Sound Devices 722 Digital Recorder Review

May 15th, 2006

by Jeff Towne

Sound Devices 722 Digital Recorder

The Sound Devices 722 is not the type of recorder we typically review here on Transom, it’s pricey (approximately $2,400 US) and complex, targeted firmly at the professional sound and film market. We usually prefer to point people to inexpensive, simple gear that will let new users achieve good results without requiring selling all one’s worldly possesions, or obtaining an engineering degree to operate.

The Sound Devices 722 is not on either extreme: it’s not insanely expensive, nor especially difficult to operate, but it does cost more and require deeper perusal of the manual than most recorders we’d normally recommend here. It’s just such a well-made machine, an almost ideal field recorder, that it’s worth consideration, especially for those who are out in the field day-in and day-out, or doing critical recordings, or require excellent sound quality. Sometimes it’s worth spending some extra money in order to get quality and reliability beyond what the more affordable options can offer.

Sound Devices has long been respected in the professional audio and film worlds as a manufacturer of durable, good-sounding, practical, portable mic preamps, mixers and headphone amps. More recently they made a USB audio interface for recording directly to a computer. Digital recorders are their latest offerings, and maintain the same sound-quality and durability standards for which they are renowned.

They offer a range of recorders: the 744T is the top of the line, with 4 simultaneous record channels to an internal hard drive and CF card, as well as timecode capability; the 722, which features 2 channels of audio recording to its internal hard drive and CF card; the 702 which is similar to the 722, but with no hard drive – it records to CF card only; the 702T which is identical to the 702, but with timecode capability.

The kinds of production that we discuss here on Transom.org rarely require 4-channel recording or timecode synchronization (crucial for staying frame-accurate with film or video) so we’ll ignore those models. The 702 offers an attractive alternative to the 722, selling for almost $500 less, but given that there are some advantages to having the internal hard drive, and that the machines are otherwise similar, we’ll focus on the 722.

722 FrontThe thing that is immediately obvious when first holding the machine is how solid and sturdy it feels. It actually weighs less than three pounds, but it gives the sense of being able to withstand some real-world bumps and thumps. I wouldn’t recommend dropping it, but it would probably fare better than the recorders cased in plastic. Although that does bring up one small down-side, that the 722 does not ship with any kind of protective case, or even a shoulder strap. It’s clearly meant to be carried in a Portabrace bag, or other such protective case, although a basic camera bag, or just careful handling would suffice. Solid construction extends to the buttons, knobs and switches, everything feels well-built and tight, durable and precise. It’s easy to feel button-pushes and dial-clicks, and nothing seems like it might wear-out.

Size of the 722Given all its controls and large display, the 722 is surprisingly small, about the size of a serious paperback book. It’s certainly larger and heavier than some of the new CF recorders, such as the Marantz PMD660 and the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96, but it’s smaller and lighter than the portable cassette decks and DAT recorders that were the standard reporter’s gear for years.

722 Backlit

722 indicatorsPerhaps the most impressive thing of all is the amazingly readable display. Level meters are readable in all types of light, from bright sunshine to pitch darkness. And there are brightly-lit indicator lights for most important options, so one can see at a glance which inputs are active, which channels are recording and assigned to what tracks, whether a limiter is on, whether the input channels are linked as a stereo pair, whether phantom power is on, low cut filters are engaged, to what media the audio is recording, and even whether a special limiter is engaged on the headphone amp only, not the recorded tracks.

722 display

Similarly, the main display window gives more info than simply the recording time, giving quick indications of battery life, remaining record space on both the Compact Flash card and the internal hard drive, as well as the sample rate and bit depth of the current recording, and an indication of which channels the headphones are monitoring. Having all this information available at one glance is very helpful, there are so many options with this machine, it’s important to know that it’s set to do what you are intending.

And that might be another of the very few potential down-sides of this recorder, there are so many options, it could prove overwhelming to even experienced recordists. Most of the choices are fairly straightforward: picking a sample rate or bit depth for the recording; recording a stereo or mono file; turning limiters or filters on or off; routing the audio to record media, etc.  And these choices are well-organized, in logical menus, accessible by a button-push or two and a few twists of a  selector knob located on the side of the recorder.  I have to admit that I was constantly turning the knob the wrong way or a while, but it quickly becomes natural. Simply paging-through the various menu choices is generally sufficient to find the right settings, and the printed manual is written clearly if you need to refer to it.

The good news is that once those choices are made, the 722 retains those settings until the operator changes them, so the machine can be set to one’s preferred sample rate and bit depth and file type, and those would not need to be tweaked each time. The Sound Devices 7 Series can record at common sample rates between 32khz and 192 khz. The analog-to-digital converters always work at 24 bit, but the machines can be set to record 16-bit audio, which saves disc space while still providing good quality sound, although with a smaller dynamic range than 24 bit allows.

It would be nice to be able to save preferred settings in templates, as some other recorders offer. There are 4 factory presets for input routings, and some basic pre-set templates for music or reporting, but no way to save custom groupings of system settings. But in practice, this is rarely a big problem, one tends to use the same general settings for most projects, and when desired, changes are easy to make.

In most cases, the recorder will be set correctly from its last use, and all you need to do is hit record, and you’re rolling. The machine boots up quickly, and when powered-up, can go into record mode almost instantaneously. Hitting “record” overrides most other functions, so no matter what you’re doing, you’re seconds away from recording. Pressing the record button again while rolling starts a new track, and tracks can be seamlessly rejoined in a digital editor.

Input gain is controlled from smooth-operating dials on the front panel, that extend and recess with a gentle push. The controls can be linked for stereo operation, in which case the top dial controls the gain for both channels and the bottom dial adjusts the left-right balance. Once set, press the dials back in and they practically disappear, and won’t get bumped accidentally.

722 input lightsOne feature that can be amazingly powerful, but potentially confusing, is that the inputs are not hard-wired to specific record channels. On most recorders, whatever’s plugged into the left input gets recorded to the left track of the stereo recording, the right to the right, and that’s it. A few recorders had the ability to assign one input to both channels for mono recordings. The Sound Devices recorders take this to another level: inputs 1 and 2 can be assigned to either track A or track B; one input can be assigned to both record tracks; if doing Mid-Side stereo recording, inputs one and two can be decoded to stereo left and right. It can be dizzying, but again, there are helpful bright indicator lights right next to the input meters, so one can tell at a glance if things are assigned correctly.

722 phones indicatorMaking things even more flexible, yet possibly troublesome, is that those same choices can be made for what the headphones are monitoring, independent of what is being recorded. So one can record from both inputs, but only listen to one of them. Or one can listen to both inputs, one in each ear, or both in both. Or if doing mid-side stereo recording, one can record the mid mic to track A and the side mic to track B, but listen to decoded stereo. All of these options are terrific, but one must pay close attention to be sure that one is hearing what one intended to hear. There is a visual indicator on the front display, one just needs to remember to check…

One of the most useful features of the 722 and 744 models is the ability to record to both a compact flash card and the internal hard drive simultaneously, creating automatic back-ups in the field. The very long record times that are possible with the internal 40 gigabyte drive are pretty compelling on their own, but being able to guard against drive failure, or other errors, by recording to both media, could save that day in the event of drive trouble or accidental file deletion or corruption.

Transferring soundfiles from the CF card can be best done by removing the card from that machine and loading it into one’s production computer by using a card reader. Or they can be accessed by connecting the recorder to a computer via a firewire cable. Data on the hard drive can only be accessed via firewire. That connection is currently a little slower than the datarate one gets with an external cardreader. Still, it’s not bad, I moved an approximately 120 megabyte file in a minute across the 722’s firewire connection. A USB2 card reader transferred a 150 megabyte file from the CF card in about a minute.

722 backBattery life is usually a crucial aspect of a field recorder, but in this case, the Sound Devices recorders use standard Sony L-Series compatible camcorder batteries, and so when there’s a need for extended record times away from AC power, one can get a larger battery and/or additional batteries to swap-in. In tests, the standard battery that comes with the unit gave between 2 and 3 hours of record time, depending on sample-rate, mono vs. stereo recording, phantom power use, and other variables. The battery life indicator seemed to be fairly accurate. An external battery can be connected via the DC power jack, which also accepts the (supplied) power cord, with its compact in-line power transformer.

722 left side722 Right sideThe box has unusual TA3 connectors for balanced line-level outputs, but in most circumstances one wouldn’t ever use those outputs. These recorders are made to have files transferred off of them as data, not to play analog audio out in real time. If one needs an informal monitor output, there is a line level output available on a stereo 1/8th inch mini jack.  AES/EBU digital audio can be recorded via the first XLR input, with a simple flip of a hardware switch. There’s also an S/PDIF digital input available on a BNC connector next to the firewire connector, and that input is selectable via the system menu. There’s a full compliment of word-clock and synchronization jacks as well for integrating with larger digital systems or with other Sound Devices recorders. But most of those connectors will go unused in basic field recording.

Ok, so sure, it’s durable with many controls, but what does it sound like? On a purely subjective basis, it’s the best sounding recorder I’ve encountered so far. The mic preamps are clean, with plenty of headroom. With the limiters engaged, peaky sounds that engaged the circuit were effectively smoothed out in a fairly natural way, avoiding clips while not sounding too pumpy.

graphIn an admittedly unscientific test, just a rough real-world estimate of a machine’s self-noise,  I set the microphone gains to a good level for a spoken voice, then recorded some “silence” in a sound booth. While many of the new CF card recorders put noticeable hiss on the recording, the recording on the 722 shows negligible noise from the preamps or other input components, especially when using a condenser mic.

Even when using lowoutput mics such as dynamic omnis, the 722 provided plenty of gain.  Those mics did require turning the inputs up pretty much all the way, which introduced a small amount of hiss, but nothing compared to the Marantz recorders.

Graph 2The frequency plots don’t look dramatically better than other machines we’ve tested, but the subjective sound of the machine is noticeably cleaner. In the field, making real recordings, the 722 sounds spectacular, capturing small details with clarity and vividness, and rendering voices cleanly with almost any mic. One can hear a small amount  of preamp hiss when using a dynamic omni, but the input gains were cranked all the way to the top, it would be pretty shocking if where weren’t a little residual noise. The difference is that the Sound Devices recorder made a useable recording, while most other CF recorders added unacceptable noise when using those low-output mics.

Soundfiles can be recorded into specific session folders, and each file is marked with the year, month and day, as well as a take number, making it fairly easy to keep track of files. A firmware upgrade has implemented an optional  “retake” function which might be efficient, but strikes me as dangerous: I’d rather keep all takes from the field and sort it out later.

A great thing about many of these digital devices is that firmware fixes and upgrades can be made easily by users, and indeed Sound Devices has issued upgrades that have improved the functionality of the machine. It’s a simple process: download the file from the Sound Devices website, transfer it onto a CF card, or directly to the recorder’s hard drive, then choose “Update Software” from the setup menu.

The Sound Devices 722 is one of the most satisfying recorders I’ve had the opportunity to use. It’s well-built, logically laid-out, and offers an extremely informative  display of record levels and system settings. And once those record parameters are set, they are retained until changed. Recording couldn’t be easier, hit the record button and you’re rolling. But most importantly, the machine sounds great, with high-quality mic preamps and good controls that make it easy to get a good recording.

There’s a healthy amount of gain on the headphone jack allowing for precise monitoring, and there’s even a limiter that can be switched on the headphones only, not the record tracks, allowing the recordist to protect his ears while recording a full dynamic range.

The only major downside to these recorders is the expense, but it’s hard to put a value on a reliable piece of equipment. If one is doing recordings that would be difficult or impossible to replicate, or if the sound quality is paramount, a machine like this might be exactly right. It’s certainly not necessary to have a machine this serious to get good quality sound, but it helps!

Related Links

Many thanks to Buzz Turner at Turner Audio for his advice and expertise, and for generously loaning us a Sound Devices 722 to test.


21 Comments on “Sound Devices 722 Digital Recorder Review”

  • Jay Allison says:
    Sound Devices 722

    Generally on Transom, we review good quality, low-cost, simple-to-operate gear. We are interested in getting useful tools into the hands of many. But we are also equipment freaks. We can’t help it. Many of our visitors make their livings gathering sound and they want the best available tool. With that in mind, we borrowed a Sound Devices 722 Digital Recorder (it records to its own hard drive and to removable compact flash) and had our TOOLS Editor Jeff Towne spend a week with it.

    Jeff: "…it does cost more and requires deeper perusal of the manual than most recorders we’d normally recommend here. It’s just such a well-made machine, an almost ideal field recorder, that it’s worth consideration, especially for those who are out in the field day-in and day-out, or doing critical recordings, or require excellent sound quality. Sometimes it’s worth spending some extra money in order to get quality and reliability beyond what the more affordable options can offer."

    Read Jeff’s thorough review, and, if you can’t afford this machine, check our reviews of more affordable options like the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96, or Marantz PMD660, or the venerable Sony TC-D5M cassette recorder.

  • guyhand says:
    Sound Devices User Setups

    Excellent article. I recently bought a Sound Devices 722 and find it to be the best field recorder I’ve ever used. However there is one error in the article I’d like to point out.

    Jeff says "It would be nice to be able to save preferred settings in templates, as some other recorders offer. . . but no way to save custom groupings of system settings."

    Actually you can save a set of user settings to the unit’s hard drive and/or CF card. There are menu items under the "Quick Setup" menu called "Save User to INHHD" and "Save User to SF" that allow you to save custom settings. To use those settings, go to the same "Quick Setup" menu to either "Load User from INHHD" or "Load User from CD."

    I use custom settings to quickly go from my own set of mono to stereo recording settings.

  • Jay Allison says:
    right!

    Thanks, we’ll change that. We actually flagged that in edit, but never tracked it down.

    (I think you mean "CF" above, not "SF" or "CD")

  • Jeff Towne says:
    custom setups

    Thanks for that tip, Guy, that’s great news! I went through the manual several times, and saw the section about saving setups to the HD or CF, but it seemed to me that it was saving data about the setup, but it wasn’t clear to me how one could use that to return the machine to that state.

    Jay, or anyone who has a Sound Devices recorder, can you give Guy’s technique a try – is it easy, or do we need any more details?

    Saving setups to a CF card could be a little clunky, given that they tend to get reformatted pretty regularly, but saving them to the hard drive would be OK… or maybe that’s a good use for those small-capacity CF cards that often get shipped with cameras and recorders: store one’s favorite setups on one of those 64K cards that are otherwise pretty useless!

  • guyhand says:

    Jeff and Jay,

    Yes, I did mean "CF" when I typed "SF" and "CD." My spelling is not at its peak during early morning correspondence.

    What I do is start with one of the four pre-sets that comes most closely to what I need, then change those settings that don’t suit me, then save my new settings under the "Quick Setup" menu under "Save User to INHHD" and/or "Save User to CF."

    And you are correct in pointing out that any time you reformat the hard drive or the CF card, you erase your custom settings. Or at least I assume you do (I haven’t reformated yet). Perhaps you could drag the custom settings file to your computer while reformatting, then drag it back onto the 722 afterward.

    It would be nice if Sound Devices came up with a solution to that problem and allowed for multiply user settings per drive . . .

    Guy

  • Shugardaddy says:

    Thanks for doing this review. I’m the Technical Director of a show at WBUR, and have been trying to convince the budget folks to dig a little deeper and replace the ‘prosumer’ Marantz boxes with the Sound Devices recorders.

    I just bought a 702 myself, and am looking forward to using it for recording acoustic music ensembles as well as radio work.

    Thanks again for reviewing what I consider to be a superior product.

    DJS

  • Michael Johnson says:
    722 battery life

    We’ve been using these units at PodTech for a number of months now, and they are very solid. Whne the battery life gets to around 7.5, the machine gets a bit weird. That’s with the shipped battery. We’re switching to the Sony 970 batteries, larger capacity, and will use the original as backup.

    MJ

  • Flawn Williams says:
    SD722 Recorder qualities and quirks

    Being able to load and store the user template file is very useful. At NPR, where we have many different engineers doing many different kinds of recordings with our small fleet of 722s, it’s a handy way to quickly customize a machine to your prefs. You can store multiple versions of your setup file on multiple small capacity CF cards, then load the setup from the card or copy it to hard drive and load from there.

    Firewire connectivity with these machines is slower and (more with Windows PCs than Macs) dicier than you’d expect. There are occasional issues with Firewire connectivity, some of which can damage the recorder’s Firewire port and require a return trip to the factory to fix.

    Using CF cards and an external USB2 CF card reader is three times as fast as the 722′s hard drive via Firewire for large file transfers.

    And if you’re using CF, note that currently the CF slot can’t be seen by the Firewire bus, so you have to either use an external reader or copy internally from CF to hard drive and then use Firewire from the hard drive to a computer.

    The bright lighting of controls and display can be toned down if you’re in a position where you don’t want your recorder looking like a Times Square billboard.

    The sound of these machines is definitely first-rate. Nuff said.

    The battery life is reasonable if you choose the larger capacity batteries. Battery charge time is pretty slow (8-10 hours for full charge of a large battery), both for on-722 charging and with outboard chargers, so allow for that on long recording projects.

    Even if you record while hooked up to wall power, keep a battery in place on the machine, because if power fails with no battery backup you’ll corrupt the hard drive’s table of contents and have to run a five-minute rebuild routine when you reboot.

    The fail-over from AC power to battery is beautifully smooth. The onboard battery also charges while the machine is running on AC power.

    We’ve seen some issues with intermittent shorting-out wiring in Sound Devices’ AC adapters. They use a tiny Hirose connector for outboard power on the 722, not much room for extra insulation in there.

    The hard disc space is habit-forming, it’s hard to go back to low-capacity removable media once you’ve started the day with 57 hours of CD quality recording capacity! But it was only with the most recent firmware update that you got the ability to delete individual files from the 722! Before, you either had to reformat the drive (erasing all soundfiles) or delete files using a computer.

    Like several other flash or hard drive recorders, this deck has a file structure and naming conventions, and it’s hard to impossible to get it to play, say, files recorded on a CF card by a Marantz 660, even if they’re the same WAV file format. Same problem goes in the other direction too, Marantz machines only want to play files in their own file structure and naming convention. The path of least resistance is to get the files onto a laptop or other computer for full interchangeability.

  • Jay Allison says:
    Send another Transom t-shirt to Flawn

    Thanks a bunch for sharing that bag of tricks and tips!

    -Jay

  • planktone says:

    The Sound Devices 722 is not the type of recorder we typically review here on Transom, it’s pricey (approximately $2,400 US) and complex

    no … that isn’t right !!!

    the 722 is a professional recorder, it is the same price as a ( old ) sony tcd10-pro but is much better.

    it isn’t that difficult too but you need a bit knoledge about sound & recording technics … if you don’t know what the difference is betweer 44.1 and 48 khz, 16 ond 24 bit you must be in the wrong business …

    anyway, nagra is more expencive, all the other who are cheaper are not that good.

    i am very happy with my 722, it is the first time i can record pure sound.

    my set = 722 + sennheiser mhk 30 & 40 in MS.

    w.

  • pouldon says:
    headphone limiter?

    Jeff Towne wrote in the report:
    "There’s a healthy amount of gain on the headphone jack allowing for precise monitoring, and there’s even a limiter that can be switched on the headphones only, not the record tracks, allowing the recordist to protect his ears while recording a full dynamic range."

    I couldn’t find this headphones-only limiter last time I used a 722, and I don’t find it in the user guide either. Could you please tell me how to activate this? Thanks in advance!

  • quietude says:

    Just a note. Add the Sound Devices MixPre ($650 USD) to any of the cheap recorders reviewed here, run them line-in, and you have SD722 recording quality for ~$1000, spend the other $1400 on mics :)

  • lerond says:
    saving 722 settings

    item 1 in the menus – quick setup, allows a user to save customized settings to the HD; by using different filenames, you can store as many "preset" collections as you like.

  • michmuch says:
    sound devices 722 digital recorder

    quietude I’ve ran the MixPre along with an Edirol R-1 for a few years. The sound was really good, but it was much more complicated than the SD722 which I own now: two sets of batteries, minijack cables to cope with, no MS decoder, no monitoring of what’s really recorded, no combo HD/CF to backup the data in real time, etc. etc. etc. Is it worth the extra $1000? For a daily user, I’d say YES.

    pouldon There’s NO headphones-only limiter, what’s written in the Jeff Towne report is an error (the rest of the text is excellent, though).

  • Jeff Towne says:
    I stand corrected

    Thanks for the correction about the nonexistent headphone limiter michmuch. That review was long enough ago that I can’t recall where I got the idea that there was a limiter assignable to the headphones, but I felt sure that I must have read it in the users manual. But looking back over the copy that’s on the Sound Devices site, it says nothing about it, so I must have misread something. I don’t think that it’s just that the limiter indicator light is near the headphone status…

    Anyway thanks for the info, we’re moving some pages around, I’ll see if I can fix that as we do that.

  • tim schlie says:
    microphone used?

    i know this was a long time ago, but do you recall what microphone you were using to record:
    mic test condenser stereo.mp3

    (this is the file with the traffic and geese. it feels like a compilation of many sound files put together, since it is so busy and active…that must have been one wild place you were at!

    anyway, if you can recall what mic you were using, it would love to know.
    thanks for your time and assistance,
    -Schlie

  • Jay Allison says:
    Rode NT4

    Judging from the name on the URL, I think Jeff used the Rode NT-4 for that.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    stereo mic

    Yes indeed, that was the Rode NT4, and amazingly enough, that’s not a collage of separate recordings, that all happened in real time!

    I’m a big fan of the Rode NT4, but it’s very wind sensitive, so it’s a little tricky to use for outdoor environmental recordings. But with some additional wind protection, or in calm situations, or for indoor recordings, it’s a very good mic.

  • Dominique says:

    Hello,
    First please forgive my poor use of English … I’m French ….
    I record live concerts, mainly classical music, from a symphonic with
    choir (130 people on stage!) to a solo violin or piano.
    Using an ORTF Schoeps set up into the 722 is the VERY BEST
    and most practical – installs in 5 minutes – recording set up I’ve ever
    had.
    Having “invented” a nice and light mike stand system, folds into a
    33 cm (13″) soft cloth bag, I carry a whole system, along with the 15 ” MacBook Pro in an EastPak back bag, set the mikes in the middle
    of the aisle first or second row, connects them to the battery operated
    722 (large Sony L batteries, 2 … in case!) in a few minutes, get a
    “fortissimo” and … press REC ! Check my website’s most recent concerts …
    This is top, my 722 has the 160gB drive… All in all, ergonomic to sonic,
    safeguards, pro feel and locked Neutrik and Hirose, preamps, ease to
    first use and results in listening, I never used nor heard any better.
    Be well all
    Dominique

  • Kelly McEvers says:

    Hi all,

    I wanted to recount a recent experience with the SD722′s internal hard drive. I bought my SD722 in 2006. Recently, on a trip to Syria (early 2013), the drive became unrecognizable by my laptop and the SD722 started asking me if I wanted to reformat, as if there was zero data on the drive. I did NOT reformat, as some of the data on the drive existed nowhere else. And I really needed those sound files!

    Here are the lessons I learned from that experience:

    - don’t use the drive as a primary storage space. back it up often. don’t store too much there. just because it’s a large drive, that doesn’t mean you should fill it up
    - always record a backup on a CF card, just in case
    - reformat the drive, often
    - understand that like most hard drives, the life span on this one is about 3-5 years

    On the advice of Jeff Towne, I tried a few DIY solutions. I tried using a new Firewire cable (mine was getting frayed). I tried Mac Disc Utility and the demo version of a program called Data Rescue, but still the drive could not be recognized.

    Then I removed the hard drive myself, using these instructions:

    http://www.sounddevices.com/notes/recorders/drive-replacement/

    I took it to a shop and asked them to place it in a hard drive enclosure (you could buy one yourself, keeping in mind that the old drive is PATA Windows drive in the FAT 32 format). But still, the hard drive could not be recognized.

    In the end, I had to pay $600 for the shop to run data recovery software. There was no physical damage to the drive. Most of the data was recovered.

    I then sent the SD 722 to the company to get a new hard drive. They had to install a SATA drive and an XL-SATA adaptor, because my older model is built for a PATA drive, but Sound Devices no longer has these in stock. I could have bought my own drive and adaptor and installed them myself (following above instructions), but the AA battery casing had broken, so I figured I might as well get this fixed and start new. The costs were pretty minimal:

    - labor $250
    - drive $146
    - adaptor $118

    I ended up working with a guy at the company who was really, really responsive and helpful:

    Casey Luft
    casey_luft@sounddevices.com
    (608) 415-6144

    It wasn’t a cheap mistake. It’s one I won’t make again.

    Happy recording to all,

    Kelly

  • Kevin Berrey says:

    Hi. I produce videos and documentaries and have been wanting to invest in a solid sound recorder / mixer. And there’s the rub. If I’m doing recordings that are 2-channel, do I need to get a mixer like the 302 to get the most out of this recorder? Or can I get away with just running a couple great mics directly into it? Thanks for the splendid gear reviews!

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