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New Recorder - Zoom F6 vs Sound Devices MixPre‑6 II


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Hey guys, I'm in video production and most of my work is solo. Lately I've been doing a lot of interviews featuring two people at once that require me to run two boom mics, one over each subject. The mics I'm using are a matched set of Sennheiser MKH 8040s.

 

The issue I run into is that I'm spending countless hours in post lowering the decibels of the person who's not speaking and then raising them up when they speak, lowering the first person's decibels back down, and so on and so forth in order to eliminate the echo I'm getting from the person's mic who's not speaking. I know that this is standard practice for work like this, but since I'm doing roughly 25-30 interviews in a session and because I am operating alone, I find myself spending so much time in post doing this work by hand.

 

After much research, I've finally decided to snag either a Zoom F6 or a Sound Devices MixPre‑6 II in order to use their auto-mix features. A great YouTube video I found (linked below) demonstrates the auto-mix features of these two devices very well and leads me to believe either of them could help me solve my problem.

 

I was wondering if anybody has any thoughts they would be willing to share on the Sound Devices MixPre-6 II with the MixAssist plugin vs the Zoom F6 and its built-in auto mix feature?

It looks to me like either one of these will be very helpful for booming two mics as a solo op. Both offer some sort of auto-mix, both have 32-bit float audio recording, both can be powered via USB-C/AA batteries/L series batteries, both have numerous XLR audio inputs, both have timecode and both have 3.5 mm line outputs that I could connect up to my FX6 camera.

From what I see, I like the size and build of the F6 better as well as the fact that it has 6 XLR inputs (vs 4), a built-in L series battery sled (vs the Pre-6 II which is a separate purchase and has poor reviews), and a lower price. The battery options and the size/build + 6 XLR inputs make it a really great option.

The SD MixPre-6 II on the other hand seems to have better preamps and a slightly better auto-mixer with the MixAssist plugin that you buy separately. Since the overall sound quality might be slightly better and the auto-mix feature might be better, that's a strong argument for the MixPre-6 II, especially since the whole point is for me to use the auto-mix to help me fix my dual booming issues.

 

I'd love some input here from anyone who's used these devices.

 

Link: 

 

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As an MP6 owner I can only comment on the powering side of things  so forget AA batteries and you will have to factor in an external battery mount solution via the sled or USB-C . I would worry about the physical security of the USB-C connection in a critical situation and for long takes I use an sled and Sony battery of which like many I have a box full.

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Hey Arcminute, thanks for the reply. The battery solutions for the MP6 are actually my biggest hesitation. It seems that the Zoom F6 isn't as much of a battery hog and the L series battery sled is built in. From what I gather, the battery sled accessory for the MP6 is pretty fragile.

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If you've already got your recordings down but just need automixing, you could consider doing it in post with WT Automixer. I haven't tried it personally, but have used a similar plugin that only runs in Reaper.

 

While not strictly an apples to apples comparison, I've owned the first generation MixPre 6 and an F8n and… I no longer own the MixPre 6. I hated the user interface, and the encoder on the side of the unit drove me nuts. I've been much happier overall with the Zoom.

 

Soundwise, I didn't feel there was enough of a difference between the two to be an issue. I'm sure MixAssist is better than Zoom's automix, but I've used the F8n automixer on livestreams with 8 open mics and it worked fine.

 

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You will want external power for either recorder. The F6 uses the 'standard' Hirose connector. Internal AA batteries are a good back up for external power loss, be it from a battery or wall-wart. The SD has better preamps, but not significantly better. The auto mix on the F8n is decent, I do not know about the F6 or Mix Pre.

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If I've learned anything from this forum, it is to buy "pro level but used".  That being said, I'd go with the MixPre6 over the F6 if forced to choose between the two.  Don't bother wasting your time with AA's for it, either get the L mount sled or a hirose adapter.  Look for a lightly used one too to save some coin for these much needed accessories you'll want to pair it with.

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6 hours ago, Rustic River said:

Hey Arcminute, thanks for the reply. The battery solutions for the MP6 are actually my biggest hesitation. It seems that the Zoom F6 isn't as much of a battery hog and the L series battery sled is built in. From what I gather, the battery sled accessory for the MP6 is pretty fragile.

I have the HawkWoods SD-2 - it's 'crude' as the battery is offset and not central ( but I guess then the recorder can lie flat) and it has sharp corners but it's very robust. Not sure if SD do their own version? I traded my SD 702 for a MP6 as I wanted something smaller but then when you add an L mount battery it ends up not being that much different in size. I reckon they should have just made it the same thickness as the 7xx series and thus retained the NPF battery power. 

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I owned a $40 talentcell battery for my F4 and it powered it all day with multiple phantom powered mics, no problem. I believe Curtis Judd mentions it in one of his videos, and many others reference it online, too. I have since upgraded to a MixPre 10t with an inspired energy 98wh battery and BDS, and IMO anything less than that is a bit of a half measure (I cannot speak for a USB c battery with the MP6 but you can always tape down the connector if you're worried about it). If your use case stays the same, the Zoom and Talentcell will do a perfectly sufficient job at significantly less cost, and to me seems like the far better value. The only issue is that if you want more complex setups in the future for different types of gigs, your kit is a bit less versatile.

 

As others have mentioned, I would not stress about the difference in sound quality between the F6 and MP6. I have not personally compared the automixer on both devices, but I have watched Judd's video, which appeared pretty comprehensive... If you think the Zoom automixer function is not sufficient for your work, only you can make that decision

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