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Sound Devices? Zaxcom? Who to choose!?


Ianellemo
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I own a 744T but it's simply not enough tracks for me. I'm starting to do bigger, better projects, with more speaking roles. SO, my question is simple: 

 

I'd like people's opinions on whether I should purchase the Sound Devices 664 (with option of adding the CL-6), the Sound Devices 788T, (Not necessarily a mixer/recorder all in one, but still, a great digital recording tool) or a Zaxcom Nomad 10. 

 

Tossups:

 

Buying a 664 = Buying a new bag. I have the Petrol Eargonizer Large. I thought this was as big as they get!?

 

Buying a 664 or Nomad 10 means I need a whole new battery distribution system. Expensive right away, but I know it's worth it in the long run. 

 

Buying a 788T - I feel like it's doesn't have the same mixing capabilities as the 664 fully stacked. 

 

Buying a Nomad 10 - What happens when I need more inputs? I'm stuck in the same boat!

 

Any and all opinions are welcome. 

 

Ian

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I own a 744T but it's simply not enough tracks for me. I'm starting to do bigger, better projects, with more speaking roles. SO, my question is simple:

I'd like people's opinions on whether I should purchase the Sound Devices 664 (with option of adding the CL-6), the Sound Devices 788T, (Not necessarily a mixer/recorder all in one, but still, a great digital recording tool) or a Zaxcom Nomad 10.

Tossups:

Buying a 664 = Buying a new bag. I have the Petrol Eargonizer Large. I thought this was as big as they get!?

Buying a 664 or Nomad 10 means I need a whole new battery distribution system. Expensive right away, but I know it's worth it in the long run.

Buying a 788T - I feel like it's doesn't have the same mixing capabilities as the 664 fully stacked.

Buying a Nomad 10 - What happens when I need more inputs? I'm stuck in the same boat!

Any and all opinions are welcome.

Ian

What jobs are you going to be doing where you need more than the 11 inputs on the Nomad?

It boils down to your choice alone nobody else's. My last machine was a 552 and it was between the Nomad and 788. I went Zaxcom as I preferred the work flow and Zax wireless.

Get both systems and play with them

Regards

Chris

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All of these have been discussed in great, excruciating detail here.

After you've digested all the relevant discussions and also learned as much as you can from each manufacturer's web site and forum, it will be easy to apply the following formula:

1) Define your needs and your budget.

2) Choose the product that fits #1 best.

If you can't accomplish #1 then you're not ready to buy.

Good luck.

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"Buying a 664 = Buying a new bag. I have the Petrol Eargonizer Large. I thought this was as big as they get!?"

Your choice of the recorder/mixer should not be dictated by a bag you already own. Period.

 

"Buying a 664 or Nomad 10 means I need a whole new battery distribution system. Expensive right away, but I know it's worth it in the long run."

Again, battery distribution should not be a major consideration. 

 

"Buying a 788T - I feel like it's doesn't have the same mixing capabilities as the 664 fully stacked."

You need to get some experience with the 788T AND the 664 AND the Nomad before you can determine that it won't work the way you want to work. 

 

"Buying a Nomad 10 - What happens when I need more inputs? I'm stuck in the same boat!"

What boat is that? Have you ever had 11 inputs and have you ever been on as job where you need 11 inputs?

 

Please, take the good advice form several above who have posted. You need to evaluate this on your own with the hope that you have already had enough experience to be able to evaluate and analyze what sorts of jobs you may be getting and how you will want to do those jobs.

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All of the recorders and mixers offered by Sound Devices and Zaxcom are great tools for our type of work. However, they each have different bells, whistles, works flow, and ergonomics. As the others said, it depends on what you need to satisfy your projects' needs.

You could also look at Zaxcom's Fusion 10 or 12.

Production Sound Mixing for Television, Film, and Commercials.

www.matthewfreed.com

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"Buying a 664 = Buying a new bag. I have the Petrol Eargonizer Large. I thought this was as big as they get!?"

Your choice of the recorder/mixer should not be dictated by a bag you already own. Period.

 

"Buying a 664 or Nomad 10 means I need a whole new battery distribution system. Expensive right away, but I know it's worth it in the long run."

Again, battery distribution should not be a major consideration. 

 

"Buying a 788T - I feel like it's doesn't have the same mixing capabilities as the 664 fully stacked."

You need to get some experience with the 788T AND the 664 AND the Nomad before you can determine that it won't work the way you want to work. 

 

"Buying a Nomad 10 - What happens when I need more inputs? I'm stuck in the same boat!"

What boat is that? Have you ever had 11 inputs and have you ever been on as job where you need 11 inputs?

 

Please, take the good advice form several above who have posted. You need to evaluate this on your own with the hope that you have already had enough experience to be able to evaluate and analyze what sorts of jobs you may be getting and how you will want to do those jobs.

+1 on all the above.

 

The most I've ever needed on a gig was 9 inputs and even that was difficult to mix on the fly. 

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I'll tell you how I would make my decision. Obviously if price is the main issue then that might influence your decision. However, I would find a way to field test both units, the SD 664 and the Nomad and see what you feel most comfortable with. Put them both through their paces and with all the configurations you might experience.

 

Companies such as Trew, LSC etc will have loaners available for you to try, or at least rent that unit and take them for a spin.

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Salut ian, J ai le nomad et je ne regrette pas du tout mon choix. Je peux te faire faire le tour de la machine si tu veux. Les conseils que les autres t on laissés sont justes même s ils semblent durs à ton égard. Il y a beaucoup de lecture à faire sur jw pour t éclairer dans ton choix. Bonne chance!

Translation:

"Hi ian, J have the nomad and I do not regret my choice. I can make you go around the machine if you want. The advice others are just left t on even if they seem hard unto thee. There are a lot of reading to do on jw for t enlighten your choice. Good luck!"

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Both Nomad and the 664 are great machines and both do what they were designed to do which are mixing and recording.

Though in my opinion the big difference comes with the features that Nomad offers.

 

  • ZaxNet IFB and time code transmission. This is something I use often. Using RF time code distribution has solved many problems and makes my job easier. The ERX receivers sound great and are super easy to setup and route audio to. Plus if you use Zaxcom wireless you have full remote control of the transmitters.
  • The Nomads pre/post fader routing and multiple mix busses gives me unlimited flexible routing and recording options.
  • Neverclip has 137dB of input dynamic range and helps me mix without the need for limiters. This really helped me out recently working on a documentary about opera when the sopranos would go from very quiet to quite loud in a few seconds.
  • Nomads notch filter has saved my butt on several occasions where I used it to remove some offending noises on shoots that had no post audio work.
  • Nomad has smaller footprint and is lighter. Plus not having to carry an IFB transmitter also help to lighten the load.
  • The Mix-8 lets me mix with linear faders when not in bag mode.
  • The built in visual slate has come in very handy on DSLR shoots.
  • MARF recording system gives me the peace of mind to know that if something bad were to happen I will not lose audio.
  • Nomad has no CF card brand or size limitations

Basically Nomad will give you more bang for your buck.

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Everything Jack said.

If you go Zaxcom recorder and wireless it will give you unlimited possibilities.

 

Going with Sound devices and Lectrosonics you are limited to:

 

analog wireless "constant coordination for multiple systems" and "inconsistent audio quality"

No wireless control over TX gain, power and frequency.

Only capturing whatever is in range.

No backup for unexpected dropouts and wireless problems.

No TX time code recording.

No wireless Time code distribution.

No visual slate on the recorder.

 

If you don't need any of the mentioned advantages , sound devices and lectrosonics are great pieces of gear and will serve you well.

 

Downside with zaxcom:  3 pin lemo connectors. But after a few it gets easier.

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I'd offer two comments:

 

1) to me, this is a Mercedes vs. Lexus vs. BMW comparison. All good, all expensive, all world-class performers in their own way. My perspective is, it's hard to go wrong with any of them, but everybody has their individual preferences.

 

2) don't buy one yet. Rent or borrow one for a day or a weekend and get to know it as best you can, or at least find a cooperative dealer who will sit down with you and give you a long demo on each one, so you can go through the menus, examine the user interface, and give it a good shakedown. There are some situations where one machine might be clearly a better choice. [And I see I've accidentally stepped on Mr. Lightstone's comments! Great minds, etc.]

 

It's interesting to note that sales on the 788 are still going strong, and in fact they raised the price on them a few weeks ago. I'd also say -- for me -- the 788 plus the CL8 made a lot more sense for the kind of work I do. On a cart, it's hard to beat the addition of a CL9 panel mixer. The reliability of the 788 and the intuitive menus made it right for me. But all these machines have their weaknesses... and I don't doubt there will be new stuff at NAB in April. 

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Everything Jack said.

If you go Zaxcom recorder and wireless it will give you unlimited possibilities.

except for the time it takes to make quick changes, say panning.  It's like nomad is mixing in the box and 664 is using a board.

 

I've had both (though nomad for a short time) and Nomad definitely tops features, but for speed, usability, and structure SD imho. I personally didn't like the feel of the pots. It's good to date before you get married.

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I think sound devices is a nice Audi:.

Has a petrol engine. Needs a driver. Needs to change oil. A lot of moving parts that break.

great car but still 20th century technology.

 

Zaxcom is a Google self driving electric car.

Still based on 20th century car but a totally different beast full of innovation.

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except for the time it takes to make quick changes, say panning.  It's like nomad is mixing in the box and 664 is using a board.

 

I've had both (though nomad for a short time) and Nomad defiantly tops features, but for speed, usability, and structure SD imho. I personally didn't like the feel of the pots. It's good to date before you get married.

I don't pan. I route. Camera hops. 3 sets of ifb. walkitalki , different Coms,different headphone mixes.

Panning only deals with 2 channels.

But this has been painfully discussed and argued already.

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wait, why a new Battery system? What are you using? The 744, Nomad, 664, 788T all use the same Hirose power in, unless you are just using those little camcorder batteries. How do you power your wireless? 

A lot of people use a recorder specific battery (maybe an NP-1 cup to the Hirose) and another NP-1 for wireless. There are tons of threads about alternative bag battery options, but if you use some sort of battery distribution, it's the same cable to power your 744T as anything else you mentioned. 

 

I suggest hands on time. They are all good machines. There are threads on this site with hundreds of posts comparing them. People are incredibly opinionated which company they like, and you will read some stupid arguments (and flat out misinformation). again, they are all good machines. They offer different options, and figure out which ones mesh with how you like working. Read up before you try so you can see the little features people love, or quirks that they hate. 

 

I spend plenty of time with SD recorders on jobs that issue me gear, and I own SD mixers (442, 302, MM-1), but when I bought recorders I bought a Nomad and a Fusion10. If I had to buy over, I would absolutely buy the same thing. My 2¢ 

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I used to own a 552 + 744T combo and I loved it, but it was heavy and recording more than 4 channels was a pain in the ass. I made a decision around late May to purchase a Nomad 8 and I am glad I have that piece of equipment, but you have to remember that this was before the SD664 was available. If the 664 had been around when I had to make that decision I probably would have chosen it. Why? A few personal reasons, none of which imply that I am unhappy with my Nomad or that the Nomad is a worse machine.

 

The first reason is that I was used to Sound Devices gear. I knew the layout of the physical controls; I was comfortable with the sound of the limiters; the way that files were named and organized on the card was old hat--basically, I'd know what to expect from the gear, which means that I could reliably deliver a smooth transition for any future gigs I took. Learning a completely different system did take me a while and sadly I botched one or two takes that I wish I hadn't. So there's that.

 

I know I'll get crucified for this but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, in my opinion, Sound Devices makes recorders and mixers that are miles ahead of other company's in terms of build quality and stability. Between the bowed plates and unfinished, unstable software I have had far, far more problems with my Nomad 8 than I have ever had with my 744T or 552. The problems I have had with my Nomad have made me seriously question if I want to continue to buy into this system or this company. All the features in the world cannot make me happy if the core functionality of the device is compromised by instability.

 

With all of that said, I bought the Nomad and I have not sold it yet for a few reasons (apart from the hassle of the actual transaction). The Nomad is a very ambitious product. Neverclip (if I can ever use it again with a stable firmware) delivers on it's promise of a ridiculous amount of headroom; the integration with their IFB and wireless Tx/Rx gear has a profound effect on the way I work; the weight and size envelope of the Nomad is unequalled by any other competing product; and lastly, this product straddles the cart/bag methods of mixing that a 788 or 664 cannot, even with their respective accessories.

 

My advice to you is to think long and hard about a few things:

 

1. What gigs are you doing now?

2. What gigs do you want to start doing if you're not already doing them?

3. What are the requirements your gear has to fulfill for those styles of recording?

 

Once you've answered those questions, get a lot of hands on experience with gear outfitted in a way that satisfies the requirements you know you have from question three. Get a CL-8 and a 788T in a bag and try it out! Get a Nomad 6/10/12 and try it out! Get a 664 and run that through the wash too. Then come here again if you have any questions and I'm sure we can help you even more. Good luck dude. :)

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some more, small differences:

 

+ 664 supports an external keyboard. Possibly this will come soon for the Nomad too.

 

+ you can enter preset notes and scene names in the 664, which is a big time saver. Nomad doesn't have this feature (yet?).

 

I chose the Nomad. I'm quite happy with it, but for the work I do, the only remaining big advantage over the 664 is that you can use a digital linear fader board (Mix-8 ), which is not possible on the 664.

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What firmware are you using alex?

An year ago I had a nasty rant against nomad stability.a few weeks later a firmware update fixed that.

I have not had a single problem since then. I worked in 120+f 100% humidity and a whole summer of 110+f..

never had an issue. My lectro wireless were malfunctioning from the heat while nomad and qrx100s were working fine.

you have to be careful not to use beta firmware's since they are experimental

I myself use 4.45 and have no issues.

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