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Recording level for output of Sound Devices 302
Old 1 weeks ago
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Recording level for output of Sound Devices 302

I just got the Sound Devices 302 field mixer, and I am wondering what is a safe input level to set on my recording device (the Tascam DR-100). The 302 limiter is set to +20dBu by default, so does that mean I should set my input level on the recorder to -20dB to protect against clipping? That seems kind of low...
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johncmurphy View Post
I just got the Sound Devices 302 field mixer, and I am wondering what is a safe input level to set on my recording device (the Tascam DR-100). The 302 limiter is set to +20dBu by default, so does that mean I should set my input level on the recorder to -20dB to protect against clipping? That seems kind of low...
The 302 can produce a test tone (switch in the right upper corner) to set the level of your recording device. It can be set to be as loud as the maximum level that the 302 will output.
Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
The 302 can produce a test tone (switch in the right upper corner) to set the level of your recording device. It can be set to be as loud as the maximum level that the 302 will output.
Right, that is what I am using to set the input level. But my question is whether an input level on the recording of -20dB is appropriate, since the 302 does not limit until it hits +20dB.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johncmurphy View Post
I just got the Sound Devices 302 field mixer, and I am wondering what is a safe input level to set on my recording device (the Tascam DR-100). The 302 limiter is set to +20dBu by default, so does that mean I should set my input level on the recorder to -20dB to protect against clipping? That seems kind of low...
I've got an SD MixPre-D and a Tascam DR-100 mkII. Not a 302, but the 302's little brother. Maybe that will be close enough for you, IDK.

It "seems kind of low" because you're thinking that the meters on the two devices show the same thing. They do not. The SD 302 is showing you dBu. The DR-100 is showing you dBFS. Best to not confuse them.

The typical setup routine is to use the 302's ability to send 1kHz calibration tone.

First, connect the 302 to the DR-100, line-out to line-in using XLR cables.

Next, flip the 302's calibration switch, and you should get 0 dBu on your meter, and on all the device outputs. If the tone level is adjustable, adjust it to give you 0 dBu on the 302.

Next, adjust the levels on the DR-100 to show around -20 dBFS. Once you've done that, you can tape it in place because you won't be making any adjustments to the DR-100. All adjustments will be made on the 302.

Next, set your limiters a couple of dBu below the maximum that the 302 can handle. For my MixPre-D, that's +18dBu.

Next, do a test recording. Set the pots on the 302 so that the meter is showing peaks around +8 or +10 dBu. Note the "+" sign; that's not a mistake. Note also that this is at or near the first red LED on the meter (the MixPre-D's first red LED is at +8 dBu, and the 302 may be marked differently, IDK). The 302's meter is showing you that anything below the red LED's is "safe" and anything in the red is "hot" and you should be watching it.

Check to make sure that on the meter of the DR-100, you're seeing -10dBFS when the 302 is showing +10 dBu. If that's what you're seeing, you've got it set up correctly.

Done. What you have now is a nearly unclippable setup. If you set your pots on the 302 so that your peaks are at +10 dBu, you've got 10 dB of headroom for whatever you're recording to go wild. If it does go wild, when it hits +18 dBu it hits a very nice limiter that won't let it rise another 2 dB unless it's a humongous peak (it's been years since I did the calculations but I seem to recall it would have to be over a 30 dB peak to actually make the 302 clip, and you'd probably be hearing your microphone itself clipping before you could get past the SD limiter to make the 302 clip, just sayin'.)

At least, this is the procedure that SD themselves laid out for me when I asked them years ago. And it's certainly worked like a charm for me since.
Old 1 week ago
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Great. That was helpful. Thanks.
Old 1 week ago
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A comprehensive read of the SD 302 manual, particularly the menu settings section at the end will show two things:

1) the output level of the XLRs can be set by a variable output attenuator over a wide range both line and mic levels;

2) the threshold of the output limiter can likewise be set lower than +20dBu.

You can vary these as part of the setup of the interconnection with the recorder - and they can be recorded as a "User Preferred" preset in firmware, recallable at will.

A fabulously flexible little box which has performed a whole range of tasks over the last decade! Enjoy!
Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by panatrope View Post
A fabulously flexible little box which has performed a whole range of tasks over the last decade! Enjoy!
You're right, the 302 is a nice little device. It not only sounds great, it looks great too.
I suppose the MixPre-3 would be the more logical choice for my situation, but its goofy appearance is no match for the elegance of the 302.
Old 6 days ago
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The MixPre-3/6 are an interesting development in the line, but there are some restrictions and limitations on its use as a simultaneous recording/streaming and analog mixer that are not yet fully documented in their User Guides. However there are also extended capabilities compared to the 302. Depends on your job requirements.

Likewise, the ergonomics compared to the 302 are quite different and may also prove restricting in some uses. The 302 also has transformer inputs, the MixPre-3 has transformerless inputs, but probably improved quality (particularly for music recording).

However, if you are looking for a basic 3-into-2 mixer and recorder, after carefully reading the User Guide, you will probably find that its performance in that task exceeds that of the 302/TASCAM combo. Whether the difference is enough to make you want to replace the 302? For the moment I am sticking with mine, but I'm still watching ...
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