When sound mixer Richard Lightstone decided to upgrade his audio cart with a Dante-compatible digital recorder for his work with Disney XD’s semi-animated children’s program Kirby Buckets, he invested in Sound Devices’ new 970.
The Sound Devices 970 is the company’s first-ever audio-only rack-mounted solution that also boasts an impressive 64 channels of Dante and MADI.
“I am familiar with Sound Devices’ reputation with their earlier products,” Lightstone explains. “I had originally looked at their Video Devices PIX line and was considering it, but once I heard about the 970, which was strictly devoted to audio, I jumped at the chance to get a hold of it.
“The great advantage of using the 970 with Dante is that I can remove a huge amount of cable from my sound cart. Also, the sheer capacity of the 970 in terms of its high track count really made it stand out from the other products I looked at for this project.”
For his audio recording needs, Lightstone networks the 970 with his Yamaha O1V96 via Dante, which allows him to record up to 16 channels.
“I’m recording an average of about eight tracks a day on this project and have even gone up to 13 on a couple of episodes,” he notes. “The 970 can handle this and so much more. While I’ll probably never get to the 64-channel max on this particular project, it’s great to know I can, if needed.
“Also, as this is a kids’ show, we only have the child actors for a short amount of time each day of shooting, so having the ability to have as many ISO tracks as possible is a real benefit.”
Lightstone’s cart also includes two Lectrosonics Venue wireless racks and a range of microphones, including Schoeps CMIT5U shotgun microphones, COS-11D lavalier mics and the DPA d:screet 4071 and 4081 microphones.
He simultaneously records to both an SSD and CF card which are mounted via the Sound Devices PIX-CADDY and PIX-CADDY CF respectively. As with the majority of TV programming today, Kirby Buckets is shot in HD. This requires Lightstone to hand over the CF card at the end of each session to the digital technician for transfer onto the master hard drives that go to editorial. The 970’s simultaneous multi-drive feature is a significant benefit in terms of streamlining on-set workflow, while being able to continue to record throughout the transfer process.
“I also have the benefit of Sound Devices’ excellent customer service,” concludes Lightstone. “They are quick to address any potential issues and their software updates are easy to download. They really work well with their users to make sure that they are at the cutting edge of current technology. They really understand the marketplace, and consistently build top-of-the-line gear.”
Sound Devices’ 970 records 64 channels of monophonic or polyphonic 24-bit WAV files from any of its 144 available inputs. Inputs available include 64 channels of Ethernet-based Dante, 64 channels of optical or coaxial MADI, eight channels of line-level analog and eight channels of AES digital.
The half-rack, 2U device simplifies any application requiring high-quality, high-track-count audio recording, including drama and reality production, and live concert recording. The 970 records to any of four attached drives, which include two front-panel drive bays and two rear-panel e-SATA connected drives. Material can be recorded to multiple drives simultaneously or sequentially. With its built-in, rock-steady Ambient Recording Lockit time-code technology, the 970 is well-suited to operate as a master clock.
The Sound Devices 970 features an embedded web-based control panel for machine transport and setup control over Ethernet-based networks, as well as file transfer over the data network with SMB. File metadata editing of scene name, take name, notes, track names, and reel folders can be done during, before and after recording across all drives. In addition to RS-422 and GPIO control, the unit also acts as a bridge between analog, AES digital, MADI and Dante interfaces. Sound Devices 970 is designed with a large five-inch screen for metering of up to 64 tracks and fast and intuitive menu control. It also features the Sound Devices proprietary PowerSafe and FileSafe technologies.