Author: mattwaddell

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 – Jan 28, 2024
AnaheimCAUnited States (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: 

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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.”

788T: the beast arrives! – 2008

The 788T was a phoenix rising out of the ashes of our ill-fated rack-recorder. Well, this and the IBC 2007 show. At this tradeshow, I saw that there were several very compelling competitive recorders being introduced — and I was getting badgered by many dealers and users about doing a 6-channel audio recorder (which seems so quaint now!) On the flight back from Amsterdam, I drew up the product design and architecture for the 788T. This product went from my paper sketch to shipping in 7 months, which is sort of unreal (normal product development is more like 1-2 years). The hardware of this product was done by me (all circuitry), Jason McDonald (all mechanicals) and Dan Fuller (PCB layout). Dan reminded me recently that right before release, we discovered noise from the HDD motors was getting into the mic preamps (low impedance circuitry like mic preamps is especially susceptible to magnetic flux, which HDD motors excel at spitting out). I pulled an all-nighter to redesign all of the mic preamps and shove them into the corner of the unit which had no stray flux. Then Jason pulled an all-nighter to redo mechanicals, to squeeze the board above the XLRs. Dan pulled an all-nighter to lay the PCB out, and we paid (through the nose) for a 1-day turn on the raw boards, then our PCB house in Minnesota did a 1-day turn on populating the boards. Voila! In less than a week, we had this problem licked and we were able to show the 788T at NAB and start shipping. Several of my firmware team were ready to quit after that intense experience, so I turned management of the firmware team over to Paul Isaacs (Product Development) after it shipped, who was less abrasive than yours truly. The 788T you all know and love was fairly spartan — feature-wise — at first, and I credit Paul with all of the features that he added later, which really made it a huge success.”

Behind the Scenes: the story of the Rack Recorder that never was… – 2007

“If you feel like you know all of our products, but not this one, it is because the product that never saw the light of day. It was a rack-mount hard-disk / DVD-RAM recorder / telecine playback machine to try and supplant the Foster DV824. This aborted product was the first one on which Paul Isaacs (Product Design) and I collaborated – me in Wisconsin, and he in New Zealand at the time. I had become a hard-core digital designer by this point, however, I reached for the secret too soon on this one. This product was designed around the ill-fated Virtex-4 FPGA and my first attempt at using Linux for the core OS. Both Linux and FPGA-based architecture were the future (it is what is used in the A20-Nexus today) but it was too soon for either to be viable. Paul did a great product definition, and I ended up hiring him full-time. He ended up moving to Wisconsin and has lived happily ever after with Sound Devices.”

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.”