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Some questions for Sound Devices 7 series recorder users.
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Rick Sutton
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7th June 2013
Old 7th June 2013
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Some questions for Sound Devices 7 series recorder users.

I have done remotes for choirs for years using a variety of recorders. The complexity of the performances resulted in me taking out so much gear that it became physically difficult (gonna be 65 soon.....oh lordy!) and I have subbed out the recording part of the remote business and kept the mastering end for the last two years. Well, the people we have subbed out the capture to have either not used good gear or have moved out of the area and the ball is back in my court now. All the subs have used a simple stereo pair and the choir directors have been fine with that.
Here's the situation.....if I go back out on the remotes again I'll have to take a much smaller/lighter rig than the multiple case monster I used to take. I also won't be taking a back-up recorder (unless very small) and all the attendant extras. This is low/medium budget work so I've got to be careful in how much money I put into it. I'm leaning toward buying a used SD 702 or 722. No longer will I take out 8 mics and an 8 channel system for solos etc. My real concern is reliability when I don't have a back-up. Is the SD equipment so good that this is a sane thing to do?

Thanks for your input,
Rick
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7th June 2013
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Recording important jobs without back uop is never a really sane thing to do, that said I went from dual laptop system to a SD788-SSD system without back up. I have recorded several hundreds of takes without a problem.

Shit can happen but with the SD box I feel calm. Even if you use dual recorders one of the main mic's may fail in the middle of a recording so basically you should use double mic system as well in able to be really safe.. and who does that?

I also do low to medium payed jobs and have to draw a limit somewhere. If I have some special extra important job I will probably bring a back up though.

I should mention that I normally do video as well so if the sound system fails I still have decent (but not very good) sound in my Sony cameras.

For important jobs I do dual cam's, both as a safety net and also in order to get an extra angle.


/Peter
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7th June 2013
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Rick,
I am in Paso if you want to discuss. Just toured Wisconsin for new gear purchases and talked to Sound Devices folks there.
Invite me over for coffee.
JH Fleming (formerly known in Cayucos as 'Crazy Joe')
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Rick Sutton
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7th June 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surflounge View Post
Rick,
I am in Paso if you want to discuss. Just toured Wisconsin for new gear purchases and talked to Sound Devices folks there.
Invite me over for coffee.
JH Fleming (formerly known in Cayucos as 'Crazy Joe')
Will do.
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7th June 2013
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I just gotta tell 'ya all this one. I've contacted the main choir director that I work with and told her that I was willing to pick up the "capture" end of the recording again so we don't have to keep finding someone new. I checked with her that they have been happy with the stereo micing with no spots and she said they were very happy and in fact they preferred it because there was less clutter showing in the video. When I confirmed in an email that I would continue to keep the charges the same as they have been paying all along she came back with a counter offer 20% less because I would be bringing less gear than I did in the past and it would be much easier for me. I replied that maybe it would be best if I just did the mastering, thank you very much.

Can't win for losing!
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7th June 2013
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Don't Panic Rick!!
Keep Calm and Carry On Chap.....
Used SD 702 and central capture is secure, in the hands of an Old Pro.
Roger.
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8th June 2013
Old 8th June 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
.... she came back with a counter offer 20% less because I would be bringing less gear than I did in the past and it would be much easier for me....
Sounds exactly like a choir director I know. That's why I avoid choirs and prefer working with pianists, string quartets and piano trios......they don't have directors.

Sometimes you just can't win!

You should have countered that you were planning on charging 25% more because of the more efficient, streamlined system, but were willing to do it for only 10% more because you enjoy working with her so much.


Re: Sound Devices reliability: I've used a 722 for 3+ years and now have a 788T SSD for 2 years, and both have been rock solid. No problems. However, I think a lot has to do with how you use and set them up. I always start with a clean disk and CF card before any job (full re-format), and always confirm that all stored settings are correct. Also, SD has regular firmware updates, so it's important to keep up to date on them (just installed SD 788T V. 3.0 which replaced V. 2.19). Also, there seem to be more people who have problems with SD recorders when they are using external hard drives, or in the case of the 788T the external CL-8 or CL-9 mixer/control surfaces. More to go wrong, more digital overhead on the processor, more external cables, so I have avoided them for remote tracking.

Choosing the right CF card is important, some are much more reliable in a SD recorder than others. Also, always keep a fully charged LiI cell in a SD recorder, even if you're running on mains power.

The SD Forum is very helpful with SD engineers usually posting immediate replies when people have problems.
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8th June 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus 7 View Post
Sounds exactly like a choir director I know. That's why I avoid choirs and prefer working with pianists, string quartets and piano trios......they don't have directors.

Sometimes you just can't win!

You should have countered that you were planning on charging 25% more because of the more efficient, streamlined system, but were willing to do it for only 10% more because you enjoy working with her so much.


Re: Sound Devices reliability: I've used a 722 for 3+ years and now have a 788T SSD for 2 years, and both have been rock solid. No problems. However, I think a lot has to do with how you use and set them up. I always start with a clean disk and CF card before any job (full re-format), and always confirm that all stored settings are correct. Also, SD has regular firmware updates, so it's important to keep up to date on them (just installed SD 788T V. 3.0 which replaced V. 2.19). Also, there seem to be more people who have problems with SD recorders when they are using external hard drives, or in the case of the 788T the external CL-8 or CL-9 mixer/control surfaces. More to go wrong, more digital overhead on the processor, more external cables, so I have avoided them for remote tracking.

Choosing the right CF card is important, some are much more reliable in a SD recorder than others. Also, always keep a fully charged LiI cell in a SD recorder, even if you're running on mains power.

The SD Forum is very helpful with SD engineers usually posting immediate replies when people have problems.
Thanks for all the info. The problem potential when using external hard drives is indeed interesting as I had heard this was useful as a back-up for any CF card problems. It appears that you have found the cards to be reliable. What type has worked the best?
I noticed that you had a 722. IIRC that has an internal hard drive. Did you record simultaneously to the HD and the card?
Again thanks, everybody's help is invaluable and much appreciated.
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8th June 2013
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I have a 788T and i think its very reliable. I clear the internal hd and the cf card periodically. However, I use a back up recorder (R44) for live show recording because the day I dont is probably the day something will go wrong.

I tend not to do firmware updates, DAW updates, or computer updates unless I have enough time to test and roll back if something is not working as expected.

i have the cl-8 with the 788t. I can fit this, along with some radial splitters, in a petrol bag. The R44 is small. Its not that tough to bring both to a choir recording as they are both relatively small and light.

On a side note - I run entirely on battery power, so there is no need to haul power cords, power strips, etc...to the concerts. I use the 788t to provide phantom and i start with 2 of the big Sony batteries (typically running 4 mics) and this works out fine.

Tom
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8th June 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
Thanks for all the info. The problem potential when using external hard drives is indeed interesting as I had heard this was useful as a back-up for any CF card problems. It appears that you have found the cards to be reliable. What type has worked the best?
I noticed that you had a 722. IIRC that has an internal hard drive. Did you record simultaneously to the HD and the card?
Again thanks, everybody's help is invaluable and much appreciated.
Many people use external hard drives and have excellent results, but some have experienced problems. I suspect that those are related to the particular external drive and/or the firmware on the drive. There is also the issue of having another piece of gear and additional cables to carry around and to connect/disconnect every time you set up. The internal drives that SD supplies are always reliable and never seem to experience any issues unless they just wear out from old-age (like all of us). Using the internal HD and a fast CF card has worked flawlessly for me. and so far (fingers crossed) having double storage redundancy has been fine. When an external drive is also used, it does increase the processor and drive interface activity which works OK with some drives but can reportedly cause problems with others.

Remember, on a 722 or a 788 all the operating system software is loaded into ram via a one-time transfer from a CF card file during a firmware install, and the internal HD is used strictly for file storage once the recorder boots up. It's not like an internal HD on a computer DAW system that is constantly being accessed for system calls.

On a 722 or 788, if one of the recording media should have an I/O failure that results in data loss or an open file, the other media will keep on recording. I've never had that happen, but others have reported that it does work. The SD software regularly closes files during constant recording, so even if the recorder is hit with a sledgehammer while recording, everything but the last few seconds of data will be recoverable if the HD or CF card are still readable.

The back panel (internal) 7.2 V LiI battery will take over seamlessly if the external mains power supply goes down or has a transient loss, and the SD recorders can also be powered from an external 12 V. (10 to 18 V. works fine) battery.

Triple redundancy sounds nice, but it actually seems to cause some problems for some folks and is one of the more often reported problem areas on the SD Forum. I personally haven't used an external drive more than a couple of times (just to confirm that it works). I tried a Samsung 4800 rpm 250 Gb drive and it seemd to work fine. You can also hang a DVD-RAM drive on the FireWire port to generate an immediate DVD back up, but I've never tried it.

I no longer have the 722 and have replaced it with the 788T SSD which I love. I use only the CF cards recommended by Sound Devices and have had total reliability using SanDisk Extreme UDMA 60MB/s 32 GB cards. I always record to both the internal HD (solid state in the case of the 788T SSD), and the SanDisk 60 MB/s CF card.
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8th June 2013
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As another data point, I have 6 and 8 year old 722s at work, and a couple of months ago the 8 y.o. gave me a total failure by dropping out of record mode after about 5 minutes, while recording onto both the internal HD and internal CF card. I have a thread on this in the SD forums where the gory details are spelled out. There is no explanation and I can't replicate this, but now, IMO, the dual media should not be relied upon like 2 separate recorders for mission critical jobs. Just take a good pocket digital recorder, too.

I'm also having Firewire mounting problems now with MacPros on 10.6.8.

Otherwise, SDs sound great and have great features, and are generally worth the price.
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8th June 2013
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I've got the 722 and the 788T. Never a problem, ever other than a fluky thing when it would get a kernel exception when I twirled the headphone volume control on the 788T. They fixed that in the next firmware release. Otherwise both are rock solid, even when dropped from a table. No need to test that yourself. Sound Devices works every time. There are used 722's around for ~$1,500. They are great machines.
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In Rick's case, the machine (although rare) had a failure. If you had a shaver with a digital input running all would have been fine. I used a Microtrack along with my 702 with great success. For the record, the Microtrack had failures on occasion and the 702 had zero. But it was battery operated and a small setup. A professional (almost) always has a backup.
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8th June 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
Even if you use dual recorders one of the main mic's may fail in the middle of a recording so basically you should use double mic system as well in able to be really safe.. and who does that?
/Peter
I run a separate stereo archival backup in critical scenarios..this covers more than just recorder failure, but mic/cable/RFI/bugs etc. That said, when I use reliable gear, I'm usually not worrying about recording failure.

Mike
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8th June 2013
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If I were you I'd trawl the movie sound forums for a used 744T. That part of the biz is in transition now and there are many of these excellent and VERY proven machines for sale used. SD service can make them function as new, with new, higher capacity drives etc. 2 mic pres, but the ability to take in 2 more inputs via external pres on the chance you DO want some spots, and you can route and mix them externally as you please and also route to 2 separate output buses. A backup could be as simple as a shaver recorder with a digital input, run off the AES output bus of the 744. I've done a good deal of "lightweight" recording with a 744+ a MixPre to feed inputs 3/4--very small and light, sounds great. 3 media recording (internal HD, CF card and ext firewire) all at once if you want.

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9th June 2013
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I love my 744T; it's a great machine. I do a lot of concert recording, AUD + SBD matrix. It has never failed me.
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10th June 2013
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Rick Sutton
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25th July 2013
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Here we go.
My new (to me) remote set-up. It fits into two soft cases and is battery powered. No more breaking my back......
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Some questions for Sound Devices 7 series recorder users.-sd-use-2.jpg  
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25th July 2013
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Quote:
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Here we go.
My new (to me) remote set-up. It fits into two soft cases and is battery powered. No more breaking my back......
Looking good!
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25th July 2013
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Rick
I have had a 702 for 5 yrs and never used a back up
Battery life is excellent with the big Sonys
Never had any failures,use it with a six ch mixer for bigger jobs.
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25th July 2013
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Beautiful!
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10th December 2013
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An update. Christmas concert season is upon us and I've been employing the SD702/Sony D50 system and I'm very happy with the results.
Being on battery power is a huge relief. Yesterday the location was somewhat AC challenged and it was fantastic to set up without regards to AC receptacles.
The 702 is sounding great and I am slowly getting comfortable with it's way of working. Yesterday I did manage to start out it the "monitor" mode and the time delay in the headphones gave me a bit of cold sweat but I remembered to hit the select knob and the normal headphone path returned.......thank god!
The headroom was fantastic. I've always had issues with extreme peaks with choirs so I spent a lot of time testing the system with hand claps and tambourines......always a worse case scenario.....and I have been able to keep a 12 dB reserve over the highest peak level that I have been getting at the concerts. Now the peaks sound smooth which is a real relief. The translation to my analog processing back at the studio is now much more fluid.
I had a chance today to compare the back-up Sony PCM D50 capture to the 702 and I was pleasantly surprised and how good it was. Yes, the Schoeps/SD 702 combo was deeper and smoother but that little D50 was darn good enough to be pressed into service if the need arises, which of course I hope never happens.

Anyway, the feedback and info I received in this thread was invaluable and I thank you all. On to the next concert this Sunday!
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10th December 2013
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The 702 ability to monitor 'off card' is amazing but the latency is frightening
I was doing a complex live choral Holst piece with 3 choirs,3 soloists and I was onstage behind a screen
It was a very long day with two big locations
Somehow my monitor was off the CF card with a 12s delay,it was very confusing, sounded like interlopers were invading the event!
All this coincided with a battery fail and shortage of space on the card.
Sods Law incarnate.
All was well with the recording......
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