Sound Devices MixPre-10T: The Black Pearl
Laboratory conducted by Carlos Lapuente
The world of advertising, film and television productions is undergoing a dizzying technological revolution in modern times. The advent of the digital world and computerised systems has made it possible to deploy a range of possibilities that offer new features to the equipment used up to now in these fields.
On the other hand, businesses in these sectors have new requirements and increasingly need to optimise equipment and personnel costs as well as minimising production time.
The technological companies that design and manufacture digital equipment such as cameras, film and television cameras, sound equipment, etc. detect these needs and their engineers put all hands to the task immediately. Some of these needs are to provide increasingly lightweight and less cumbersome electronic equipment to provide mobility during field work, versatility to integrate various systems in one and that a single operator can handle autonomously, whilst still providing high quality in the materials of the equipment, both with regard to the frame and system itself, in order to provide durability while remaining cutting-edge insofar as audio-visual technologies are concerned.
Given the omnipresence of DAW equipment (standing for Digital Audio Workstation or digital audio workstation) in the audio-visual media sphere, there are many studio-based multitrack recorders at very affordable prices on the market, yet it seems that the additional technical and ergonomic demands of a field recorder drastically increase the manufacturing price.
This wonderful sector in continuous growth, never fails to bring us new services and products to make life easier for technical teams, musicians, engineers and production operators, etc. and in this way allow us to be technologically “up-to-date”.
It is for this reason that today we are going to talk about a piece of equipment that has reached our laboratory. It is the multi-channel sound recorder / mixer MixPre-10T, one of the flagship products from the company Sound Devices.
Sound Devices is a US company created in 1998 and based in Wisconsin, USA, designer and manufacturer of high-performance professional audio and video equipment. It also has offices deployed in Germany (Berlin) and boasts a worldwide distribution network.
It is interesting to discover that this company was founded by three former employees of the company Shure, another of the American companies that manufacture professional audio equipment with whom they often work on audio-visual media projects.
Sound Devices specialises in portable audio and video recording equipment that is used in field work for small-scale tasks, or in cinema. Their products have won many awards in the industry and have been used in well-known films and television shows. Its maxims are the highest standards in terms of quality, both with regard to electronics and in materials from which they are built, as well as the sturdiness of their equipment.
DELVING DEEPER INTO THE SYSTEM
To perform the laboratory testing we have chosen a MixPre-10T multi-channel audio recorder / mixer unit provided by Sound Devices. It is the newest member of the innovative MixPre series of recorders / mixers.
This recorder / mixer with 10 inputs and 12 tracks is the smallest on the market with these features. It boasts a generator and Timecode reader with world clock, one of the most accurate and with the best reputation in the world of sound.
The MixPre10T provides very high-quality audio with discrete preamps supplied by Kashmir. The system contains high-performance, ultra-low noise, class A microphone preamps that are hand-made by the Sound Devices team.
These feature a noise level of -130dBV, analogue limiters and new 32-bit Analog-Digital converters to guarantee high-quality and stress-free audio recordings.
It has 8 balanced XLR / TRS connection inputs and an unbalanced Aux / Mix minijack stereo input that can also be used for 2 channel line input, camera return or Timecode.
Alongside the notable features, worthy of mention are the following:
- Flexible power for state-of-the-art performance in terms of portability and convenience as MixPre’s can be powered using either AA batteries or Li-Ion batteries in field work, as well as incorporating a Hirose connector to recharge the external battery or power the AC transformer for the should there be electrical power in the workstation.
- The device registers sampling frequencies up to 192 kHz and 24 bits.
- With its two balanced XLR mini and minijack outputs it provides flexible routing thanks to a matrix and user-friendly set-up interface.
- Possibility of saving and automatic backups via USB.
- Potentiometers or ergonomic knobs with individual multi-coloured LED indicators on each channel.
- Bluetooth connection allowing for synchronisation and remote control via an Android or iOs handset thanks to the Wingman free application, available at Apple and Google Stores .
Just by having the MixPre-10T in our hands, the high quality of the materials with which it is built come to the fore. The die-cast aluminium chassis provides lightness and robustness as well as high-quality plastic front buttons. At the top and bottom, areas with non-slip rubber have been fitted that also provide extra protection against falls and bumps.
The first thing we notice is that it has 8 knobs or front potentiometers with multi-coloured LED lighting which controls the 8 combined XLR / TRS (or Canon / Jack) balanced audio side inputs, divided 4 on each side. Then we will see that it has 2 more input – output jacks and with the possibility of recording up to 12 tracks in total.
After turning the desk on, it could be seen that there are 3 possibilities of powering the device. One is with the Hirose connection power supply included, another with the NP-F battery adapter (battery not included) and another with 4 AA alkaline batteries (recommended as backup, batteries not included). As we conducted this first test indoors, we opted to provide continuous power through the Hirose feeder.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sound Devices and Guillermo Alberdi, Head of Products at Coel Audio Solutions, one of the distributors of Sound Devices equipment in Spain, for having lent us the testing equipment, as well as IB3 TV for allowing us to use its facilities and diverse technical equipment for to carry out this lab testing.
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