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Sound Devices 633…What do you think?


Jim Feeley
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I´ll say it forever....wish some day SD realease a 744T MK2 with 4 preamps

+1

- its been sort of a running joke ( at least to me…) that on the occasions I've sent my 744t  or another device to SD for a new light or button or whatever I always ask about when the new 'CLC 4' attachment w/2 more preamps & 4 real faders is coming out… So, yes I secretly wished - but seriously doubted - that a 746 ( 4 isos & 2 mix trks ) recorder was beneath the brownie napkin. But really not so far fetched as surely there is a market for such a device given other vendors products - look at Nagra VI, Aeta 4Minx, Zax Maxx and Sonosax's self-rumored update to the SX-R4.  Anyway: mutli-channel ganging ( for DMS or ambisonic ), gain matching, A & B format monitoring, rugged ( dare I add weatherproof  ) enough to take wherever whenever and preamps pristine enough for classical as well as nature ambience. Also give it a Nagra-esque record switch while you're at it, please. And I like the screen / LED combo on the 744t - I can read that thing on the brightest of days.

 

All that said, it wasn't my birthday party and the 633 preamps certainly warrant a good listening to. And very curious that they decided to give this recorder the ability to to 88.2. 96 & 192 kHz - clearly targeting music and SFX recordists.

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+1

- its been sort of a running joke ( at least to me…) that on the occasions I've sent my 744t  or another device to SD for a new light or button or whatever I always ask about when the new 'CLC 4' attachment w/2 more preamps & 4 real faders is coming out… So, yes I secretly wished - but seriously doubted - that a 746 ( 4 isos & 2 mix trks ) recorder was beneath the brownie napkin. But really not so far fetched as surely there is a market for such a device given other vendors products - look at Nagra VI, Aeta 4Minx, Zax Maxx and Sonosax's self-rumored update to the SX-R4.  Anyway: mutli-channel ganging ( for DMS or ambisonic ), gain matching, A & B format monitoring, rugged ( dare I add weatherproof  ) enough to take wherever whenever and preamps pristine enough for classical as well as nature ambience. Also give it a Nagra-esque record switch while you're at it, please. And I like the screen / LED combo on the 744t - I can read that thing on the brightest of days.

 

All that said, it wasn't my birthday party and the 633 preamps certainly warrant a good listening to. And very curious that they decided to give this recorder the ability to to 88.2. 96 & 192 kHz - clearly targeting music and SFX recordists.

 

WOW a CLC4 would be so great solution...

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I understand that global market forces are different, as are trading laws etc and can understand a price difference. But 25%? That seems excessive; put it this way, i could book a return flight to NY from London, get a cab to Gotham Sound, buy a 633 (or as many 633's as UK mixers want) stay overnight in a moderate hotel, fly home and then pay all custom and import duties AND STILL SAVE MONEY.

That's surprising to hear. In sweden, we have to pay taxes (25% + customs) for everything bought outside the EU if it's above a certain cost (about 600 usd), wether by shipping it in or traveling there and back. I thought this was the case for all EU countries.

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Did my first little job with the 633 yesterday.

The small faders are not a problem at all. I'm 6'7" with giant hands and with the pop-up faders I found it no problem at all to mix - especially knowing that the ISO-tracks are there to back me up.

And at the risk of starting a mix-philosophy debate, working in post I heard way too much over-anxious fader riding ruining a good take more so than the occasional natural dynamics of dialogue. Once again thank god for ISO-tracks.

I'm impressed with the range of power options but in all honesty, if my bag power drops out, my rads are dead anyway so all I'm recording is dead air anyway. It feels a little like overkill without a DC output from the mixer. The power protect feature that will close down the recording properly is pretty cool tho

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That's surprising to hear. In sweden, we have to pay taxes (25% + customs) for everything bought outside the EU if it's above a certain cost (about 600 usd), wether by shipping it in or traveling there and back. I thought this was the case for all EU countries.

Yes, that is the case, although the rate varies, I think it's 20% in the UK (it's the same rate as VAT).

Not sure if the free trade agreement will help much. Sure, no more customs to pay, but that's only 3-10%, depending on the product. The expensive part is all the legal stuff. Larry Fisher of Lectrosonics mentioned in another thread that they had to pay $10.000 to get the Srb into the EU market. Maybe there are more costs involved. He or any of the manufacturers here would be able to provide more info on this.

But they will also look at competing products in each market and price their product accordingly. There just isn't one global price.

And I think if you do feel like it's worth it travelling to the US then you should do it.

By the way, DHL offer a service where they will provide an address in the States for you and you can then have your shopping sent there. They will then send it on to you. It's not cheap, but may still be cheaper

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Concerning timecode on the 663, there is no mention of the Ambient timecode. Does the 633 use the same timecode circuitry as the 664 or is it a different timecode clock being used?

 

 

In the Specifications section of the manual, under timecode accuracy it says:

 

· Ambient Generator

· 0.2ppm (0.5 frames per 24 hours) accuracy.

· Holds TC clock for two hours after main battery removal 

 

 

Jim

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Anybody got their 633 with the CS-663 Porta Brace bag? It seems to be a pretty decent one, would love to se some more pics how the 633 fits regarding depth (due to the batteries).

 

Rasmus,

 

The bottom of the bag opens to accomodate larger L-Mounts.

 

The 633 is held in place by straps around each "golf tee", so it is suspended in the bag.

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" they don't refuse to service a machine bought in the US - why would they? "

One possible issue would be warranty...

 

" And order from Nashville, delivered directly to your NY hotel room, sales tax free (about 9%), and save another $300 or more. Like getting the hotel free. "

see what he did there..?

I'm not sure what the warranty policies are in these cases, and, I'll say that the value of local service and support should not be underestimated. With that said, there are often those who travel (such as from Europe to the US, or from the US to Europe) for work or pleasure, and, of course, are free to purchase whatever they like while abroad. On the return trip, however, there are concerns such as import taxes collected by customs, and the issue of getting enthusiastic support from your local vendor who did not make the sale (especially if they were intentionally avoided). Remember that a single instance of support from your local vendor can be worth much more than the price difference you might find in other countries.

 

Glen Trew

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" Remember that a single instance of support from your local vendor can be worth much more than the price difference you might find in other countries. "

... also keep in mind that the ongoing knowledgable support from one of our "usual suspects" can be worth more than the price difference  you might find from a "box house"...

 

(see what I just did there ?)

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So here's my 309,595 cents worth folks …

 

First up, I'll say that I'm coming primarily from the perspective of a sound editor who does (high end feature) effects recording. So the first thing to say is that I, like others, looked at the 664 for its multitrack recording capabilities when it was announced and unfortunately dismissed it straight away due to its cap at 48k. In fact, although I've used one many times, I wouldn't have a 788 on my list of potential purchases these days, or anything above 1000 dollars that couldn't do 192k.

 

I think that Sound Devices have really turned back to face the (handful of) effects and music (-ologist) recordists (and perhaps the odd scientist or nature recordist) with this with its 88/192k iso capability which has to be applauded. (Restricting 'production sets' of Mix, Aux and Isos to 48k seems perfectly reasonable … since that's all that's going to be needed for a long time … and preferably forever imho).

(It would be VERY interesting at this point to hear from SD if firmware might be enabled to provide 192 ISOs only for the 664 in the near future …)

 

First what I might have liked to see:

 

Like a few here have voiced already I would have preferred 4 mic preamps and +2 line in, enabling quad atmos and ambisonics (if not 5.1) … Then again I think of it as more of a price than space consideration, and it's obvious main market is not we few recordists but the several thousand run and gun mixers wanting a new 302 with recording capability. 3 preamps is certainly better than two, and with the 633 its easy to record LCR effects on a small unit. (Of course, given 4 I'd want 5 … if there is no chance of upgrading the SR of the 644 isos does SD plan a 192 capable replacement for the 744 at any point?)

 

(I also wonder if it's possible and not too difficult to line up a 302 or Mixpre or MixpreD onto 2 of the 3 line ins with mic level tone out of the 633 into the 302etc mic ins and BACK into the 633 … setting a suitable gain on the 302etc whilst reading the levels off the 633 screen … could this be done whilst the same machine is outputting tone?)

 

I think the linking options of 1-2 and 5-6 only is unnecessarily basic … at the very least I'd have expected any combination of Ch1-3 plus any combo of 4-6 to link to one fader of each (and even main mic gain for 1-3 which I assume would have been possible, unlike analogue models like the 302). But any and every combination of all six channels, ie fader after main gain, should have been implemented … and can it be done so for the next firmware??

 

With the Mix Pre-D out, and the possibility of 5 channel recording there, it seems an extraordinary oversight having the 2 digital inputs use up one or two of the possible preamps. The chance to switch AES in to one of the TA3s (via a cable) would have been ideal to utilise the Mix Pre D (or daisychain the 633 to a digital out from a multitrack whilst keeping all three mic preamps for use) … at least AES3 if not necessarily AES42.

 

Again, from a SD mixer ownership point of view (302 in my case, but thinking of the TA3/5 Mix out across the range) I'd have preferred the RTN to have been a TA3 Mix In to easily inject another mixer's LR output into the 633 LR bus (or routed instead to Aux12 bus …) I believe (from picture on p19 of manual) that the RTN CAN be routed to the 633 LR Mix bus, in whole or single leg - legs perhaps even reversed or doubled … so if it was a case of SD deliberately missing this out it's a bit strange. But I'd feel sonically happier knowing the signal was coming via a TA3 than a 3.5 jack … (a plugged-in adapter could sit there for normal camera return loom).

 

Although I know I'm the loser in this old old battle I'm a good and persistent loser so … whilst I appreciate the nod towards AES42 mic in, I do miss having at least one preamp with T-power option, if only for the emergency situation. (Saying that, I DON'T particularly want to carry around 48V to T converter barrels for my CMC4 or Sennheisers … nor do I think I'm ever going to replace my older-than-myself 805T pair with two new 816T or similar replacements … knowing it's a flick of a switch on my 302 is one of the great little things about it and I think, and have said it before, SD are missing a trick by no longer providing either one or two of the channels with T-power on their mixer range even if I don't expect it on the recorder range).

 

Now what I'm delighted to see (ignoring much mix-wise and prod-recording-wise which impresses me nevertheless but which is better discussed by others) -

 

192 sample rate - I wouldn't look at it otherwise

 

Full timecode implementation

 

2x AES out

 

Dual card recording - and Dual mp3 and wav (no use to me, but to many I expect it is)

 

Batteries - esp AA options - on rereading the instruction manual for the older Sonosax R4 I was reminded of the one killer problem with it that really made a difference for me - that it couldn't use basic alkaline AAs (it used AAs but only rechargeables … which perhaps will be addressed with the new model in development). The multiple powering options, and system, on the 633 are great to see for someone who might take a limited recording kit up into Himalayan villages with dodgy power availability and know I can still stick some crappy AAs in and record when I'm left with two uncharged L-batteries.

 

Finally the price. Most reasonable for all the features and quality this thing seems to provide. I'd rather have one extra preamp for an extra 500 dollars but considering this seems to do exactly half again what the 744 can do and much more besides I'm pretty impressed. Most especially the hi-res capability which at least makes we niche fellows have a good hard look once again.

 

 

Jez Adamson

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I wouldn't have a 788 on my list of potential purchases these days, or anything above 1000 dollars that couldn't do 192k.

Then you should take another look, because it does do 192k now. And so does Zaxcom's Maxx, by the way. Judging just by the specs the 788t's preamps are better than those on the 633, but I always thought "high end feature" sound fx recordists would use something more exotic, anyway
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