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Zaxcom Nomad - Real World Impressions


Jack Norflus
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Nomad preamps sound excellent as do most high end products. But that is not the whole story. Nomad was designed to exceed all other mixers when the unexpected happens and normal dynamic range operation is exceeded. Other products will either have severe input distortion due to input clipping or input limiting. Nomads input will be distortion free due to the 135 dB input dynamic range and the Neverclip system. A test to demonstrate this would be an interesting A-B test to record and put on the group.

Glenn

If anyone has a spare moment of time and is willing, I would love such a test would be done and to hear the results. Or alternatively to hear more details about how effectively the Neverclip system works under pressure.

Many Thanks,

~Mark.

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My real world experience with the Nomad 6.

I first field tested it on a friend's short film. Very simple, two actors talking to each other in different set ups. Very easy to run 1 Boom, two lavs and operate by myself.

The real test came the next day, when I had a job with Showtime. I was super nervous, because this was probably going to be my biggest job I'd had yet. Plus, I was nervous that i'd freeze up and not know how to do something with the Nomad. I read the manual three or four times, so when asked how to do a certain thing, I was impressed to find that I knew which sequence of buttons to press, ect.

Anyway, I show up at 8am, and find i'm working with another experienced sound guy, which turned out to be awesome. However, they only had a Shure 3-channel, and i was brought on for my Nomad, and just to help as a second sound guy. The producers tell us right away, "We have all top light, and don't want the boom getting in shot, so we need to have all 4 actors laved and we'll just use that." I've learned not to argue with producers and their belief that lav's solve everything, but the actors were wearing polyester dr. scrubs which I knew was going to be a bit of a pain. We had two Sony XDCams shooting, so I came up with a way to make everyone happy.

Please let me know if anyone would have done this differently, this is all a learning experience for me.

I walked over to set, auditioned my boom, and sure enough, the top lighting was all soft..and I did not have a single issue using the Boom. Still, again, I didn't argue, and just went ahead with my setup: Boom was Chanel 1, and Channels 2-5 where lav's. Using two Breakaway cables, I assigned output 1/2 to "A" Camera, and outputs 3/4 to "B" Camera. In the output bus menu, I assigned Lav 1/2 (Left, Left) to Output 1, and Lav 2/3 (Right, Right) to Output 2. Camera A now had Left as Lavs 1/2, and Right as Lavs 3/4. I kept the Boom isolated to the card, as well as each lav track isolated and being recorded to the primary and mirror cards. I mimiced the same output setings to Outputs 3/4. Should I have left them panned center? I wasn't sure, I'm used to working with a SD302 or 442, so maybe I did not perceive the outputs of Nomad properly.

So, that's what we ended up doing. If I had my way, I would have had Channel 1 on both A/B camera be the Boom, and have the 4 lavs mixing down to Channel 2.

So, that was my experience. Turned out to work really well.

So your original intention was to both boom AND try and mix 4 lavs to a single channel at the same time? Nasty! Or was the other sound chap booming for you?

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If anyone has a spare moment of time and is willing, I would love such a test would be done and to hear the results. Or alternatively to hear more details about how effectively the Neverclip system works under pressure.

Many Thanks,

~Mark.

Just wrapped the vacation hunters. The lady from last couple was very low talker with explosive laugh. The neverclip performed perfectly and almost never hit more then -5 on the output.

Sent from my HD7 using Board Express

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Just had a brief conversation with Glen before work.

The never clip will be added to the LA TX and he said that can be enabled by a firmware.

I am not too sure that it is possible without adding a second AD. So it will be interesting to find out.

Whoever is at NAB please ask him about it?

Also the ability to put TX in stand by can and will be added to Nomad.

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I think they're calling it NeverClip, but the version in the LA series of transmitters and the new TRX742 might actually be the same tech as the PREVIOUS version of NeverClip, which was basically a always-on soft knee compressor and debuted on the Deva II.

I got the low down on this from Glenn --- "NeverClip" was a term used in the original Deva brochure, announced but never implemented in any Zaxcom product as originally conceived. The term, however, has been resurrected and represents a totally different system now in use in Nomad. I am hoping that Glenn at some point will explain in simple terms how it works its magic. We do know it works, beautifully, I just don't know how to explain it.

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Thanks Jeff.

The point I'm making is that Glenn has said that the Trx900LA series will be able to get NeverClip via a firmware update. NeverClip in Nomad is implemented by 2 separate A/D converters. There is only 1 A/D converter in an LA transmitter.

That being said, the single A/D converter is presumably dual channel (for the stereo transmission) so maybe they can separate gain levels before the A/D and implement it that way..?

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If the powers that be asked you to have two of the lavs on each of the camera channels, then that's what you do. Usually I try and appease whatever their convention is with the camera audio, though I would have preferred Channel 1 Boom and Channel 2 Lavs as well. If I know the editor is going to be using my recorder audio and remix from that, then I'll often provide a mono mix down as a guide track. However, most webisodes I've done tend to use the camera audio to save time.

I think I've only done something like that once on one of those sit down interview shows. Single cam, 3 subjects and no boom in play. 1 lav on Ch. 1 and the other 2 on Ch. 2 I know for sure that in 99% of the broadcast work I do the audio goes to one place and thats the tape, card or disc in the camera, and then straight into the segment producers hands for an edit. I think post is very inflexible in the broadcast world since there are strong time constraints and most of the shows have the post production workflows set in stone.

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If the powers that be asked you to have two of the lavs on each of the camera channels, then that's what you do. Usually I try and appease whatever their convention is with the camera audio, though I would have preferred Channel 1 Boom and Channel 2 Lavs as well. If I know the editor is going to be using my recorder audio and remix from that, then I'll often provide a mono mix down as a guide track. However, most webisodes I've done tend to use the camera audio to save time.

Majority of the time I find that the protocall is Lav's ch1 and boom on ch. 2 with editors when boom is flying. On a two person sit down interview I send boom 1 to ch. 1 on the cam and boom 2 to ch2 on cam. Speed on my end track1=lav1, track2=lav2, track3=boom1 and track4=boom2; make sure your tracks are labeled... I majority of the times mix mono in my headphones, to make sure my levels are well mixed with one another and correct any phasing.

On a one person sit down interview protocal is usually lav ch1 on cam and boom on ch2 on cam. If there is more the 3 people boom key person as well as lav and use all lavs for everyone else I would then send only Lav's to cam; key person lav ch1 on cam and the rest on ch.2 on cam.... But it all depends. If post has an issue they can call me or forever hold their peace.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When working with my Nomad today, I assigned different inputs to different faders. When I went to adjust the pan of the inputs, I discovered that I had to remember which input the fader was adjusting in order to change the correct pan. To me it seems like the pan control should follow the inputs, or at least be an option.

For example I had put input 4 to fader 6 and input 6 to fader 4 to avoid pulling my mixer out to swap cables. On the buss I had to remember to change the pan on buss 6 to change effect the audio from fader 4.

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When working with my Nomad today, I assigned different inputs to different faders. When I went to adjust the pan of the inputs, I discovered that I had to remember which input the fader was adjusting in order to change the correct pan. To me it seems like the pan control should follow the inputs, or at least be an option.

For example I had put input 4 to fader 6 and input 6 to fader 4 to avoid pulling my mixer out to swap cables. On the buss I had to remember to change the pan on buss 6 to change effect the audio from fader 4.

Don't think pan. Think outputs. Since I got the Nomad I don't think Left and right. I think outputs 1-6. When I setup my headphones matrix then I think L and R.

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When working with my Nomad today, I assigned different inputs to different faders. When I went to adjust the pan of the inputs, I discovered that I had to remember which input the fader was adjusting in order to change the correct pan. To me it seems like the pan control should follow the inputs, or at least be an option.

For example I had put input 4 to fader 6 and input 6 to fader 4 to avoid pulling my mixer out to swap cables. On the buss I had to remember to change the pan on buss 6 to change effect the audio from fader 4.

The panning function is essentially a shortcut to the analog input assign matrix. So instead to having to go in to the matrix to change cross points - which would take several key strokes (a minimum of six just to pan one microphone to one output bus) and way too much time to align the cursor within the matrix - Zaxcom very cleverly created a shortcut to the input matrix which makes this process much quicker an easier. If you like just try to change the panning by going to the input assign matrix and see how long it takes.

Anyway I digress but the short of it is the panning function follows the input matrix not the fader assign so what you are looking for wouldn't be possible.

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I think what Rado is asking for is a quick-setup routing function. Press setup, choose your input, then set trim, low cut, notches etc and then have a row of boxes a-la the bus menu that you can just put an X, P or (line above for phase invert) into the outputs you want that input to go to. Like the normal bus routing page, except for only one input at a time. That'd be cool.

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Nope, that would still be there with what I suggested. Have a 1 input version of the bus menu (so six boxes), and you can tell that input to go to any of them.

You could even have a card one too (another row or 2 depending on model) below that.

The changes you make there or how you set each individual input up would be reflected in the full on Bus menu (with all the inputs and outputs) which would essentially remain the same.

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Nope, that would still be there with what I suggested. Have a 1 input version of the bus menu (so six boxes), and you can tell that input to go to any of them.

You could even have a card one too (another row or 2 depending on model) below that.

The changes you make there or how you set each individual input up would be reflected in the full on Bus menu (with all the inputs and outputs) which would essentially remain the same.

Good idea. It would be a much quicker method if you only needed to reroute a single input.

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When working with my Nomad today, I assigned different inputs to different faders. When I went to adjust the pan of the inputs, I discovered that I had to remember which input the fader was adjusting in order to change the correct pan. To me it seems like the pan control should follow the inputs, or at least be an option.

For example I had put input 4 to fader 6 and input 6 to fader 4 to avoid pulling my mixer out to swap cables. On the buss I had to remember to change the pan on buss 6 to change effect the audio from fader 4.

Not all of cfp's issues are about panning vs routing. I have the same feeling about using pfl. I actually wish that the pfl assignments would follow the fader assignments, so I can quickly listen to the mic that's assigned to the fader I want to mix with. I was mixing 6 mics earlier today in a very dynamic and fast paced scene. I reordered my faders to be in the order I wanted to mix in, and got really confused pfl'ing and not hearing what I expected until I remembered I was pfl'ing inputs and not my faders. Maybe this could be a menu option to make pfl and pan shortcuts follow fader assign instead of input #?

Have a 1 input version of the bus menu (so six boxes), and you can tell that input to go to any of them.

You could even have a card one too (another row or 2 depending on model) below that.

+1 I like having multiple places to access important settings that I change frequently. Makes it more efficient when moving quickly. The pan routing shortcuts are a great example of that.

Wandering Ear

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PFL - Pre Fader Listen.

If you want to monitor your faders you can setup 6 headphone single channel matrix and just go to each channel with the simple press of the headphone knob.

Not all of cfp's issues are about panning vs routing. I have the same feeling about using pfl. I actually wish that the pfl assignments would follow the fader assignments, so I can quickly listen to the mic that's assigned to the fader I want to mix with. I was mixing 6 mics earlier today in a very dynamic and fast paced scene. I reordered my faders to be in the order I wanted to mix in, and got really confused pfl'ing and not hearing what I expected until I remembered I was pfl'ing inputs and not my faders. Maybe this could be a menu option to make pfl and pan shortcuts follow fader assign instead of input #?

+1 I like having multiple places to access important settings that I change frequently. Makes it more efficient when moving quickly. The pan routing shortcuts are a great example of that.

Wandering Ear

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