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Brain89

Should you have 2 mixers?

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I am looking for gear to use to be a freelance audio mixer.  Someone I am buying from has a sound devices 552 and said I should also have a 633.  

 

Is it necessary to own a 552 mixer recorder and have a 633 recorder?  Why would you do that when you could get both by getting a 644 and a 688?

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The simple answer to your topic heading "Should you have 2 mixers" is yes, you should. What follows in your post doesn't really make sense to me. Are you trtying to figure out which 2 recorders to have? My recommendation would be to have 2 recorders (maybe some of the confusion is that I assume that any recorder you use will be a mixer/recorder) and your choices should be whatever is available to you at your price point and preferably machines that you have some familiarity with.

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If you are a working pro, and don't have at least one backup mixer/recorder that can produce quality equal to the main unit, then you are putting your reputation at risk in the event of a disaster. Clients don't want excuses, they want results. And this says nothing of the convenience of being able to quickly leave your cart with something very portable for an hour or so during the day. 

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15 hours ago, Brain89 said:

Is it necessary to own a 552 mixer recorder and have a 633 recorder?  Why would you do that when you could get both by getting a 644 and a 688?

 

Seems like you're on the right path; you're ready to have a backup machine and just want to figure out what are appropriate choices, right?

And terminology is in flux these days. Lots of devices are both mixers and recorders.

 

Me, I've only had to reach for my backup mixer/recorder a couple times due to equipment failures. Both were stressful, but the producers were super happy that I was able to get back up and running in a few minutes (felt like hours for me). In those instances, my backups were my previous-generation equipment (audio quality the same, but fewer features and tracks). So I haven't bought two new mixer/recorders at the same time.

 

As for what products to buy, think about how many channels you need to record even in a backup/emergency situation, how portable you want to be (like do you want a "big" recorder/mixer for some jobs and a "small" one for others with one or the other always available as a backup)? And how much can you afford to spend?

 

With a 552, would you be OK with the non-timecode two tracks it can record internally (IIRC), or would you want to pair it with a 744T which would give you a bulky (by today's standards) but functional setup...though without a screen. Or would a Zoom F4/F8 be a better backup for a nicer Sound Devices or Zaxcom mixer/recorder? You'd have a couple different interfaces to learn (and you need to be able to work your backup recorder at a moment's notice), but that could work I think. Note that buying used can be a good thing, especially right now as Sound Devices and Zaxcom roll out new products...their slightly-older products (Which work just great) are showing up used at good prices.

 

So before we get specfic, what type of work do you do or plan to do? How many tracks do you need? Do you expect to be mostly on a cart, mostly working out of bags? What sort of budget do you have? And how much experience do you have? Buying both a 688 and a 633 to start out would be great, but that's a very serious expenditure. Anyway, let us know and people here can probably make some really helpful suggestions... 

 

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11 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

Me, I've only had to reach for my backup mixer/recorder a couple times due to equipment failures. Both were stressful, but the producers were super happy that I was able to get back up and running in a few minutes (felt like hours for me).

 

Oof, I know that feeling.  Everyone should have an "Oh shit" case/bag full of backups of everything ranging from cables to power distros to recorders etc.  Not having a backup plan in place is foolhardy as it is not a matter of "if" something will go wrong, it is more of a you don't know "when" it will go wrong.

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1 hour ago, azw said:

I literally have a pouch labeled “Oh Shit!” In my case with a duplicate of almost every cable I regularly use.

I have an "OH CRAP" pouch always with me. I also carry in my van (2) 633 (1) 688 and (1) 302 mixer. It is nice to have options and have everything with me.

1 minute ago, KGraham045 said:

I pull out my backup kit at least once every 6 months And use it as a primary rig for a single day just to make sure everything is in order.

+1 about to do that today with my 2nd comtek transmitter and my less used comtek rx 

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To be clear, I've had other equipment failures; some User-Generated Errors, some Not My Fault. Most show up before we're rolling so I have a little time to fix what's broke, reach for the backups, change my approach (and tell the client; sigh), or otherwise get things squared away. 

 

But Brain, let us know what kind of sound work you're thinking of doing...

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When I started out I had it drilled into me that the minimum number of Mission Critical Things to have on hand was 2.  I'm not interested in discussions that include how many camera bodies or lenses are present on the set, face the fact that we are seen to be in a different category than camera and get less consideration for that sort of thing.  I have not always had the economics to have two identical versions of everything critical, but I had something that would work,  and a plan to deploy it.  A 552 is a very decent (if heavy) backup device if you understand it well (esp re: TC).  So would be a 744T, and so on.  But fave by far is another-of-same, that you can drop in with the same connectors etc.  Digital devices, that can have their setups etc saved and then moved to a new machine, totally rock in this regard, and have saved my ass many times.

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552 sounds good.  SVEN clunky but is workable.  You can do high quality stereo recording- with tC including MP3s...  5 quality mic pres can be front end( with limiters) for feeding 688 inputs 7, 8,9 ...etc.   Quickly feed two cameras and have returns.  I had my 552 on sale several times and never sold.  But, i keep finding an occasional use for it.    Solid piece to keep as a backup.  

 

 

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I'd suggest at a bare minimum a Zoom F4 (or F6), or a Sound Devices MixPre3 (or 6) as your back up recorder. 

As for you main recorder? Well the Sound Devices 833, Zaxcom Nova, and Sonosax SX-R4+ are the current top three cutting edge small field recorders to consider. 

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You must always have a backup of everything.

They will always wait for a PA to make a run to get a new camera body, but heaven forbid that production has to wait on sound.

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