SD 302 vs FP-33 Mixer at DVinfo.net

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Old September 9th, 2008, 08:58 PM   #1
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SD 302 vs FP-33 Mixer

I am wanting to get a mixer for my Canon XH-A1 and have heard these are the two that you pros use. At the cost, I really don't want to buy the wrong one, and they are about identical in price so price doesn't matter. I am hoping someone can tell me the advantages of one over the other, and dissadvantages so I can purchase the right one.

I do mainly weddings, and dances using Shotgun and Lav mics. if that helps.

Here are the links
SD 302
Sound Devices | 302 Portable 3 Channel Field Mixer | 302 | B&H

FP-33
Shure | FP-33 Portable Mixer | FP33 | B&H Photo Video

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Old September 9th, 2008, 10:04 PM   #2
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In my opinion, the Sound Devices 302 is a much better mixer than the Shure FP33.

I have used both mixers extensively and can say that the Sound Devices 302 sounds better than the Shure does, has better meters, better sounding limiters, is more compact, and is a better match with current digital camcorders.

Don't get me wrong, the Shure FP33 is not a piece of junk, but given the choice I would reach for the Sound Devices every time.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 10:41 PM   #3
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302 hands down.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 10:45 PM   #4
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302 for two reasons: it sounds better, and resale value is much much better than fp-33
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Old September 9th, 2008, 10:53 PM   #5
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Thanks guys, once again this place comes through.

Denny
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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:06 AM   #6
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I've used both. Some different features... FP33 has a master level and hard wired Mic/Line switched outs, which may appeal to some. 302 sounds much much better and has multi mode LED metering, among a list of other niceties, while the 33 has just a VU. I own a 302.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 01:59 PM   #7
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I have had the Shure for many years. It has been a good workhorse that his been raced wrecked and abused and just keeps on going. It always comes through for me. I have a close friend who has had the 302 for over a year. It is probably at least a 10+ years newer design. It should be better and I think it is for the reasons others have listed.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 02:30 PM   #8
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Denny
You should read some of the other posts on this forum about the 302 and the XH A1.
I have an XH A1 and bought an SD 302 because it is so highly-regarded but some people say that they aren't well-matched.

I think that they are probably wrong but I'm too untechnical to know.
You seem to need to open the audio dials wide open on the XH A1 and open the gain controls on the 302 most of the way in order to get the levels high enough.
This doesn't seem to be right to me but some people who are much more knowledgeable than me swear that this set up works perfectly.
I was experimenting over the weekend and emailing Sound Devices yesterday and they were being very helpful. But I still have unanswered questions and have not been able to experiment enough yet to give you any useful feedback.
However I do think that the 302 handbook is not very illuminating in this respect - particularly as the 302 was marketed towards people like me ie film makers without a background in sound.
If I understand it correctly the Canon doesn't conform to industry norms and expects a higher level of signal than the 302 is capable of delivering without pushing all the controls on both the camera and the mixer beyond what would normally be considered appropriate.

SD were telling me to set the tone from the mixer at -20 on the XH A1. In order to do that you have to open the dials on the XH A1 fully and then you almost get -20 (it's difficult to be precise because the scale on the dial doesn't have enough detail on it to read it properly).
If I understand correctly the XH A1 will clip at zero on the camera's scale and the 302 will clip at + 20 ie they will both clip at the same point (because the tone on the 302 = 0) which means you don't have to bother looking at the levels on the camera.
But to get a decent level of signal out of the 302 you need to turn the gain up a long way.
I find it all extremely confusing and I haven't had the opportunity to try this out for real yet.
But I hope this makes sense and is of some use.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 06:22 PM   #9
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I'm going to guess you had the 302 in RMS meter mode and not peak + RMS meter mode.

Regards,

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Old September 11th, 2008, 12:44 AM   #10
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I own a 302 mixer and own a canon camera. Never had a problem with audio. Like people are saying the 302 has excellent quality, but the shure is not bad it's just not in the same league to me as the sound device 302. It depends on what you do with your mixer and where you go. Hands down the 302 is better qualified a mixer to go anywhere and handle any type of weather condition. Hot, Cold, Humid, dusty,whatever this thing spits it on the ground and says" I'm a freakin 302 and you can't fu** with me" I can't say the same about the shure as some friends have owned them and sold them for the 302. The only thing I wish is that it had 4 imputs of the 442 mixer, but the 442 is not as durable. Take the good with the bad.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 01:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gooderick View Post
SD were telling me to set the tone from the mixer at -20 on the XH A1. In order to do that you have to open the dials on the XH A1 fully and then you almost get -20 (it's difficult to be precise because the scale on the dial doesn't have enough detail on it to read it properly).
If I understand correctly the XH A1 will clip at zero on the camera's scale and the 302 will clip at + 20 ie they will both clip at the same point (because the tone on the 302 = 0) which means you don't have to bother looking at the levels on the camera.
But to get a decent level of signal out of the 302 you need to turn the gain up a long way.
I find it all extremely confusing and I haven't had the opportunity to try this out for real yet.
But I hope this makes sense and is of some use.
Yes, you have to open XH-A1 potentiometers all the way to match SD302 standar line level with the camera, but as it is possible to get better than 90 dB S/N ratio this way, why worry??? I see the potentiometers as attennuators, which work best when fully open.

If you lower SD302 output to mic level, then reamplify the signal with XH-A1 mic preamps, the S/N ratio drops to 80 dB, and the connection & level setting is much more complicated.

So: SD302 with standard output, XH-A1 at normal line in, pots all the way open = perfect match. Can not get any easier.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 05:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
I'm going to guess you had the 302 in RMS meter mode and not peak + RMS meter mode.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Thank you Ty
Is this a reference to the ballistics?
I got the impression that Peak with VU is the best one to go for. I haven't really got on top of this yet.
I don't know what RMS is?
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Old September 11th, 2008, 12:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petri Kaipiainen View Post
Yes, you have to open XH-A1 potentiometers all the way to match SD302 standar line level with the camera, but as it is possible to get better than 90 dB S/N ratio this way, why worry??? I see the potentiometers as attennuators, which work best when fully open.

If you lower SD302 output to mic level, then reamplify the signal with XH-A1 mic preamps, the S/N ratio drops to 80 dB, and the connection & level setting is much more complicated.

So: SD302 with standard output, XH-A1 at normal line in, pots all the way open = perfect match. Can not get any easier.
The XH A1 line inputs are rated for +6dBv (+8.2dBu) nominal. Lord knows what the designers were thinking! The 302 meters are calibrated so 0VU equals an output of 0dBu and that is the level at which tone is sent, fully 8dB lower than the camera expects of a 0VU 'normal' signal. You might be more successful setting the 302 to output mic level and using the mc level settings on the camera inputs.

(The 442 has setting to recalibrate the meters so 0VU corrsponds to an output of +8dBu and also to send tone at +8dBu but I don't think the 302 has that. With the 442's setup adjusted, 0VU tone could easily be set to -20 in the camera meter I would expect.)
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Old September 11th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Richard Gooderick View Post
Thank you Ty
Is this a reference to the ballistics?
I got the impression that Peak with VU is the best one to go for. I haven't really got on top of this yet.
I don't know what RMS is?
Richard,

Yes, the ballistics. Peak with VU is the best.

RMS = Root Mean Squared is roughly the equivalent of VU.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old September 11th, 2008, 06:36 PM   #15
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Okay, so seriously, and I'm not just saying this as an FP33 owner (as I've said, if I could justify owning a $1300 mixer, I would, as it was, I got the FP33 for under $600)--

Why are they still selling for, at a MINIMUM, of $1200? If you go to Google shopping, type in FP33, you'll see these mixers still run from $1200 to (I think) close to $2000! What gives?
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