CAS Quarterly

Summer 2019

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12 S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 C A S Q U A R T E R L Y Tech Review: Zaxcom URX100 T E C H N I C A L L Y S P E A K I N G INTRODUCTION In an unprecedented level of speed, I received a UPS overnight package from Pompton Plains, New Jersey, containing the new Zaxcom URX system, along with a proprietary lanyard for walkie-talkie integration and two Motorola walkie-talkies for testing purposes. Coincidentally, my friend and colleague Doc Justice CAS and I had plans to hang and geek out about all things equipment related this exact day. With great interest and excitement, we unboxed the pieces and, as promised, they performed their duties right out of the box. The ZMT transmitter supplied with the kit was already labeled "Devendra" and the metadata from the transmitter also showed up on the URX receiver upon power up. Doc was a walking/talking instruction manual for these units and we dove right in. FIRST IMPRESSIONS I always like to put my hands on the equipment I'm testing and get a feel for the weight and texture and build quality. I also like to see what powering choices the manufacturer made and, most importantly (to me), the aesthetics. The URX100 positively checked all of these boxes! The all-black exterior and matte finish looks very slick. Everything has soft edges and feels well-built and sturdy. Now, to test out the sound quality, walkie-talkie feature and, most importantly, the range! THE UNFAIR RANGE TESTS Whenever I test the range of any wireless system, I like to do an "unfair range test" where I intentionally put certain roadblocks onto the system. This routine is the same whether I'm walk-testing a transmitter worn or a receiver worn, like in this case. Often, these initial tests are done at my office in Santa Monica, which somewhat emulates a mini soundstage. Plus, this quiet environment allows me to really hear the way the system sounds (more on that later). First, with the sound cart positioned inside my office. The tests included walking away from the cart and out of the office, which causes it to be severely disadvantaged because of the sheetrock walls and low antennae positions. I also include one more layer of taking the item outside the concrete walls of the building. With the ZMT transmitter set to only 50 mW, I started walking outside the building, which is about 200 feet from the cart position and, as mentioned, outside a concrete structure. After about 20 more feet, the URX receiver started to drop out. I remembered how disadvantaged the transmitter was inside the building and then inside my drywall box of an office. Also, many digital wireless systems I'm having the opportunity to test out are transmitting at a much lower power than legacy, analog UHF systems. Immediately after this first walk, I grabbed my Lectrosonics IFBR1a receiver and fired up its transmitter from the same sound cart position in my office. I thought this would walk further past the 20 extra feet the URX walked, but it only walked a few paces further. To be absolutely fair, the Lectrosonics IFB system has an external antenna which adds a bit of gain and was transmitting to its default 250 mW power setting. So, honestly this proved to be a similar, real-world walk test with much lower power output. I then grabbed my Lectrosonics VHF IFBR1a receiver to do another comparison. This VHF system is limited to 50 mW power output and walked to the same exact outside spot where the URX experienced drop outs. Visually, where I walked was concerning for all three systems, as it didn't appear to be in line with where we EVERYTHING HAS SOFT EDGES AND FEELS WELL-BUILT AND STURDY. Walk testing during the "unfair range tests." Zaxcom URX100, Lectrosonics IFBR1a (UHF), and Lectrosonics IFBR1a (VHF). b y D e v e n d r a C l e a r y C A S

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