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Sound Devices MM-1 preamp


David Waelder
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Does anyone have any experience using the Sound Devices MM-1 microphone pre-amp?

It looks like a very promising device especially for use with a radio boom rig. The boom operator gets to monitor the audio directly without depending on an IFB link. But an IFB signal can be fed into the device so the boom op gets private line communications from the mixer. It supplies phantom power and, as a preamp, it would feed controlled signal to the radio transmitter. One would expect this to enhance audio performance.

On the other hand, it does look a bit big. The boom op would have to hang this clunky device from his (her) belt along with the regular transmitter and the IFB receiver. True, you wouldn't have to have a separate phantom supply but the MM-1 appears to be quite a bit bigger than the phantom supply would be.

Does anyone have any specific experience with the thing? Is there a functional belt clip or pouch available to use with it?

Thanks.

David Waelder

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It is a really nice product but it is not a non linear fader knob, ie: steps for each value which means you can not make changes when live.

Yes, that's true and a good observation.

I expect that it's not that important in the circumstances where the device would be used. The boom operator would hardly ever make a change to levels on the fly. He might adjust levels between takes on instructions from the mixer -

"Where is the transmitter now?"

"Ten o'clock"

"Take it up a notch. Maybe eleven o'clock."

After all, the mixer still has level control at the mixing panel; one is only making system matching adjustments at the remote mike preamp end. True whether the remote preamp is an MM-1 or the gain setting on the transmitter.

The MM-1 presumably has a good (relatively transparent) limiter. I guess one of my questions is "how good a limiter."

I don't think one would want the boom op to be making level changes while the mixer is also making level changes at the panel; that's a good way to introduce more "mixing" than one wants. To the contrary, I often tell boom operators that, when encountering an unexpectedly hot signal, they should give me a bit less "air" than they think necessary because I may be handling it at my end as well.

David Waelder

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A good example of the best use for the MM-1 is for the parabolic mic operator at a football game (either type). It allows the operator to hear what it being picked up, and it boosts the mic to a high quality line level through a beefy transformer capable of mile-long runs to the truck.

Personally, for boom op normal operation, I don't see the advantage of a bridging headphone amp and would prefer to always send the boom op their monitoring signal from me. While the argument could be made that listening to the mic directly could aid in trouble shooting, in my opinion this advantage is out-weighed by possible confusion. For example, if the boom op can only hear what is being sent by the recordist, if they hear their microphone, they know their mic is being received.

Glen Trew

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Personally, for boom op normal operation, I don't see the advantage of a bridging headphone amp and would prefer to always send the boom op their monitoring signal from me.

Glen, thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I understand the way the MM-1 works, one would connect the output of an IFB receiver so that the operator could hear the track through the preamp and the private line from the IFB. Of course, this is optional; he could just monitor through the IFB and not use that capacity of the MM-1. Or one might acquire an MP-1, essentially the same product from Sound Devices, without the headphone monitoring, for $50 less.

My real inquiry is not so much about the advantage of monitoring directly but rather if there is any advantage to having a dedicated microphone preamp for use with a radio boom. That is, is there any performance advantage of the preamp or the limiter of the MM-1/MP-1 compared with using a regular phantom supply (Denecke, PSC) and connecting directly to, say, a Lectrosonics transmitter?

Moreover is the advantage, if any, worth the inconvenience of that big box?

Thanks for your thoughts.

David Waelder

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I did the MM-1 and a Lectro UM400 for a wireless boom op setup with a Comtek back to the boom op for PL and so he could hear my mix. Worked great. Boom op had to wear a fanny pack. powered the whole rig from a NP1. Only thing I hated was the click click click when we wanted to make level changes. I realize that once a level is set you should'nt have to make changes but I still didn't like it. Otherwise the audio sounded great. I felt that the audio sounded much better thru the MM-1 compared to only using a Lectro transmitter.

Scott,

correct me if I am wrong, but the " click click" is not sent to tape??

ps,

MM-1 works well for directors cueing talent. (mic in tx out)

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Only thing I hated was the click click click when we wanted to make level changes. I realize that once a level is set you should'nt have to make changes but I still didn't like it. Otherwise the audio sounded great. I felt that the audio sounded much better thru the MM-1 compared to only using a Lectro transmitter.

This is interesting. If the audio performance is better, it might be worth the nuisance of working with a bigger box. I don't really know what's inside the Lectro transmitter in the way of a preamp but conventional logic suggests that the preamp in the much bigger MM-1 box is likely to have more to it. (But conventional logic isn't always right.) I'll have to borrow one and run some tests.

I think I could live with the click-click-click of level changes. I wouldn't normally expect to make that change during the take. And, one could take the contrary view (as Richard Paterson suggested to me) that the click stops provide assurance that the level does not change when bumped and that levels are set at precisely repeatable steps.

I'm still interested in any real world experience others might have or in any conclusions reached after making an in-store evaluation.

David Waelder

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I've used the SD MM-1 for several different jobs; i always keep one around. In terms of its use for a boom operator, I love it. It's a little on the bulky side, but I think its a vast improvement in sound quality over a denecke box/lectro tx combo. The limiters are quite smooth for  a little portable preamp; certainly smoother than those found in a lectro transmitter. If i had any complaints about the limiter, it would be that it could have a slightly higher threshold, or slower attack; there have been a few moments when i felt that i'd rather let a quick emotive burst from an actor go uncompressed. In those instances, i found it easy enough to tell my boom guy to turn it off. Another bonus is the hpf - i like having the 80hz/160hz cut before the tx at times. Being able to snatch that extra bit of gain when feeding the tx is a bonus gain structure wise.

However, a caveat: I've only really used the mm-1 with 200 series transmitters. I noticed, when i plugged it into a 400, that there was way too much gain - its as if it needed a 15-20 db pad with a line level ta5f-xlr. However, i think there's a way to wire the ta5f for a lectro 400 thats somewhere at line level -10db. But i'm not sure, because i'm still in the analog wireless stone age.

I havent had any need for external power - it lasts 4-5 hours or so on 2 regular AA's, longer on lithiums. My only thing is that i find that the preamp sounds better when left on all the time, rather than switched on or off.... I know its not tube technology, but i have noticed that it does kind of 'warm up'. And it sounds very thin as the batteries begin to die, long before that pilot light changes color.

I've used it for plant mikes several times, and found it to be a really great addition to the kit.. I think its rather warm sounding, and gives you a little bit more 220hz presence, which helps as an actor is falling on the edges of the mic pattern.

As far as the 'click click'... Who cares, as long as its in between takes. Better that then losing a take because a random piece of set dressing bumped the knob when the boom is working a cue.

my 2 cents.

A

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From the responses I've seen here and on RAMPS, it doesn't seem that many people use this device. It appears to be more popular in England than here in the States.

Those who use it all comment favorably about the limiters and claim improved performance compared with using the preamp (+ outboard phantom supply) of a Lectro transmitter.

So far I have no production experience with the unit. I borrowed one to try and my initial listening tests have been promising. My quest for a way to use the short Neumann mikes with radio link led to this inquiry. I installed a Neutrik connector with RF trap in the microphone pigtail, confirmed presence of the latest circuit board in the mike, and even put an isolation transformer in the Denecke phantom power supply, all without any good effect. The low level background hash continued to be generated with the 100 series Neumanns. With the MM-1 power supply, the hash was completely gone and the resulting audio was just like a hard wire. I don't yet know why the MM-1 should function well while the Denecke-Neumann combination produces noise; I'll continue to investigate.

I acquired a pair of the Sennheiser MKH 8050s so the issue of using the Neumanns is somewhat moot. (Although, sometimes one would like a third mike with a radio link for a plant.)

Just listening to the unit with low level backgrounds, I have a sense of improved performance even with the Sennheisers. Radio booms never seemed "hard-wired" to me although they often exhibited performance that was really good enough. Any background noise was effectively masked by the voice being recorded. Occasional "squashing" from the limiter may have been noticeable in headphones but was not apparent in speaker playback. Listening to various mikes through the MM-1, I really do get the open sense that I experience when listening to a hard-wire mike. But this is preliminary testing without the dynamics of an actual production. I have a small assignment coming up and that will give me a chance to make a critical listen. I'll make a follow-up report.

David Waelder

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone have any experience using the Sound Devices MM-1 microphone pre-amp?

It looks like a very promising device especially for use with a radio boom rig. The boom operator gets to monitor the audio directly without depending on an IFB link. But an IFB signal can be fed into the device so the boom op gets private line communications from the mixer. It supplies phantom power and, as a preamp, it would feed controlled signal to the radio transmitter. One would expect this to enhance audio performance.

On the other hand, it does look a bit big. The boom op would have to hang this clunky device from his (her) belt along with the regular transmitter and the IFB receiver. True, you wouldn't have to have a separate phantom supply but the MM-1 appears to be quite a bit bigger than the phantom supply would be.

Does anyone have any specific experience with the thing? Is there a functional belt clip or pouch available to use with it?

Thanks.

David Waelder

David,

For the past 3 years, I have been using this rig. Except for the step gain, which is annoying at times, everything else works great. My patching are line out to UM400, Sennheisers IEM out to monitor in for PL.

Currently, my boom guy uses a Mix Pre, he likes it that way, especially the gain knobs, possibility of stereo rig too. He can have his Ipod patch to the return input.

One thing to note is the line level out of these 2 devices, I'm only strictly using it on the UM400 not the UM400a, due to the line level cable. The traditional TA3F to Mini TA5F Lectro line level cable does not go well with the UM400a.

As for pouch, I'm using a old Portabrace RM pouch.

Alan

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However, a caveat: I've only really used the mm-1 with 200 series transmitters. I noticed, when i plugged it into a 400, that there was way too much gain - its as if it needed a 15-20 db pad with a line level ta5f-xlr. However, i think there's a way to wire the ta5f for a lectro 400 thats somewhere at line level -10db. But i'm not sure, because i'm still in the analog wireless stone age.

You can add an inline 5K resistor to the line cable if you are not comfortable with that much gain. I used to use line to mic pad cable (pad 40) when using UM400, UM400a may need more attenuation due to the transmitter extra 10db, when working with MM1. Since I have switch to Mixpre, I'm not bothering about it too much, except for those plant mic situation.

Thanks Senator Mike for your reminder, I'd confirmed MM1 has a hotter output then Mixpre, same cable with same transmitter, on the Mixpre with the UM400 is at 11 o'clock, on the MM1 it was way down to minimum. Larry F told me about the 5K resistor, guess that will solve the issue with MM1 and UM400 or UM400a, that may also due to MM1 only works with Center Tap line cable (pin 3 floating). Using a normal Lectro line cable with MM1, the audio will sound thin.

Alan

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  • 10 years later...

Sorry to revive this dead thread but it seemed the more appropriate place (instead of starting a brand new one).

 

Have any of you used the SD Mixpre as a preamp for a boom operator? I'm intending to do so, sending the feed wirelessly via a Sennheiser G3 to my mixer for an upcoming shoot. Any tips, suggestions, warnings, or helpful information? 

 

I'll be running a SD442 into a 744t. I don't have any spare equipment to use for talkback, and I only have the G3 to spare for the send.

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20 hours ago, Mdeblasi said:

Have any of you used the SD Mixpre as a preamp for a boom operator? I'm intending to do so, sending the feed wirelessly via a Sennheiser G3 to my mixer for an upcoming shoot. Any tips, suggestions, warnings, or helpful information? 

 


This is exactly what I do, except with a Lectro transmitter. 
Then my boom op can listen to the headphone output from the MM1 mixed together with a feed sent back from me so I can communicate with him.

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On 7/16/2018 at 3:47 PM, IronFilm said:


This is exactly what I do, except with a Lectro transmitter. 
Then my boom op can listen to the headphone output from the MM1 mixed together with a feed sent back from me so I can communicate with him.

 

What do you use for the booms ifb comm?  

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A Sony UWP-D11 in reverse. (has a nice little headphone output on it! Use them a lot like that. However I think though my long term goal is to get a few G3 IEMs? As I like how they're stereo, but... you need the rack mounted receiver for that!! But I wonder if they can  be run from DC power in the bag? Dunno, this is something I plan to research in the future)

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On 3/22/2008 at 10:40 PM, Alan said:

One thing to note is the line level out of these 2 devices, I'm only strictly using it on the UM400 not the UM400a, due to the line level cable. The traditional TA3F to Mini TA5F Lectro line level cable does not go well with the UM400a.

What is wrong with using the UM400a?

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I went from a SHURE FP12 HEADPHONE BRIDGING AMPLIFIER to the Sound Devices MM-1 for a boom op o over 12 years ago and it was better in a number of ways. first it wasn't just a headphone amp for hardcabled boom op. and I wasn't only providing mic pre from my mixer. I could do wireless boom.

I agree with many of the others above for using as a boom good mic pre before a TX for wireless boom op. the low cut filter was nice but especially the limiter.

 

For non-scripted corporate stuff I also use it when I only need 1 headphone at video village for a director/producer or if there is a teleprompter operator I'll set it up just for them instead of breaking out Comteks.. The sound quality is lightyears above a Comtek PR-216. Paired with a slightly nicer pair of headphones than cheap consumables that are broken in a matter of weeks it sounds good and runs on 2 AA batteries.

 

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