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MixPre-6 – worth it for this beginner?


Daniel Ignacio
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Right now, I’ve got a Tascam DR-70D. It’s hardly professional, but it’s fine and lets me do my job well enough as a beginner mixer for small film shoots.

 

I’m getting conflicting reports about the MixPre-6. The LocationSound subreddit is very negative toward it, for its lack of timecode, balanced outputs, and camera return. Meanwhile, one of the mixers I boomed for recommended it to me and was emphatic about getting one, presumably for smaller jobs that require less than her Nomad.

 

Despite the Sound Devices name and apparently being a great product for what it is, I’m personally worried the little guy might not impress clients. Plus, with the little money I have, I’d prefer to build out my kit by finally purchasing a basic wireless lav setup (COS-11 and RodeLink) rather than building up with a mixer upgrade at this stage.

 

So I have three options: a MixPre-6, some other sub-$1000 mixer (I’m thinking the Zoom F4), or no mixer upgrade at all. What should I do?

 

(First post here – thanks!)

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What do you need the recorder to do that your DR-70D isn't doing right now? If you can answer that and the MixPre-6 fulfills those needs, then you'll have your answer. 

 

If if you're getting it just to impress clients, don't. As already stated, most clients don't know or care. 

 

If if you're getting it as a sound quality upgrade to the Tascam, fine, but keep in mind that your sound quality will still be limited by the worst sounding piece of gear in the signal chain. I doubt anyone could hear much of a difference between the RodeLink wireless you mentioned earlier into a DR-70D and the RodeLink into a MixPre. 

 

-Mike

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Mix pre is an incremental step if you intend to be an audio-for-video sync sound location recordist.   What you need is a full up prod. sound machine with TC and other movie-friendly features.  If you can't afford a new 633 or MAXX etc then there are used 788s around.   I've seen some used MAXXs lately that seemed like good deals....

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Do not follow what camera industry does in terms of marketing.

Zoom F8, Zoom F4, Zaxcom Maxx, Sound Devices 633, Sound Devices MixPre will do the job.

Having used Zoom F8 and Sound Devices 633; my choice is Sound Devices 633.

It's not look "pretty" in front of client, I feel more comfortable with Sound Devices 633.

If your clients can pay the cost of renting Sound Devices 633; then go with it.

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Thanks for the advice, everyone. In hindsight, my mindset going into this post was pretty naive, though I failed to mention that I do more specifically want timecode capabilities, metadata entry, PFL, and better preamps with a mixer upgrade.

 

10 hours ago, old school said:

Personally I'd save up for a 633

 

10 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

If you can't afford a new 633…

 

9 hours ago, VAS said:

my choice is Sound Devices 633

 

The 633 is actually what I really want. From what I see and hear online of the 633’s capabilities and sound quality, it’s become my dream recorder. Plus, the mixer on my last feature had a 633 – while I was only booming for him, I loved that thing’s small yet friendly design. My current “endgame” (no such thing!) is either the 633 or the Maxx, and rentals for anything that requires more inputs.

 

I may just continue with my DR-70D for a while and instead get a wireless lav kit, while saving up for the 633.

 

10 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

If you can't afford a new 633 or MAXX etc then there are used 788s around.

 

Although I’ll keep this in mind.

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Along the lines of the 788, why not look at the other 7 series recorders? I've seen 702T's for under $1000 and 744T's for under $1500. I'm unsure of the 7 series metadata entry compared to SD's more modern offerings. I have a mix pre 6 and love the device for the jobs it's good at (specifically dslr audio on a one man band shoot). The mix Pre 6 does things your 6 or 7 series recorders can't do. I don't think it's a one or the other scenario. Another option is to pick up a used Mix Pre D and use it in front of your 70D. Often, on lower budget shoots they're only using camera audio anyway, the Mix Pre D is a versitale mixer with tons of output options and if/when you grow out of it you can give it to your boom op to use or mount on cameras that don't have XLR inputs. All that being said, the Mix Pre-3/6 has been so popular that it's depressed the used markets of all the devices I mentioned above. It's a great time to buy a used SD product because of that. One last note on the timecode of the mix pre-3/6, if you're actually on a shoot where the camera can accept timecode, well then it can output timecode too (or most can) and if you got a device like a mozegear TIG, you could jam the mix pre-3/6 and have matching timecode (though you'd need to check often for accuracy, even if batteries haven't been changed or devices powered down). That being said, it certainly seems like the low budget crowd loves to use plural eyes these days. I'd also wager that the majority of shoots that a beginner finds themselves on, the cameras don't have timecode I/O. Even the popular FS7 needs an extension, the new Canon C200 does not, none of the DSLR's, etc, but the majority of those cameras do output timecode over HDMI and in that scenario the Mix Pre 3/6 offers timecode options that can't be matched by any of the more "professional" recorders. Good luck, matt 

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On 8/19/2017 at 8:15 AM, Constantin said:

 

Such as?

 

 

1. Input timecode from my Canon 1DC and various other cameras that only output timecode via HDMI.

 

2. Trigger record from many cameras. 

 

3. Screw onto a camera cage. 

 

4. USB interface for computers. 

 

5. Wingman app (compared to 7 series) 

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1 . Meh

2.  Most mixer recorders will go in to record when setup properly

3. Velcro. Thank you 3M.  MixPreD will do that with additional hardware 

4. MixPreD. Prefer to keep them separate

5. 6 series can do that with add on hardware. I know it's not built in but meh

 

Then new MixPre units are nice but if one already has other units the like make it work.  Personally I find them to small for my fingers. 

 

 

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I don't really understand the snide remarks. Sure, it's a strange time when gear gets cheaper and more capable and people discuss that more then the important factors in audio recording (I'm terrible at getting distracted by tech myself). But the MixPre series *does* have significant advantages for a lot of people over more expensive gear - which is precisely why those used prices tanked.

 

about the points in question:

 

2 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

1. Input timecode from my Canon 1DC and various other cameras that only output timecode via HDMI.

--> 1 . Meh

 

Meh for you, but not for the solo shooter who has 1DC. 

 

 

2 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

2. Trigger record from many cameras. 

--> 2.  Most mixer recorders will go in to record when setup properly

 

afaik the Cantar/Nomad/788 etc will *not* trigger record from a 1DC 

 

2 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

3. Screw onto my camera cage. 

--> 3. Velcro. Thank you 3M.  MixPreD will do that with additional hardware 

 

yes, but you would have to record on camera, which with a lot of cameras means poor uncontrolled audio.

 

 

2 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

4. USB interface for computers. 

--> 4. MixPreD. Prefer to keep them separate

 

sure, but more expensive, less flexible with fewer inputs, and no onboard recording

 

 

2 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

5. Wingman app (compared to 7 series) 

--> 5. 6 series can do that with add on hardware. I know it's not built in but meh

 

yes, but the 6 series is also 4-5 times the price so not meh for a lot of people.

 

and it's not always about price, sometimes I like shoot on a specific camera which lacks on TC and I/O for the look even if the budget is there for a more expensive one and in sometimes weight does matter, so a MixPre-3/6 can be the better choice over a 788T even if both are available.

 

 

all that said, if I was looking for the best audio I'd rather hire Jeff with a Tascam DR-70 then myself with a Cantar X3 ; )

chris

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I have a Tascam 701d with external tc generator that I bring on budget shoots when I want something really light weight. I think a MixPre6 would probably do exactly the same thing. For bigger shoots bring a different mixer. 633, or Max, or 744t with maybe a 302. All good options.

 

At the end of the day the recorder usually isn't the limiting factor in your signal chain, or if it is then you should have the budget to pick the right tool for the job.

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6 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

 

 

1. Input timecode from my Canon 1DC and various other cameras that only output timecode via HDMI.

 

2. Trigger record from many cameras. 

 

3. Screw onto my camera cage. 

 

4. USB interface for computers. 

 

5. Wingman app (compared to 7 series) 

Yes, you are right about these, it's just... almost all of them are irrelevant to a location sound recordist who wants to move up from a Tascam, such as the OP. 

 

USB is a maybe, as many don't need that on location, but some do. 

Wingman really only applies to 7-series minus 788 as that has the CL-Wifi.  

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19 hours ago, Daniel Ignacio said:

Thanks for the advice, everyone. In hindsight, my mindset going into this post was pretty naive, though I failed to mention that I do more specifically want timecode capabilities, metadata entry, PFL, and better preamps with a mixer upgrade.

 

 

 

 

The 633 is actually what I really want. From what I see and hear online of the 633’s capabilities and sound quality, it’s become my dream recorder. Plus, the mixer on my last feature had a 633 – while I was only booming for him, I loved that thing’s small yet friendly design. My current “endgame” (no such thing!) is either the 633 or the Maxx, and rentals for anything that requires more inputs.

 

I may just continue with my DR-70D for a while and instead get a wireless lav kit, while saving up for the 633.

 

 

Although I’ll keep this in mind.

Sounds like a smart plan Daniel. The gear only gets better as time goes bye. All gear is important, but experience (booming or mixing) is what everyone needs more of. In a couple of months I'll be 40 years deep in local 695 and I learn new stuff all the time. Keep dreaming and thinking about the gear you want, but practice and work your people skills everyday. They are equal to gear in doing any job.

CrewC

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39 minutes ago, Constantin said:

Yes, you are right about these, it's just... almost all of them are irrelevant to a location sound recordist who wants to move up from a Tascam, such as the OP. 

 

 

well, how about:

 

6. analog limiters.

7. analog low cut filters

8. TC input (also for non-HDMI sources) 

9. better meter visibility

10. larger/better spaced pots

11. rated operating temperature  range -20 to +60C instead 0 to 40C

12. better dynamic range and noise levels

13. easier mixing (faders/trims)

14. way better menus/setup 

etc

 

all of which I find pretty much relevant to nearly any location sound recordist.

the question if it's better to save up for a 633 range is another matter, but personally I'd much rather buy a MixPre now and enjoy working with it for half a year and then sell it again at a small loss then keep using a DR-70, which frankly sucks in terms of handling (sorry Tom)

 

chris

 

edit: I now realise that the question was what the MP can do that a 633 can't rather then a MP vs a DR-70, and I agree there's not much of interest to a typical location sound person. but the above might still be of interest to the OP

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7 hours ago, Matthew Marzano said:

 

 

1. Input timecode from my Canon 1DC and various other cameras that only output timecode via HDMI.

 

2. Trigger record from many cameras. 

 

3. Screw onto my camera cage. 

 

4. USB interface for computers. 

 

5. Wingman app (compared to 7 series) 

 

4. USB interface for computer...

...while still operating as a recorder and recording from the computer - iso tracks to the computer are post fade :-(

Even with external box, 633 can't really do this without going analogue (after using the both AES O/Ps). If SD made a 6 channel fader board for the 633, 'USB interface' would be a nice feature, although probably not viable with the current 633 hardware.

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If you need to trigger from a DSLR or have your primary recorder also interface with a laptop then rock on. Those and some other things on that list are of very small interest to a working location dialog mixer-recordist.  We have striven for decades to REMOVE cables that need to run between our recorders and the camera whenever possible--one job on a fast moving shoot will tell you why.  Acting as an interface to a laptop is fine but the recorders most of us use have a lot of the capabilities of DAW apps already, without having to tether via a fragile connection like USB to a laptop?  Where does the laptop go when I'm working alone and out of a bag rig?  It sounds to me that the new MixPres may be perfect for what you need to do, but I they are not really up to the task of what most of us on this forum do on a daily basis.  SD was very careful about what they put in and what they didn't put into those machines...they still want to sell 633s!

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I'll never forget one of my first "high paying legit jobs"for Fox Sports West. At the time I was getting by doing Indy crap with a zoom h4n. So, when I got this decent paying FSW job I was so nervous showing up with just a zoom/boom that I rented a Sound Devices unit and threw it in the bag. I had no clue how to use it nor was I planning to. It was merely there so the client would see all the shiny lights. I ended up hiding the Zoom in the bag and recording everything on it. The commercial made it to TV and I worked for that client for many years thereafter. I eventually graduated up to a Nomad but you get the point of my story I'm sure.

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Dude--chillax.  Everyone here loves or at least respects SD, and we also respect the notion of "the guy on the ground" making the best decision about what gear to use for their particular jobs.  The post above is, frankly, kind of a typical reaction by a new member of the forum to people here not 100% endorsing a particular workflow or tool.  Take the info given for what it is: a distillation of decades of real-world experience in every possible sort of production sound; use what works for you and do your jobs.  Let us know how you go.  There is no Goliath and the Valley of Elah is every job we do.

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I had a Mixpre-6 for a couple months.  It's a great sounding recorder.  Just replaced it with two F8's.  Reasons were, 1) needed more professional powering options, using USB batteries or having to buy an expensive English dummy battery sled just didn't seem wise to me 2) Needed the extra tracks (was about to purchase a Jensen line converter box to get true +4 line level inputs into 5-6 on the Mixpre, and it just seemed like I should have to do that to get 6 tracks 3) No redundant recording to a mirror card (going to do a big shoot in December and didn't like the idea of handing over the ONLY memory card to a producer and not having a backup in case human error occurs during transfer, thus losing the day's material).   4) I didn't like the MP6 limiters for my uses.

 

All in all, it's been a small downgrade in the sound quality to go to the F8.  The MP6 had a more pleasing representation of the low mids and lows to my ears.  The F8 is not bad sounding, and I actually think I may prefer it in the upper midrange and highs.  I'm feeding the F8 from external field mixers, and it's a little bit of a pain to use the xlr-trs cables, but overall I'm happy I switched.  I could certainly see the upsides and downsides to both boxes now, however.

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