Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

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Rakesh Malik

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

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 6:29 pm

rick.lang wrote:Been years since I used Audacity, but I haven’t seen how you adjust the exponent in their 32bit float processing. The manual doesn’t seem to mention that, so maybe it “just works” behind the scenes when you adjust the amplitude up or down. I’ll likely be able to test over the next week as I’ll have all my components here by the weekend or Monday.


Reaper seems to be figuring a lot of it out behind the scenes, but I'm no audio post expert :)
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 7:12 pm

Hopefully Audacity is comparable, but if not then I’ll pickup Reaper.


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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 9:02 pm

Tom, I’ve tested the CM-4 mics now and they definitely are not wide. Sound falls off fairly quickly from the centre front. I hope I can get enough coverage of the children singing but it will take both mics in that ORTF pattern that was recommended previously by Brad.


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

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 9:04 pm

rick.lang wrote:Hopefully Audacity is comparable, but if not then I’ll pickup Reaper.



I should try Audacity before I decide... I'm using the trial of Reaper right now.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 9:08 pm

I was forgetting about the free trial. I’ll be done with the music video in that timeframe. Please give it a shot with Audacity if you have the time. Feeling a bit of pressure when the person I wanted to shoot the BTS is unavailable on my shooting days (Sep 28 and Oct 5)!


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

PostWed Sep 18, 2019 9:13 pm

I'll try to remember tonight... hopefully if I can get the review for the Z6 and the product photos for that review done tonight so that I can send it back :)
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 4:15 am

rick.lang wrote:Tom, I’ve tested the CM-4 mics now and they definitely are not wide. Sound falls off fairly quickly from the centre front. I hope I can get enough coverage of the children singing but it will take both mics in that ORTF pattern that was recommended previously by Brad.


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Rick - thanks. I may get one to try out given the preposterously low price versus the reputation for quality.

Having just run down the rabbit hole, and read several articles and wikipedia entries on stereo mic techniques, I can confidently say that ORTF will be great here! (Is there anything backing up my confidence? Absolutely not! But I might as well sound confident on the internet.)
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 4:59 am

The CM-3 and CM-4 are both Wide Cardioids (although the CM-4 slightly less wide).
The CM-3 have been considered very good in a wide ORTF (110 degrees at 21.5 cm) which is not true ORTF by definition.
Running them in a NOS setup delivers very good recordings as well.

The CM-4 is still considered a wide cardioid so a true ORTF would yield a narrowish sound stage.
Try them a bit wider or in NOS.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 5:35 am

I hope I have time to experiment a little with the children’s chorus, but I’ve been advised I need to work quickly as their attention span is limited. Still debating with myself on how I’ll use the pair of mics.

By the way, if you’re “in for a penny, in for a pound” it makes sense to order a pair of the CM-4 mics; I can’t see only getting a single mic for how they’re used. If this goes well, I’ll be tempted to add more.

Now why did I buy the MixPre-6 II when it’s obvious now I should have gone for the MixPre10 II and used 4 CM-4 mics?


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:15 am

Rick, as it happens, last week I had to make a recording for a documentary of a symphonic orchestra playing Beethoven's symphony No 9 which includes "Ode an die Freude (ode to joy)".

The orchestra consisted of the strings in the left and right front, surrounding the conductor. Behind them were the woodwinds, timpani, and soloists. And in the back the choir with almost 50 people.

I have used two Rode NT2As set to cardioid pattern in ORTF on a light stand up in the air at around 3m nearby the conductor. I used two Rode NTG3s in a wide spread AB manner on the far left and right.
And my UM46K recorded the wide shot and sound with on-camera mics, for some room atmo.

It came out surprisingly well, considering that this was the first time I have recorded a huge symphonic orchestra and I had limited possibilities. My book about recording techniques recommended using 4 main mics and 16 supporting microphones (which I obviously did not ;) have available).

After mixing all tracks together and doing some mastering it sounded great (of course it isn't on the level of a completely professional made recording) and you could locate the instrument sources in the sound space quite nicely.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:26 am

I’d never think four principal mics would handle all that plus your atmosphere mic for a client. Gives me hope that the two mics I have can give me something good from a few kids. Plus the AVX on the principal vocalist and MKH416 for atmosphere.

Once I unofficially recorded a similar symphony from the box seats with one mic. Of course I can’t ever use that audio, but I played it a lot as I was surprised how well that turned out!


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:19 am

rick.lang wrote:I hope I have time to experiment a little with the children’s chorus, but I’ve been advised I need to work quickly as their attention span is limited. Still debating with myself on how I’ll use the pair of mics.

By the way, if you’re “in for a penny, in for a pound” it makes sense to order a pair of the CM-4 mics; I can’t see only getting a single mic for how they’re used. If this goes well, I’ll be tempted to add more.

Now why did I buy the MixPre-6 II when it’s obvious now I should have gone for the MixPre10 II and used 4 CM-4 mics?


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Thx for this info about Line Audio which is just around the corner here in south Sweden.
Just got myself a couple of CM4:s from them. Great price too.
Btw, Jam synced G1, G2 (BNC-BNC) and 2 Pocket (BNC-3.5) from the MixPre 10II.
Just did a couple of hours run which turned out fine.
Have to do a longer test of the cameras internal clock though.

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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:29 am

One four-mic option is the "Faulkner array," named for famed classical music recording engineer Tony Faulkner, which uses a couple of cardiods in roughly ORTF configuration flanked by a pair of omnis. By the way he's using a Mixpre 10T these days for at least some of his recording gigs.

As he describes the Faulkner array, he sets up a long stereo bar with "omnis spaced at around 67cms, and a pair of directional mics in between them spaced at around 47cms apart (both sets with the mics angled outwards). This is a very handy rig for recording live orchestral concerts because it will often cover a full orchestra on its own unless the stage is very deep. As a bonus, video directors are usually very happy to see only one high stand and few camera shots compromised by mics and mic stands scattered all over the stage." The OM-1 mic from Line Audio is a good cheap omni that would work fine for this array. This is a sort of fail-safe array, maybe the stereo analogy to 32-bit floating point recording: you can blend to your heart's content in post to get the best sound if either the cardioids or the omnis didn't capture quite what you wanted.

But depending on how big the chorus is, your two CM-4s in NOS or ORTF (you can experiment with stereo configurations if you have time) will likely be enough. Check out the incredible CDs recorded by Todd Garfinkle at Ma Recordings sometime; all of that music was captured with just a stereo pair of mics (typically DPA omnis) directly into a portable recorder with high-end cables in beautiful acoustic spaces around the world.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 11:11 am

Rick, you can download a sample (Ode to Joy) of my recording here:

Above Wideshot (PCC4k)
https://we.tl/t-wqsNulQN6I

Center Wideshot (UM46k)
https://we.tl/t-P8E0PBYwwQ
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 12:37 pm

Rick, just another thing I used for the recording:
A Leica laser rangefinder for measuring and noting the distances from the cameras and mics to the center of the orchestra. Sound travels 1m in ~3ms so I could later calculate the audio delays.

The center wide shot for example was at a distance of 32.6m which results in a 95ms delay or 5 frames for a 50fps recording.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:25 pm

A problem:

I’m currently in Basic Mode. When I plug in a working USB Keyboard, I can’t enter anything. When I try to use the virtual keyboard, I can’t enter anything. Are these only enabled for Advanced?

A question:
On the MixPre 6 II, how long can my XLR cables (from the mic to the recorder) be to maintain best sound?


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:30 pm

rick.lang wrote:I’m currently in Basic Mode. When I plug in a working USB Keyboard, I can’t enter anything. When I try to use the virtual keyboard, I can’t enter anything. Are these only enabled for Advanced?


The first version was a tad picky about the USB keyboards it worked with, so possibly it's a compatibility thing? I've never used it in basic mode, so I don't really know what the differences are. :)

A question:
On the MixPre 6 II, how long can my XLR cables (from the mic to the recorder) be to maintain best sound?


If they're good cables, you don't have to worry about much. At a concert I crewed at when we pulled up the cables, I ended up with bundles of XLRs that were a fair workout to carry across the venue (they were connecting instrument mics on stage to a mixer at the back of the stadium).
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:48 pm

Okay, no concern then with the length of mic cables.

I went into Advanced and made no difference to the USB Keyboard.

Thanks, Rakesh.


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:54 pm

rick.lang wrote:Okay, no concern then with the length of mic cables.


That's why we use balanced cables. :)

I went into Advanced and made no difference to the USB Keyboard.


Hm... might be a question for Sound Devices support then -- I'd guess that it's a keyboard compatibility thing. Or now that I think about it, did you look at the config settings for the USB port? I don't have my mixer handy so you'll probably get to look before me, maybe there's an option there for keyboard, among the list of others like power, transfer, etc.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:08 pm

Audacity normalizes the "clipped" SD 32 bit floating point sample, without issue. At zero (or lower), there's zero distortion. If you don't have izotope rx_, Audacity is probably the easiest way, Reaper being a handful.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:12 pm

Note that the manual (for MixPre original series, not sure about version II) says Apple keyboards are not supported, nor are keyboards with an integrated USB hub. And it says some keyboards can only be connected after the recorder is turned on.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:13 pm

Another mystery:
The upper left SD symbol stays Orange which means Bluetooth is incomplete. I can’t find how to enter a password since virtual keyboard doesn’t respond to finger touches, but I think that’s all it’s waiting for to turn Green.




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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:15 pm

Ah well, if all else fails, reboot! :)
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:16 pm

John, thanks for the update re Audacity. I’ve got 32bit enabled on the MixPre but still having setup issues before I record.


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:17 pm

rick.lang wrote:virtual keyboard doesn’t respond to finger touches


Ah, unless they've changed something it DOESN'T respond to finger touches. You have to use the headphone volume control (aka headphone encoder) to pick and choose letters and numbers. Turn it to scroll through and press to select. Reminds me of the keyboard on the original Pocket camera. That's the way it works...oddly enough.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:36 pm

Oh! I did read the manual before I had the machine. Some of the UI escapes my memory. Thanks.

What’s the secret getting to Wingman password? I can’t find anything there to enter test or a password but it does let me change clip names thankfully.


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

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:37 pm

rick.lang wrote:What’s the secret getting to Wingman password? I can’t find anything there to enter test or a password but it does let me change clip names thankfully.


I think you set up the password in Wingman, not the mixer.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:39 pm

Brad Hurley wrote:
rick.lang wrote:What’s the secret getting to Wingman password? I can’t find anything there to enter test or a password but it does let me change clip names thankfully.


I think you set up the password in Wingman, not the mixer.


You have to set the password to connect to the mixer on the mixer, and then enter it once in Wingman the first time you connect to it.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 10:55 pm

Rakesh Malik wrote:You have to set the password to connect to the mixer on the mixer, and then enter it once in Wingman the first time you connect to it.


Ah right, I had it backwards. I think Rick is trying to figure out where in the mixer's settings he can set the password. According to the manual, it's on page two of the system settings menu.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 12:04 am

Yes, got it but cleared it as it just didn’t seem important to password protect it. I’m all set now, should be testing actual video and audio this weekend.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 2:29 am

Remember to download the manual every few days because SD is constantly updating them.
So far they are on their fourth or fifth version already.
The name on it changes with the date of the revision.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 3:27 am

Thanks for the tip. I’m on version 4.00 but forget the build. I imagine that changes frequently too for a new release. Sad it doesn’t support Apple USB keyboards but so far working as advertised. Tomorrow I’ll see how out of phase the clock on the MixPre is compared to my Tentacle. Maybe 16 hours after being turned off (but plugged into power) since about 4 pm. Then I can do another test Saturday night leaving the MixPre powered on (with the screen turned way down) to see how that fares. Both tests will give me an idea when to re-sync on set.

So I’m running two cameras constantly jammed with two Tentacles after jamming the MixPre clock using Free Run. Today Free Run didn’t vary from the Tentacle Timecode but the elapsed time wasn’t long between checking.

I learned I had to use Free Run and then jam to the Aux 1 port with the Tentacle. If I wanted to leave the Tentacle on all the time, then you Run Timecode from the Aux 1 port, not Free Run and in that case there’s no need to jam again.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 7:45 am

Wow that’s awesome.

They usually talk about less than a frame per day. Would be interesting to see if that’s true. :)
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 8:46 am

BTW, would you be able to do a recording test for me.

Use a high speced SD-card and record all 6 channels + LR mix at highest settings and see if you can record 3-4 hours without buffer error failures?

6 channels + 2 mix = 8 channels
192kHz
32bit float


And if possible do the same but with 24bit fixed.

I’m interested to see if Sound Devices have changed their card I/O.
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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 2:37 pm

With the MixPre turned off for about 15 hours or so while set to Free Run after jamming Gen to Aux1 temporarily, Sync was off this morning by 00:00:02:09 running 24fps.

Now I’ve jammed to Aux1 Tentacle and continue Free Run with the Tentacle removed. I’ll leave the MixPre powered on for about four hours and see if things are in sync. It had better be! If not I’ll need to figure out which is more accurate, Tentacle or MixPre. I thought Tentacle would be better since you pay a few hundred dollars for one function!

Sound Devices says it will keep sync powered down for about two hours.

Maybe I’ll let it run longer to see when it differs a frame.


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Last edited by rick.lang on Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 2:46 pm

I can’t do a stress test with 8 channels. I only have 4 XLR mics and the LR so 6 channels. The Sound Devices 32GB UHS-I is the only card they recommended so I bought it. They say their cards are extensively tested. That’s why they cost much more than a card from Best Buy.

It’s rated to sustain 90 MB/s but certified U3.

8 channels at 32bit at 192KHz is only just over 6 MB/s. Should be fine.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 2:56 pm

FYI, I've had flawless performance from SanDisk UHS-I cards in the MixPre; I use a 64 gigabyte SanDisk Extreme Pro UH 95 mb/s card and it's totally fine. That's not a cheap card, but I bet even the el-cheapo Kingston Canvas React cards would be perfect as well; I'll give my Kingston card a test sometime.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 3:04 pm

After only half an hour, there is a slight difference on the Timecode on the MixPre and the Tentacle. That’s not good. It’s less than a frame so hard to tell who is keeping better time. The Tentacle app doesn’t calculate any difference between all Tentacles so really hard to know if they’re still in perfect sync.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 3:19 pm

You won’t believe this, but right in front of my eyes without touching anything since the post a few minutes ago, the MixPre Timecode suddenly ran a more than a full second and 18 frames behind the Tentacle. My two Tentacles have stayed in sync so this is most disappointing!

Looks like the cameras and the recorder each need a Tentacle to keep the best sync. I had a feeling I should have bought two more Tentacles but was trying to economize instead of playing it safe. I’ll sync again at 8:30 am and see if that was a weird anomaly or happens again this morning.

A bit angry to see that drop as I was watching the screen. So I know it wasn’t gradual at all. A glitch in the MixPre when it was not doing anything else.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 3:44 pm

You can simply arm all 6 channels without any input plus mix and then record 8ch 32-bit at 192kHz.
The first series of the MixPres have shown to be as demanding as the Pocket and Micro Cinema Cameras when it comes to SD cards.
Barely any cards have been able to record all channels at full bitrate.

Thats why I was curious how the Gen II manages that.

Should be fine.

One would think so but unfortunately not in the first gen of them.


rick.lang wrote:I can’t do a stress test with 8 channels. I only have 4 XLR mics and the LR so 6 channels. The Sound Devices 32GB UHS-I is the only card they recommended so I bought it. They say their cards are extensively tested. That’s why they cost much more than a card from Best Buy.

It’s rated to sustain 90 MB/s but certified U3.

8 channels at 32bit at 192KHz is only just over 6 MB/s. Should be fine.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 4:21 pm

rick.lang wrote:You won’t believe this, but right in front of my eyes without touching anything since the post a few minutes ago, the MixPre Timecode suddenly ran a more than a full second and 18 frames behind the Tentacle.


Talk to Sound Devices.

All of the MixPre II Series now include a full-featured internal timecode generator and are accurate to better than 0.2 ppm (0.5 frames per 24 hours).

https://www.sounddevices.com/mixpre-ii-faq/
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 4:59 pm

John, the anomaly repeated itself. The two Tentacles have the same time but the MixPre with jammed Free Run dropped about 1.5 seconds in an hour. I bet it was the same sudden drop. I shall try to contact SD but I may just return this device. As it has to be faulty.

I will work if I have the MixPre taking Timecode from Aux1 with the Tentacle plugged in continuously.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 7:09 pm

Third test running about 90 minutes and it’s over 5 seconds slow. The BMPCC4K and URSA Mini 4.6K appear to be fine. The Mini is taking EXT Timecode and the Pocket is fine running INT Timecode after being jam synced briefly. I won’t bore folks and longer until the resolution but major disappointment in Sound Devices.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 7:29 pm

Report this investigation to SD support. New product always needs firmware updates and bug fixes.
Maybe it is related to 32 bit recording settings somehow? Did you test it with different bit depth selected?
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 7:40 pm

Rick - have you double checked your settings: 24 fps vs 23.98 fps?
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 10:38 pm

I’m at 32bit float for everything I’ve tested.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 10:42 pm

I think Robert referred to frame rate not bit depth ...

And that seems the most likely culprit ... unless the MixPre is defective.
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Re: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 10:43 pm

I’ll contact SD Sunday or Monday. I’m thinking I should delay the September 28th shoot. Burning the candle at both ends lately. I’m not the only in shooting 32bit on the MixPre version 4.00 but I need to see what SD Forum members have to say too. Other priorities in the way!


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Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (second generation)

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 10:43 pm

Yes, everything at 24 fps. 48KHz. Standard stuff.


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

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 11:26 pm

rick.lang wrote:Yes, everything at 24 fps. 48KHz. Standard stuff.


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It's just like an interesting coincidence that with 23.98 vs 24 fps you would get a 5.5 sec delay at 90 minutes, so I thought that could be the issue.
But if you checked that, than it really seems to be a problem with the MixPre, which is not very assuring. Hope support will be able to help.
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