Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

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rick.lang

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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 6:12 am

The recently announced second generation MixPre series II have me rethinking my decision to be an early adopter of the Zoom F6 due to its unexpected delay in production. Even though I thought the F6 was feature rich for the price, others hear reminded me how happy they were with the Kashmir preamps of the first generation MixPre. So a dilemma. Until this week when Sound Devices made significant enhancements to a second generation product with some impressive claims.

As a sole operator who wants to improve the quality of my audio, I needed a solution that can run largely unattended and yet is capable of very good results. 32bit floating point may make that possible. Although DaVinci Resolve is not listed by Sound Devices as an example of supporting third-party software that will work with 32bit audio, I’m sure the MIxPre-6 II L will be fine.

It also can function as an audio device to support ADR in Resolve and I need that capability now for film and a music video.

There are several options to support multi-camera Timecode and both mixing stereo and individual tracks and so on so I hope it will work well as my audio requirements grow.

I’d like to order this in September. Anyone have any further advice or comments. I know it only records up to 30p so I won’t be able to use it when I shoot 60p Project frame rates. That’s not a priority as I’m no longer shooting sports videos so light not be an issue. Would have been nice to have that option however. But I wonder if I’m overlooking anything that you feel the MixPre is lacking. I may add a couple of more XLR mics and the MixPre-6 will manage with those two added.

The manual is rather hit and miss in that it doesn’t explain how you do things. Given I have AVX mics with 19msec delay, MixPre does permit each channel to have a delay to adjust for wired and wireless mics. But looks like I’ll have to figure out what you actually do—I think I have to add a delay to the wired mics to slow them down to match the AVX slowpokes. That would be convenient. Or maybe that’s not the way it works, maybe it adjusts the Timecode on the AVX track to adjust for the 19msec delay. I’ll find out by testing.

What are your thoughts? Time to strike while the iron is hot? Or wait for the samples in detailed reviews based on real use?
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Kim Janson

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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 9:09 am

I have been considering getting MixPre 3 or 6, but the F6 indeed looks interesting feature wise, never overcliping without compression.

I have spend lot of time building a playback system. Speakers, headphones, head phone amplifier DA converter, pre amplifier, turntable... reading those reviews is often colorful, describing the nuances in sound, oftren even a bit ridiculously so. However it is my experience that there is suprisingly big differences, and espesially how the components are paired together makes a big difference in sound.

Reading the recorder reviews however is boring dull. I hope there would be more interest on the quality of sound they produce. Not just how the noise floor is. I am sure a audiophile could find many nuances on them, other than technical spesifications and some of them would have actual significanse that others would note too, once they know what to look for.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 10:20 am

The F6 is rated for a continuous recording time of 7.5 hours at 48 kHz/16-bit 2ch to an SD card using alkaline batteries. Although the Mixpre6 does not mention recording times, it states "Alkalines will not power the MixPre for very long due to their higher internal resistance". The Zoom H6 is advertised as having a battery life of more than 20 hours on alkaline batteries. My Tascam DR 60D Mk II only lasts 3 hours on alkaline batteries. This is due to the fact that it uses higher quality Class A discrete components that are power hungry. When you get in trouble from over recording, the extra headroom you get from a class A preamp provides a noticeable improvement. I've done comparisons with my Tascam against the Zoom H4N, and the Tascam is way better sounding.

The A to D converter on the Mixpre6 II is rated at a dynamic range of 120 dBA. The F6 A to D converter is only rated at 95 dBA.

The Mixpre6 accepts HDMI timecode from the BMPCC 4K. It also supports trigger recording via HDMI. Although the clock on the Mixpre6 should be good, I've heard that if you set the least accurate device in the chain as your master, you won't have sync problems. Maybe a HDMI splitter could be used to feed a monitor.

My instructor in my Sound for Visual Media class spent several years doing Foley for major motion pictures at Skywalker Sound. His experience using Sound Devices products leads him to recommend their devices over Zooms, which he refers to as prosumer quality. I will have access to a couple of Zoom F8's in our labs so I will be able to compare it's quality against the Zoom H6 and my Tascam DR 60D Mk II soon.

The Mixpre6 II allows plugins like the $49 Musician plugin that turns it into a simplified DAW with reverb and Air (probably a very high EQ boost).

I cancelled my order for the Zoom F6 and am on the pre-order list for a Mixpre6 II instead. If I need the other two XLR inputs offered by the F6, I will use one of the unbalanced 3.5mm outputs my DR 60D Mk II into the Mixpre6 II instead.
Last edited by dondidnod on Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:18 am

dondidnod wrote:Although the Mixpre6 does not mention recording times, it states "Alkalines will not power the MixPre for very long due to their higher internal resistance". The Zoom H6 is advertised as having a battery life of more than 20 hours on alkaline batteries.


In my experience you'll get 15-20 minutes or less on the MixPre recorders using alkaline batteries with the 4-battery sled; even with NiMh Eneloop batteries I rarely got more than 30 minutes; the 8-battery sled would give you more time but the more practical solution is either an external USB-C battery like the Anker Powercore or Sound Devices' sled for two Sony NP-F batteries, which will power the recorder all day and then some, especially if you use the larger-capacity batteries. I have both (the Anker Powercore and the Sony battery sled, and the Sony sled is my preferred option since you don't have to worry about the USB-C cable disconnecting nor do you have to figure out where to put the battery...with the sled the battery is attached to the MixPre recorder.

I agree with Rick that the MixPre manual is not very helpful; the best workflow walkthrough I've found is Curtis Judd's $35 tutorial at learnlightandsound.com. He's got one of the second-generation MixPres on order and I'm hoping he'll update the tutorial to include the new features.

I'm not actually sure Fairlight in Resolve supports 32-bit WAV files; that would be a question for the developers or a peek in the manual. There is software available to convert if necessary (I have a mixer, the QSC Touchmix, that also records 32-bit floating point WAV files and QSC provides a free DAW utility that will do the downconversion for you; Sound Devices might update their Wave Agent app to do the same which would be even better).

The MixPre can mount on your tripod with the camera mounted on top of it, and has a better form factor for this setup than the Zoom F6 does. The preamps are likely better on the MixPre as well, and in general Sound Devices products are built like tanks and I've found them very reliable.

Instead of mounting mine directly on the tripod, I use a tripod arm and mount it on that.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:28 am

Kim, I agree the quality of the sound is about much more than the noise floor. In a very basic way, that’s why I use the Sennheiser AVX with MKE2 rather than the cheaper ME2 mic. And why I’m looking for an improvement over the Sennheiser MKH416 for a boom although the MKH416 is decent.

I do appreciate having the very low noise floor though as that is the foundation for the rest of your sound quality. But having mics with superb tonal quality is coveted. I do enjoy the comparative mic reviews for that and suspect that the MixPre Kashmir preamps will help deliver good quality at a prosumer price point. I know were told audio is 50% of the video, but it seems to get only 5% of my budget!

Cinematic describes more than just an image and your post would be a good start for a thread on audio capture quality and audio post.


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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:38 am

Brad, good feedback from the perspective of battery performance. If I need a device I can run unattended for long shoots, that includes needing reliable continuous power for four hours or more. Looks like the Sony L-series are a necessary component; I was wavering due to the added cost, but even starting with one large battery is better insurance than using the smaller batteries.

Mounting the MixPre close to the camera may not be important if I can use 32bit audio unless I run audio or Timecode back to the camera.

I think the tripod arm is a better option than stacking the recorder above the fluid head as the mic cables might get in the way and that makes balancing harder as the centre of gravity rises. Not an issue if I had the OConnor 1030d, but “in my dreams.”

Certain I read Resolve supports 32bit audio but I’ll verify any limitations and thanks for those alternatives. I know the IZotope editor handles it but having it integrated into Resolve is important to my workflow if it’s an option. Sound Devices illustrates how easy it is to dial in the right audio in post regardless of what the waveform looks like initially.

Someday perhaps that same principle of floating point recording could be applied to video when processing improvements could manage it? I should get working on the patent application for that!


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Last edited by rick.lang on Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 12:26 pm

rick.lang wrote:
Certain I read Resolve supports 32bit audio but I’ll verify any limitations and thanks for those alternatives.


It definitely supports 32-bit linear WAV, but we'd need to verify that it can support 32-bit floating point. If I have time later today I can try some of my Touchmix 32-bit floating point wav recordings and see if Resolve can use them.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 12:45 pm

dondidnod wrote:The F6 is rated for a continuous recording time of 7.5 hours at 48 kHz/16-bit 2ch to an SD card using alkaline batteries. Although the Mixpre6 does not mention recording times, it states "Alkalines will not power the MixPre for very long due to their higher internal resistance"...


The F6 may be putting user convenience ahead of audio quality in its design to prolong battery performance. I’ve decided to lean towards having more power available to do a better job.

The A to D converter on the Mixpre6 II is rated at a dynamic range of 120 dBA. The F6 A to D converter is only rated at 95 dBA.


Significant improvement so thanks for pointing that out. The advantage the F6 has may be the look-ahead feature when using 24bit recording, but look-ahead isn’t available with 32bit recordings so you need the best range you can get with the processing of the analogue signal.

The Mixpre6 accepts HDMI timecode from the BMPCC 4K. It also supports trigger recording via HDMI. Although the clock on the Mixpre6 should be good, I've heard that if you set the least accurate device in the chain as your master, you won't have sync problems. Maybe a HDMI splitter could be used to feed a monitor.


I noticed that and likely will test it. If I used trigger recording, I wouldn’t need to use the 10 or 5 second pre-roll with 48/96KHz recording. But if it ever failed and I didn’t know it failed, my head would be on a pole! So trigger record seems risky. Confirming “sound rolling” might be safer. For Timecode, I hope to use a continuous feed from the Tentacles. However the internal Timecode on both F6 and MixPre-6 claim 0.2ppm or less than half frame drift in a day. If I can adjust the delay in the MixPre for each mic, I can really nail sync.

My instructor in my Sound for Visual Media class... recommend their devices over Zooms, which he refers to as prosumer quality...


Thanks. Everyone keeps improving but that assessment may remain reliable as vendors fight for their position in the rankings.

The Mixpre6 II allows plugins like the $49 Musician plugin...


I know someone who can use that so likely will include it in my order.

I cancelled my order for the Zoom F6 and am on the pre-order list for a Mixpre6 II instead...


Sounds good; I’m sure I’ll make one or two AVX, a boom, and a shotgun work for me on that device. If I needed to use more, and was careful, I could go into the URSA Mini 4.6K audio inputs in addition to the MixPre. The camera XLR audio input isn’t horrible as long as I don’t need much gain or need to raise it in post.

Thanks so much for covering so many bases, dondidnod.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 12:50 pm

Brad Hurley wrote:[Resolve] definitely supports 32-bit linear WAV, but we'd need to verify that it can support 32-bit floating point. If I have time later today I can try some of my Touchmix 32-bit floating point wav recordings and see if Resolve can use them.


Muchos gracias. Mucho importante.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 12:57 pm

Resolve plays the 32 bit sample files provided by Sound Devices, but what doesn't compute is the gain adjustment (-30) SD claims they applied to the unattenuated 32 bit sample (which clips badly). I couldn't get the uanattenuated sample (the original recording) to unclip, whereas their own attenuated 32 bit sample of the same recording is fine. I even bounced it into Izotope to do the same adjustment as they illustrate it, in case there's some secret there. But no go.
Last edited by John Paines on Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 1:07 pm

Oh, no! Thanks for the information, John.

That’s not good enough to really take advantage of the Zoom F6 or the Sound Devices MixPre II series. Hoping Peter and the team clarify what’s planned.

I’ll take a look in the Resolve forum as well. At this point, looks like I’ll need to use external software to normalize the 32bit audio and no doubt that will be a narrow range of options on the Mac. Or use 24bit audio and monitor levels with the MixPre-6 II mounted near the camera.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 1:10 pm

No, this is an issue with the file or the way I'm processing it, not Resolve. I think maybe SD made a mistake -- provided the wrong sample. Or maybe the 32-bit sample which can't be unclipped is supposed to illustrate something else? 32 non-floating bit, if that's possible? I count myself an audio amateur, under duress only, maybe somebody else can sort this out.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 1:23 pm

See my next post instead....

As a re-recording engineer I'll just add that 32-bit floating point audio files really don't add anything of much value. The idea behind using more fixed point bits is to push the noise floor down, which then will allow you to record at lower levels without said noise and away from clipping. With 16 bits it's a bit tighter range and many end up with either too much noise or clipping.

However, 32-bit float is more of a storage and compute format rather than capture format. In pro audio most devices still convert to 24-bits fixed and if they end up sending 32-bit float to an app for storage that's just a conversion. So most converters actually aren't making use of the benefits of 32-bit float at all.

Whether or not there's some benefit to actually storing your 24-bit fixed audio as 32-bit float is also debatable. Disk space is cheap so that's not an issue. Bandwidth is possibly fine as well. So really what we're saving when using saved float files is CPU cycles since the CPU now won't have to convert from fixed to float as we play the audio back. But then I wonder if we're really saving much at all at that point.

So anyway, I don't really see almost any reason to worry about or insist on recording to 32-bit float using a 32-bit float "compatible" converter or device. I'd prioritize pretty much every other function of the device as long as it has 24-bit fixed with a low noise floor.

Those are my cents as a mix engineer.

If I missed something of value here please let me know, but I don't think I did.
Last edited by Mattias Murhagen on Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 1:53 pm

Files are here, if anyone cares to experiment:

https://www.sounddevices.com/sample-32- ... wav-files/

Again, the issue is that the 32 bit original file doesn't scale as they claim it does with a gain adjustment, either in Resolve or Izotope.
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 2:10 pm

Mattias, if you haven’t already reviewed every claim made by Zoom re F6 and Sound Devices re MixPre II series regarding the ways they create 32bit floating point audio, please do. I think you know what you’re talking about certainly with regard to current state of the art. But I wonder if Zoom and Sound Devices are doing something a little differently. I am very ignorant when it comes to audio so please forgive me if I say something stupid! But I do know a little math.

Audio clipping
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?share_ ... are_type=t

I read this thread and you participated in the thread, but I wonder if we’re missing something new and that it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that Resolve Deliver result in the best possible fixed point 24bit audio values after Fairlight has processed the floating point to its best possible combination of exponent and mantissa values. It’s the original mantissa (if clipping was not an issue) or a newly modified mantissa (that reflects desired audio levels) that Deliver will output.

Since the potential range of 32bit floating point is beyond anything on this planet, of course the Deliver output won’t retain everything, but it’s not impossible to convert the mantissa to usable 24bit fixed values that we can listen to today in a video.

If we’re not missing something then Zoom and Sound Devices are just toying with us. I don’t believe that, but it appears there are some challenges for Resolve now, at least on Windows. I won’t be able to speak with any authority until I have a MixPre II or until the Resolve team or the respected reviewers have a go with the MixPre II. Shouldn’t have to wait long now their mixer/recorder is available. I’ll try to hold off an order of the MIxPre-6 II until then... for a week, whichever comes first!


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 2:12 pm

John, do you think it’s worth contacting Sound Devices to see if they goofed on their file somehow?


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 2:20 pm

rick.lang wrote:Mattias, if you haven’t already reviewed every claim made by Zoom re F6 and Sound Devices re MixPre II series regarding the ways they create 32bit floating point audio, please do. I think you know what you’re talking about certainly with regard to current state of the art. But I wonder if Zoom and Sound Devices are doing something a little differently.


Actually it's possible that they're doing something new and different. I read through their page on these devices and they write:

"How does the Mixpre II achieve such high dynamic range in 32-bit float mode?

The MixPre II recorders feature Sound Devices’ own patented topology of multiple analog-to-digital converters. These converters appear in the circuitry after the Kashmir microphone preamplifier stage."

and

"In 32-bit float mode, the multi-stage A-to-D converters are active to capture the full dynamic range of the incoming signal; no limiters are needed. "

So that's something I've never seen yet and might be the answer. What I've seen so far is that companies designed their converters 'as usual' and simply translated the 24-bit fixed output to 32-bit float. But it really does seem like these guys are actually moving the analog input into a 32-bit output directly, using multiple stages of conversion.

Interesting.

So if this is the case I can absolutely see the use in this product. I can imagine it'll be great for a lot of people recording on location - if it works as advertised. (though as the guy getting the audio at the end of the process I fear what I will receive in the future... 0dBFS signals are bad enough, >0dBFS makes me terrified...)

At any rate, interesting...

---

As for Resolve/Fairlight I don't really think this should be a big deal. Either it reads the files or it doesn't. If it does I would imagine we should be able to just attenuate if it's too hot and then proceed working as usual.
Last edited by Mattias Murhagen on Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 2:25 pm

John Paines wrote:Files are here, if anyone cares to experiment:

https://www.sounddevices.com/sample-32- ... wav-files/

Again, the issue is that the 32 bit original file doesn't scale as they claim it does with a gain adjustment, either in Resolve or Izotope.


I just tested it in RX4 and when applying -30gain it'll work as advertised with no clipping.

The 24-bit fixed file is indeed unrecoverable.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 2:36 pm

You're right. If you go straight to Izotope, -30db gain recovers the file.

But if you bounce it to Izotope from Resolve, or attempt to adjust it inside Resolve, the clipping is apparently baked-in. So maybe it is an issue for Resolve.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 3:14 pm

Mattias, thanks for the update. Sound Devices is using a different technique than Zoom has explained but they both involve extending the conventional 24bit audio range before converting to 32bit floating point precision. I don’t know, but internally perhaps they use double precision floating point before calculating the proper 32bit values. Or some simpler method. Glad you’re getting excited about this.

Fingers crossed any issues in Resolve will be addressed shortly. Until then, I’ll add an external step in my workflow to handle tuning the data to usable levels for Resolve if I find it necessary. The ‘audio guy’ on a narrative film set will even appreciate this if he/she doesn’t need to be constantly wondering when to tweak faders. Still lots to do.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 3:27 pm

John Paines wrote:You're right. If you go straight to Izotope, -30db gain recovers the file.

But if you bounce it to Izotope from Resolve, or attempt to adjust it inside Resolve, the clipping is apparently baked-in. So maybe it is an issue for Resolve.


That appears to be the case, yes (tested on v15.0.0.086). If you look at the inspector it says that it's detected as linear PCM, so my hunch is that Resolve reads the 24-bit part of the file and treats it as such.

rick.lang wrote:Mattias, thanks for the update. Sound Devices is using a different technique than Zoom has explained but they both involve extending the conventional 24bit audio range before converting to 32bit floating point precision. I don’t know, but internally perhaps they use double precision floating point before calculating the proper 32bit values. Or some simpler method.


Yeah, not sure. I'd probably guess two 24-bit fixed converters in succession or something along those lines... I'd love to see a technical paper on how they're doing this.

rick.lang wrote:Glad you’re getting excited about this.


Well, we all want what we work on to be the best it can be. On our end we struggle with too low levels which then includes noise, and more frequently clipped signals from recordists trying to avoid that noise. Anything to give us better quality media is good. Same as with video.
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 3:33 pm

Dinner time, come and get it! Curtis Judd and the next generation MixPre. He must have been up all night:



Edit
I didn’t learn anything I needed to know as I think I was right: he stayed up late reading from some online webpages and the manual, but he never had prior insider knowledge of any informed opinions. But he sure prefers it to the F6 even though the F6 has more inputs and some additional options. I think he’s being honest and trusts he will like the results from MixPre II.

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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 3:42 pm

Mattias Murhagen wrote:That appears to be the case, yes (tested on v15.0.0.086). If you look at the inspector it says that it's detected as linear PCM, so my hunch is that Resolve reads the 24-bit part of the file and treats it as such.


What's puzzling though, is that using "external audio processes" gives the same result. You'd think it would just copy the original file. But once that bounced track gets to Izotope, it's no go, the damage is done.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:07 pm

Mattias Murhagen wrote:Well, we all want what we work on to be the best it can be. On our end we struggle with too low levels which then includes noise, and more frequently clipped signals from recordists trying to avoid that noise. Anything to give us better quality media is good. Same as with video.


On their website they show that with 32-bit Float (which is fundamental different than fixed point) you can have a headroom of +770 dBFS down to -758 dBFS. The dynamic range is 1528 dB.
And it needs 33% more storage space.

https://www.sounddevices.com/32-bit-flo ... explained/

And from the FAQs:

Can I adjust the file’s gain after recording?
The MixPre II has a very powerful feature called ReMix/ReRecord which allows you to simultaneously play back a file and record a new L/R mix while adjusting the gains with the fader knobs.

How does the Mixpre II achieve such high dynamic range in 32-bit float mode?
The MixPre II recorders feature Sound Devices’ own patented topology of multiple analog-to-digital converters. These converters appear in the circuitry after the Kashmir microphone preamplifier stage. They enable the recording of very-low distortion, ultra-high dynamic range audio. The MixPre II’s A-to-D’s can resolve more than 142 dB of dynamic range. Together with their Kashmir microphone preamplifiers and 32-bit float files, the MixPre II captures audio that is limited only by the capabilities of the microphone.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:12 pm

Yes I read that Robert.
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:25 pm

ReMix/ReRecord may be one way to address 32bit files that could be problematic in Resolve currently. I can’t check the manual at the moment. That would require having several cards in a multi-day shoot to reload later when you get around to that first pass of the 32bit audio. This workaround may be feasible depending upon how it’s managed in the MixPre II. Better might be if they shortly update their own app to include in this 32bit first pass.

Edit
Page 23 for details in the manual. You can apply ReMix to create a new mix from individual tracks and adjust levels using the fader knobs and pan as the individual tracks playback. I plan to use individual tracks so I suppose I could pick one individual track and ReRecord to a new individual track as well. Need to wait and see. I want to do mixing in Resolve.

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Last edited by rick.lang on Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:33 pm

I do not get the reason to use float, it is not well explained anywhere I can find.

32 bits as integer is more than enough and much easier to compute by computers, so what is the reason to use float.

Is there any AD converter that can proivide 32 bits, I do not think so, so likely these all are combining two 16 or 24 bit AD coinverters recording at different levels. As there is many analogue componets involved the match will never be poerfect, it will drift on temperature changes etc. probaly this is insignificat, but I do noit quite buy it jet that one can record at what level ever and the result after normalisation is the same.

Now thinking of it, the float is propably to make it easier to match two separate AD on the same channel. It by it self does not have any value, it is just a necessity. My guess anyway.

I think the 32 bits recording is interesting, but will wait for the reviews before testing my self.

BTW 24 bits integer can handle matematically 145 desibels, but is there any 24 bit AD that can actually provide that?
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:48 pm

Kim Janson wrote:I do not get the reason to use float, it is not well explained anywhere I can find.

32 bits as integer is more than enough and much easier to compute by computers, so what is the reason to use float.


See https://www.sounddevices.com/32-bit-flo ... explained/

The key text is:

"Modern, professional DAW software can read 32-bit float files. When a DAW first reads a 32-bit file, signals greater than 0 dBFS may first appear clipped since, by default, files are read in with 0 dB of gain applied. By applying attenuation to the file in the DAW, signals above 0 dBFS can be brought below 0 dBFS, undistorted, and used just like any 24- or 16-bit file.

For 32-bit float recording, exact setting of the trim and fader gain while recording is no longer a worry, from a fidelity standpoint. The recorded levels may appear to be either very low or very high while recording, but they can easily be scaled after recording by the DAW software with no additional noise or distortion. This can be seen with these sample files. This is the same source, one recorded with 24-bit fixed and the other with 32-bit float. Both files appear clipped when initially read into DAW software, but the 32-bit file’s gain can be scaled by the DAW.

Each audio sample for 32-bit float files consumes 32 bits of space on a hard disk or memory, and for a 48 kHz sampling rate, this means that 32 x 48,000 = 1,536,000 bits per second are needed for 32-bit, 48 kHz files. So for 33% more storage space compared to 24-bit files, the dynamic range captured goes from 144 dB up to, essentially, infinite (over 1500 dB). But more importantly, audio signals above 0 dBFS are preserved in the file, rendering clipped audio a thing of the past.

Recording 32-bit float audio files, along with high performance analog and digital electronics that can take advantage of its massive dynamic range, offer sound designers and sound mixers a new way to record audio. This is especially useful for applications where very loud, unexpected sounds can be captured without the use of limiters. The trade-off for using 32-bit float files is larger file sizes compared to 24-bit files."

And, for the engineers, here's one of Sound Devices' relevant patents on this: https://pimg-fpiw.uspto.gov/fdd/34/541/096/0.pdf
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 4:56 pm

Resolve uses 32bit floating point internally, not 32bit binary (which appears to be called linear in the forum). So nice that Resolve doesn’t need to convert to float as that does take resources.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Aug 31, 2019 5:00 pm

rick.lang wrote:Resolve uses 32bit floating point internally, not 32bit binary (which appears to be called linear in the forum). So nice that Resolve doesn’t need to convert to float as that does take resources.


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I think it should be "floating point" versus "fixed point", not "linear".
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 2:45 am

The Mixpre6 accepts HDMI timecode from the BMPCC 4K. It also supports trigger recording via HDMI. Although the clock on the Mixpre6 should be good, I've heard that if you set the least accurate device in the chain as your master, you won't have sync problems. Maybe a HDMI splitter could be used to feed a monitor.

Sort of. I've tried this on the Pocket 4K and the start/stop triggering does not work on my MixPre3. You can get timecode from the cameras HDMI but the MixPre will start recording as soon as you connect the cable, the cameras recording state has no effect on starting or stopping recording.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 5:39 am

John, you need to set the camera T/C to Run/Record, so TC is on,y sent out HDMI when the record button is pressed.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 6:30 am

Denny Smith wrote:John, you need to set the camera T/C to Run/Record, so TC is on,y sent out HDMI when the record button is pressed.
Cheers

I don't recall seeing that setting on the Pocket 4K. Unfortunately I sent my camera back in to try and resolve a power on problem, so I can't check now. Where is that setting?
There is a thread I raised about MixPre HDMI timecode here: https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=83038
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 10:30 am

rick.lang wrote:Resolve uses 32bit floating point internally, not 32bit binary (which appears to be called linear in the forum). So nice that Resolve doesn’t need to convert to float as that does take resources.


I just checked those 32 bit audio samples from Sound Devices page and it seems Resolve Fairlight 16.1b2 can not recover those hidden data. Is this means Fairlight don't use yet true 32 bit internal processing for audio? Another update needed?
I also checked same audio file in Cocos Reaper audio editor (it always was known for true 32 bit internal processing) and it recovers data just great. Feels like some magical HDR for audio.

P.S. I really love MixPre 32 bit tech and analog limiters and use one of their older mixers with small external recorder. But same time i really disappointed with new design. Those curvy shaped boxes looks like consumer device from some point of view and makes me mad. Older MixPre's brutal boxes always feels more authentic for me.
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 12:40 pm

Dmitry, seems there is a piece missing in Resolve Fairlight 16 at this time. There are several external solutions including Reaper and there is the ReMix/ReRecord function on the MixPre-6 II/10 II which is a possible solution for individual tracks but likely difficult to manage. A bit disappointing, but not a showstopper since having the recorder produce the 32bit floating point in the first place provides a benefit that some additional work in post will reveal.

Is Reaper going to convert the 32bit floating point to normal 24bit audio or is it going to adjust the exponent (and mantissa) to create a new 32bit floating point file that will not clip in Resolve Fairlight? The latter is preferable if it was the least destructive, and future proof once Fairlight does allow adjusting the values.

I guess this should be discussed in the Resolve or post production section of the forum. I’ll look there too to see if it’s a thread there.

Edit
The “Audio clipping” thread hasn’t had a recent update in the Resolve forum and post production doesn’t show any related thread. Looks like this thread is the best source for this 32bit floating point issue at this time.

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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSun Sep 01, 2019 9:22 pm

audio non pro here.

The 2nd Gen have timecode generators. Does that mean, i can use that to jam UMPro's TC?
I have 2 UMPro's, a pocket 4K and 6K. Want to know for a live/multicam set up if I can use the 2nd Gen Mixpre 3 to jam to the 2 UMPro's, connect it to one of the pockets (the timecode implementation is weak and drifts very quickly) and use the last pocket as a rover- to TC. Probably sync that with audio.

Thanks
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 12:33 am

The MixPre can act as a master or a slave. It can jam sync from another source or your Pro cameras can be jam synced to the MixPre. I would still plan to have a continuous Timecode device or signal feeding the Pocket via the 3.5mm audio input.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 7:00 am

For me who already have the MixPre-6 and UltraSync One TC, I find the second serie of MP6 not to be an affordable upgrade for me. If I did not have a recorder already or had the first MixPre-3 and no TC I would buy the 3II or 6II in a jiffy.
The format is superb as bag-able, rig mountable, very good sound and handling and built solid.
And you can control them with USB midi control surfaces or keyboard. And it works and looks great on your desktop when you run it as I/O interface.

The negative are:
It is a bit hungry on batteries. So consider feeding them with a USB-C pack or other external power solution.
Still only a single SD card and the first gen is extremely picky about SD cards when recording all channels at highest bitrate.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 8:30 am

Username wrote:The negative are:
It is a bit hungry on batteries. So consider feeding them with a USB-C pack or other external power solution.
Still only a single SD card and the first gen is extremely picky about SD cards when recording all channels at highest bitrate.


I can also add my negative opinion about power solutions for new mixers. Instead of those strange removable bulky battery plate adapters they could simply use native Sony NPF battery slots. Dual or single depending of mixer size. Way more compact and reliable design. Or at least use native 18650 cells. AA batteries are outdated and not too effective option for modern professional gear.
USB-C power input is another disappointment. Not too reliable connector for external power. Easy to damage. Mixer build like a tank, but use shaky USB connector for external power supply. Looks very strange.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 9:18 am

All true Dmitry!

The best and sturdiest solution is either a commercial hirose fed dc-dc battery slot adapter.
Or a diy solution with a dc-dc built in the battery adapter and feed it with a stand alone battery pack.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 12:32 pm

So on the 32 bit recording hype i checked some Zoom F6 video reviews and it seems it use the same tech as new MixPre II. Dual AD converters combines to HDR audio and save to 32 bit file. Clipped data can be recovered in exact same way in audio editors. Zoom F6 even don't have analog gain input controls, only digital gain control that is seems just a sort of "metadata" when you save to 32 bit. Wonder if Mix Pre do it in the same way.

So technically seems they provide same workflow. Both have almost the same input dynamic range (Equivalent input noise: −127 Zoom F6 vs -128dBu MixPre). For my taste Zoom F6 have better ergonomics. (smaller size, more inputs, more flexible battery solutions, integrated belt mount, simpler UI with normal physical buttons, easier co control headphones volume when mixer is inside the bag, timecode in/out) The only question is how good are F6 mic preamps? From NAB the interviews the F6 having the same preamps as the F4 and F8/F8n. MixPre mixers are famous for their magically sounding mic preamps at first place. I also hear few opinions that preamps from older MixPre mixers have more character in sound. MixPre also have better D/A Line output specs (MixPre 115 dB vs Zoom F6 95 dB dynamic range)

Hope that someone of them will manufacture in near time low cost, tiny sized, line-in only 32 bit recorder so we can plug it to any old preamps and record same clipping-free files.

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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 2:00 pm

Here is also some very interesting info by Mr. Satz about pros and cons of 32 bit recording and why the internal noise of the recorder is important http://taperssection.com/index.php?topi ... msg2304803

Hi. I just noticed the technical nature of this thread, since I don't follow Zoom products in general. A few comments if I may.

First, neither floating point data storage nor gain-ranging by combining the output of two converters per channel is new in digital audio by any means. The combination may well be new in a consumer recorder, I dunno. But these techniques haven't been all that widely used in professional digital audio up to now, not because they're "so advanced," but simply because neither has offered sufficient advantage so far.

Neumann's digital microphones have gain-ranging A/D converters, for example, but they offer no wider dynamic range than comparable analog microphones that are connected to external preamps and converters--a comparison that can be made by anyone, since Neumann sells several of their models in both digital and analog versions. And for the record, those mikes all have digitally remote-controlled gain settings.

--Someone further up the thread surmised that 32-bit float must be a superior format because why else does so much audio software use it internally. The answer is that recent Intel CPUs can process four 32-bit floats in parallel for many mathematical operations, which makes DSP functions in the software much more efficient than linear PCM allows, if your CPU supports the needed instruction set.

This may not be so obvious, but the real issue is the level and behavior of the recorder's internal noise floor, so please keep that issue in mind from now on, OK?

The two techniques that we're talking about can be understood as the same thing in different guises. They both involve "tracking" a signal in real time (i.e. at the sampling frequency) and then, based on its voltage at a given instant, assigning it to a category of bigness or smallness, with a further number of bits indicating where the particular sample value fits within that category. The dual-ranging-converter arrangement is the more obvious of the two in how it works. 32-bit floating point (at least the IEEE 754 flavor that I assume they're using) is the same thing, just done with 256 overlapping levels instead of two.

Both technologies cause the noise floor of the recording channel to rise or fall in response to instantaneous signal levels. When the signal level goes up in magnitude (i.e. absolute value) and you move into a/the higher range, the noise floor of the channel rises along with it. When the signal comes back down, so does the channel's noise. As long as that noise floor is so low that you can't hear it (always, 100%, money-back guaranteed under all circumstances), then the fact that it's shifting up and down will be of no audible consequence.

But that's the big "if" right there. If the noise floor is ever audible--if any possible type of signal, or combination of settings and signals, can coax it out of hiding--then it will be heard to "pump" or "breathe" along with the momentary signal levels. That will make the program material sound gritty or dirty or some such unwanted thing (depending on implementation details such as pre-emphasis/de-emphasis).

It's an effect that used to be called "modulation noise" back in the era of analog tape, and it's one of those things that once you've noticed it, you can never un-notice it again. On wide-dynamic-range program material where the levels change quickly by large amounts, noise pumping "calls attention to itself" and is far more offensive to the ear than a steady, low level of broadband noise would have been. And there's no real way to get rid of those artifacts once you have them on your recording, except to cover them with high levels of steady noise, which is obviously undesirable as well.

So the only hope for this recorder to sound good is if its internal noise floor is so low that it is never, ever heard, even "out of the corners of one's ears." It's possible, but by no means guaranteed. The gain manipulation in the A/D converters and the floating point encoder means that noise caused by those elements of the system will constantly shift up and down. The floating-point encoding system actually doesn't worry me unless it's implemented in an almost unimaginably, bone-headedly stupid way that surely someone would have caught and fixed by now (except, the people at dbx back in the day claimed that they really didn't hear the noise breathing of their noise reduction systems, which was pretty horrible at times). And there are ways to get dual A/Ds to play nice together.

But it all comes down to the actual implementation. If that is as good as it possibly can be, then we'll have a recorder with no gain control, that by definition can't have a wider dynamic range than the best previous recorder that has a gain control. So before you fall too far in love with this design concept, I suggest that you imagine epoxying the gain control on your best existing recorder to a setting that you know will never allow overload. Do you think that it would always make recordings that are as quiet as you could have made if you'd set your levels specifically for each occasion? I don't think so. And in that case you shouldn't expect more from this recorder.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 2:17 pm

Dmitry, I think I’ll be adding the optional battery sled that uses Sony L-series batteries to power the MixPre-6 II all day.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 2:21 pm

Although there’s only one SD card slot, it’s going to work with up to an absurd 512GB card. I’ll probably use my Wise 128GB SDXC Card initially to see if it works with my setup.

There is a USB-A slot that takes a copy of whatever is on the SD card. Not as good as a second SD slot, but better than nothing.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 2:24 pm

The MixPre-10 II has a superior power connection, but I can’t think I’ll ever need all those inputs!


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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 3:12 pm

Dmitry, joined Taper, but cautious about the black and white F6 concerns applying fully to the MixPre II series. When I read Zoom (F6) and Sound Devices (MixPre II) discussions how they implemented 32bit floating point audio, I don’t find them identical. Certainly the preamps are not going to be identical. And I doubt the noise floor will be identical. Their sarcasm isn’t helpful at all.

These are the experts and they jump on a bandwagon when they have used neither the F6 or MixPre II recorders. Good to bring people’s expectations to realistic heights. The enormous theoretical 1500 dB is completely irrelevant on this planet. It’s about protecting sound in a different way that should give real world results for budget-minded indies using a prosumer mixer/recorder. No problem if concert recordists, using a host of mics in front of the quietest and loudest instruments, have better gear and huge soundboards with gain and faders constantly changing under their fingertips. These new products are not targeting them.

But appreciate the cautionary tales and I certainly will wait on feedback from people using the production products before ordering.


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostMon Sep 02, 2019 5:01 pm

rick.lang wrote:The MixPre-10 II has a superior power connection, but I can’t think I’ll ever need all those inputs!

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I would not need all those inputs either, but would much prefer the balanced output.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostTue Sep 03, 2019 4:17 am

True, and they did reduce the price $400USD!


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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostTue Sep 03, 2019 8:56 am

Hope we get to work with these files in both Resolve studio 15 and 16 very soon.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostTue Sep 03, 2019 3:43 pm

rick.lang wrote:What are your thoughts? Time to strike while the iron is hot? Or wait for the samples in detailed reviews based on real use?


Well, it's Sound Devices. It's not like you might be going wrong; it will work, it will be flawless, and it will sound incredibly clean. Plus the v1 model is very user friendly, so I expect that v2 won't be LESS user friendly, just have some additional options. And a built in timecode generator... hm. That might be enough to convince me to sell my v1 and replace it with a v2 this holiday season. :)

After dealing with the rather poor quality of h4n and h6, I've been pretty gunshy about Zoom... and the "you don't have to set your audio levels" marketing really didn't fill me with confidence, even though the F4 and F8 sound very good.
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