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sound devices mix 3 comparative preamps and converter quality
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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sound devices mix 3 comparative preamps and converter quality

Hello

I am considering an upgrade from my Fostex FR2-LE which in most cases I use with DPA 4060 mics for recording piano, violin, cello etc. I'm very tempted by the Sound Devices mix 3. Several people have praise for this machine and I should imagine that there is no doubt that it would be an upgrade on the Fostex. Some seem to think that the SD Mix 3 sounds better than the older SD models machines, whilst others make negative comments about the SD Mix 3's suitability for recording classical music, suggesting that the SD702 and some other models are much better suited for this kind of task. One comment suggests that the Mix 3 sounds dull and lifeless. Interestingly another poster suggests that one of the Nagra machines has hugely better sound than the SD702, saying that the improvement with the Nagra is as great as the difference between the preamp quality of the Zoom H1 and the DAV BG1!

My understanding is that the AD converter on the Mix 3 is better than that on the SD702. I could use my DAV BG1 routed directly to the AD converter on the Mix3. I can't see any reason why this would not produce a sound at least as good as the SD702 or possibly better.Please correct me if I am missing something. I also wonder how much difference there would be in the SD AD converters and those on say the ULN1 or ULN2 (which I realise are interfaces rather than stand-alone).

Please don't tell me that the skill of the recordist, choice of microphone and room etc are more important than the choice of recorder-I do realise that. What I am hoping to do is to get greater clarity from the best set up that I can achieve in the locations that I operate in. I also realise that different people are going to perceive sound quality in different ways! I should add that what I trying to get the most lifelike sound possible within my budget.

Last edited by the rabbit; 1 week ago at 12:40 PM.. Reason: clarifying
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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converters on the Sound devices Mix3

Very pleased to see so many people have read this post. There are no replies but that's probably my fault for not being succinct enough. I suppose the main things I am looking for is

(1) any idea how good the Mix3 converters are compared with those in the likes of Prism Lyra or ULN1/2-clarity/faithfulness to the source.

(2) I am not wrong in assuming that the Mix3's own preamp and converters will together yield a noticeable upgrade on the Fostex FR2-LE?

(3) Would I be realistic in expecting Mix3 plus DAV to rival anything from Nagra?
I'm not considering buying a Nagra, but wonder if my expectations of sound quality from the Sound Devices and DAV combination are perhaps a bit optimistic?

I am looking for clarity of sound rather than any coloration of the sound. On the other hand, I also want the sound to be musical.

Thanks!
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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I've used the FR2, FR2-LE and many Sound Devices recorders except the latest ones. I love the 702, 744 and 788 SD recorders, they would all be an improvement on the older fostex recorders. I can't help you on any of the others as in my field of work (sound design and recording for games and occasionally film/tv) people tend to use SD recorders for clarity and reliability. I do have friends with the newer SD recorders, and some use Zaxcom and Sonosax, i've heard their recordings and they are fantastic as well. I haven't seen anyone work with a Nagra for years.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

My understanding is that the latest MixPre II have better mic. pres than the old 700 series.

I had the original FR-2 when it first came out (and then upgraded to a Nagra VI).

IMHO the latest MixPre series is excellent and underpriced for the quality you get.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
My understanding is that the latest MixPre II have better mic. pres than the old 700 series.

I had the original FR-2 when it first came out (and then upgraded to a Nagra VI).

IMHO the latest MixPre series is excellent and underpriced for the quality you get.
My understanding is that the new MixPre II preamps are unchanged from the previous original MixPre series. Wouldn’t that mean that the originals also have better mic. pres than the old 700 series?
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
My understanding is that the new MixPre II preamps are unchanged from the previous original MixPre series. Wouldn’t that mean that the originals also have better mic. pres than the old 700 series?
Yes. Sound Devices stated when the Gen I MixPre-3, and -6 and -10T were released that those were the best microphone preamps they had ever made. That may have changed now with the release of the Scorpio, but according to the company anyway that MixPre amps are still better than the 700 series.

-Mike
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
My understanding is that the new MixPre II preamps are unchanged from the previous original MixPre series. Wouldn’t that mean that the originals also have better mic. pres than the old 700 series?
Yes, that’s what I understood talking with Paul.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Head
Until someone gets a peek inside and can take som photos, I’m sure they used the same pre amps but adapted to their patented solution.
If so, perhaps they are using the same Asahi Kasei 557x ADC but not in a single 6-to-3 setup for the mixpre-3 II as for the first gen.
And instead run 3 pcs of ADCs - one for each input - and each ADC in 6-to-3 feeding each of the three stages low/mid/high.

I wish Paul, with his deep knowledge, could give us a little hint.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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amundsen's Avatar
 

I'd be curious to know more about the ADC of these new recorders. The specs say "32 bit precision" but then I don't understand why the S/N ratio is "only" 142dB then (minimal value, that's right, but A-weighted) whereas 24 bit would already provide 144dB theoretically. So what's the point for having a 32bit ADC?
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Why don't we listen to what The Man Himself has to say about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ-j-8bnhX0

32 bit sample audio files included...
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amundsen View Post
(...) So what's the point for having a 32bit ADC?
not sure there are any significant benefits but they seem to be the latest hype: digico introduced a 32bit converter for their stageboxes some time ago: i couldn't notice any difference between them and their standard adc although i have to admit that i did not compare them but got to work on a mixed setup - anyway, upon listening, no one could tell which signals went through which converter...
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amundsen View Post
I'd be curious to know more about the ADC of these new recorders. The specs say "32 bit precision" but then I don't understand why the S/N ratio is "only" 142dB then (minimal value, that's right, but A-weighted) whereas 24 bit would already provide 144dB theoretically. So what's the point for having a 32bit ADC?
Are you mixing up S/N and dynamic range ?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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amundsen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Are you mixing up S/N and dynamic range ?
No, but I like to to understand the benefits of a technological choice. Especially as a teacher.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Are you mixing up S/N and dynamic range ?
The new MixPre II has 142dB of dynamic range, S/N is essentially limited by the microphone's self noise...see video link 4 posts earlier /\
https://www.sounddevices.com/mixpre-ii-faq/
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The new MixPre II has 142dB of dynamic range, S/N is essentially limited by the microphone's self noise...see video link 4 posts earlier /\
https://www.sounddevices.com/mixpre-ii-faq/
You're totally right. I misread your former post.

However the question remains about the dynamic range in relation with the resolution of the ADC.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Guru
Having watched a video the big thing is floating point allows you to not have to worry about levels from say a whisper to a gunshot. Sound Design is the aim. M series for music isn't supported beyond the current converters. I love the Gen 1 MSeries as a stand alone studio recorder FWIW. Clean conversion and preamps and great company support.....
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Thank you to the many people who have replied. I hadn't realised that there was a Mix 3Pre-ii. I wonder if Mr Willett has had the chance to compare sound quality of recordings made with first and second versions of the Mix Pre3. I've followed the links to further information about the Mix3-pre ii. From what I understand (which I admit is very little as a 'Physics challenged' biologist), I think that 32 bit float allows the recorder to record data to a greater level of precision, by recording a longer stream of digits after each decimal point. I'm thinking that, in a sense, this must be allowing the information to be recorded in way which more closely reflects an analogue data stream and might therefore result in a more realistic depiction of, say piano sound. It also seems that some of the contributors to this thread are suggesting that the ADC will create a bottle neck that will somehow negate some of the benefits of 32 bit float. I'd be interested in any comments. Thank you.

Last edited by the rabbit; 1 week ago at 09:56 PM.. Reason: spelling, rewording for better clarity
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by the rabbit View Post
Thank you to the many people who have replied. I hadn't realised that there was a Mix 3Pre-ii. I wonder if Mr Willett has had the chance to compare sound quality of recordings made with first and second versions of the Mix Pre3. I've followed the links to further information about the Mix3-pre ii. From what I understand (which I admit is very little as a 'Physics challenged' biologist), I think that 32 bit float allows the recorder to record data to a greater level of precision, by recording a longer stream of digits after each decimal point. I'm thinking that, in a sense, this must be allowing the information to be recorded in way which more closely reflects an analogue data stream and might therefore result in a more realistic depiction of, say piano sound. It also seems that some of the contributors to this thread are suggesting that the ADC will create a bottle neck that will somehow negate some of the benefits of 32 bit float. I'd be interested in any comments. Thank you.
Where it really helps is dynamic range for field recording. Not really for music recording and analogue never could have handled the dynamic range. So a piano isn't where it shines. Literally the difference from very quiet to very loud will be captured...Like a plane flying overhead starting from afar...

Float is great for that. Also the addition of timecode and auto data backup is a nice feature. All features thar enhance value in the field or on set!.....
Old 1 week ago
  #19
I love my MixPre 3 but now wish I had waited for MixPre 3 II, oh well....
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I love my MixPre 3 but now wish I had waited for MixPre 3 II, oh well....
So...you're heading down to Cape Canaveral to record the next big lift off from 100 ft back ? Don't forget the earplugs
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Head
 
nebus's Avatar
I wish i had waited too ( I only bought mine 4 months ago although it was B stock and very all priced).
For me having the include PSU and adjustable limiters would have been well worth it.
Having the internal TC and 192 kHz would be a nice touch and help the resale value obviously.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Guru
How much better are the Scorpio preamps? The new 833 is $4K......
Old 6 days ago
  #23
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Does having a built in timecode improve sound quality? the reason I wondered is the quote below, particularly the last sentence.

Quote (regarding Mix Pre converters)
'
Through testing and field use, I've concluded that the converters themselves are fine, but not up to the highest standards (such as my HAPI). Interestingly, I thought that the MixPre sound noticeably improved when clocked with the HAPI.'

If it did, that would argue in favour of the Mix 3 pre-ii over the Mix 3 which has no timecode of its own

Last edited by the rabbit; 6 days ago at 09:10 PM..
Old 6 days ago
  #24
AB3
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I have really been wanting to know - especially for music (not just voice).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
How much better are the Scorpio preamps? The new 833 is $4K......
Old 6 days ago
  #25
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by the rabbit View Post
Does having a built in timecode improve sound quality? the reason I wondered is the quote below, particularly the last sentence.

Quote (regarding Mix Pre converters)
'
Through testing and field use, I've concluded that the converters themselves are fine, but not up to the highest standards (such as my HAPI). Interestingly, I thought that the MixPre sound noticeably improved when clocked with the HAPI.'

If it did, that would argue in favour of the Mix 3 pre-ii over the Mix 3 which has no timecode of its own
Timecode and clocking are two different things. Having a built in timecode generator doesn’t necessarily mean that the clock is any different.

Also, only the -10T has word clock I/O so if you want to click from another device you need the 1 not the -6 or -3.
-Mike
Old 5 days ago
  #26
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
How much better are the Scorpio preamps? The new 833 is $4K......
I was curious about the same thing! I can see that the quality is improved in the build and components (i.e made in the USA, metal instead of plastic). Is there a $3,000 difference in sound?
Old 4 days ago
  #27
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So the Mix Pre series isn't made in USA? China perhaps? This would account for why they seem relatively inexpensive compared to previous SD recorders. I did look online to find the country of manufacture but I for one couldn't find any information.
Old 4 days ago
  #28
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by the rabbit View Post
So the Mix Pre series isn't made in USA? China perhaps? This would account for why they seem relatively inexpensive compared to previous SD recorders. I did look online to find the country of manufacture but I for one couldn't find any information.
Sorry, I indeed only assumed that at that price point it was mass produced in china. Not that it's a bad thing, Apple manufactures quality stuff in China.

I forgot about the Dugan plug in and digital IO on the 833. Also the powering seems more professional with the L mount batteries that the machine can recharge.
Old 4 days ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
Timecode and clocking are two different things. Having a built in timecode generator doesn’t necessarily mean that the clock is any different.

Also, only the -10T has word clock I/O so if you want to click from another device you need the 1 not the -6 or -3.
-Mike
AFAIK the MP3 & 6 derive the internal clock from the incoming TC when it's present so it's actually not pure time-stamping but includes clocking. I'm not sure where I read this. Could have been in one of the early videos with Paul in it from the trade show when they first came out.
Could be wrong but I do remember thinking that that's pretty great.
Old 4 days ago
  #30
Gear Guru
Unless I’m missing something Sound Designs is a American made company like FMR.
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