Author: mattwaddell

USBPre 2: Still Being Made in Reedsburg, Wisconsin

“After 10 years of making the original USBPre1.5, we had learned a lot and solicited lots of customer feedback. Also many of the parts from the original USBPre1.5 had gone obsolete. I designed the entire USBPre-2 with new improved mic preamps – class A long-tail pair with discrete transistors, better metering, and used the Blackfin DSP which was may more powerful than the original bizarre Phillips processor used in the USBPre1.5. The entire code stack for this product was written by Mark Ketilson (Software) and has not really changed since day 1. We are still manufacturing this product in Reedsburg and it stays popular even today. I can’t count the number of FoH and acoustical measurement folks I’ve met who know our company primarily through this device.”

CL-9: Our First LinearFader Control Surface – 2010

“The CL-9 was the first of our flat-panel fader panels in the growing 788T ecosystem. Like the CL-8, this was also an ‘after-the-fact’ development. Since I knew that the USB port would work for this function, I designed the CL-9 around this port. Jason McDonald (Mechanical Engineering) as usual did the mechanicals, and Francois Morin (Field Programmable Gate Array expert) wrote the VHDL (Very High-Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language) code for running the entire CL-9. One unique feature is the fader caps in which Jason integrated neodymium magnets to pull down on the faders to eliminate an audible “click” sound on quiet movie sets when touched.”

552: Love him or hate him, here’s SVEN – 2009

“The 552 (and the 788T) was the start of the melding of mixers and recorders for Sound Devices. Of course we now have both the MixPre line and the 8-Series line, both of which are mixer-recorders. But before the 552, these were physically two different devices, and it was quite popular to carry the 442 mixer along with the 744 recorder. The 552 was our first hybrid unit which combined both a mixer and a recorder in one power-efficient unit. The 552 was mostly an all-analog mixer featuring 5 Lundahl input transformers. I just looked over the schematic for the first time in years – each input had dual opto-based limiters along with one stage implemented with depletion-mode MOSFETs — a total of 3 limiter stages per channel. To this, I grafted a small 2-channel recorder based on an ARM926 microcontroller from Atmel. Jason McDonald (Mechanical Engineering) designed the top and bottom panels out of injection-molded carbon fiber to save weight. The 552 was also the first (and last!) time customers met Sven, our much-maligned voice assistant. This was an effort to make navigating the blinking LEDs from the 442 that controlled settings easier to use. The microcontroller in the 552 had just enough oomph to run a primitive voice synth, but small power-efficient displays or pre-recorded voices were out of the question. A funny story: Sven had an internal setting to be a female or male voice. Foreshadowing the movie “Her”, one of our programmers had it set to female during development and said that after hearing it so much, he “sort of fell in love with her.” We all agreed that he needed to get out more…!”

788T-SSD: Our first solid-state drive recorder – 2009

“It is sometimes hard to remember, but our recording media used to largely be done via high speed spinning disks. We spend a ridiculous amount of time making the spinning glass disk reliable inside of a portable unit which could be carried, shaken, and dropped. Solid state drives (SSDs) in the early days were still considered somewhat exotic. We also were a bit unsure if they would be as reliable as the spinning disks (!). After quite a bit of testing, I figured we could substitute the spinners with SSDs reliably. When I saw 256GB SSDs finally coming down in price, I saw an opportunity to do a “new” product which would have real benefit. This was perhaps the shortest product development of all time — substitute this spinner for this solid-state drive, and voila! The 788T-SSD.”

NAMM 2024 

Jan 25, 2024, 8:00 AM – Jan 28, 2024, 8:00 AM
Anaheim CA US

At the NAMM show, January 25th through January 28th, in Anaheim, California, we’ll exhibit our Sound Devices Astral® family of wireless audio gear, including the 8-, 12-, or 16-channel A20-Nexus and 4-, 6-, or 8-channel A20-Nexus Go multichannel true diversity wireless receivers with 169-1525 MHz global tuning range via SpectraBand, NexLink® long-distance remote control of transmitters, and integrated RTSA; the A20-TX digital wireless bodypack transmitter with a multipurpose input, flexible powering, and ultra-low-power e-Paper display; the A20-Mini ultra-compact digital wireless bodypack transmitter with optional A20-BatteryDoubler for twice the battery runtime; and A20-RX two-channel slot-in portable true-diversity wireless receiver.  

We also have some surprises planned that you won’t want to miss! Be the first to see some new products making their debut at the NAMM show by visiting our booth, #18103. 

Gary is also going to deliver a presentation at the Demo Days titled “The Advantages of Digital Wireless Technology,” where he’ll discuss the foundations of wireless operation and share stories of his work in the field where he’s faced common challenges that he’s overcome with digital audio tools. 

For more information about the GerrAudio Demo Days and to register, please visit: www.gerr.com/demodays. 


Products Mentioned

A20-Mini

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A20-Nexus

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A20-Nexus Go

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CL – 8 & 788T: A Legendary Tag Team – 2008

“The CL-8 was not part of the original plan with the 788T system. However, when we saw the tremendous popularity of the 788T and people asking for a larger mixer to along with it, I thought it made more sense to design a controller. I had designed the 788T to have the horsepower to do all of the mixing needed, so we did the CL-8. Jason McDonald (Engineering) came up with a way to mount this after the fact to a 788T and I got the USB interconnection going. The CL-8 and the 788T combo became the next best thing since the 744T and 442 combo.”

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