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Sound Devices preamps

I'm wondering if anyone who has used the new Sound Devices
recorders could comment on the preamps...are they comparable to
well liked transparant preamps such as Millennia, Grace, DAV etc.


mdemeyer Thu, 01/18/2007 - 23:01
I have used the 744T with the Schoeps CMC5 (various capsules - MK21, MK2s, MK4, and MK8) for acoustic recordings (concerts) with very good results, although I still prefer the Hardy M1/Benchmark AD2404-96 front end (feeding the 744T via AES as a recorder vs. the 744T mic pre and A2D alone) when I don't need the extreme portability and fast setup of the 744T alone.

What's great about the 744T is that it gives you the option to go either way. For a simple, quick setup (when only 2 mics are needed) it can hold its own very well. But its dual AES inputs allow it to be used as a bulletproof and convenient recorder behind my primary rig (for up to 4 mics, which covers 90% of my work).

Highly recommended. 8-)


Pro Audio Guest Fri, 01/19/2007 - 07:44
I use the 722 "stand alone" for choral recordings. I take it you prefer the Schoeps appropriate model to the Sennheiser MKH20 or perhaps no first hand experience with the Sennheiser? BTW, the Schoeps CMC6 MK21 is the model I think fits my need (below). That is if I decide on Schoeps.

I have been recording ORTF with cardioid mics but have decided that the omni mic is superior in most ways for this usage. I intend to use the Jecklin Disc as shown on the Josephson web site (and others). This arrangement gets very good reviews including those who claim it is superior to ORTF.


DavidSpearritt Thu, 01/04/2007 - 14:00
aracu wrote: David, I was wondering if ever use built in Nagra pres and
what your opinion is on them.

They are superb, second only to our AMEK 9098 in the preamps we use. They are noticeably better than the Sound Devices 442 preamp and I prefer them to the new Neve Portico which I found slightly clangy and shrill in the upper mids.

I use them all the time mostly as the main pr preamp for live concert recording. They are particularly suited to Schoeps condensers, sound glorious with these.

For session work the NV is often the bit bucket and we use the AMEK's, TRP, etc

mdemeyer Fri, 01/19/2007 - 22:46

Correct, no experience with the MKH20, but the MK21 (or MK4) with an MK8 in MS are both superb choral combinations, in my opinion. I also like the low profile of this mic setup for concert work because it is not visually obtrusive. I often get thanks from the performers (or the concert organizers) for not being 'in the way' of the audience.


BRH Thu, 12/07/2006 - 17:20
Very interesting about the 744 and the low frequency noise floor. I must add my 2 cents, for what it's worth. Haven't used the 744, but thought about buying the 702 or 702T.

Consider this, for thought. These recorders were designed for film dialog, and generally would have the lows rolled off during post, so this low frequency noise would never be heard.

I haved used the mix pre and seemed fairly clean & transparent. Not only that, you could run over it with a truck and it would still work, something that happens during film shoots.

Anybody used the Fostex FR-2?

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 11/27/2006 - 18:49
If there is anyone reading this has tried using these pres/ADCs (Sound Devices 722 / 744t) for recording acoustic ensemble music, please let us know how it worked out for you.

I just recorded a bandoneon and piano with a studioprojects stereo(in blumlein) mic going to an ATI MM-1000 mic-preamp (the oldschool blue one) into the 744t. really nice sounding (really nice room!).
This week I'll be recording an orchestra and choir using the following:
beyers m130's
using the mm-1000 and the 744t's internal pre-amps. I'll see if i can switch them up during intermission and try the 744t's pre-amps with the m130's.

I'll keep you guys in touch,


mdemeyer Mon, 11/27/2006 - 22:30
I recently got a 744T and will be using it for some acoustic recordings this holiday season. Will do some comparisons with my normal rig (Hardy M1 into Benchmark AD2404-96).

As part of my pre-flight checkout, I did some measurements of the A/D and mic pre in the 744T and found something very unusual in the mic pre. The noise floor of the mic pre (not the A/D through the line inputs) has a really high noise level at low frequencies, while being very quiet in the upper frequencies. Here are two plots showing the noise floor of the Hardy M1 (red) vs. 744T (blue). Both were terminated with a 150 ohm MF resistor, and the M1 was run into the 744T line inputs with the gain set to zero.

(Dead Link Removed)

(Dead Link Removed)

You can see in the two plots taken at 40db and 60db gain (I usually operate somewhere in this range), that the 744T has a rapidly rising noise floor with decreasing frequency. The M1 is very slightly noisier from 800Hz up (at 40db gain) and quite a bit noisier at 60db gain above 100Hz. But its noise floor is dead flat, while the 744T is anything but. I'm expecting the 744T will sound quieter given the ear's sensitivity to noise vs. frequency, so am anxious to try it with my M130/M160 MS setup. It might sound really quiet!

I sent these plots to Sound Devices, and they confirmed that this is the designed performance. They didn't say it specifically, but I asked if this was a form of 'noise shaping' to improve the weighted (and audible) noise level, and their response did not suggest otherwise.

Hope you don't mind me cutting and pasting some of this from the other thread, but this thead has a title that might help more people catch this. Anyone seen this kind of performance in another piece of gear?

Overall, I think the 744T, which I will use mostly to record 4-channels on dual AES inputs, is a really sweet unit and will lighten my load, speed setup, and cut down on the worries (and grey hair) inherent in PC-based live recording.

More to follow after some real recordings are made...


recordista Thu, 10/06/2005 - 18:33
To elaborate a bit on what David brought up, the 442 (like other Sound Devices field mixers) has transformer-based preamps which are very immune to noise problems and consume very little power. My 302 can run 8-12 hours on 3 AA rechargeables! The 7-Series' lithium packs allow for a much larger power budget, and use a class A biased discrete frontend pair. I'd place them in the same league as the Grace.

aracu Sun, 12/31/2006 - 14:29
I made a careful comparison of the Sound Devices pres
with Gordon V pres the other day, using an extremely
low output ribbon mic, a B&O BM5, (a mic which could
probably make any preamp seem noisy if trying to
record quiet instruments), and cranking the pres to 70
decibals max. The Sound Devices pres had slightly more
hiss, and had a definate over emphasis in the lower
frequencies, compared to the Gordon, which had what
sounded like a fine balance from low to high frequencies,
and sounded much more three dimensional and transparent,
although also too hissy with this particular mic.
A B&O BM5 mic modded with RCA ribbons has a
frustratingly beautiful sound to go along with such a
low nearly unusable output level for quiet sounds.
The Sound Devices 744t has an interesting feature that I
want to try out with other ribbon mics, which is that line inputs
3 and 4 can be set to add up to 18 decibals to whatever
the external separate preamp is set to. So a 70 decibal
preamp can be used as if it had 88 decibals.
It also has an ms monitor and ms monitor/converter to
stereo, which work great. My only criticism is that it looks
like you cannot monitor an ms pair with the remaining 2
channels simultaneously, you rather have to switch back
and forth between the two pairs of mics, if a pair is set to

aracu Sun, 12/31/2006 - 15:39
Correction: you CAN monitor one pair ms and one mic pair
non ms but only if your ms pair is used with the built in
pres on channels 1 and 2, and if the ms signal is
processed during the monitoring. If you don't want to
process the ms but only want hear it monitored as
if it were processed, and want to use external pres,
than you cannot monitor more than 2 channels at a

ghellquist Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:12
aracu wrote:
If there is anyone reading this has tried using these pres/ADCs (Sound Devices 722 / 744t) for recording acoustic ensemble music, please let us know how it worked out for you.

I do. And I am generally always happy with the results.

Here are (some not very good examples). A large church. Rehearsal, hence the talk. Soloist to the right of the stage. Mic stand about 15 to 20 feet from orchestra. No level settings, so both are increased about 15dB in post. Ran out of web space, if anyone has more I will be glad to post the files to you in original shape (44.1 24bit). (I will have to remove them in a few weeks to make room for next project)

Mics are Royer SF24 and Schoeps MSTC64, same position. Direct into SD722. No processing.
A little bit of noise is added by the mp3 process, most of it is from the location as such.

I have several other examples with SD+Schoeps.

Two are here, more what you would expect to hear from noise level. Not sure but these probably have low cut both.


Cucco Fri, 10/07/2005 - 04:36
Wow Kurt -

to place them in the same realm as the Graces is certainly a compliment! I don't mean to sound skeptical or cynical, but, really? :!:

That's a hard thing to imagine - looking at the circuitry involved and what not, the Grace (IMO, one of the finest pres on the market) should smoke the SD pres. Though, I'm not trying to trash the SD pres. One of the location film guys up here uses the 2 channel SD and LOVES it. I'm just trying to wrap my head around that.

I mean, I've done a lot of gigs with a pair of 201s and 4 mics to hard disc, but rest assured, that setup was pretty darned expensive. If I could get the same results out of the SD, I might just take the plunge. (Of course, it has to be added to my "To Buy" list and then all has to be re-prioritized, then I have to sell my wife on letting me drop my own hard-earned money on it..... Well, we'll see...)


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 02/06/2007 - 04:42

I had the 722 for a while and also was in possession of the v2 for quite some time(and have rented a 722 once or twice since selling mine). The 722 preamps, to my ears, were much better than the v2 preamps. I have not heard Grace's "high end" line that much, but what I determined from owning those two pieces was that the 722 was much more desireable. The v2/v3 have a strident quality in the higher frequencies that I am not fond of. For lack of a better term, those particular Grace pres sound like cheaper versions of Millennia preamps.(which I am also not fond of at all, but that is neither here nor there. :) )

I really, REALLY miss my 722.

as an FYI, Kavi Alexander(Waterlily Acoustics) owns and uses the SD 722 in his work. (along with True Systems pres at times) The SD pres are very good. I second using them for a while and seeing how it pans out.

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 02/09/2007 - 14:02
Teddy its funny you should make this comparision between the 722 and the V3.

I just recently sold my V3 for exactly the reasons you give - I just could not like the sound however much I tried and I really did try (over a period of a year). It sounded a bit thin and edgy particularly at higher gain levels. People sometimes describe preamps as having a "big" sound - the V3 just did not have that for me.

I did voice comparisons between the preamps in the V3 and my 722 and my Metric Halo ULN-2 and in each case I preferred the 722 and the Metric Halo. Probably as someone said here on this Board I think that the 722 is optimised for voice recording. I use it mainly for that but I will certainly give it a try next week on some music in a pretty outdoor recording environment.


recordista Sat, 10/22/2005 - 15:35
Cucco wrote:
That's a hard thing to imagine - looking at the circuitry involved and what not, the Grace (IMO, one of the finest pres on the market) should smoke the SD pres.

Where did you get Grace and SD circuit diagrams?

Like Grace, Millennia, Midas, ATI, TRUE, and many other well regarded modern transformerless solid state designs, the 7-Series preamps use a class-A biased discrete LTP frontend followed by an IC (often an instrumentation amplifier) gain stage. The devil is in the details, of course (particularly with regard to things like supply rejection and overload at low gain settings) and different designs will often have have rather different distortion spectra.

I still advise anyone contemplating the purchase of a 7-Series recorder to hold off buying external preamps until you have lived with the onboard preamps for awhile.