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Sound Devices MixPre-3 vs Zoom F4

MixPre-3 vs. Zoom F4  

19 members have voted

  1. 1. MixPre-3 or Zoom F4

    • MixPre-3
      8
    • Zoom F4
      7
    • Something else!
      4


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I currently have a Fostex FR2LE and was planning on upgrading/changing my recorder out for either a MixPre3 or a Zoom F4. I wanted to have the convenience of using my recorder as an audio interface to my computer as well as a field recorder.

What's the consensus on the MixPre3 vs Zoom F4? I've always been fine with the 2 inputs so far on my FR2LE, but having more is always nice. Are the Zoom F4/Mixpre3 both cleaner/better than the FR2LE as well, as I know the FR2LE was always known to have really great preamps.

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I would buy sooner or later the MixPre-3.

One boom - Two wireless - EXT Timecode.

90% of my jobs is one - two wireless and one boom.

For the needs of atmos bla bla I have three mic preamps / ORTF TRI (three CCM's or MKH 8040).

Plus Wingman App if I need to go fancy and sexy (hehe).

For 4 wireless and more needs; then I would consider the F8 or something else.

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I'd just buy the MixPre 6 with its 4 channels and you're good to go and more futureproof.

It's merely bigger and just a few bucks more.

 

If you need TC out, you need something different either.

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I voted for M.P.3 but if you want a control surface on a budget then the Zoom is a lot cheaper than anything else.

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I bought an f4 as a backup recorder. It failed within days and the replacement did as well. At least one of the units was fried when accidentally feeding 48v to its outputs. (a mistake that is easily made!). After the second failure I stopped wasting my time and bought the mixpre10t

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6 hours ago, withintheflux said:

I bought an f4 as a backup recorder. It failed within days and the replacement did as well. At least one of the units was fried when accidentally feeding 48v to its outputs. (a mistake that is easily made!). After the second failure I stopped wasting my time and bought the mixpre10t

 

Hmm, my 302 was also fried when accidentally feeding 48v to it's outputs. And that's a pro machine. J

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Maximum of three channels I feel automatically rules out the MixPre3 as your primary/only recorder (however as a supplementary secondary recorder the MixPre3 could perhaps be an excellent choice for some people). While I'll routinely enough use all six inputs of the Zoom F4.  However you're currently happily using a FR2LE then perhaps 3 is plenty for your all needs, but I know it wouldn't be for me personally.  


Plus the MixPre3 needs an external timecode box, which pushes the price of the MixPre3 up even higher (when the MixPre3 is already more expensive than the F4, a worthwhile point to ponder if you're very budget conscious).

 

Additionally the F4 just has more features/functionality than the MixPre3, such as: TC out, hirose powering, full size XLR outputs, Zoom's FRC accessory, etc

 

On 3/10/2018 at 10:42 AM, SoundAdvice said:

Are the Zoom F4/Mixpre3 both cleaner/better than the FR2LE as well, as I know the FR2LE was always known to have really great preamps.

 

While I have never done myself or even heard of an A/B comparison with the FR2LE and the F4/MixPre3, I'd be quite surprised indeed if the FR2LE is cleaner than both of them. 

 

Out of curiosity I went and looked up the claimed specs of each of them:

 

FR2LE:

Quote
  • S/N (ADC-DAC, 24bit, 48kHz): 
        Line (Input Gain: +4dBu) 95dB (typical) 
        Mic (Input Gain: -60dBu) 85dB (typical)
  • Dynamic Range (ADC-DAC, 24bit, 48kHz): 100dB (typical)

 

Measured:

Ein = -122dBu (unweighted, 22kHz BW)

Ein (A) = -126dBu (A weighted, 20kHz BW)
https://www.wildlife-sound.org/resources/equipment/2-uncategorised/48-fostex-fr2le

And a similar result from here:
https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm

 

MixPre3

Quote
ADC 32-bit precision; 120 dB dynamic range min (A-weighted, gain=10 dB, fader=0 dB)
Equivalent Input Noise -130 dBV (-128 dBu) max, (A-weighting, gain=76 dB, 150-Ohm source impedance)

 

F4: 

Quote
Dynamic Range ADC 120 dB typical (−60 dBFS input, A-weighted)
 
EIN −127 dBu or less (A-weighted, +75 dB input gain, 150 Ohms input)

 


 

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I compared the noise floor of ZOOM F4 and Sound Devices MixPre-10T.
According to the spec sheet, the performance of the MixPre-10T's preamp seems to be the same as MixPre-3 probably.

 

I soldered 150 ohm resistor between 2-3 pin in XLR Male Plug.
It emulates a 150 ohm dynamic microphone that switched off.
DSCF2669.jpg

and aligned to trim +75 and fader +0 both recorder.
Then hit record button.
DSCF2675.jpg

 

The following test results were obtained....
fig1.png


The MixPre's noise is slightly thinner than F4.

F4 has a signal like a dense ham noise under than 1Hz.
fig2.png

Looking at the analyzer, MixPre seems a bit quieter than F4.

I love either recorder.
But I am a Japanese. So I'd like to vote to ZOOM with motherland favoritism.

However,If I choose recorder by sound quality.
I choose SoundDevices.

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17 minutes ago, INARI said:

I compared the noise floor of ZOOM F4 and Sound Devices MixPre-10T.
According to the spec sheet, the performance of the MixPre-10T's preamp seems to be the same as MixPre-3 probably.

 

I soldered 150 ohm resistor between 2-3 pin in XLR Male Plug.
It emulates a 150 ohm dynamic microphone that switched off.
DSCF2669.jpg

and aligned to trim +75 and fader +0 both recorder.
Then hit record button.
DSCF2675.jpg

 

The following test results were obtained....
fig1.png


The MixPre's noise is slightly thinner than F4.

F4 has a signal like a dense ham noise under than 1Hz.
fig2.png

Looking at the analyzer, MixPre seems a bit quieter than F4.

I love either recorder.
But I am a Japanese. So I'd like to vote to ZOOM with motherland favoritism.

However,If I choose recorder by sound quality.
I choose SoundDevices.

 

Nicely done!

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13 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Maximum of three channels I feel automatically rules out the MixPre3 as your primary/only recorder (however as a supplementary secondary recorder the MixPre3 could perhaps be an excellent choice for some people). While I'll routinely enough use all six inputs of the Zoom F4.  However you're currently happily using a FR2LE then perhaps 3 is plenty for your all needs, but I know it wouldn't be for me personally.  


Plus the MixPre3 needs an external timecode box, which pushes the price of the MixPre3 up even higher (when the MixPre3 is already more expensive than the F4, a worthwhile point to ponder if you're very budget conscious).

 

Additionally the F4 just has more features/functionality than the MixPre3, such as: TC out, hirose powering, full size XLR outputs, Zoom's FRC accessory, etc

 

 

While I have never done myself or even heard of an A/B comparison with the FR2LE and the F4/MixPre3, I'd be quite surprised indeed if the FR2LE is cleaner than both of them. 

 

Out of curiosity I went and looked up the claimed specs of each of them:

 

FR2LE:

 

Measured:

Ein = -122dBu (unweighted, 22kHz BW)

Ein (A) = -126dBu (A weighted, 20kHz BW)
https://www.wildlife-sound.org/resources/equipment/2-uncategorised/48-fostex-fr2le

And a similar result from here:
https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm

 

MixPre3

 

F4: 

 


 

 

Would you actually be able to explain to me what all the numbers mean (sorry I'm still kind of new to audio equipment)? One of the reasons I got the Fostex FR2LE was actually because of that Avisoft site showing the numbers being a close second to the Sound Devices 722.

EIN is how noisy the recorder is right? And what is A-weighted vs unweighted?

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This will explain it for you:

http://www.rane.com/note145.html

But basically the core point you can take away from this is you're unlikely to ever tell the difference between a well recorded F4/F8 recording and a well recorded MixPre3/6/10 recording in anything but a carefully done A/B test under controlled environments (like the excellent one INARI did). So personally, I wouldn't let the noise floor of the pre amps between the F4 and the MixPre3 be any factor at all in your decision. Instead concentrating on other factors such as their functionality and how they help make your day smoother or not when actually shooting on location. (this is where things like layout, user interface, internal TC generator, full size XLR outputs, etc... end up matter. And mattering far more than the noise floor of one pre amp vs another)

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Today I recorded 2 binaural files for comparison.
y.jpgbinaural.jpg
Aligned to same gain and same fader in both recorders.
Nonetheless, ZOOM F4 file is about 4 dB louder, so I will also attach 2 normalized files with -4dB.


Equipments are
DavinchHead Mk.2 Binaural Mic (Primo EM173 Microphone x2 with zener diode and fet)
Mogami 2534 cable (Mic-to-YCable)
Mogami 2901 cable(YCable-to-Recorders)
Neutrik and cheap made in China connector

Now hear it!!
(Downloadable)



(96kHz 24bit files)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tLPTwAA7jWsw4f4vT1XJ3q9Tm4ZwDm04/view?usp=sharing

I feel MixPre is somewhat better sound,but the difference is negligible.
It may be prominent when recording music,but I am not organizing a band for now unfortunately.

However,both are practical recorder surely.
I think the important thing was an appropriate setting as IronFilm says.

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3 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

In my experience specifying cable and connector characteristics is little use without knowing what grade solder was used. J


Made with this()

It's popular with audio lovers in my country.

https://translate.google.co.jp/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=ja&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Foyaide.com%2Fcatalog%2Fproducts%2Fp-3904.html&edit-text=&act=url

 

I like the solder containing lead because it is easy to process.
but I must use this solder because of environmental protection problems.
On my experience solder seems not to affect the sound much.
 

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8 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

In my experience specifying cable and connector characteristics is little use without knowing what grade solder was used. J

So what solders are you recommending?

I got the impression Inari was referencing the (mogami) balanced / quad cables and the connectors to indicate how potential RFI issues were mitigated. I was not aware particular solders had a bearing on this.

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Hey yes it was a joke - but I'm not noted for my humour (save on MS discussions) so fair enough. Actually Inari has the last laugh because I can only see the link in GIGANTIC FONT! So therefore cannot see it. But I'm still trying (because I'm damn sure it's a fine retort)!

 

Haven't voted, but I veer towards the 'neither' - MP6 and F8 being the most obvious contenders for usefulness to me ... but that's why companies now are very happy to develope and present alternate version families of machines.

 

Welcome to JWS and truly thanks for the write ups, Inari - I'm a big Ozu fan ... and Tanazaki ... arigato!  Jez

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