Anyone ever heard of Sign Video audio mixers? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 5th, 2006, 06:04 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 35
Anyone ever heard of Sign Video audio mixers?

Has anyone ever heard of the company called "Sign Video"?
They make a 4 channel field audio mixer and was wondering if anyone has any reviews on them...

Thanks!
Bob Stovall
Bob Stovall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 5th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #2
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
Moved from XL2 forum to Now Hear This.
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 6th, 2006, 07:44 AM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Addison (Dallas) Texas
Posts: 88
I have definitely heard of it, but not used it or read a good review. It is recommended by the forensic people (law enforcement).

Here is a link to a user guide, but not a review:
http://www.equipmentemporium.com/Art...usingENG44.htm

I would like to find a good review, also.

Buddy
Buddy Frazer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 6th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 1,727
Bob, I had one of their 2 channel XLR adapter units for my XM2. It worked pretty well for a few years, no problems there. The only downside to them is that their customer support is absolutely awful - or to be more specific, their ability to reply to emails is nil. I have emailed them a number of times over the years and have not had one single reply.

If you can get through to them I imagine you'll have good results with the gear, as mine worked well.

Aaron
__________________
My Website
Meat Free Media
Aaron Koolen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 13th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
I reviewed their ENG-44 recently. Not a Sound devices 442, but a value at its price.

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 23rd, 2006, 01:54 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Posts: 475
Dug up this old post: Can I find your review anywhere online Ty?
Vincent Rozenberg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 23rd, 2006, 02:12 PM   #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: santa fe, nm
Posts: 3,264
Images: 10
yeah, I have a Sign Video Proc Amp. It works well and as advertised. It's quite well made.
Bill Ravens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 23rd, 2006, 02:43 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Rozenberg
Dug up this old post: Can I find your review anywhere online Ty?


SIgnVideo Four Input Audio Mixer - Economy With Quality

Ty Ford
Baltimore, MD
Portland, Oregon-based VideoSign (www.signvideo.com) makes a relatively long line of audio and video gadgets. The latest in their audio line is the ENG-44, a light-weight handy, economical ($529 list priced + $15 s/h 30 day unconditional money back guarantee) four input, battery/AC powered mixer.
The ENG-44 weighs 2.25 pounds with four AA batteries loaded. On its left side there are four, balanced 2 k Ohm XLR inputs, each of which can be switched to mic or line. 48 VDC @ 14 mA Phantom Power is also individually switchable on each input. A 6 dB/octave high pass filter at 100Hz is next. It sounds fine, but there’s a dead spot in the middle of the switch that, mutes the input. As long as the switch is firmly to one side or the other, you won’t have problem.
There’s also a three-position LCR pan switch (with no dead spots) mounted below each of the four channel pots. The fifth pot is the master. Under it and to the right are a Mix/Tone switch that routes a 1 kHz tone or stereo mix to the adjacent double line of ten LED lights (-20 to +3) that comprise the meters. The Limiter LED, slate mic button, External and Battery power LEDs are under the metering LEDs. Finally, there’s a 1/8 inch stereo jack for the 10 Ohm headphone output, a headphone level control and a Mix/Tape Return switch that allows you to choose what you’re monitoring.
The right side of the side is populated by by a slightly unconventional three-pin XLR that feeds an unbalanced stereo headphone (for the boom op or some other purpose), balanced left and right XLR outputs, unbalanced stereo 1/8” line out, Aux In, Tape Return In and Mic Out jacks. The slate mic also outputs to the unbalanced Boom Headphone output. Finally there’s a power switch.
On the bottom of the ENG-44 are labeled recessed switches for Mic/Line, Phantom, VU meter intensity (high and low) and posts for adjusting left and right Tape Return levels. The LED intensity switch is a nice feature, especially when working in bright sunlight. The Power LED does not change in brightness. If you’re off-axis from it it’s fine, but if you happen to be looking right down into it, it’s a bit bright in indoor lighting.
The back panel sports a 2.1 x 5.5 mm coaxial power plug (center positive; input protected against reversed polarity) and the drawer for the four AA batteries. A 12 VDC wall wart comes with the ENG-44. The mixer auto switches between AC power supply and batteries. The battery drawer was a nail breaker. When I called the company, they said I had a early unit and the drawer had been fixed.
IN USE
Operation is straight ahead. The limiter is not defeatable and seems to kick in above +3dB. Using the ENG-44’s tone generator, I adjusted the Master to set the tone at 0 dB. That put the master pot between 10 and 11 o’clock. Connecting the ENG-44 outputs to a SV-3900 Panasonic DAT inputs, I adjusted the tone to hit the DAT inputs at -12 dB. Plugging in a Schoeps CMC641 hypercardioid, and adjusting the input to 2 o’clock and the master still set between 10 and 11 o’clock, I was able to get peaks at 0 dB on the ENG-44 with the Schoeps about six inches above my head. The meters change quickly enough for me to guess that they are peak reading. The limiter is actually pretty nice sounding. I found pushing enough level to occasionally cross the threshold, using the LIM flasher as an infrequent Peak Meter, worked nicely and did not degrade the sound. As I pushed the limiter harder with more gain, the output LED showed a slight level difference between the left and right outputs. Under normal operation, you’ll probably never find yourself in this situation.
The ENG-44 passed my T-Power/Phantom Power drain test. Some Phantom Power supplies just don’t have the power to keep the mics fed. The result is distortion and sometimes power supply motorboating. I connected two Schoeps CMC641, a Sennheiser MHK 416 and the Sennheiser 435T through the converter and they all sounded fine. The headphone amp was passably loud with my Sony MDR7506 headphones.
The ENG-44 also passed my noise test. We all know that some mixers can get pretty noisy, especially when the master pot is turned up higher than the inputs. The ENG-44 is quite quiet, even in that unnatural state.
VideoSign claims 14 hours for a set of alkaline batteries. Phantom Power does pull batteries down. I got about nine hours with a fresh set of alkalines. During that period, I had one Schoeps CMC641 always connected. My experiment with the other three mics lasted about a minute and I spent about a half hour on one other occasion with a Sennheiser MKH 416 fired up. Still, nine hours on one set of AAs shows that the ENG-44 was designed with relatively newer components that don’t chew up batteries as much.
IN CONCLUSION
The ENG-44 is a very good value. I can see it being used in schools and the expanding minicam market. Even in professional and higher-end video and film sound, the ENG-44 would be nice to have around. My first grab is my Sound Devices 442. When the director wants me to go some place slippery, wet and/or gooey, the ENG-44 sounds like the perfect mixer.
Ty Ford is a location audio pro in Baltimore, MD. He may be reached at http://www.tyford.com
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 25th, 2006, 08:49 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Monreal, Quebec,Canada
Posts: 232
I journey over here looking for some info and ended up finding your review. Just wanted to say Thanks! I have beenlooking for a real review and this is a great one.
Cheers Ty!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford
SIgnVideo Four Input Audio Mixer - Economy With Quality

Ty Ford
Baltimore, MD
Portland, Oregon-based VideoSign (www.signvideo.com) makes a relatively long line of audio and video gadgets. The latest in their audio line is the ENG-44, a light-weight handy, economical ($529 list priced + $15 s/h 30 day unconditional money back guarantee) four input, battery/AC powered mixer.
The ENG-44 weighs 2.25 pounds with four AA batteries loaded. On its left side there are four, balanced 2 k Ohm XLR inputs, each of which can be switched to mic or line. 48 VDC @ 14 mA Phantom Power is also individually switchable on each input. A 6 dB/octave high pass filter at 100Hz is next. It sounds fine, but there’s a dead spot in the middle of the switch that, mutes the input. As long as the switch is firmly to one side or the other, you won’t have problem.
There’s also a three-position LCR pan switch (with no dead spots) mounted below each of the four channel pots. The fifth pot is the master. Under it and to the right are a Mix/Tone switch that routes a 1 kHz tone or stereo mix to the adjacent double line of ten LED lights (-20 to +3) that comprise the meters. The Limiter LED, slate mic button, External and Battery power LEDs are under the metering LEDs. Finally, there’s a 1/8 inch stereo jack for the 10 Ohm headphone output, a headphone level control and a Mix/Tape Return switch that allows you to choose what you’re monitoring.
The right side of the side is populated by by a slightly unconventional three-pin XLR that feeds an unbalanced stereo headphone (for the boom op or some other purpose), balanced left and right XLR outputs, unbalanced stereo 1/8” line out, Aux In, Tape Return In and Mic Out jacks. The slate mic also outputs to the unbalanced Boom Headphone output. Finally there’s a power switch.
On the bottom of the ENG-44 are labeled recessed switches for Mic/Line, Phantom, VU meter intensity (high and low) and posts for adjusting left and right Tape Return levels. The LED intensity switch is a nice feature, especially when working in bright sunlight. The Power LED does not change in brightness. If you’re off-axis from it it’s fine, but if you happen to be looking right down into it, it’s a bit bright in indoor lighting.
The back panel sports a 2.1 x 5.5 mm coaxial power plug (center positive; input protected against reversed polarity) and the drawer for the four AA batteries. A 12 VDC wall wart comes with the ENG-44. The mixer auto switches between AC power supply and batteries. The battery drawer was a nail breaker. When I called the company, they said I had a early unit and the drawer had been fixed.
IN USE
Operation is straight ahead. The limiter is not defeatable and seems to kick in above +3dB. Using the ENG-44’s tone generator, I adjusted the Master to set the tone at 0 dB. That put the master pot between 10 and 11 o’clock. Connecting the ENG-44 outputs to a SV-3900 Panasonic DAT inputs, I adjusted the tone to hit the DAT inputs at -12 dB. Plugging in a Schoeps CMC641 hypercardioid, and adjusting the input to 2 o’clock and the master still set between 10 and 11 o’clock, I was able to get peaks at 0 dB on the ENG-44 with the Schoeps about six inches above my head. The meters change quickly enough for me to guess that they are peak reading. The limiter is actually pretty nice sounding. I found pushing enough level to occasionally cross the threshold, using the LIM flasher as an infrequent Peak Meter, worked nicely and did not degrade the sound. As I pushed the limiter harder with more gain, the output LED showed a slight level difference between the left and right outputs. Under normal operation, you’ll probably never find yourself in this situation.
The ENG-44 passed my T-Power/Phantom Power drain test. Some Phantom Power supplies just don’t have the power to keep the mics fed. The result is distortion and sometimes power supply motorboating. I connected two Schoeps CMC641, a Sennheiser MHK 416 and the Sennheiser 435T through the converter and they all sounded fine. The headphone amp was passably loud with my Sony MDR7506 headphones.
The ENG-44 also passed my noise test. We all know that some mixers can get pretty noisy, especially when the master pot is turned up higher than the inputs. The ENG-44 is quite quiet, even in that unnatural state.
VideoSign claims 14 hours for a set of alkaline batteries. Phantom Power does pull batteries down. I got about nine hours with a fresh set of alkalines. During that period, I had one Schoeps CMC641 always connected. My experiment with the other three mics lasted about a minute and I spent about a half hour on one other occasion with a Sennheiser MKH 416 fired up. Still, nine hours on one set of AAs shows that the ENG-44 was designed with relatively newer components that don’t chew up batteries as much.
IN CONCLUSION
The ENG-44 is a very good value. I can see it being used in schools and the expanding minicam market. Even in professional and higher-end video and film sound, the ENG-44 would be nice to have around. My first grab is my Sound Devices 442. When the director wants me to go some place slippery, wet and/or gooey, the ENG-44 sounds like the perfect mixer.
Ty Ford is a location audio pro in Baltimore, MD. He may be reached at http://www.tyford.com
Brian Murphy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 26th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Hi Brian,

Thanks. I've been getting paid by trade magazines for doing reviews of audio gear since 1986. In that time, I've learned a lot about what make good gear good and how to express that so readers will find the information useful.

It takes five to twenty hours to do the research necessary to be able to write a review. That process has also helped me learn a lot about audio and gear in my own practice.

Regards,

Ty
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 26th, 2006, 02:51 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 817
Ty,

I had a post a while back trying to choose between that Sign Video mixer and the comperable Rolls mixer.... I went with the Rolls at the suggestion of B & H (even before they knew that was the only one in stock).

Do you have any experience with the Rolls? Are they even? I didn't know thaat the Sign had a limiter, and I'm not sure the Rolls does... not too late to send it back, so I am interested in your opinion on that.

Thanks in advance, and nice review writing.
__________________
Barry Gribble
Integral Arts, IMDB
Barry Gribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 26th, 2006, 05:03 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Thanks Barry,

I don't know the Rolls.

Ty
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 29th, 2006, 03:58 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Posts: 475
Thanks Ty for posting your review!
Vincent Rozenberg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 30th, 2006, 03:48 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 116
ENG-44 review

I actually went out and bought that mixer, used it on a shoot last week, and ran a few benchmarks of my own and wanted to post what I found on here....
Ty's review did cover all the nuts and bolts of the unit's operation, so I wont go over all of that here.
I got a newer B-series model....the only difference that I am aware of is the switchable mic/line output....so if you wanna feed mic level, say to an old XL-1, you dont need pads; just flip the switch - I think thats a nice improvement, bringing the feature set up to a more professional level.

Regarding the limiter.....I ran into the same oddity as I brought up the level and got the limiter to crank in, which was a disparity between left and right that increased as the level increased....I was unable to overcome this by tweaking the mixer, but it is only really apparent when using tone(as far as I can tell) and only when raising the level beyond 0 db on the mixer....this disparity is only APPARENT since the signal I was metering on the end of my chain(a video camera with PPM metering) displayed the lower of the signals on both of it's channels. This was AFTER I set the limiter threshold.

I sent an e-mail to Sign Video, and they had their design engineer contact me regarding the operation and tweaking of the limiter, which as it turns out, is user adjustable.
heres what I was told regardig adjusting the limiter:


"The limiter in the ENG-44 is really a fast gain control that takes over a bit
beyond 22DBu to keep signal clipping (hence excessive distortion) from occurring in the output stages of the mixer.

Via the internal adjustment, the point at which limiting starts can be adjusted
from nil to excessively "early" (well within normal operating signal levels). "

11 or so screws later, I had the top of the mixer off, and lo and behold there are several adjustment pots on the main board: one to adjust the limiter threshold, the factory default being all the way clockwise with minimal effect. There is also a left channel adjustment for gain, one for the right channel, and an output adjustment for the tone generator.

I took a tiny phillips screwdriver to the limiter adjustment, and with the tone generator I adjusted the limiter to BEGIN to light up the limiter lamp on the front panel at between -3 and -1 on the eng-44's meter....this got the lamp fully illuminated at -1/0db db. NOTE: this is NOT a brick wall limiter...some signal will get through even if the limiter is fully actuated.
At this point the meters were reading neck and neck at exatly the same level, with the master set at 11 o'clock. As I increased the gain beyond this point the left or upper meter began reading hotter. I also double checked this input by sending tone out of my sound system and sending in to the mixer thru an 835B mic...basically miking the speaker to send 1KHX tone in to the mixer...
In practical terms, with stereo music being fed into the mixer, I can set the levels to ride at about -1 with transient peaks bouncing up to +2, and the limiter flashing faintly to moderately, and giving a good indication of whats going on with my peaks. During tests sending out to my Behringer board I was unable to overdrive the signal without grossly cranking the gain up...of course , pre-recorded music is usually pretty compressed, so I wanted to test the mixer on a live subject.

During a shoot last week, I used the mixer to record dialog for an interview....
I also shot some run and gun b-roll.
Overall, I got very nice results: I found that for dialog, the limiter was very effective, and short of a cough directly into one of my lavs, (which never happened) I dont see how normal dialog could get past that limiter once I had it set...you COULD crank it so that the threshold is WAY down near -20 DB, so there is a ton of latitude, but unlike the Sound Designs, you have to sit there and mess with it, since there is no "programming" facility to set it exactly. Not a big deal if you dont mind taking the time to pop the top and adjust it in an analog fashion...so between riding the levels a bit and having the limiter properly set, you should have no serious problems with overly hot transients.....

Regarding sound:
I recorded dialog with my AT899, which is a pretty nice lav, and got very good results....its not a particularly fat sounding lav, but really pretty mid-rangey, and thats how it sounded thru the eng-44, but still quite punchy and totally clean.....setting my tone at -20, I never even came close to over-modulating, and the light/moderate limiting that I had set sounded natural and never called attention to itself. I also boomed with an Oktava MK012 for the other channel and that mic sounded great, as usual. There is plenty of gain , over all, and the +48 v seems to work just fine....Oktavas really like TRUE +48, and the bigger Oktavas wont work at all on less, and my mics worked just fine with this mixer. I did also run tests with one of my MK-319s and it worked very nicely on the +48 this mixer fed it, and it had plenty of gain, sounding rich and fat the way a 319 should. OH, I powered it with the 4 AAs for this shoot.

During the bit of b-roll that we shot I had put a wireless on our subject and also used an AT835B on a boom for nat sound.....both channels sounded clean, natural,....really, I cant say anything bad about the results at all.

Carrying the mixer around was a breeze, since it is very light, so using it for run and gun b-roll is just fine. One thing that is also nice is the ability to turn +48v on or off for each channel...this is good if , like me, you are using one of these newer UHF wireless mics that terminate the reciever side of its XLR cable at some sort of un-balanced mini connector..you can keep that channel's +48 v turned off, and still power mics on the other channels, which is a nice thing.

The headphone amp is not quite as powerful as the SD302, but it's still plenty loud enough...I use Sennheiser HD280 cans which are 64 ohm, and running between 12 and 1 o'clock produces plenty of loudness. Sony cans at 32 ohms would be louder of course, and I am sure there is enough there to drive 100 ohms easily enough.


Regarding power consumption:
I managed to get an NP-1 adapter cup on e-bay for $6.95, since I have a stack of these batteries for my camera....2 are pretty old NMH-50's that wont hold enought of a charge to run my camera for more than 25-30 minutes...so I plugged that sucker in...the cup actually will feed the DC-in for the wall wart supplied and fed the mixer 12 v from my old aspen battery (the mixer will actuaLLY run on between 9-18 v DC)...the aspen puts out about 14 V when fully charged, even tho is rated at 13.5 V, and once you start to draw on it, it drops quickly...first I ran 2 mics with +48 V going into them, a MK319 and the 835B, fed music into them from a home stereo, got the meters bouncing and nicely lit, and kept a headset plugged in set to 12 o'clock to make sure the headphone amp was drawing current as well....I ran the mixer in this state for 24 hours non-stop, at which point the batteries power meter read 75%..then I ran a line level signal into the mixer and turned off the mics.....I went about another 10 hours at which point the batter dropped suddenly to about 24 %....ran it about 2-3 hours more before it ran so low that the battery power meter was flashing , and , guess what?? the mixer kept right on working perfectly...I am guessing that the battery warning for the mixer will start to flash when voltage drops below that 9 V minimum , whereas the battery probably flashes at below 10.5 V...anyway, this is an obvious good use for old NP-1's, that may not have enought left in them to run a camera, but would probably still run this mixer for a day or two at a shot.....oh, BTW, that NP-1 cup is $60 at most online audio dealers, but I paid only $6.95 at an e-bay auction....gotta love e-bay!!
Sign sez that when external power fails the internal AA's will kick in....
I guess anyway you look at it, this is a power-frugal mixer...the SD302 is really only usable reliably for maybe 2-3 hours on AA's, and in my opinion AA's should only be used as a backup for the 302...I usually use it with a gold mount adapter and a brick so I dont have to worry about it.

there is no portabrace case per se, specifically made for this mixer just yet, which is too bad, since it seems that the surfaces of this unit will scratch up in no time at all..right now I am using an expedition sized fanny pack lined with close-cell foam, and that works ok for now....I am going to take a look at a Petrol bag which may work...you need access to the sides , front AND bottom of this baby if you prefer not to have to take it out of the case AT ALL to mess with it...

other thought, lets see....
I didnt notice any dead spots on the roll-off s, but the switches do FEEL cheap compared to SD or Shure..the pots feel fine and are quiet.....the BATTERY lights on the front panel are TOO bright for my taste....way brighter I think than the meter at full brightness (meter brightness is adjustable)
Oh yeah, there is some unbalanced I/O options on the side panal , which is actually a nice addition......

I guess if I had to bottom line it.....well, what are you going to get for just over $500?? really, this is the only game in town for this kind of money...yes, it does feel a bit cheap, but it has a nice feature set, and it actually works quite well, producing great sounding dialog. Ultimately, I may get a Sound Designs and keep this as a backup, but in the meantime, it does work very nicely....oh, almost forgot, it has an XLR boom headset out, which apparently sends a mono-mix feed....also quite a useful feature.....
__________________
Omens carry only as much weight as we choose to assign them.
Steve Leone is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 30th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Posts: 475
Thanks Steve for sharing this with us!!
Vincent Rozenberg is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:41 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network