There’s a wide range of workflows in today’s production world, and the new Sound Devices MixPre-D is a versatile piece of equipment that will flow with the many different kinds of work. If you need world-class audio hardware for an HDSLR camera, if you want to expand the inputs of a Sound Devices 302 or 552 mixer and if you need a high-quality audio interface for mixing and recording voice-overs in post, the MixPre-D has you covered with a compact, battery-powered form factor.
There aren’t many pieces of equipment that appeal to the many disciplines of video and film production, but the new Sound Devices MixPre-D is one of them. In the most basic sense, the MixPre-D is a two channel, battery-powered field mixer. However, the addition of digital connectivity and some useful features, which enable it to interface seamlessly with cameras, transforms this little guy into a multifaceted production workhorse. Can you benefit from using a MixPre-D?
It’s common for audio equipment that’s geared for HDSLR users to be plastic-feeling and flimsy, rather than reliable and built to deliver the best sound possible. This isn’t the case with the new MixPre-D from Sound Devices. Serious HDSLR users who make a point of using professional-grade equipment should take a close look at this new tool.
You use the MixPre-D as the front end of the audio going into your camera, similar to the way a Beachtek or juicedLink XLR adapter would be used. The MixPre-D features dual XLR inputs that can accept both Mic and Line-Level signals. It can supply phantom power to condenser microphones. The MixPre-D contains the same preamps and limiters found on Sound Device’s top-of-the-line gear, so you can be assured that the sound you capture will be of the highest quality possible.
The output section of the MixPre-D features a special TA3 jack that provides a Mic-Level signal that’s perfect for the mic input on DSLR cameras. Unlike a normal 3.5mm mini-plug output, the TA3 output on the MixPre-D locks into place (to avoid accidental disconnections). The separately available Sound Devices XL3 cable will connect the TA3 output on the MixPre-D to the mini-plug mic input on your camera.
Mount your camera securely to the MixPre-D with the XL-CAM Mount Bracket.
Like a Beachtek or juicedLink box, the MixPre-D can be mounted to the ¼"-20 tripod thread at the base of your camera (with the separately available XL-CAM Mount Bracket). An additional ¼"-20 thread is found at the base of the MixPre-D, which enables you to mount the camera and the attached MixPre-D to a tripod.
In addition to sending two channels of clean audio into the camera, the MixPre-D gives you two additional outputs and a headphone monitoring output as well. You can attach its two XLR outputs to a portable digital recorder that features XLR inputs (like the Zoom H4n) to make a higher-resolution copy of the audio. You’ll be able to monitor the audio confidently with the MixPre-D’s headphone output, and its large, 16-segment LED meters.
While it wears many hats, at its core the new MixPre-D is a portable field mixer. If a location audio person is taking on a relatively simple job that involves mixing one or two microphones, the MixPre-D makes a great lightweight option when working in the field. It can act as a full-featured field mixer (with slate and return monitoring), but it’s also a great tool for expanding the capabilities of other location gear.
The MixPre-D can be used to supply a Sound Devices 744T with two additional preamps. Just connect its XLR outputs to the TA3 inputs on a 7 Series recorder with a pair of XL-2F cables and you’re good to go. You can also use it as two additional mixing channels for the Sound Devices 302 and 552 mixers, essentially turning the 302 into a five-channel mixer, and the 552 into a seven-channel mixer. You can tether these mixers together by making a couple of adjustments in the settings and interfacing them with the Sound Devices XL-3 cable.
On the output section of the MixPre-D you’ll find some digital options. In addition to outputting Mic or Line-Level analog signals, the main dual XLR outputs offer a third option for AES. This makes it possible to connect to digital recorders and professional video cameras that feature AES digital audio inputs. The advantage is that it saves your audio from being converted from analog to digital an additional time, which will result in a better-sounding finished product.
A USB port is featured on the output section of the MixPre-D, which essentially transforms it into a heavy-duty computer audio interface. How does this benefit post production? You can use the MixPre-D as the sound card for your computer. The benefit gained is that Sound Device’s audio circuitry will be of a much higher caliber than what’s built into your computer. You can connect your playback speakers to its balanced XLR outputs, and monitor the clean signal coming from its headphone output.
You can also take full advantage of the MixPre-D in post when it comes time to record voice-overs, Foley and sound effects. You can use the two XLR inputs to connect microphones and other equipment and record them directly into your computer. Your productions will benefit from its high-quality preamps and limiters.
The MixPre-D is class compliant, meaning that you can connect it directly to Windows, Mac and Linux computers and start using it right away, plug-and-play style, without needing to load special software drivers. Its ease of use and cross-compatibility will encourage you to take it with you every step of the way in the production process.
The MixPre-D is also fully compatible with the iOS operating system used on the iPad. All you need is the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit and a standard USB cable, and the MixPre-D becomes the audio input and output source for the world’s most popular tablet computer. When used with an audio-recording app, the MixPre-D enables you to use an iPad as a portable digital recorder, or as a multi-track recording studio. This nifty little feature elevates the MixPre-D into the realm of “magical” products.
No matter how you ply your trade in the production world, there are likely one or many areas of your work that could benefit from using the new Sound Devices MixPre-D. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for an inconspicuous little two-channel field mixer. Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article! If you have any questions about the MixPre-D, we encourage you to submit a Comment below!