. Zaxcom transmitters include the capability to simultaneously transmit, while also recording onboard audio with timecode, so that if there were a dropout, accurate tracks can be delivered.


The unit is, well, small. 8.5” x 8.0” x 1” (215.9mm x 203.2 x 25.4mm) Length x Width x Height.

Some may even call this tiny..and I’d agree. But it is robust and well constructed in a proper aluminum case, with well thought out protections, connections, and adapters exactly where they belong.

Moving to the channel I/O, the RX-8 takes the 8 channels of Dante audio and sends it out to wherever destination it is routed to. AND YET it can take an additional 8 channels of AES audio input from another source through the DB25 connector and inject that into the Dante stream, giving a whopping 16 channel send. It is important to know that some configurations give up other configurations, such as 8 channels AES in gives up 8 channels AES out, and 8 channels of Analog output from receivers uses the entire DB-25 for output, with no AES input.

Another thing that separates the RX-8 from anything else on the market is that it can handle  Dante I/O on the network and take AES in and out over DB25 —and it can do it at the same time. This is not something currently available from other major players in the marketplace.

Further, with the optional AES3 adapter from Zaxcom, the user can swap the receiver modules and turn the RX-8 to a stand alone AES –> Dante audio converter, to take 16 channels of AES3 input into a Dante audio stream and send it anywhere on the network.


The RS422 connector on the RX-8 allows for direct connection to a Zaxcom IFB300 or TRXCL4 for IFB and Zaxnet control options. Timecode out from the RX-8 is direct connect with BNC

For powering, Zaxcom has a 12vDC Hirose connector on the chassis, but also adds another first by allowing the user utilize PoE from the network to drive the device. For real world deployment, this is a HUGE deal. Users can take a single PoE cable and an antenna and the RX-8 is set to deploy with the smallest footprint ever produced.


Now all of this seems pretty cool when you first look at it, but when you REALLY dive deep, the applications and implications are staggering.

The RX-8 is a TRUE crossover device and Dante audio interface. You don’t NEED to topple over your whole investment in other brands in order to integrate Zaxcom or Dante into your gear line.

You can get Dante and AES in, out, and through, the device – AT THE SAME TIME. Other brands do not offer this. Here, it’s not an either/or situation.


You have 2 way audio flow and can take channels from the RX-8 to the cart, while having channels return BACK to the RX-8 over Dante to feed outboard devices. Various configurations will determine ultimate I/O.

You have an accurate timecode in the whole stream at all times.

You can have remote control of Zaxcom transmitters via Zaxnet with proper accessories.

You can integrate non-Zaxcom brands into the RX-8 with no hassle via the AES I/O.


You can integrate additional AES3 devices for expanded I/O

You have remote control from your laptop/tablet/phone over web-based GUI, or via Dante/Ethernet through the Zaxcom GUI Bridge

Let’s take a look at bag vs cart setups and the RX-8.

Suppose you are like any average cart based mixer, and you have a full rack of receivers and outboard gear for your cart. For bag work, you have a second recorder, a full set of portable duplicate receivers, and your outboard gear.


Soon, you have a remote day coming up with a process trailer. Ordinarily, you’ll take your bag with your second recorder and a rack of duplicate receivers, and hustle over to the process trailer to get setup.

With the RX-8 rig, you simply disconnect ONE ethernet cable and the antennas, drop the RX-8 in your bag. Plug the DB25 to your AES3, connect your antennas, and you now have an instant 8 channel duplication of your cart, without having to buy a whole duplicate system.

The RX-8 is absolutely a workhorse unit. The flexibility and level of integration into nearly any conceivable system is mind boggling, because of the flexibility and AES signal conversion capabilities, the outboard options are deep.


Want to plug in your A-10 Wireless boom receiver..? ? —- Sure. No problem.

Want to drop a Lectro D2 / AES in line with the RX-8..? ? —- Yup, can do.

Want to add in Lectro SR’s or Shure ADX5D’s on AES..? ?  — Yeah mate..Done and dusted.

Already have a rack with a previous generation Zaxcom ? Covered. Compatibility is there.

Dante, AES3, Audio converter, Timecode, Zaxnet, Web based GUI, 16 channel capacity, Two-way audio, Small, 12vDC power. This little box delivers.

The use cases are as vast as the imagination.

There are a couple demerits for the RX-8 as tested. There is a GUI Bridge that allows web based command and control via any phone / laptop / tablet with WiFi access that is near release (summer 2022). The current lack of a GUI Bridge limits users because without it, there is no remote control, and the full possibilities can’t be realized. This doesn’t mean don’t buy it….


Overall, the RX-8 is a seriously powerful device. When fully complete with the GUI Bridge, it will answer almost every single challenge thrown in our 2020 video.


In its current form, the RX-8 is still a very strong performer and its ability to be a true crossover device capable of such a wide range of signal flow solutions in such a small and portable package is something that has not been delivered by any manufacturer to date.

I want to shy away from the term “game changer” because it has been beaten to absolute death. But the RX-8 is definitely going to decide how future games are played.


If you are looking for a really really strong workhorse that has absolutely UNMATCHED versatility, at an affordable price, by an American manufacturer, then you really need to take a look at the RX-8 from Zaxcom.


Aaron ‘Cujo’ Cooley, C.A.S. is an Atlanta, Georgia USA based Production Sound Mixer. An active member of IATSE Local 695 in Los Angeles and IATSE Local 479 in Atlanta, Ga. Cujo works television and film projects at all levels, with specialty in music, high track count, and live performance types. Cujo is also the CEO of RF Systems Consultants, an RF services company specializing in RF management and system analysis for film and television.


You can reach Cujo directly at AtlantaSoundGuy@Gmail.com or through his Agent, Ivana Savic at GSK Talent. www.GSKTalent.com

© Aaron ‘Cujo’ Cooley, 2022






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