Jump to content
Alex Weinberg

Zoom F6 vs Sound devices MixPre II series Dynamic Range

Recommended Posts

On 9/3/2019 at 3:44 PM, Olle Sjostrom said:

This is now the "full size sensor " in the sound world. It still needs to sound good, not just be able to not sound terrible. It's still not the same thing.. 

Or re-framing from 4k!

re Patrick,

That patent # must be..err..patented.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TBH, a lot of nit-picking about dynamic range beyond what we can already achieve feels like the horsepower arms race that car manufacturers get into when trying to sell cars to people who are likely to drive them on roads with speed limits.

 

If you're doing live music or SFX gathering (or something else with little to no control or chance to anticipate), I see an incredible advantage to anything beyond 24 bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, syncsound said:

TBH, a lot of nit-picking about dynamic range beyond what we can already achieve

 

The point about the 32-bit converter is, in my opinion, not just about dynamic range, although that is an important aspect. There „just“ needs to be enough dynamic range (and iedally a lower noise floor) to surpass that of ideally every microphone. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. 

More importantly, the huge headroom is what makes this special. That’s not much to do with dynamic range and more with the 32-bit float system...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would consider headroom to be part of the total dynamic range (signal to noise + headroom = total dynamic range).

 

And yes, I get that it should ideally exceed the capabilities of our mics, but what I'm talking about is practical application beyond that. We can already deliver very good final mixes from 24 bit audio sources. That's what my crack about horsepower was about: yes, your sportscar has > 500 hp, but how often will you use that in a legal fashion driving around town? Most people will never need that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, syncsound said:

I would consider headroom to be part of the total dynamic range (signal to noise + headroom = total dynamic range).

 

And yes, I get that it should ideally exceed the capabilities of our mics, but what I'm talking about is practical application beyond that. We can already deliver very good final mixes from 24 bit audio sources. That's what my crack about horsepower was about: yes, your sportscar has > 500 hp, but how often will you use that in a legal fashion driving around town? Most people will never need that.

 

Wait, the dynamic range is the analog part and the headroom is the digital part - at least how they implemented it in the MixPre. Otherwise the MixPre II had a dynamic range of 1542dB, which it does not. 

 

I got your point about the competition to add more and more hp (bits), but my contention is that it won’t matter once you surpass the capabilities of any mic. Increasing it further than that would indeed be just showing off. 

I think the ability to faithfully record the entire range of a microphone is exactly what we all need and should desire to be able to do. Of course, we can get great recordings done without that ability and we may indeed feel like we don’t actually need it, but it will always be a compromise. 

 

I have spent a lot of time trying to justify purchasing the StageTec TrueMatch. It‘s the only converter I know of that can really convert an entire microphone‘s output with a noisefloor that’s lower than that of the Audio Precision measurement equipment. 

It would be so cool if I could somehow integrate it into my workflow or if I did more music recordings or whatever. It would be really close to perfection. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Constantin said:

 

Wait, the dynamic range is the analog part and the headroom is the digital part -

 

AFAIK, they aren't segregated by their relative domains (ananog vs digital) - 

http://www.moultonlabs.com/more/about_acoustic_and_microphone_levels_levels_management_i/P1/

58 minutes ago, Constantin said:

 

at least how they implemented it in the MixPre. Otherwise the MixPre II had a dynamic range of 1542dB, which it does not. 

 

I got your point about the competition to add more and more hp (bits), but my contention is that it won’t matter once you surpass the capabilities of any mic. Increasing it further than that would indeed be just showing off. 

I think the ability to faithfully record the entire range of a microphone is exactly what we all need and should desire to be able to do. Of course, we can get great recordings done without that ability and we may indeed feel like we don’t actually need it, but it will always be a compromise. 

 

I have spent a lot of time trying to justify purchasing the StageTec TrueMatch. It‘s the only converter I know of that can really convert an entire microphone‘s output with a noisefloor that’s lower than that of the Audio Precision measurement equipment. 

It would be so cool if I could somehow integrate it into my workflow or if I did more music recordings or whatever. It would be really close to perfection. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Basically the concept of 32 bit folating point is that you capture  the whole dynamic range you have before the ADC (like 142dB) by mapping the maximum gain to 0dBFS and to put it into a much larger digital container (with 1542dB of dynamic range) after the ADC. So afterwards (on the digital side) you have a lot of freedom to push and pull the signal without adding noise or clipping.

 

Greetings

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, pillepalle said:

Basically the concept of 32 bit folating point is that you capture  the whole dynamic range you have before the ADC (like 142dB) by mapping the maximum gain to 0dBFS and to put it into a much larger digital container (with 1542dB of dynamic range) after the ADC. So afterwards (on the digital side) you have a lot of freedom to push and pull the signal without adding noise or clipping.

 

Greetings

 

I get that. I should have prefaced my comment by stating that I wasn't trying o debate the technical merits. I was merely commenting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To get back to the original question: It would probably be wise to choose the Sound Devices over the Zoom. Although I still like my portable Zoom H2n...

 

And I would never record 32 bit without limiters for clients if not discussed upfront, since they will think the audio is distorted. (And I don't even know what other problems 32 bit will cause in editing software and exports to sound). For now, 32 bit is indeed great for SFX recording though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mmm… not sure you have access to limiters if set up for 32bit... I'd have to read that part of the manual again...

 

One thing's for sure: we have discussions with post production ahead of us for at least a few months, if not more. These people, sometimes, when they have an established workdlow, are hard to get into a new way to work things out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Michiel said:

To get back to the original question: It would probably be wise to choose the Sound Devices over the Zoom. Although I still like my portable Zoom H2n...

 

And I would never record 32 bit without limiters for clients if not discussed upfront, since they will think the audio is distorted. (And I don't even know what other problems 32 bit will cause in editing software and exports to sound). For now, 32 bit is indeed great for SFX recording though.

 

The Limiters in the MixPre II - according to SDs PDFs - only works during 16 and 24 bit recordings and the II-series do not support 32 bit fixed, only floating point.

 

LIMITERS (16- and 24-bit operation only)

Limiter at all gain stages, range > 40 dB First stage analog, subsequent stages digital Adjustable threshold, ratio, and release.

 

RECORDING

44.1 kHz, 47.952 kHz, 48 kHz, 48.048 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz sampling frequencies
16, 24, 32 float bit depths
Polyphonic WAV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is only one thing that Zoom seems to solve smarter. They claim that the Zoom F6 is able to record 24 and 32 bit simmultaneously. So you would be able to give your client a 24bit recording, if he prefers that for his workflow. 

 

Greetings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, pillepalle said:

There is only one thing that Zoom seems to solve smarter. They claim that the Zoom F6 is able to record 24 and 32 bit simmultaneously. So you would be able to give your client a 24bit recording, if he prefers that for his workflow. 

 

Greetings

 

Yes indeed. Thats is a very nice feature!

As the Gen1of the MixPres are showing such problems with Buffer Errors when recording all channels at 24bit and 192KHz.

Unless Sound Devices have done a major change of the SD-card I/O hardware or firmware, they might have a bit of an uphill battle writing any more tracks to the cards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Display Name said:

 

Yes indeed. Thats is a very nice feature!

As the Gen1of the MixPres are showing such problems with Buffer Errors when recording all channels at 24bit and 192KHz.

Unless Sound Devices have done a major change of the SD-card I/O hardware or firmware, they might have a bit of an uphill battle writing any more tracks to the cards.

 

Please let me know the exact model of SD cards have you experienced this with so that we can evaluate. Our Sound Devices approved SD SAM card works very well @192 kHz, 24-bit or 32-bit float, as well as many other cards we have tried. 

 

Thx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Johnny Karlsson...

The ratio of signal to ambient noise (room noise) is exactly the same regardless of anything electronic in your recording system.  So it’s incorrect to imply that amplifying a -40 signal will somehow increase the ambient noise in the recording relative to what it would have been if you had recorded at 0.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Paul Isaacs said:

 

Please let me know the exact model of SD cards have you experienced this with so that we can evaluate. Our Sound Devices approved SD SAM card works very well @192 kHz, 24-bit or 32-bit float, as well as many other cards we have tried. 

 

Thx

 

Paul, The good people at TapersSection.com are reporting the same problem and are documenting the results in a detailed format in this thread: http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=191314.0 

 

cheers

Niels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Paul Isaacs said:

 

Please let me know the exact model of SD cards have you experienced this with so that we can evaluate. Our Sound Devices approved SD SAM card works very well @192 kHz, 24-bit or 32-bit float, as well as many other cards we have tried. 

 

Thx

 

Thank you for asking Paul. 

 

While I read up of the posts, Neils managed to reply before me. The link to Tapers is a good one. 

 

It is a wide mix of Sandisk, Toshiba, Lexar, Kingston, Samsung and others with very decent specs that do not work with the confident needed. The UK based Integral is one of few that actually seems to work. 

 

Some cards manages a few hours before failing. Others fail with buffer error within minutes or only manage to record less then specified number of channels. 

 

It is an expensive and tedious way for us recordists buying and testing cards on our own, trying to find out which do nail a set or field recording with 100 percent confidence. 

 

Should work, could work or do work but with poorer quality or less channels are not a chance one should have to take.

 

If there’s chance for this to be looked at - many of us would be beyond thankful and bow deep of appreciation. 

 

Regards. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, Display Name said:

 

It is an expensive and tedious way for us recordists buying and testing cards on our own, trying to find out which do nail a set or field recording with 100 percent confidence

 

Why don‘t you use the Sound Devices branded cards then? They have already been tried and tested and you can be fairly certain they won’t be counterfeit. And they work...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not using them myself but I have a MixPre 3 and its maximum sample rate is 96 KHz.

 

That said, some comments about SD cards.

 

- Counterfeits. Sandisk is much more likely to be counterfeited. I have several Sandisk ones and so far I've been lucky. But with Sandisk you have a risk of getting a counterfeit. In theory Amazon is a safe seller as long as you are buying from them instead of a third party vendor. But I've read confusing reports about inventory commingling.

 

- Specification stability. The cards sold by Sound Devices are probably manufactured by Sandisk but (this is an educated guess) I imagine they have a contract against unexpected component or specification changes. So with a SD branded card you are less likely to suffer a nasty surprise. 

 

- MixPre II. Again an educated guess, but they are using a more powerful SOC (system on chip) which means that it will have resources to be more resilient against memory card hiccups. 

 

All that said, Compact Flash is orders of magnitude more robust but it's much more expensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Niels said:

 

Paul, The good people at TapersSection.com are reporting the same problem and are documenting the results in a detailed format in this thread: http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=191314.0 

 

cheers

Niels

Thx for the link - good info. We'll take a deeper look. In the meantime, our Sound Devices approved card should work fine.

From looking at the results in the link, it seems that 192kHz, 8 track is the point at which an issue might occur. 192k, 7-track seems good. We do suggest avoiding using microSD cards in adapters as that is introducing another potential bottleneck. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Randy Thom said:

To Johnny Karlsson...

The ratio of signal to ambient noise (room noise) is exactly the same regardless of anything electronic in your recording system.  So it’s incorrect to imply that amplifying a -40 signal will somehow increase the ambient noise in the recording relative to what it would have been if you had recorded at 0.

 

Thank you, Randy, for chiming in here. It always surprises me the way people talk about gain, noise, sample rates, bit rates, etc., even people who have been doing sound work for many years. One of the most common mistakes in the whole thought process is not truly understanding gain staging (knowing where the important and significant stages are). Also, confusing "signal-to-noise" ratio (a technical and quantifiable specification) with the ratio in the real world of the "signal" we want to record and the extraneous or ambient "noise" we do not want to record. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Display Name said:

It is a wide mix of Sandisk, Toshiba, Lexar, Kingston, Samsung and others with very decent specs that do not work with the confident needed. The UK based Integral is one of few that actually seems to work. 

 

I'm leaning on the long-ago days when I tested hard drives (<-- that's a warning), but I think part of the issues may come from the design choices those card manufacturers made. It could be impossible or just very expensive to design a card that's optimized for all possible uses.

 

So perhaps some cards are optimized for burst recording of say a RAW image from a high-resolution still camera. Maybe others are optimized for low-energy consumption for use in tiny mobile devices. Maybe plenty can handle sustained recording of a single h.265 video stream. But perhaps few cards are optimized for sustained recording of multiple highbandwidth (24/96 or whatever) audio tracks. 

 

Considering the tiny size of the portable multi-track audio market, I could see there being fewer cards that meet deliver the long-term consistent performance Zoom, Sound Devices, Zaxcom, and we need. Will still be cool to see an updated compatibility list from Sound Devices, though... Or just bigger SD-branded cards. 🙂

 

Also, it's cool to see that taperssection.com is still rolling strong!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

Considering the tiny size of the portable multi-track audio market, I could see there being fewer cards that meet deliver the long-term consistent performance Zoom, Sound Devices, Zaxcom, and we need. Will still be cool to see an updated compatibility list from Sound Devices, though... Or just bigger SD-branded cards. 🙂

 

Also, it's cool to see that taperssection.com is still rolling strong!

 

 

 

Yes, that's one way to see it.

 

But there is a small difference.

Zoom lists 126 different SD cards 32GB or larger from 13-14 different manufacturers as compatible with F8/F8n.

Sound devices lists one single 32GB card which is their own.

 

I find this a bit skewed and discomforting.

Have Zoom found a way to write 10 channels of 24bit 192KHz BWF which Sound Devices have not?

Are Zoom simply listing what ever card they found as compatible without testing them?

Could it be as simple as a firmware tweak to make sure the buffer errors do not occur?

 

I was just hoping that we MixPre recordists would be given them same range of choices as the Zoom users.

So if SD during development actually have tested a lot of cards which do work at highest bitrates and all channels I believe it would be very comforting for a lot of us to know which card we can trust because SD confirms they do work in their equipment!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

Considering the tiny size of the portable multi-track audio market, I could see there being fewer cards that meet deliver the long-term consistent performance Zoom, Sound Devices, Zaxcom, and we need. Will still be cool to see an updated compatibility list from Sound Devices, though... Or just bigger SD-branded cards. 🙂

 

The strange thing though is I've never heard of troubles with the Zoom F8 and SD cards, and that records at up to 10 tracks 192KHz

 

So why is Sound Devices have such troubles with high track count recording? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...