Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lectrosonics Venue Field Mod

This 6 channel receiver was originally conceived as a single-space rackmount device. Lectro then quickly morphed it into a box for field use, essentially by folding the ‘wings’ underneath the main board. The resulting lunch-box affair was neat-o, but still a little bulky for real field in-the-bag use.  I’ve always looked at this product with an eye towards sizing it down, and I finally squeezed the project in this week. Primarily,  I re-designed the NP-1 battery receptacle to save a 1/2 inch off the height of the box:

The above photos show the size savings after the mod. I also re-positioned the LCD and shaved a 1/4 inch off the top of the faceplate. Also, the antenna inputs are re-routed to the front of the cabinet. Now it can ride bag-style with some much needed space savings. Still too big for run-n-gun bag, 6 individual receivers will still occupy about half the space. Fun project, though.
-by Pete Verrando

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Block 21’s Up For Grabs?

Good Ol’ Block 21…

I follow the used equipment market pretty closely. I’ve noticed the past 3 months or so a glut of block 21 wireless being put up for sale. It could be that folks are just upgrading to newer gear. But I wonder if the motivation could be based on more RF spray issues on the lower blocks. And, the crowding of dual receivers into bags with digital recorders, high output IFB and hop transmitters, wifi devices, smartphones and ipads.

I know there’s more intelligent (& cheaper/lighter) ways of dealing with stray RF than throwing more splitters, combiners, sharkfins and preamplifiers into your rig. In doing so, you are essentially re-designing the front-ends of receivers that have already been very carefully designed. But this seems to be the popular trend, based on general lack of understanding, and I’m sure the equipment vendors don’t mind at all. Of course, I’m often wrong, but certainly never in doubt.

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First adopters, first responders

The Zaxcom Nomad one of the latest devices offered for production sound mixers. It offers multi track recording and mixing, in about the same footprint as a traditional 4 or 5 channel mixer. It is not a collection of afterthoughts, like the Sound Devices 788T/CL8. Nevertheless, it is new, and does not have many hours racked up in the field. Its also a complex device, and new-gear bugaboos are inevitable.

The Zaxcom Nomad

Following a popular sound mixer discussion group, a few reactions become evident.
1. Many newer sound guys who’ve had a mixer-only package are upgrading to this device.
2. There’s still a few tweaks and quirks in the device that are being discovered while on the job.
3. Those who have problems quickly detail their production horror story on the discussion group.
4. The good or uneventful experiences go un-documented. 

I’ve never been a “first adopter.” Why would anyone bring a 1st-generation device, right out of the box, to a paying client’s job? The producer is not paying me to experiment with new gear. My gigs are not beta-test sites for new equipment.   Granted, equipment issues happen on the job, even with time-proven gear. That’s why its important to have an intimate knowlege of how your gear works, and even some ability to fix it. Which I do. Also back-up gear is important to bring along if ever things get really nasty.

Back when DAT became the standard recording device, many mixers continued to roll their analog Nagras as a backup. Two recorders on the cart. It was cumbersome, but the peace of mind of having a backup was sublime. Those DAT machines were quirky animals, so much as an errant speck of dust could shut them down. When they were finally obsolete, we sound mixers built a huge bonfire and threw all our DAT machines on it. Not really. But I still have my DAT machine, so if you ever want to have a bonfire, I will be the first to throw mine on.

There will never be a Nagra bonfire, because they are just too beautiful a machine to trash.  As a hobby,  I restore and sell Nagras to audiophiles.  Nagras are the ultimate refinement of the analog recording medium.

So, if your soundman comes to the job boasting of a new piece of gear, raise an eyebrow. Make sure your production won’t be featured as the next dirty-laundry story on a popular sound mixer discussion group.

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