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Zaxcom Inc. — Howard Stark, Chief Engineer

Howard Stark
Q. What kind of products or services does your company offer for broadcasters?
We offer a full range of professional audio gear for television production. We’ve always had a spirit of innovation at Zaxcom, and were the first to engineer both a digital wireless microphone with a built-in IFB receiver and a wireless microphone with integrated backup recording.

Our most popular technology for broadcasters is our TRX series of digital wireless microphone transceivers, which helps simplify audio production with integrated recording and built-in support for IFB transmissions. We’re now introducing the ZaxNet 2.4-GHz RF network, which takes this functionality a step further by allowing broadcasters to distribute timecode, remote control, and IFB audio to talent mics. Our new ERX encrypted bodypack-style IFB receivers also offer new features for broadcasters, including timecode synchronization with smart slates and cameras so timecode is in sync throughout the production set.

Q. What’s new that you will exhibit at the NAB Show and that TV broadcasters should look for there?
Definitely ZaxNet is worth checking out for its ability to wirelessly link so many Zaxcom audio technologies into a virtual multitrack playback and re-record system, with audio replay and remix capabilities direct from the transmitters. I also highly recommend that broadcasters stop by our booth to get a demonstration of our new ERX encrypted IFB bodypack receiver. This system receives high-quality digital audio, timecode, and metadata from any IFB transmitter in our TRX product line. The ERX offers higher fidelity IFB than most broadcasters are accustomed to with encryption, which means all communications between staff and talent are secure.

Q. How is your new product offering different from what’s available on the market?
The ERX provides a very compelling feature package, and is the first on the market to provide encrypted IFB bodypack transmissions. In addition to providing higher fidelity IFB than is currently available on the market, the ERX systems have built-in timecode reader/generators that can jam digital slates continuously, preventing timecode drift. Also included is a timecode display and “hold” key that allows script supervisors to monitor audio and jot down notes as needed during production. The ERX1TCD model additionally can delay received audio signals, which will allow broadcast production staff to precisely match monitored audio in sync with video on different monitors.

Q. How has your company been affected by the current economic situation and what are you doing to get through it?
The broadcast industry has definitely felt the pinch of the current economic times, and that has presented us with the challenge of designing products that are both full-featured and lower cost. While work is already under way on new, exciting technologies that will help broadcasters address their production needs even under a budget crunch, we’ve also taken steps to make our existing product lines a better fit for these economic circumstances as well. For example, we’ve significantly lowered the price of our Fusion 12 solid-state audio recorder, and are now including our full effects package as part of our standard Fusion mixer/recorder.

Q. Where are you based, and how many employees do you have? Anything else we should know about your company?
We’re based in Pompton Plains, N.J., and have been in business for 24 years. Zaxcom’s small size allows us to be very reactive to customer needs. When a customer comes to us with a new idea or feedback on one of our products, there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen to prevent us from quickly taking action. Innovation is the driving force behind all of our technologies. We’re always looking for ways to engineer products that offer completely new and unique features to audio professionals. If there’s a way to make professional audio production easier, to lower cost and complexity, or even just to manage audio with a higher quality level than ever before, we work hard to find it.