sound for film & video

Merry Christmas from Sound Devices!

I’ve yet to find the time to finish off my million word review of the by-now-not-so-new Sound Devices 664. Heck, I’ve yet to even officially announce to the world I’m a proud owner of such a magnificent beast. But both those posts must be superseded by the news of the most wonderful nugget Sound Devices has left in our stockings this Christmas.

Upon release, the 664 was being marketed as a 6 input mixer/recorder, with each input recordable to a dedicated iso track. Each input also has a corresponding direct out jack. As a roughly $1500 add-on, the CL-6 expansion unit would convert those direct outs jacks to inputs, for a total of 12 inputs (6 with mic pres and 6 line-level only) and 12 iso record tracks.

Well… Merry Christmas to us 664 owners! Firmware 2.x now opens up those additional 6 inputs and tracks without the need of a CL-6. The 664 is now positioned as a 12 input mixer/recorder right out of the box, no expander unit necessary. It’s similar to the thrill of finding a $20 bill in the pocket of an old pair of pants — except that there’s another $1480 bucks in the other pocket.

Granted, without the CL-6 true fading on the six additional inputs can’t take place on the fly — one must set the fader levels using the input settings screen and the encoder knob. But I have run into a few situations where having a seventh or eight iso track that didn’t go to the main mix would have been handy. (In fact, sometime soon I need to share with the world the trick I used for adding seventh and eighth “iso” tracks to a 1.x firmware 664, which I guess can now be a trick for adding thirteenth and fourteenth iso tracks…) And if you do need 12 knobs to genuinely fade all 12 inputs, Sound Devices has lowered the price of the CL-6 to $1,185.

I know, I know… in this world it’s hard to believe you get something for nothing. But not only is Sound Devices designing and building great professional tools, they’re treating their customers better than almost any other company I can think of. I haven’t had a chance to give the new firmware a try just yet, but I’ll let you know the results when I do.

UPDATE: New firmware = rock solid, with improvements to the headphone and metering as well.

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