A Perfect Mix: Sound Devices & Dan Dugan

Feature article on the partnership between Dan Dugan and Sound Devices to implement the acclaimed Dugan automixing technology into the 688 mixer/recorder.

[Excerpt from article] The name Dugan has long been known as the authority in automatic mixing, a technology that intelligently turns microphones on and off. Dan Dugan, the man behind the famous Dugan Speech System, recently partnered with the audio experts at Sound Devices to implement his automixing technology into the Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder. This is the first time a field production mixer has included the Dugan system, and that’s a pretty big deal. Even though automixing has been around for nearly half a century, many location mixers are unfamiliar with it. So we talked with Dan Dugan and Jon Tatooles, Sound Devices’ co-founder and chief business development officer, to find out more about this collaboration and what it means for the pros in the field.

Dugan explained to us the basic need that automixing fulfills. In any situation where you have multiple microphones and several people speaking within the same environment, you’ll run into some inherent challenges. “The main problem is that you have more microphones picking up the noise in the room,” says Dugan. “The more mics you have, the noisier the sound becomes. Even with only two microphones, you’ll require active mixing, which is when the mic on whoever is not talking needs to be turned down and the mic on whoever is talking needs to be turned up. And when someone else is talking, their mic needs to be turned up and the other mics need to be turned down.” The more mics there are, the more important this active mixing becomes. And the tougher the job becomes. “A lively discussion panel can be very difficult to follow, especially when the sound operator isn’t sitting directly in front of the people talking and can’t see things very well, which is very common. So it’s not unusual to have that up-cut, which is when the sound comes on late. It’s very common to hear that in sound for live broadcast.”

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