A high performance sound recorder that's lightweight, highly compact, and won't break the bank? Sounds good to us. We take a look at the Sound Devices MixPre-3 II.
Sound Devices’ MixPre-3 II is a 32-bit floating-point 192KHz capable mixer-recorder that uses Sound Devices’ perfectly silent Kashmir microphone pre-amplifiers. The unit has faster, more advanced hardware, supports internal LTC Timecode generation and output and has adjustable limiters.
The new version of the MixPre range has several interesting new features and improvements. The first and most obvious, of course, is that the internal data paths and processing are at 32-bit floating point precision..
The MixPre-3 II with a Vovox mic cable and the new Deity S-Mic 2S
In other areas, the new models have improvements too. All models in the MixPre II Series now include a full-featured internal timecode generator and are accurate to better than 0.2 ppm (0.5 frames per 24 hours) and when the unit is off, the MixPre II will maintain accurate timecode for up to four hours, even without batteries or external power.
Even the MixPre-3 II, the smallest model in the range, and the one I was testing also includes adjustable limiters that let you set a release time of 50 to 10,000ms in 10ms increments and a threshold of -2 to -12dBFS in 1dB steps. Furthermore, the pre-roll buffer got increased to 10 seconds, although the exact buffer depends on your sampling setting; it’s two seconds at 192KHz.
The unit can also be controlled remotely with an iOS app, called Wingman, but a wired USB keyboard can be used as a controller as well. Even a MIDI USB controller can.
Recording is done to an SD-card or a USB thumb drive. When the latter is used, the unit automatically initiates a copy operation as soon as the stick or drive is connected.
Finally, the MixPre II series can be used as a USB audio interface as well. It can be set up for monitoring with zero-latency even. I tried this with Logic Pro X and it works like a charm.
Of course, nothing is perfect and that also goes for the MixPre II series. To begin with, the touch screen — as with the first generation — is a bit too small for my fingers. I regularly hit an icon that took me right back at the start screen instead of taking me to a feature that I wanted to change.
Secondly, the On/Off switch sits in a bit of an awkward location, certainly when a USB-C cable is inserted. And lastly, on my test unit at least, the XLR locks are difficult to reach — I had to use my fingernails to push them far enough down to unlock the cable.
Other than that, you really can’t go wrong with the MixPre-3 II. It’s small, lightweight, delivers outstanding quality and a lovely sound, no noise, extremely useful features and a price that is reasonable for even a somewhat successful Youtuber. It is a device that is suitable for professional sound people working as freelances and at radio stations. I assume many sound recordists in the TV and filmmaking industries will need either the more capable MixPre-10T II or the even pricier and highest-end Scorpion, but going by the sound quality alone I don’t believe for a minute that it is necessary.
A MixPre-3 II can be had for about 800 Euros.