The Sound Devices 664 is a field mixer and location recorder and the firm’s flagship. It’s larger than the last Sound Devices machine I worked with—the 788T—and has one of the biggest footprints of any recorder I’ve used recently. Its power and feature set is huge and I can only hope to give a flavor of what it’s capable of.

In keeping with previous Sound Devices hardware, it feels like it has been hewn from a solid block of steel. I love the design and execution of the fader dials that fit perfectly between forefinger and thumb. The 664 has six XLR mic/line inputs with preamps and can record up to 10 tracks (with the optional CL6 expander, you can have 12 inputs and 16 recordable tracks), each of which you can name. [At press time, Sound Devices announced Version 2.0 firmware for the 664, which unlocks six additional line-level inputs for 12 total analog inputs, and 16-track recording without requiring the CL-6 Input Controller.—Ed]

On the front panel are hardware gain, input fader, pan and high-pass filter controls for each of the six inputs. There’s also a pre-fade and level switch for each channel. From here, you can solo any input at any time. Grouped around the bright color screen is a clutch of selectors for settings and access to the machine’s menus. All playback and record/stop functions are done via a single, floating joystick-style controller.

The output options are equally impressive. On the right-hand side of the 664’s body are two balanced XLR connectors, numerous TA3 connectors, two 10-pin Hirose outputs and a 1/8-inch TRS jack. These outputs are capable of being sent to three cameras simultaneously. You can alter the parameters of every output and even set up personal headphone mixes.

Under a hinged flap are the slots for SD and Compact Flash cards. The 664 can record to both cards at the same time, in different formats if necessary. Speaking of which: the 664 can record in Broadcast .Wav and .mp3 file formats. The maximum sample rate is 48 kHz, which I found surprising. The 664 is clearly aimed at film and TV, and as such, has an impressive arsenal of time code weaponry. There are also Word Clock ins and outs.

Some of the smaller design touches are hugely impressive. The key thing though, above all its tricks, is the pristine sound quality. You’ll use a Sound Devices 664 ($4,595) if you are a serious audio professional. I personally find the menu system rather complex, but for a production sound engineer using this machine all day, every day, it would quickly become second nature. The audio quality, build and overall design are outstanding.

Sound Devices