Author: mattwaddell

Sound Devices Wins Stellar Service Gold Award for Best Tech Support from Systems Contractor News 

Rickmansworth, UK Service and Support Team

Reader-driven industry award recognizes excellence in Service and Support teams 

Sound Devices announces that its Service and Support Teams have been honored with a Gold Award for Best Tech Support from Systems Contractor News as part of the publication’s 2024 Stellar Service Awards. The Stellar Service Awards recognize standout service providers amongst manufacturers, distributors, and integrators in the industry and are voted upon by the readership of Systems Contractor News annually.https://www.avnetwork.com/systems-contractor-news

“We’re incredibly proud to see our service and support departments honored with this award,” said Sound Devices CEO Matt Anderson. “This is a testament to the rock-solid work that they’ve done for over two decades and the trusting relationships they’ve formed with our long-time Sound Devices users.”

Behind the scenes with an award-winning team 

Sound Devices service and support departments are unique in the industry in that they still actively service products from the entire lifetime of the company, going back to its founding in 1998. This type of long-term support requires highly skilled technicians with a knowledge of hardware and software technology dating back several generations in terms of audio and computer technology. “Sound Devices legacy products that were introduced to the market over 25 years ago are still relevant today and used in a variety of applications by amateurs and professionals around the world,” explains Sound Devices Director of Technical Services Randy Woodworth. “This means that our Technical Support Reps and Service Technicians must remain fluent with the older equipment while adapting to new technology. It also presents us with the challenge of maintaining an extensive inventory of parts that allows us to service every product that we’ve sold.” 

“Our customers love Sound Devices products and know that they can depend on us to support, maintain, and preserve their investments.” 

The team of service and support technicians operate in a highly collaborative fashion across department lines to ensure that each customer ticket receives individualized attention. Doing so ensures the full breadth of company experience can be utilized to problem-solve. “We’re very hands-on with each unit and there is a lot of collaboration that occurs behind the scenes,” says Sound Devices Support Team Manager Danny Greenwald. “We’re all interested in each other’s repairs and can work faster because we’re a tight team together.” 

“There’s an immediate relationship between the service and support sides and that ultimately benefits our customers because it means they’re able to rely on that combined experience to service these products.” 

Personalized service, industry-leading warranty support 

The collaboration also extends between offices, as the team in Reedsburg, WI communicates and collaborates regularly with their colleagues in Watford, UK. For UK customers, this has organically resulted in in-person sessions with Watford’s experienced techs who can also be informed by the engineers in the United States. “Due to our proximity to London, it’s become a handy way for us to add another layer of service to our customers,” says Sound Devices Technical Support Representative Harri Kimonos. “Even still, we benefit from the hive mind and can easily call on our experts like Gary Trenda, Paul Isaacs, Kish Patel, and our entire QA team to solve any problem our customers run into.” 

“Ultimately we want them to leave their experience with us knowing that they can rely on us just like they can rely on our products.” 

A major factor in the long-term reliability of Sound Devices products is how the company provides warranty support. Sound Devices offers a two-year factory warranty on all registered products. If a unit is brought in for repairs, Sound Devices’ technicians conduct rigorous testing and return it to factory specs once the unit has been fixed to ensure its longevity. The product is then returned to the customer with an additional one-year Service Warranty as an added layer of protection. “We all have experience in the industry, and we know how attached people get to their workflows with technology,” says Greenwald. “Given that, it’s incredibly important that these units work when they are supposed to and continue to work for the long haul on these high-pressure jobs.” 

“That’s why we offer these Service Warranties. We want our customers to know that we understand their needs and are just as invested as they are in keeping this gear in the field.” 

“It’s really heartening as a team to see our customers take the time to recognize us with an award like this,” concludes Woodworth. “We love that we’re able to help them problem-solve every day and we’re happy to stay in the trenches with them as long as it takes to get their gear working and back out in the field.” 

For more information about Sound Devices’ Service and Support departments, please visit: https://www.sounddevices.com/support/

PIX240i/220i: Sharper than ever – 2011

“The PIX240i came out a year after the original PIX240. The only real difference between the two was a much better looking IPS display. The original PIX240’s display exhibited jello-like wobble when a camera panned and was displaying it on the screen. It was a rolling-shutter-like artifact, but on the screen instead of a camera sensor. This seems like a somewhat insignificant change, but like many changes that look simple to the outside world, it was far more difficult on the engineering side. It’s rare that you can buy a part – like a screen – from one vendor and it simply drops into the product with no changes. If memory serves, we had to change our injection molds to accommodate the new screen as well as the driver circuitry, both of which are pretty huge changes that took many months to do. The new IPS screen from Mitsubishi was brighter, had better scan time, and didn’t exhibit any of the jello effect. We went on to make the PIX240i for several more years, and this improved screen was a big part of its popularity. The PIX220i was simply a lower-priced version of the PIX240i in which we omitted the SDI in/out. As the parts needed to implement SDI in and out are very expensive, this did allow us to sell the HDMI-only version PIX220i at a lower price, but it was never as popular as the PIX240i.”

PIX240: Sound and Video, friends 4 ever – 2011

“The PIX 240 was our first video product. We (perhaps naively) thought we could parlay our digital recording and timecode expertise into a new market: video. We fielded calls almost daily about timecode and how to sync up sound with video. We figured – why not record both on one device? I could never convince camera manufacturers to integrate decent audio inputs. We decided to sort of be the camera ourselves and record our own high-quality video along with our very high-quality audio, eliminating the need for timecode. There were tons of nice cameras with great sensors spitting out uncompressed video via SDI, but the internal (tape or card) recording on the cameras was terrible. I knew that we could record the rates we needed to 2.5” drives reliably, but just needed to get a license from Apple to implement ProRes on an FPGA. I approached them several times but was told that Aja had an exclusive. I hired the engineering firm Atterotech (Fort Wayne, TX), whose engineers knew both audio and video. They found a company who manufactured an odd 360 core processor which somehow had an Apple license, so we went that route. Atterotech and I designed the hardware together – I drafted behind these very talented engineers until I learned all the ins and outs of designing video. Mike Lawson (Mechanical Engineering) designed the chassis and the docking 2.5” HDD caddy. He and I spent some time working on the cooling of this product and utilized a large-diameter, slow spinning fan on the back. It was utterly silent and cooled the massive multi-core processor well. The video topped out at 1080p30 and we recorded in either ProRes or DNxHD. We introduced the product thinking we had a hit on our hands, and we did. People still tell us they think the PIX 240 was one of the best products we ever produced.”

MixPre-D: A blend of old and new

“The original MixPre came out in the year 2000, and in the intervening years, USB digital audio had grown in popularity. This new version, called the MixPre-D, is in some ways one of the coolest products we’ve made, as it was the last of our transformer-based input products. I took the digital guts (Blackfin DSP) from the USBPre-2 and fitted them into the original MixPre chassis along with some other enhancements, like an AES digital output and an M/S matrix. The analog section stayed the same as the original MixPre with the Lundahl transformers, opto limiters, and conductive plastic pots. The power supply was another one of my super-efficient flyback varieties featuring several supply rails (+15V, -15V, +48V, +5V, +3.3V, +1.8V, and +1.35V for the DSP core) with my custom-designed multi-tap transformers that we hand-wound at our headquarters in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. This design was truly old meets new… which is now old, but so am I 🙁 We made this product for several years, but it was eventually eclipsed by the modern generation of MixPres which featured even more features and higher quality audio for less money.”

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.”

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