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SD 552 - Firmware Update


Toy Robot
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Hello all. New user here, first post. I'm very much looking forward to becoming a contributing member of JWsoundgroup.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I'm aware you all don't like re-posts, so please know that I did in fact search this site for the update I'm listing and wasn't able to find any information on it. I apologize if my search queries missed a previous post on this topic.

I wanted to start by posting a piece of information for Sound Devices 552 users. In short, they've released a firmware update for the 552 (Version 1.4, released Nov. 3, 2011) which is available here. That's the gist of it.

The long version is that I had a month-long issue with my 552 not recording properly to the on-board digital recorder. Symptoms were as follows:

  1. The 552 would fail to power on. When switched to internal power it would light the Return A/B lights, which would hold steady and no other lights would function. The unit would simply lock up an. This was with the unit being powered internally by Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries.
  2. When the 552 would power on, it would function properly up until I attempted to put the unit into Record mode, at which point the record light would lock orange without the tone that the 552 usually gives you, and all unit functionality would instantly stop. No more metering, recording, or operation of any kind after the lockup. Required forced power-down and startup to 'resolve' issue.
  3. As a note to the issue above, at one point, the 552 locked up per #2 above, and then failed to record audio after power up, even though it functioned as it should on the surface, meaning record tones and stop record multi-tones were working, SVEN was working, metering worked, the whole nine yards... except that audio playback of the files when dumped at the end of the day was corrupt, and the files would not play on any device (Logic Pro 9, iTunes, Mac file preview, etc.). All programs marked the files as corrupt, and they were not recoverable. As a note, the outputs of the mixer functioned fine even during this occurrence. This is why we record backups, right?

So what did I do? First I called SD, and then wound up going through 4 different SD cards of varying sizes and speeds (and of 3 different makes just to be sure) two SD 552s and two firmware updates (one on each of the brand new 552s). All this after taking every tip/trick in the book from SD technical support. I spoke to Sound Devices technical support not less than 5 times, and on my final contact with them, their engineering department asked for my 552 in person so they could run diagnostics on the unit. I sent it back to SD in late October and received it back in early November, 2011.

They sent my unit back with a note saying they replaced a part on the circuit board inside the unit that attached to the power switch, but as nice as they were, I'm not entirely convinced that they didn't just list that as a way to keep me quite a short while. Who knows, but really I don't care, I just want this box to work, and work reliably for a long time.

What have I learned since then, and what might help you avoid these issues, you ask?

The numbers below correspond to the first list above:

  1. I later learned that the 552 does not like rechargable batteries, even good ones. I now only use Duracel ProCells or standard 1.5v Duracel CopperTops when I run out of ProCells. This has almost entirely solved the power-on issue, but the unit has still failed to power on twice since it was returned to me. For those of you using external power/BDS, this of course won't apply.
  2. SD has issued a firmware update that reads, "fix - Improved transport control preventing semi-lockup conditions with some SD cards." Thank you Sound Devices (no sarcasm whatsoever). This also tells me that it wasn't my two separate 552s, and it wasn't any of my SD cards that were the issue, and it wasn't the part they fixed on my 552 circuit board, it was the firmware.
  3. Captain Obvious here, "Always record a backup." And, if you're recording stereo to the 552 ever, check your file integrity every now and then by replaying a file. Just as a precaution.

I'd also like to be clear that my goal is not in any way to simply complain. My goal is to help inform 552 users that these were real world issues that happened to another sound mixer, and if they want to avoid them, they should consider updating their firmware at their own risk.

Now this update seems to have worked so far for me. I just finished a 4-day shoot after the update, and so far not a single lock-up (knock on wood!). Everything smooth as it should go, except one power-up failure in 25 degree exterior weather with 20mph wind (fun times, fun times).

I'll also say that SD technical support was as helpful as they could have been, considering my issue required a software update, and Linda at SD didn't charge me for the loaner 552 they provided me with to use while mine was being diagnosed as is their standard practice. They were also very easy to get hold of, very nice, and were all very understanding about my 552 issues. So again, no bashing just to bash, just information for 552 users.

Happy updating.

P.S. If your firmware ever fails to update, and SVEN doesn't recognize the new firmware on the root of your SD card, please use the following method given to my directly by SD:

  • Insert the SD with the new firmware file in the root of the card (not a folder).
  • Leave the unit powered OFF.
  • Hold down the headphone volume button (press it down, as if you are entering 'Zoom' mode).
  • While continuing to press the headphone volume button down, power the mixer ON and keep holding the button until you hear SVEN.
  • This will force the 552 to search your SD card for new firmware.

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You say the 552 doen't like rechargable batteries? Where did you hear that? I've been using my 552 with imedion 2100mah ni-mh exclusively for over a year and a half without any issues.

http://wanderingear.net

Not that I heard it somewhere, just that neither my Sanyo Eneloop or my Tenergy rechargeable AA batteries worked well with either of the 552s I have owned. Since I have switched to Duracels I haven't had the same issues as I posted. That's a great thing to hear regarding rechargeable's not being a problem, so perhaps I should try Imedion batteries as my next rechargeable purchase. Thanks.

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Well I haven't used either of the batteries you mentioned, I've read a lot of good things on this forum about the eneloops.

I have been extremely happy with my imedions (made by powerex), and the latest versions I believe are 2400mah. I don't hesitate to recommend them.

Good luck, glad you got your issues worked out.

K

http://wanderingear.net

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I haven't tried using my 552 with Eneloop batteries -- I've only powered it externally with IDX Lion NP1's, and it's been stellar. On rare occasions, I've run it with Eveready Lion AAs, and it's been fine.

I'm sympathetic with your problem, but glad that eventually, SD was able to fix it. One thing I'd like to see changed on the 552: I've run into "panic situations" where I had to get into record fast, and had to wait for Sven to finish his mantra before I could slam into record (on an external 744t). I'd like a mode to bypass this, but so far, haven't discovered a fix.

--Marc W.

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I haven't tried using my 552 with Eneloop batteries -- I've only powered it externally with IDX Lion NP1's, and it's been stellar. On rare occasions, I've run it with Eveready Lion AAs, and it's been fine.

I'm sympathetic with your problem, but glad that eventually, SD was able to fix it. One thing I'd like to see changed on the 552: I've run into "panic situations" where I had to get into record fast, and had to wait for Sven to finish his mantra before I could slam into record (on an external 744t). I'd like a mode to bypass this, but so far, haven't discovered a fix.

--Marc W.

Marc,

Which SVEN announcement? You should be able to interrupt any of SVENs announcements.

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My 552's are fine with Eneloops. There is a big current draw on power up from a 552, which will take the protective fuse out on Hawkwoods NP70's (British manufactured NP1's). I normally power on internals then switch over to avoid it.

I'm on old firmware though - perhaps the power up curve has changed on the latest firmware - upsetting the internals?

Re SD cards - No card I've ever thrown in to a 552 has failed to record, including micro cards in adaptors etc.

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One thing to be aware with some rechargeable AA batteries is that their positive terminal is surrounded by a paper insulator. If our battery spring is malformed, then that first battery won't make solid contact. Take a look at your rechargeable batteries versus primaries and see the difference. You will also see that batteries from different vendors vary in size of the positive terminal and diameter.

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One thing to be aware with some rechargeable AA batteries is that their positive terminal is surrounded by a paper insulator. If our battery spring is malformed, then that first battery won't make solid contact. Take a look at your rechargeable batteries versus primaries and see the difference. You will also see that batteries from different vendors vary in size of the positive terminal and diameter.

This was an issue for me on a shoot in the past, the battery was not making contact with the spring. Fast thinking had me solve the issue by cutting out the bottom of a disposable cooking tray (aluminum) that catering had, making a little disc that fit over the top of the first battery and insured the spring made contact with some metal, instead of the paper. Got me out of the jam!

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This was an issue for me on a shoot in the past, the battery was not making contact with the spring. Fast thinking had me solve the issue by cutting out the bottom of a disposable cooking tray (aluminum) that catering had, making a little disc that fit over the top of the first battery and insured the spring made contact with some metal, instead of the paper. Got me out of the jam!

I 've ran into this problem several times and the first time it happened I remembered my grandma back in Cuba using pennies to fix the same issue, obviously no in sound mixers. Once I was a in the jungle in Nicaragua and a FP 33 stop liking the batteries we had, I pulled out the penny and fixed it. Since that day the producer thinks I'm a technical genious, and we still work together. But I've told him several times that I don't know much about anything, but my grandma did. I still use pennies to show her my respect.

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My 552's are fine with Eneloops. There is a big current draw on power up from a 552, which will take the protective fuse out on Hawkwoods NP70's (British manufactured NP1's). I normally power on internals then switch over to avoid it.

I'm on old firmware though - perhaps the power up curve has changed on the latest firmware - upsetting the internals?

Re SD cards - No card I've ever thrown in to a 552 has failed to record, including micro cards in adaptors etc.

I have the same issue with my B4B np-1s and my 552, so I also power up on int then switch to ext after power up. Have to admit that I like that the 552 shows the battery levels for int and ext simultaneously when checking batt levels. It's the small features I enjoy the most.

K

http://wanderingear.net

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  • 2 months later...

A collegue had a whole day lost with SD 552 and a black Sandisk Class 6 8GB. I did work with it the week before - everything fine. Though I am not sure if I used this exact card, but used for sure two identical ones bought the same time at big electronic store - no cheap ebay.

552 stopped recording after 6h. Before that playback was possible. Now card is not recognized in any computer.

Follow up was the try to use an older blue Sandisc 4GB Class 4. Worked half n hour - till it failed again. The blue one is readable but files need to be recovered - letters mixed up crazy.

Short 5min test with one of the other 8GB cards the day after showed no issues.

552 and cards were bought brand new mid february and printed manual says firmware 1.4 so that would be the newest.

As two different cards were broken guess is a faulty 552 that damages cards after longer time use. its sent to Ambient for check.

Questions:

I heard rumors of fake Sandisk. Is there a way to determine the original from the fake?

Is there a recommended way while formatting on a PC that the Card is checked intensively and not only quickformat?

Is there a list of approved cards from Sounddevices - can't find it on their website?

How do I find out installed firmware version of 552 if I get a rental one?

Edited by Armin Siegwarth
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  • 3 weeks later...

As a follow up, after my firmware update a while back I have only had very minor issues. Overall the 552 is very stable now, and locks up only every 1 of 20 times or so starting it up. That's not that bad since it doesn't lock up when recording anymore, so I'm a happy camper overall. It just means that every now and then I have to start it, and when it locks I have to reboot (power off, wait five or ten seconds and then power back on).

And after much reading on this site, it appears no unit is without some faults, so as far as the 552 is concerned I really do enjoy the unit overall. Took a few months, but my confidence with it is back.

I still carry a backup mixer to every project though.

8)

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As a follow up, after my firmware update a while back I have only had very minor issues. Overall the 552 is very stable now, and locks up only every 1 of 20 times or so starting it up. That's not that bad since it doesn't lock up when recording anymore, so I'm a happy camper overall. It just means that every now and then I have to start it, and when it locks I have to reboot (power off, wait five or ten seconds and then power back on).

And after much reading on this site, it appears no unit is without some faults, so as far as the 552 is concerned I really do enjoy the unit overall. Took a few months, but my confidence with it is back.

I still carry a backup mixer to every project though.

8)

1 lock up in 20 power ons? That seems hi to me. Have you asked SD what they think about that? I've only had my 552 lock up a few times in the couple years I've owned it.

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I agree, it is high, but with the new firmware, and after having gone through two different 552s, plus having the second of the two sent in for repairs, and multiple SD cards, and much time on the phone with SD, I'm done with dealing with it.

I just can't spend anymore time messing around with it, and SD can't seem to replicate the issue. That in itself is highly frustrating. So much so that I resorted to taking pictures of the face of the unit when it would lock up and sent those to SD so they would be able to see what I was seeing.

So in the field when it happens I simply reboot and problem solved. It's a little annoying, but the unit functions properly after reboot and as any 552 user knows when this thing works it's a workhorse, so I don't worry about it. Also please note I don't have a spreadsheet on lockups. Perhaps it's one in 30, or 50, but it happens. It happened again just two days ago while I was on location. Reboot, and no biggie.

In a perfect world, it would fire up every time, but I've learned from this forum that things don't always work as planned, and even the best equipment sometimes gives failures or glitches.

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