702, 702T, 722, 744T: The dawn of the SD recorder era – 2004

“The 744T (and variants) was really where Sound Devices hit its stride sales- and product-wise. The origins of these recorders came from a European trip that Jim Koomar (Sales) and I took, selling the 442. Unexpectedly, everywhere we visited, dealers and customers begged us to make a hard-disk recorder. By the time we got back, I was starting to sketch out a recorder. The first mechanical prototype was housed in the same black powder coated extrusion that we used for MP-1 and other products. It didn’t look very good, but we showed it at NAB 2003 anyway. The original concept did not have mic preamps until Libby Koomar (Mechanical Engineering) one day asked me why not include mic preamps. As I gave her all the reasons it couldn’t be done, I realized that what I was saying didn’t really make sense 🙂 I spent more time on this preamp design than any other up until that point. My goal was to make them as good or better than the popular Grace Designs 2-channel mic preamp that a lot of tapers were using at the time, and succeeded. The 744T mic preamps, even today, are fantastic sounding. Getting the magnetic noise from the spinning hard disk motors out of the preamps was a real nightmare, but through a lot of trial and error (and Mu-metal), we prevailed. The first production runs of the 744T were really rough, and we had a hard time keeping up with the intense demand. This was when I spent many nights sleeping at the office on a cot and working several 40-hour days to help produce units. The first versions of firmware were also slightly less than stable, especially regarding the Firewire port operation. The 744T (and 722, 702T, 702 variants) kept us fully busy in Engineering and Production for a couple years. We eventually got all of the issues sorted out and the 744T has become one of our most beloved and successful products.”