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Old June 24th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #1
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Sound devices: 302 vs. 442

Hi. Quick question. Does anyone understand the thousand dollar difference between the Sound Devices 302 and the Sound Devices 442? I only need a three channel mixer, so the 302 is very attractive, however, does the 442 have better sound quality or are you only paying for the additional channel?
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Old June 24th, 2008, 12:33 PM   #2
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There are a number of things that are different between the two, other than just an extra channel. Including a crap load of outputs, variable high-pass filters, direct outputs, master fader knob, and a bunch of other stuff.

Check the sound devices website here: http://www.sounddevices.com

302 is nice and light... 442 is kind of a beast but has plenty of extra features.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:37 PM   #3
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I forgot who was it, but maybe a year or so ago one of the regulars here said he had called Sound Devices and asked if there was a quality difference between the MixPre, the 302, and the 442. The answer he reported was that the sound quality in general and the pre-amps in particular are the same in these mixers; what's different is the number of inputs/outputs and additional features that the more affordable (to avoid using the word "low end" for my beloved 302) models don't have.

If that's true, the 302 should sound just as good as the 442.

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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #4
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Man, if you can swing the 442 do it. I have the 302 and love it, but constantly (constantly!) wish I had more outputs.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 10:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
Man, if you can swing the 442 do it. I have the 302 and love it, but constantly (constantly!) wish I had more outputs.
I agree - I bounced back and forth on my decision and finally decided to buy once and be done with it so I got the 442. Haven't regretted it for even an instant.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 05:31 PM   #6
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I am new to recording sound properly. Why would I need more than two outputs? One goes to the camera for reference audio, and the other to a digital recorder, right?
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Old June 25th, 2008, 05:40 PM   #7
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I am new to recording sound properly. Why would I need more than two outputs? One goes to the camera for reference audio, and the other to a digital recorder, right?
There may be others required as well. Say you have a two camera shoot. Or you also need a mono output to a transciption recorder. Or you're sending a Comtek link to the producer and director over in 'Video Village.' Or you need to send IFB back to on-screen talent. For a working pro, the name of the game is flexibility and your next paycheque hinges on your ability to deliver at a moment's notice whatever the situation requires. It's like a parachute ... it's better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 08:40 PM   #8
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Biggest thing for me is to easily send a scratch track to camera when recording double system sound. It's best to bypass the recorder all together. Double camera shoots too, as Steve says. Big pain in the balls without having multiple outputs on your mixer.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #9
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Okay. I see the point you guys are making. It's a bit more than I intended to spend...but I always end up with high quality stuff...I can't seem to be happy with low grade gear. Probably a good thing, even if my wallet says otherwise. :)
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:03 PM   #10
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Do you guys know what other peripheral stuff I am going to need? Like, do they use racks for the mixer and recorder etc, or do they use bags?

Also, in this price-range, would I be better off to look at another mixer all together? One with sliders etc? I just want to spend my money wisely.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:10 PM   #11
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So far for me, everything in a bag.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 12:21 AM   #12
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I've spent a lot of time and $$$ over the last few years wrestling with frugality and quality. Solid, versatile sound gear holds its value a lot better than video/computer stuff. I've yet to regret my leaps of faith gear-wise (302, 416, HD-P2, K-tek, etc). I've regretted many lesser, budget-minded decisions, however.

You can get a lot of bang-for-buck from non-boutique items, the multitude of reviews and discussion forums out there are invaluable for decision-shaping.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 08:36 AM   #13
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Everyone that has Sound Devices equipment, including me, seems to be very happy with it.

I have noted that those who have the 302 mixer would like to have a 442 mixer for the extra outputs and for the other features.

Also, those who have the 442 mixer would like to have a 302 mixer for some shoots. The main advantage of the 302 is that it is much lighter and this can make a big difference if you have your mixer (and recorder) in a sound bag.

Personnally, I elected for the 302 due to the weight issue. I would love to have the 442 for some of my shoots. I like the direct outputs which I would use to feed a 744t and still have a mixed (two-channel) feed to go to the camera.

To minimize fatigue, I have a tall chair that I use. I place the bag, with the 302 and 744t and wireless receivers, etc. on the stood. At a moments notice I can pick up the bag and be fully mobile.

If the type of work that you are doing does not require you to be fully mobile, and cost is not a serious issue, the 442 is the obvious choice.

While the 302 is called a 3 channel mixer, it does have a features that allows you to have five input channels, with limitations. If this is interest to you, then visit the Sound Devices site and read the 302 manual. (The extra two channels do not make the 302 a true 5 channel mixer.)
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Old June 26th, 2008, 10:54 AM   #14
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I might add to Dan's comments that both the 302 and the 442 have inputs that let you link multiple units together. So for those cases wehre you need 8 channels, you can combine 2 x 442s, or a 302 and a 442 for a total of seven channels, etc.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 02:47 PM   #15
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I didn't know you could combine two of the units. That's cool.

Most of the stuff I shoot is indoors, so portability is not the biggest issue. The main thing I am concerned about mixer-wise, is that I hear it is quite difficult to ride gain on more than two channels with a mixer that has knobs instead of sliders. That said, should I be looking at something like a Cooper cs 106 or a Sonosax sx-s6? I can't seem to find them on B&H, or find a price on them for that matter, but I assume they run from 4-6 grand.
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