SOUND DEVICES 633 MIXER/RECORDER
Q I inherited a Sound Devices MixPre from my boss. It has been a great little mixer for me over the past two years, but now that I’m mixing sound for a variety of shoots with several different cameras, many of which record truly lousy-quality sound, I need to move up to a mixer that also records. I have one client who shoots with a Sony HD camera that has AES digital audio output, as well; he has requested that I purchase a recorder that can accept digital audio input from his Sony camera. I know there are several models of combo mixer/recorders available; I’m looking for whatever will give me the most flexibility for the future. I can’t afford to buy something pro-level, but I don’t want anything too cheap, either. What should I be considering?
A It’s nice that you’ve managed to utilize a mixer as basic as the MixPre for the past two years; that’s a simple, reliable and high-quality unit. Since you seem to like Sound Devices gear, I suggest you check out their new 633 mixer/recorder.
I recently shot a PBS special as cinematographer, and the sound mixer I worked with was using a brand-new Sound Devices 633 to record all of the project’s interviews. We shot on location, the setups were very quick, and we had a lot of pressure to capture the best audio possible. I don’t have room in this column to list every feature of the 633 and to explain all of the nice options that would pertain to your specific needs, but the unit has very high-quality microphone preamps, records to CF and SD cards, and has all kinds of useful bus/output combinations that are vital with multicamera shoots.
I spoke with the PBS project’s audio post supervisor, and the client was extremely happy with the end result and the quality of sound. The sound mixer was a true professional, and the Sound Devices 633 gave him the tools he needed to record pristine sound, including the following features:
• Three high-bandwidth XLR preamplifiers
• +12, +48 and +10V digital phantom power
• HP filter, pan, fader, trim controls
• AES3 and AES42 for digital microphones
• Digital mixing
• Records to both SD and CompactFlash cards
• USB computer keyboard metadata entry
• Multiple simultaneous power sources
• Built-in save battery and 2-second boot
• Lightweight molded carbon-fiber chassis
The Sound Devices 633 mixer/recorder sells for $3,229 and would be well worth evaluating to see if its features will match your needs for future-proofing and expandability. Based upon my recent experience with it, the Sound Devices 633 seems like a very good-quality mixer/multitrack recorder at a reasonable price.
16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: Sanken and Sound Devices didn’t compensate me to write this article. The companies didn’t send me review units to try out the hardware; I evaluated the Sanken CSR-2 at a local location sound dealer, and I had a chance to work with the Sound Devices 633 on a production I was working on. No material connection exists between the manufacturers mentioned in the article and myself.
Send questions to [email protected] or mail them to Audio Assist, HDVideoPro, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025.