The 442 Field Mixer has been shipping since January 2002. Some of the questions we received early in the product's development are still useful to look at today. Questions have been edited for content and appropriateness.
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Q: What run time can I expect from the 442 with internal batteries.
Runtime depends on many factors, and current draw of microphones is a big, big part of it. Here are some considerations...
Most customers using AA alkaline batteries with two 48 V phantom powered microphones and two wireless inputs are getting >5 hours of runtime. That runtime increases without 48 V phantom powered micorphones and decreases when using 2+ high power-drawing microphones. In addition, since both NiMH and Li-ion AA cells have lower resistance than alkaline cells, they can provide more current at low levels, thus they have longer run time.
Q: Are the different balanced outputs isolated from each other or in parallel?
All three balanced outputs are isolated. The outputs on the XLR and Hirose are transformer-balanced and are on separate windings of the output transformers. These outputs are switchable between mic, tape, or line level. The TA3 balanced outputs are active-balanced and are driven independently from the transformer-coupled outputs.
Q: I really like the limiters on my MixPre. Are the limiter(s) on the 442 the same?
The limiter circuitry on the 442 is different (and more advanced) than the MixPre. There are two types of limiters on the 442:
- 0.68 W - 442 mixer idle, no phantom, battery power
- 0.24 W - current draw of one Senn MHK-type microphone
- 0.48 W - current draw at max phantom spec (48V/10 mA), one microphone
From the factory, the unit is set so that when the output limiters are engaged, the input limiters are also engaged. The output limiters have an adjustable threshold set via the buttons next to the meter. The threshold level shows up on the LED meter. Input limiters thresholds are fixed from the factory and are used SOLELY as an overload protection limiter. Input limiters can be deactivated via a user setup. When both input and output limiters are set, there is almost no way to clip the mixer. Beginning users can really mess up their gain structure and still not overload the mixer when the limiters are engaged.
Q: What is the slope of the bass cut?
The slope of the high-pass filters are 6 dB/octave. Each channels high-pass filter is continuously variable over a range of 80 Hz to 240 Hz.
Q: Can I extract direct outputs of any channel post-fader and at the same time somehow switch that channel off the main bus, so I can send it from the TA3 direct out, controlling it with the fader, but keeping it out of the main mixer outputs?
Individual channels are always assigned to the master bus - there is no provision to unassign an input from the master bus. However, direct outputs are post-trim, pre-fade. Because of this you can have the fader all the way off, and still ride that channel's gain sent to the direct output with the trim level. The channel will not be present at the master output because the channel fader is off. Trim is continuously variable.
Q: I use an IDX NP-1 lithium battery system to power mixer wireless receivers, etc., the voltage is 14.4 on these batteries. Will the 442 accommodate this voltage?
The power supply accepts any DC voltage from 5 - 18 VDC. Since many of these batteries sit high when unloaded and "coming off the charger" , the power supply in the 442 is designed to accommodate this. Like the MixPre, 302, HX-3, and MM-1, if an over voltage condition exists the internal poly fuse breaks. The fuse will reset when voltage is removed. The 442 uses a 4-pin Hirose DC jack. The mating plug is available as our XL-H accessory.
Q: How much does it weigh?
The 442 mixer weigh 4.24 pounds. We were very conscious of weight in our design, however, the two significant factors that add weight to a field mixer could not be compromised - transformers and chassis durability. The transformers are the bulk of the circuitry weight - there are four input transformers and two output transformers. For the mechanicals we chose 6062 aluminum for the faceplate and 5051 aluminum for the overall chassis.
Q: How does the slope of each channels gain compare with the long smooth slope on a Cooper vs. a short steep one on the Shure FP33 or Audio Developments 4.2?
Gain control is the essence of any mixer, and we were aware of the limitations with gain structures like Shure's dual-stage pots when designing the 442. As in a traditional mixing console the 442 has an input trim control and a channel fader per channel. By setting input sensitivity on the trim control (and gross sensitivity with the mic/line switch), you can operate inputs with wide level differences at unity gain on the channel fader. This gives excellent, smooth gain control for all types of inputs - from low sensitivity ribbons/dynamics to hot condensers and wireless outputs. You will appreciate the difference mixing on the 442 versus mixing on an ENG mixer. However, some users not familiar with a mixing console may need some time to learn to set a gain structure with the 442.
Q: I'm also curious about the feel of the rotary gain knobs. Hard plastic or soft cushioned grip that's easy on the fingers especially in the cold of Chicago.
We designed and custom-machine all of the knobs on the 442. They are durable anodized aluminum with finger-friendly knurling with tactile position indication. Since the input sensitivity is set on the push-pot trim control (then pushed flush to the panel surface so you won't inadvertently adjust it), you can use a gloved hand and effectively mix with the 442. The panel is very open and easy to access with gloves with the push pots recessed. We considered using the "soft-touch" knobs we use on the MixPre and MP-2 (same type as the Shure FP33), but chose the more durable aluminum knob for the 442. By designing the knob ourselves we controlled its diameter, knurling, and fit relative to the panel, versus an off-the-shelf part. Being in Wisconsin, Sound Devices is a little further north than Chicago - we understand cold.
Q: How COOL is that METER!!? What UP?
Our design criteria for the meter was simple - viewing in all environmental conditions (light/temperature/humidity) and huge amounts of information. Using the same technology GaN LED's as on our MixPre and MP-2, the meter on the 442 can be seen in all light conditions, wide viewing angles, and from a distance. The meter is driven from our proprietary DSP algorithm and can be selected between PPM, VU, or combination PPM/VU. The 442 meters don't have the disadvantages and limitations of LCD's and mechanical meters. When PFL is selected on an input channel, its level shows up on the meter. Also, both external and internal battery states show on the meter. Agreed...cool.
Q: Do you customize audio snakes for this mixer?
We offer the XL-10 accessory cable for the 442 - which is a Hirose 10-pin extension with a fan tail end to XLR and 1/8-inch. The fantail segment can be used on itsw own or with the extension segment. Also, many of our dealers offer custom cable assemblies.
Q: Can you select a left or right on the stereo TA3 unbalanced output for a "Comtek" feed or is this meant for a wireless feed to video camera?
The TA3's are a the third, balanced line-level output for the 442. Via custom setup options you can adjust the nominal level of the TA3's - line or mic level. Depending on the production, this output may feed a (DAT) recorder, wireless transmitter(s), or Comtek feed, or additional cameras.
Q: Do you make soft cases for the 442? Or are the dimensions made to fit either a Porta bag or Kata?
The 442 accessory case, the CS-442, is available through Sound Devices dealers or available as a PortaBrace part. In addition, Kata, Petrol, and KT Systems offer bags specifically for the 442.
Q: I have heard that the 442 can be modified for various functions. What features are modifiable?
The 442 has a wide range of what Sound Devices calls "user setups" - 17 in all. These modifications are accessed directly on the front panel (no internal access, bottom side switches, or soldering needed). They are available via a set-up mode accessed by holding down the Peak/VU button while powering the mixer. See the 442 User Setup Chart for a complete list of setups.
- Input limiters via a single stage opto-isolator, one per channel,
- Output limiters (dual-mono or linked stereo) via VCA's.