Sound Devices MixPre-D Review

I’ve been using the Sound Devices MixPre-D for about a year now. I’m extremely impressed with the functionality, sound quality and the size/weight. As a working photojournalist and videographer for Newsday, I need a piece of gear that I can carry easily along with my lenses, tripod and camera. The mixer allows me to work alone in fast paced conditions while delivering a quality product.

In the field:

The MixPre-D used with a Porta Brace bag allows me to easily monitor and adjust my audio levels, listen to a live signal, send the signal to my camera and/or a recorder and carry a set of Sennheiser Wireless microphones. You can also stow a Frezzi brick battery to power the mixer and 48v Phantom microphones.

The mixer is light, rugged and feels like a work horse. The knobs and switches are robust and stand up to daily field abuse.

It’s also very easy to see your levels in bright sun. Other features that help one capture great sound are peaking controls, M/S stereo and stereo, crossovers for wind noise, selectable channels and a switch for mic/line/48v incoming signals.

Capturing Sound:

Having the ability to monitor and mix line, mic or 48v level signals allows you to work in any environment. Having two dedicated channels is a major advantage, allowing you to dedicate one for a wireless receiver and having the second open for a boom microphone, mott box, or second wireless microphone.

Recording Sound:

The beauty of this piece of gear is its built in ability to work with a DSLR. Paired with a Canon 5dMKii set at manual levels, one can send a quality signal to the camera while shooting an interview or natural sound during b-roll.

The mixer also has XLR and USB outputs that you can send to an external recorder or computer. During sit down interviews, I power my Sennheiser MKH 416 with the mixer and send the signal to both my camera and a computer. Using the mixer in conjunction with Audacity allows for superior quality sound with no analog to digital conversion. Nothing but bits and bites!

Post production:

For a two camera shoot, Camera A is recording a great quality signal from the mixer. Camera B is the onboard condenser and finally the primary audio is recorded with Audacity running on my MacBook Pro. In Final Cut Pro, I put clips from both cameras and the .wav file on the timeline. Then using Singular Software’s PluralEyes, I sync all three audio sources. Having three sources of audio, two being of professional quality, allows for redundancy. Unless there’s a problem with my computer, I always choose the .wav file during the edit.

Conclusion:

Overall an amazing little mixer. I’m really impressed with all aspects of the Sound Devices MixPre-D. If you are working alone, or with a team, and you need a small lightweight mixer, this is the unit I would recommend. I have tried several other small handheld recorders and one mixer, none of which compare with this device.

  • 2014 and 2015 New York Emmy awards!!!!
    2014 and 2015 New York Emmy awards!!!!
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    Bob Nystrom NY Islanders
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    Newsday wins 3 NY Emmy Awards

10 Comments. Leave your Comment right now:

  1. by Chris R

    Hi thanks Chris, that looks like perfect for me too, I have the mixpre-d which will be plugged into my zoom h4n in the bag, I noticed two on Portabraces site the MX24 and the MX24Mini – which bag do have pictured here ? thanks

    • by chris ware

      Hi Chris,

      This is the bag I use.

      Porta Brace MX-24

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Good Luck!

  2. by Chris R

    thanks Chris, I’ll pick one up, that’s great.

    I think your work is incredible! I have been looking at some on vimeo it’s fantastic, beautifully/cleverly shot truly brilliant.

    Especially liked your OWS piece, that was hand held ? amazing.

    So would your setup for the OWS piece had been something like the mix pre-d in the MX24 over your shoulder, your sennhesier shotgun mic mounted on the 5dmkii with the sennheiser ME2 lav on the interviewee with these mics both fed into the mixpre-d and then you send the mic out on the mixpre-d to your 5dmkii?

    Chris can I ask about how you get your colors so nice, I know from what I read we should go either neutral canon profile or technicolor cinestyle but the best DSLR video “color” I’ve seen on the net seems to be shot in camera using the “Standard” canon profile, is that what you used for OWS ? if it was maybe grading is pointless.

    Anyway I’m a fan of yours, your work is the best example I’ve seen of dslr video, you’re telling stories and they look beautiful.
    You’re a busy journalist so sorry for the questions, I’m just blown away by the look and sound of your work, these are great times this is the future.

    • by chris ware

      Hi Chris R,

      To answer your questions. I used the MixPre-D on the OWS piece with one wireless Sennheiser Lavalier microphone and also a very small Sennheiser shotgun microphone. I used the mixer to control the level of each microphone based on gathering either natural or interview sound. And yes, the mixer is over my shoulder in the Porta Brace bag. I then send the signal into my camera to record the audio. Finally, I set the camera’s level to manual at one click above off. This greatly reduces white noise during recording.

      I set my colors within the camera based on personal preference. This way there is less editing in post production. I only do this for video, not stills.

      When following a large group of people through the city, its virtually impossible to use a tripod. If I had an assistant, I could have them carry equipment, but since I’m on my own this entire piece was hand held.

      I really appreciate your feedback. Feel free to ask more questions. I’m happy to help.

      Chris…….

  3. by Bill Sparkes

    Which “brick” battery?

  4. by Emanuel

    Hi Chris,

    I am having a bit of a dilema with recording sound directly to a Canon 7D. Let me start off my mentioning that most of my work will go directly to online so not wanting to record with an external recorder is more of a personal choice because I am a one man band.

    With that said, I have tried several forms of attempting to obtain clean audio directly to my Canon 7D. One of the best ways I have achieved this is by using my sennheiser EW 100 G2 wireless system. I set my camera audio to the lowest setting and increase the gain from the wireless receiver. This provides good clean audio when using a lav or a hand held wireless mic.

    Now to my dilema. I have not been able to achieve the same quality audio as mentioned above using my Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic. The Rode NTG 2 is a condenser mic which means it runs off a AA battery When I connect the Rode NTG 2 directly to the camera via an XLR to Mini adapter I get lots of white noise during my recordings. I have also tried using a Beachtek and JuiceLink preamp but have had no success. I have tried many different forms of set up to the above mentioned preamp devices but no luck. I still get lots of white noise and the only way I have been able to get rid of the white nose is using FCP X analyzing the audio and seeing what is wrong. The solution has been to bring down the background noise to achieve cleaner audio but it is not as crisp and sometimes sound like someone is speaking underwater.

    Would you happen to know if I invest in a Sound Device Mix Pre D will I encounter the same issues? Are there specific setting that perhaps is causing the white noise or is that white noise normal and will show up even using the Sound Device Mix Pre D? If the white noise is there, what are you or your coworkers using to get rid of the white noise? Can you advice on set up for recording on a Canon 7D?

    Your reply will be greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you or a member of your staff. Thank you in advance. Feel free to phone it you prefer.

    Best,

    Manuel Lazaro
    954-625-5359
    mlazaro27@msn.com

    Camera: Canon 7D
    Audi: Set to Manuel
    Mic: Rode NTG 2

    • by chris ware

      Hello Emanuel,

      Thanks for the post! I have had good luck with using a Mix Pre-D to boost the gain of a small mic level shotgun microphone. I can monitor the audio with headphones and levels using the Sound Devices mixer, then send the signal into the camera with a 3.5mm stereo cable. I’m not using a 7d, rather a mark ii and mark iii. I believe you will have similar results. Best of luck and let me know how this works for you.

      • by David Choo

        To add to this, do you use the Tape-out to Canon MKii or the TA3 output (which is directly above the tape out output)

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