Its hard to believe its been 20 years since I wrote this review of the Sound Devices 442. Its even harder to believe that I still have this 442 which functions fine and is sitting on the shelf in the Sound Shack!
I'm leaving these old reviews in place as historical markers if you will. They are still relevant in many ways as to thinking and evolution of location sound mixing. (Jan of 2022)
Sound Devices 442 Audio Mixer
Having used my 442 for the better part of 2002 I've decided to revisit my post on this mixer. The 442 is a wonderful mixer with an incredible amount of features packed into a nice sized unit.
Possibly my favorite feature on this mixer is the trim controls on the inputs. The ability to really tailor my gain structures is tremendous! Actually......now that I'm sitting here thinking about this, there are quite a few 'favorite features' that come to mind. From the PFL's, which allow you to verify your input levels as well as solo an input, to the sweeping roll off's. The 442 gives me the most flexibility in achieving my goals on location. I am a huge fan of the pop up control knobs and ergonomically speaking, the layout is well thought out and very user friendly. The stereo setup is outstanding and I am so glad they placed the phase on the front panel where it belongs.
Note: An interesting thing about the 442's T power on it's inputs is that it takes a good 12 seconds to power up a microphone. I've never quite seen that before with T power. It can be frustrating if you're trying to power up quickly.
Well now.....this section is by far the most advanced unit on the market today. The routing capabilities are, quite frankly, almost limitless. Not only does the onboard standard monitor selections exceed what used to be the norm. They take it further with the 3 position toggle and user setup features available. Example, on a live shot I feed IFB into the A return and change the toggle setup to bring the A return into one ear while maintaining program audio in the other. With a quick flick of the switch I am back to just program audio in both ears. I no longer need to fight with wearing an ear to mix a live shot. I am however a mixer who flips around a lot while mixing and I would prefer that the headphone selector switch didn't make quite so much noise (in the form of an audible click) when I'm scrolling around my sound sources. Just a small thing. Oh yes! I love the 20db attenuation on the headphones when the tone oscillator is engaged! Hello!
Having the primary outputs individualized is wonderful. The ability to select varying output levels between the XLR's and 10 pin is extremely valuable. With the recent upgrade available changing the TA3's to Line/Mic Selectable instead of the Line/Aux makes them, in my opinion, much more functional.
Note: I do however have an issue with the selector switches for the output's. I have on numerous occasions had them get knocked while working. A more positive locking switch would be a very nice improvement and solve this issue. Additionally the phase selector switch can easily get ever so slightly knocked and cause channel 2 to go completely dead. FYI if your channel 2 is dead it is most likely the phase selector switch.
The mono out.....oh yes the mono out. I have longed for a mono out on the field mixer but I must say I'm not a big fan of the mic level on a 3.5mm jack. Life would be so much better with a line level feed on a decent jack. Almost nobody wants a non time code transcription these days. A mono line level TA3 would be incredible. It is always easier to pad down then it is to boost up.
www.televisionsound.com / Thom Shafer