The New Sound Devices MixPre-D: for Camera, Sound and Post

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There’s a wide range of workflows in today’s production world, and the new Sound Devices MixPre-D is a versatile piece of equipment that will flow with the many different kinds of work. If you need world-class audio hardware for an HDSLR camera, if you want to expand the inputs of a Sound Devices 302 or 552 mixer and if you need a high-quality audio interface for mixing and recording voice-overs in post, the MixPre-D has you covered with a compact, battery-powered form factor.

There aren’t many pieces of equipment that appeal to the many disciplines of video and film production, but the new Sound Devices MixPre-D is one of them. In the most basic sense, the MixPre-D is a two channel, battery-powered field mixer. However, the addition of digital connectivity and some useful features, which enable it to interface seamlessly with cameras, transforms this little guy into a multifaceted production workhorse. Can you benefit from using a MixPre-D?   

For Use in Shooting HDSLR Video

It’s common for audio equipment that’s geared for HDSLR users to be plastic-feeling and flimsy, rather than reliable and built to deliver the best sound possible. This isn’t the case with the new MixPre-D from Sound Devices. Serious HDSLR users who make a point of using professional-grade equipment should take a close look at this new tool.

You use the MixPre-D as the front end of the audio going into your camera, similar to the way a Beachtek or juicedLink XLR adapter would be used. The MixPre-D features dual XLR inputs that can accept both Mic and Line-Level signals. It can supply phantom power to condenser microphones. The MixPre-D contains the same preamps and limiters found on Sound Device’s top-of-the-line gear, so you can be assured that the sound you capture will be of the highest quality possible.

The output section of the MixPre-D features a special TA3 jack that provides a Mic-Level signal that’s perfect for the mic input on DSLR cameras. Unlike a normal 3.5mm mini-plug output, the TA3 output on the MixPre-D locks into place (to avoid accidental disconnections). The separately available Sound Devices XL3 cable will connect the TA3 output on the MixPre-D to the mini-plug mic input on your camera.

Mount your camera securely to the MixPre-D with the XL-CAM Mount Bracket.

Like a Beachtek or juicedLink box, the MixPre-D can be mounted to the ¼"-20 tripod thread at the base of your camera (with the separately available XL-CAM Mount Bracket). An additional ¼"-20 thread is found at the base of the MixPre-D, which enables you to mount the camera and the attached MixPre-D to a tripod.

In addition to sending two channels of clean audio into the camera, the MixPre-D gives you two additional outputs and a headphone monitoring output as well. You can attach its two XLR outputs to a portable digital recorder that features XLR inputs (like the Zoom H4n) to make a higher-resolution copy of the audio. You’ll be able to monitor the audio confidently with the MixPre-D’s headphone output, and its large, 16-segment LED meters. 

For Use in Location Audio Mixing

While it wears many hats, at its core the new MixPre-D is a portable field mixer. If a location audio person is taking on a relatively simple job that involves mixing one or two microphones, the MixPre-D makes a great lightweight option when working in the field. It can act as a full-featured field mixer (with slate and return monitoring), but it’s also a great tool for expanding the capabilities of other location gear.

The MixPre-D can be used to supply a Sound Devices 744T with two additional preamps. Just connect its XLR outputs to the TA3 inputs on a 7 Series recorder with a pair of XL-2F cables and you’re good to go. You can also use it as two additional mixing channels for the Sound Devices 302 and 552 mixers, essentially turning the 302 into a five-channel mixer, and the 552 into a seven-channel mixer. You can tether these mixers together by making a couple of adjustments in the settings and interfacing them with the Sound Devices XL-3 cable.

On the output section of the MixPre-D you’ll find some digital options. In addition to outputting Mic or Line-Level analog signals, the main dual XLR outputs offer a third option for AES. This makes it possible to connect to digital recorders and professional video cameras that feature AES digital audio inputs. The advantage is that it saves your audio from being converted from analog to digital an additional time, which will result in a better-sounding finished product. 

For Use in Post Production

A USB port is featured on the output section of the MixPre-D, which essentially transforms it into a heavy-duty computer audio interface. How does this benefit post production? You can use the MixPre-D as the sound card for your computer. The benefit gained is that Sound Device’s audio circuitry will be of a much higher caliber than what’s built into your computer. You can connect your playback speakers to its balanced XLR outputs, and monitor the clean signal coming from its headphone output.

You can also take full advantage of the MixPre-D in post when it comes time to record voice-overs, Foley and sound effects. You can use the two XLR inputs to connect microphones and other equipment and record them directly into your computer. Your productions will benefit from its high-quality preamps and limiters.

The MixPre-D is class compliant, meaning that you can connect it directly to Windows, Mac and Linux computers and start using it right away, plug-and-play style, without needing to load special software drivers. Its ease of use and cross-compatibility will encourage you to take it with you every step of the way in the production process.  

For Use with an iPad… Say What?!?

The MixPre-D is also fully compatible with the iOS operating system used on the iPad. All you need is the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit and a standard USB cable, and the MixPre-D becomes the audio input and output source for the world’s most popular tablet computer. When used with an audio-recording app, the MixPre-D enables you to use an iPad as a portable digital recorder, or as a multi-track recording studio. This nifty little feature elevates the MixPre-D into the realm of “magical” products.

No matter how you ply your trade in the production world, there are likely one or many areas of your work that could benefit from using the new Sound Devices MixPre-D. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for an inconspicuous little two-channel field mixer. Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article! If you have any questions about the MixPre-D, we encourage you to submit a Comment below!

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Does the MixPre-D have ASIO drivers available?

Anonomous Said: "Does the MixPre-D have ASIO drivers available?"

 The MixPre-D is "class compliant," which means that you don't need to load software drivers in order to use it with a Windows, Mac or Linux computer.

That didn't answer the question. ASIO is important for low latency audio recording / IO in DAW software.

Nice job, Sam!

Did you try the Canon 5 and 7? They seem most unfriendly to external audio.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Howdy Ty! Thanks for dropping by B&H InDepth. I didn't get a chance to do a heavy-duty field test with the MixPre-D and several cameras, but your comment got me thinking...

It can be difficult to make a decent audio recording with cameras like the Canon 7D. Whenever you don't have manual control over the audio levels, and the camera has AGC (Automatic Gain Control), you end up with unwanted noise in the recording. However, you can always defeat the AGC with an MP3 player. To anyone unfamiliar with this process, this is how you do it:

1) Create a long recording (90 minutes or so) of a 19kHz tone, and load an MP3 of this recording onto an iPod.

2) Connect the headphone output of the iPod to one of the line-level inputs on the MixPre-D and pan that channel to the right.

3) Connect your microphone or other audio source to the other input, and pan that channel to the left.

4) Do your shoot, and when you get to post production, ***** the recording of the 19kHz tone, so you can only hear the track with the production audio.

NOTE: If you're not using an external mixer, and you just have a mini shotgun mic like the Rode VideoMic Pro or the Sennheiser MKE 400, you can still defeat the AGC on cameras like the 7D. Learn how to do this with this B&H InDepth Tips & Solutions article.

One question I have about this type of setup (both the handy mp3 bypass method as well as the actual product above) is does it eliminate the IS noise that various DSLRs capture when using IS equipped lenses?  also, is that noise recorded due to the AGC?

Hello !

Thanks for the very helpful article. I'm considering theMixPre-D, but my hope is to somehow attach it to my iPhone for maximum quality (backup plan: Tascam DR100MKII).

The problem I see is that Apple has disabled the USB port in some way so that things that draw power are no longer allowed. For example, if you connect a Compact Flash card reader to the USB port, iOS will refuse to recognize it, even though the USB kit they sell contains a dedicated Apple to SD card reader cable. The Apple SD card reader product works, even though a low power drawing CF reader fails to be recognized. This is as of iOS 4.2 and later.

Which iOS did you test this on ? Does the MixPre-D work with iOS 5 ?

Sam,

Thanks for this write up.  I just bought a MixPre D from B&H (Michael Elias...great salesman) and never thought of using it with my iPad 2

Brilliant in the field.  I love my 702 but the iPad is more convenient at times.

I am using an RE50 but getting too much room noise - any suggestions?

John

Hello John -

Since the Re-50 is an omnidirection patterned mic you may want to consider a cardioid pick-up pattern mic.

The  Sennheiser MD46 handheld cardioid ENG microphone includes features found in today's interview mics, but with studio quality sound, according to the company. The MD46 has a traditional long handle, wind attenuation and off-axis rejection and is designed to possess an extended high-frequency response, warm lows, and a clean midrange. Sennheiser developed the new microphone in response to the ***** of NBC and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Omni microphones pick up everything equally, including background noise. The MD46 cardioid interview mic focuses on the subject, increasing clarity. Designed to have low handling and wind noise - and to eliminate vocal popping, this microphone gives the ENG team an ideal interview tool.                              

Rugged all metal body
Extremely low sensitivity to handling noise
Very insensitive to pop and wind noise
Uniform frequency response
Excellent sound quality
Integral microphone clamp thread
Double layer grille basket
Cardioid dynamic capsule
Low handling noise
Long handle with excellent balance                                            

Interesting device. Do you know if ProTools V10.2 will recognize it as an input device I'm thinking is studio recording diectly into my MacBookPro with ProTools installed. I's rather have tactile gain controls than screen sliders, and don't need a full AVID/Euphonics mixer panel.

Hello John -

No problem - the  Sound Devices MixPre-D will play nicely with your current DAW.

Hi, Sam,

I'm interested in using the MixPre-D's AES/EBU output to feed the S/PDIF digital input on a Tascam DR-100 MKII recorder. Does B&H carry a cable that would go from female XLR to a 3.5mm TRS and also do a conversion from 110 ohms to 75 ohms, which I believe is what would be necessary? The TRS would need to have three black rings to match the converter cable that comes with the DR-100 MKII.

thanks,
jim

The Sound Devices XL-3 cable can be too long at 12" for DSLR use especially when mounting them together. Do they make a shorter cable or can you recommend another manufacturer? Thanks.

Do you have a good work flow to wire the Mix Pre-D into the Zoom H4N and a DSLR at the same time?

The Sound Devices XL3 cable makes sense from Pre-D to camera. But it seems there is a lot of confusion or variation in using the Zoom H4N as a back up.

1) some have told me just use XLR cables out of Pre-D into Zoom's XLR inputs - but doesn't this enable the noisy preamps on the Zoom?

2) some have told me to use a cable with XLR Jack to Stereo Phone Plug - but this is max'ing out the levels on the Zoom even when dialed down to 10.

3) others have told me about a confusion combination of cables like 1/8 to 1/8 from Tape Out of Mix Pre-D to mic/line in on Zoom or this in combination with a Pink Noise cable.

Help?

Thanks!

Hi,

I recently purchased a MixPre D, and looking at recorder options. I'm debating between the Tascam DR 100mikii and the Sony PCM M10.

Is it possible to monitor what the Sony M10 actually records by feeding the Sony headphone jack back to the Tape Return of the mixer?

And would this useful? Thanks!

Hello Alain,

I recommend considering the DR-100mkII from Tascam. It offers several key features over its SONY counterpart - not least of which is the inclusion of phantom powered XLR inputs for when you may need to connect mics directly to the recorder. Speaking of mics - the DR100MKll includes 2 stereo pairs of mics for recording flexibility; two directional and two omni-directional. Coupled with its robust aluminum body and intuitive menus and controls, I feel the Tascam device is the best choice overall. Either product offers a line-output that you could route back to your MixPre D for monitoring.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: AskBH@BandH.com

I wanted to connect phantom powered mics to a mac so I was looking at the Sound Devices USBPro 2. I also wanted a limiter so now I am also looking at the MixPre-D. If I purchase the MixPre-D do I still need the USBPro 2?

Does the MixPre-D do everything that the USBPro 2 does?

Is there an advantage to having both?

Hi

Thanks for this nice article. Do you think it's possible to mount a Red Scarlet over the MixPre-D with the XL-CAM Mount Bracket instead of a DSLR, or is it too heavy ? Any idea of the maximum weight allowed ?

Thanks,

Julie

Hello Julie -

The XL-CAM Camera Mount Bracket for MixPre-D is designed for wide compatibility with a variety of devices. That said - the Red Scarlet weighs in at 5 lbs. without a lens or any other accessories.  Typically we see this bracket being used with recorders that weigh in at less than 2 pounds. Personally,  I think this combination is a bit heavy and too risky for the investment you have made in this gear.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Where can I find out more about how to use a mixpre-d? For example, I've used the tone generator to set my camera to -12 dBfs when the MixPre-D is showing 0 dBu. I got that, works like a charm.

Now I want to set the limiters. I know how to set them, that's not the issue. What I need to know is what level to set them to, and why.

For example, if I set the limters to +8 dBu, is that the level where they start to limit, or is that a hard ceiling? If it's where it starts, where is the hard ceiling? Or, *is there* a hard ceiling?

What I want, is to set the limiter so that the mixpre-d doesn't send any signal to the camera that will cause the camera to clip. Which will occur at 0 dBfs on the camera, or +12 dBu on the mixpre-d. How do I do that?

Hi, I just posted another question, but after reading the separate MixPre-D review, I want to just ask - is the sound output from this device (straight on the CF card in my Canon 5D Mark III) good enough to use as my "final audio", or do I really have to buy another device to record the sound onto? Thank you for any help you can give!

I'm sure this is a no brainer for many. Simply, can I connect a mic to one of the inputs and send that signal equally to the stereo outputs? The MixPre-D manual deals with much more complex scenarios (great!), but not this basic requirement. It means that when I import the video into Final Cut I have two equivalent mono signals as a stereo pair that will appear in the "centre". e.g., not only just on the left or right channel. It's not a biggy, but saves me having to duplicate a mono signal in post to appear as a centred stereo signal. I hope this makes sense! Thanks.

Hi Terence -

If you are connecting just one mic, set the PAN switches to center and you will be sending MONO to both channels.  Ther will be no need to manipuate the tracks in post.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi,

I am having a bit of a dilema with recording sound directly to a Canon 7D.  Let me start off my mentioning that most of my work will go directly to online so not wanting to record with an external recorder is more of a personal choice because I am a one man band.  

With that said, I have tried several forms of attempting to obtain clean audio directly to my Canon 7D.  One of the best ways I have achieved this is by using my sennheiser EW 100 G2 wireless system.  I set my camera audio to the lowest setting and increase the gain from the wireless receiver.  This provides good clean audio when using a lav or a hand held wireless mic.  

Now to my dilema.  I have not been able to achieve  the same quality audio as mentioned above using my Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic.   The Rode NTG 2 is a condenser mic which means it runs off a AA battery  When I connect the Rode NTG 2 directly to the camera via an XLR to Mini adapter I get lots of white noise during my recordings.  I have also tried using a Beachtek and JuiceLink preamp but have had no success.  I have tried many different forms of set up to the above mentioned preamp devices but no luck.  I still get lots of white noise and the only way I have been able to get rid of the white nose is using FCP X analyzing the audio and seeing what is wrong.  The solution has been to bring down the background noise to achieve cleaner audio but it is not as crisp and sometimes sound like someone is speaking underwater.  

Would you happen to know if I invest in a Sound Device Mix Pre D will I encounter the same issues?  Are there specific setting that perhaps is causing the white noise or is that white noise normal and will show up even using the Sound Device Mix Pre D?  If the white noise is there, what are you or your coworkers using to get rid of the white noise?  Can you advice on set up for recording on a Canon 7D?

Your reply will be greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you or a member of your staff.  Thank you in advance.  Feel free to phone it you prefer.  

Best, 

Manuel Lazaro

Camera: Canon 7D

Audio: Set to Manuel

Mic:  Rode NTG 2

Hi Emanuel -

Be sure to download the latest firmware updates  - this will help address Canon's AGC issues which often increase the noise floor dramatically and degrade the recording quality:

"Improved audio functionality in movie mode also provides aspiring videographers with greater control while shooting videos. Users can complement the camera’s Full HD (1920x1080p) movie footage with 16-bit digital stereo sound, sampled at broadcast quality 48KHz, and new manual control of audio levels allows users to choose from 64 sound levels. A digital wind-cut filter also reduces noise made by movement of air around the microphone, ensuring sound is clear and free from peripheral interference."

Using the Mix Pre D may not offer any remedy at all since the issue is at the camera or the mic. Check all your connecting cables to make sure there are no suspect issues.  Also  - did the same issues occur using your RODE NTG-2 with phantom power?

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi,

do you recommend any shoulder mount rig to fit this mixer and the ability of doing a comfortable run&gun shooting? 

My Sound Devices MixPre-D. has lived up to all expectations. Its got no noise, and is superb for outing a good signal to both a zoom recorder, and my GH4 using XLR connections. Of course, you have to callibrate all devices to set it up, but you have tape return to ensure the camera audio isnt recording too hot. All great so far.

My problem is with the short and expensive TA3 cable that links the ST unbalanced mic out, to my GH4. It fits into the Sound Devices MixPre-D. fine, but the mini jack will not fully enter the mike slot on the GH4.

I have tried other mini jack cables and they go in to the GH4 with no problems. I am now using one of these with a female to male 3.5mm adapter all is working fine, and I have a shorter adapter on order.

Its a bit of a puzzle really, I dont want to force the Sound Devices TA3 mini jack into the Mic socket for fear of damaging the camera, and I have a workaround solution. Though not ideal.

Hi Richard -

This is puzzling and it is the first time I have heard of this happening.  The Sound Devices XL-3 cable offers standard connections and should fit with no problems.  Please bring this issue directly to SOUND DEVICES for resolution.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

 hi

i have mark iii