Which one? Sound Devices 302, Rolls mx422 or Signvideo eng-44 at DVinfo.net

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Old December 26th, 2007, 08:49 AM   #1
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Which one? Sound Devices 302, Rolls mx422 or Signvideo eng-44

First, let me say that I will be using this about 15 times a year. Is it really worth almost 3x's as much for the SD302? I have ready many posts on the rolls mx422 and signvideo eng-44 and either unit would work for my audio needs. I don't want to be too cheap and have to buy a better portable mixer later.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old December 26th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #2
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Jon - you may also want to consider or get input re the PSC 3 channel mixer (DV PROMIX 3) ... it can't do all the 302 does, but if you are looking not to spend a mint, I have gotten good results from mine ... I'm sure the pros here can help with the comparisons but just addt'l idea fyi .. in terms of 'buy a better mixer later' I suppose it all comes down to your requirements as to whether that would be needed... I'm sure the 302 has more features than the others, so question is which can you live without and is the quality (pre-amps, etc) sufficient on the others)

http://www.professionalsound.com/Cat...7;20Promix.htm
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Old December 26th, 2007, 10:09 PM   #3
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When the Sign Video Eng-44 first came out I bought one. It worked very well was well built and had some nice features.

However, I returned it the next day (and paid a re-stocking fee), and I bought a Sound Devices 302.

The reasons I spent all the money were:
1. The Eng-44 started to get noise on the upper end of the pre amps when using a dynamic handheld mic, such as the EV RE50 (standard version). Not much, but a little.
2. The size of the unit for traveling overseas and for carrying in a pouch when shooting alone.
3. The headphone switch that allows monitoring each input in both ears.
4. A couple of little things I don't recall, and I liked the quality of the unit.

However, in the favor of the ENG44:
1. With lavalier mics (e.g. Sony ECM 44) the prepamps were fine.
2. For condenser mics the preamps were fine. For both the lavaliers and the condensers, I did not here added noises. The RE50 is particularly low output, and it could have been used with this mixer in outdoor situations without a problem, and I believe other dynamic mics will be a little stronger anyway, so the preamp noise is probably not a problem for most general applications.
4. It has four inputs instead of three. I am guessing one reason a mixer is used in a low budget situation is to get solid input from several wired speakers and or several hand held mics. The fourth output is helpful here.
5. The ENG-44 has a nice feature of a special return for the boom operator.
6. The ENG-44 is lightweight and convenient to wear with its shoulder strap.

I am sure you have read all the specs.

One more reason I bought the 302 is that I am using it in a small recording studio. The quality of the preamps made a difference for me here. Also the ability to adjust the output level and the different kinds of metering.

However, for general use (and the fourth input) I think the ENG44 is a good value and will do a fine job. When I returned mine the people where I bought it said they could here the slight noise I was talking about in the preamp when turned up. However, they also said they compared the noise in the ENG44 with the noise in the Shure FP mixer and found them similar.

So, bottom line for me, the SD mixer is in a different class. But the ENG-44 is a solid unit in situations for which its suited.

I don't know anything about the Rolls.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 01:38 AM   #4
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Okay, I'll say up front that I haven't used the Rolls and Signvideo mixers, although I was on a shoot where I was asked to use the Rolls and it seemed reasonably solid, but kind of limited compared to the 302. Client let me use my own 302 and I put the Rolls away, somewhat relieved. So I don't want to knock those two mixers. I can say that in the three or so years that I've had a 302 it's usefulness has seemed to continually expand with the increasingly complicated setups I find myself needing. I can honestly say that if I was building a sound kit now I would start with the 302, or if possible, 442, to the point of living with lesser quailty mics if necessary. You really have to get a handle on the signal that you're feeding the camera and build from there. Just my two cents. I never seem to need more than three channels by the way. Three's plenty.

Last edited by Marco Leavitt; December 27th, 2007 at 11:12 AM.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 04:13 AM   #5
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Is the Sound Devices 442 completely out of the question? I've hired one numerous times, and I love it to bits. I'm going to keep hiring it until I can afford to purchase it. The 302 does the job, and does it very well, however, every thing's just slightly better on the 422 (better controls, more control, more inputs, more outputs, etc).

That said, if you need the mixer now, and don't want to save up for the 442, then go for the 302. It's a great little unit, and you won't be disappointed.

I haven't used the other mixers mentioned first hand. But just looking at the pictures on their websites, the 302 looks much stronger than the DV Pro Mix, ENG-44 and MX422. I also much prefer the look of the meters on the Sound Devices models.

As you said, you're only using it about 15 times a year, and all of the above will do the job. So really, it just comes down to money! If you want to invest in some absolutely amazing gear that will last forever and everyone will enjoy operating it, go with the 422. Can't afford/justify the 422, then go the 302. If you only plan to bring it out of it's box 15 times a year, end of story, then the DV Pro Mix, ENG-44 and MX422 are worth looking into. If you can live with analogue meters, then a MX422 looks like the better option based purely on looking at the websites. Don't like analogue meters, then the ENG-44 would be my next choice only because of the boom operator output.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #6
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I have the Rolls 422 and use the Sound Devices 442 at work. If you don't care about budget, get the 442, if you are on a small budget, get the 422... the rolls works fine, it's just not the "Rolls" that the Sound Devices is.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 07:40 PM   #7
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Thank you everyone. I am leaning toward the 302. I am mainly going to use it with wireless microphones, does that make a difference? Sometimes, I willl be using a shotgun on a boom.

Thanks,

Jon
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #8
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I waited for the 442 to come out years ago. I reviewed it, loved it and bought it. There are times when the 302 would do just fine, but when possible, I'm the sort of guy who will buy the extra to cover my butt.I bought a 16 foot carbon fiber K-tek pole because I knew if I bought a 12' pole I'd ned 14' the next day.

So far I have only unleashed the 16 footer 4 times to its full length, but it was nice to have it.

302 is very nice. Get it and be happy. To other 442 users, I'm really liking the $199 external rechargeable Li-Ion battery I'm using on the 442. 14,400mAhr!

http://www.batterygeek.net/BG_9_12_1...atterygeek.htm

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 28th, 2007, 03:08 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
I waited for the 442 to come out years ago. I reviewed it, loved it and bought it. There are times when the 302 would do just fine, but when possible, I'm the sort of guy who will buy the extra to cover my butt....

302 is very nice. Get it and be happy. To other 442 users, I'm really liking the $199 external rechargeable Li-Ion battery I'm using on the 442. 14,400mAhr!...

Ty Ford
I'm with you on purchasing for the long term. Been saving my pennies and it looks like my budget is going to allow me to pull the trigger on a 442 purchase in the next week or so. Any other 'must have' suggestions to go along with it?
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Old December 28th, 2007, 03:54 AM   #10
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Hmmm,

If you have a 744T, get the little cables that allow the direct outs of the 442 to feed the 744T inputs

Sound Devices has a new AC power supply for the mixers that is better than the original issue. I always ready for battery operation, even when I'm around AC, if weird ground loops cause hum, but going with house power doesn't drain your battery budget.

I got an extra 20' section of mixer camera hose this year. I was on a shoot booming with the mixer and the camera op wanted to be further away so he could use the zoom lens to soften the background focus. I used every inch of the regular hose and that prompted me to pay the $100 or so to get another 20'. Haven't used it yet, but I have it. I can only remember one other occasion in which I might have used the extra length. I went to wireless lavs instead.

I do like the batterygeek.net Li-On battery, but you have to do your own soldering work to put the right conector on and I've learned that it's also good to travel with the charger. I was on set last week and here in Baltimore the cold air means more static. I was attaching the hose to the camera and got a small static discharge. It popped the circuit breaker in the battery. When that happens, you have to have AC power so you can plug in the charger to the battery and reset the breaker.

Having two snakes is a nice thing. There's even two retuns on the 442 so you can alternate between two camera returns. The 442 actually has three balanced stereo outs. I have, on occasion, fed three cameras simultaneously. Main hose, secondary pair of XLRs and tertiary mini xlrs. You'll need mini XLR to XLR shorties for that.

I use a Portabrace shoulder and waist harness. The Portabrace padded neck strap is nice, but the 442 weight is significant.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 28th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Omiatek View Post
...Is it really worth almost 3x's as much for the SD302? ...
Good question. Working toward getting a 302 is a wise decision.

But, what do you really need? What mics are you using? What camera or external recorder are you using? How many channels do you need? How many channels will you need in the future?
Are three channels always enough?
Do you ever need two mixers?

I've been in many situations where the SD 442 or SD 302 was overkill... And heavy after a long day. And there were times when I just grabbed the MixPre and I wish I had the 442.

I bought an ENG44 as a backup. After getting stuck using some really old FP32's (client supplied)... an not being able to trust what I was hearing and seeing...I needed something that was reliable, light, wouldn't need to change batteries, had a plethara of outputs, sounded good, and had limiters that worked and protected the digital recording.

On the rare occassions when I need more inputs than the 442 has...I can gang the mixers for more inputs for the wireless mics.
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Old December 28th, 2007, 05:36 PM   #12
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I will be using it with my new sony EX1, a v1u or pd170. I have senheisser 100 & 500 wireless mics and a few AT shotguns. I don't know if I can justify $1200 more for the 442 but I also don't want to be in the, "I should have purchased the 442" which tends to happen often with my purchases.

I will be using at weddings mainly and some corporate work as well. Is there a big difference in the quality of the peak limiters in the 442 vs 302?

Thanks,

Jon
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Old December 28th, 2007, 05:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jon Omiatek View Post
I will be using it with my new sony EX1, a v1u or pd170. I have senheisser 100 & 500 wireless mics and a few AT shotguns. I don't know if I can justify $1200 more for the 442 but I also don't want to be in the, "I should have purchased the 442" which tends to happen often with my purchases.

I will be using at weddings mainly and some corporate work as well. Is there a big difference in the quality of the peak limiters in the 442 vs 302?

Thanks,

Jon
Limiter quality, and sound quality in general, would be the same. The big selling point of the 442 is the increased flexibility. Multi-cam shoots are easier with the multiple outputs, output levels are switch selectable to mic, -10, or line level. Multiple monitor returns. Direct outputs on each input channel. Continuously panning on each input strip, more sophisticated low pass filtering. IMHO, the 4th channel is just icing on the cake. But all that being said, it may be overkill if you're mostly doing single camera wedding coverage with 3 or less active mics. Corporate is a wide area and you may or may not need the extra features for it. IF there's a chance you might, then it's like a parachute - better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
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Old December 28th, 2007, 08:27 PM   #14
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The 302 is 1.8 lbs. and the 442 is 4.5 lbs.

To my mind, these are two different type mixers. The 442 is nicer, but the niceness and features are more than double the weight of the 302. As well the 442 is 6.5 x 11 inches while the 302 is 4.5 x 8.4 inches. Depending on the use, this may or may not make a difference.

If you are carrying a camera and the mixer and the receivers, the 302 fits in better I believe.

If you are a dedicated sound person, with a harness and the mixer and a recorder, I think the obvious choice is the 442. The biggest advantage to me is the separate output for each channel.

The 302s are used a lot in reality show, with up to five mics. There are three balanced inputs, but there are is a stereo channel that can be configured as two additional unbalanced inputs. These two channels are not infrequently used on reality shows for two additional mics where they've got crowds of people running around who are all wired.

Before I bought the 302 I called Sound Devices and was told the quality of the circuits are the same. As pointed out above there may be some slight differences, but I do know the preamps are the same... and they are worth the difference in price of the $600 mixers.

Also remember that two 302 mixers can be linked to give six inputs or a 302 and a mixpre can be linked to give you 5 inputs. In fact, depending on your business, spending the money on two mixers that can be used separately might give you more benefits than spending the same amount of money on a single unit.

Anyway, there's a bit more to consider.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 01:02 AM   #15
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If you're only gonna use it 15x a year then rent the 302. It'll be about $35 a day. $35 x 15 is way less than you'll spend on any mixer. $525. Buy it when you can afford it. The 442 is $45. And if the days you'll be shooting are consecutive, they give you deals. Some places even only charge you ONE day over the weekend. So say you only need your gear on Saturday, you pick it up on Friday and return it Monday.

P.S. I've seen reality shows use the 5 channel Wendt more often than the 302. But what do I know? And if there are a shitload of people they hire more than one sound mixer and/or they do this crazy thing with blocks. Pain in the butt.
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