DcSoundOp Shoptalk: Inside The Sound Devices 970 Multitrack Recorder

Cracking open the case on a 64-track Dante and MADI-equipped audio recorder for applications requiring high-track-count audio recordings.

If you’ve done high channel count mobile recordings in the past, you may have experienced the same anxiety I have. It’s not that I don’t like computers, I love them, I use them every day and often have the privilege of operating some of the best computer hardware money can rent in professional environments.

So why does the thought of capturing a high channel count on a one-off performance to a laptop rig make me nervous?

With two laptops, multiple external ‘rugged’ hard drives, backup interface options & Dante Virtual Sound Card to get large channel counts into the system, it does seem to work pretty flawlessly these days. Software like Waves Tracks Live is super lightweight & specifically designed for live tracking.

The memories of random crashes and errors in the early days of mobile computer recording, nearly 20 years ago, should have faded by now. Asking an orchestra conductor though to hold the 100+ members after a performance to do a ‘re-take’ isn’t something you easily forget.

On a recent mobile job, while I paced a small circle around my workstation the entire event, I couldn’t help but notice the how relaxed the tape op was over in video control. Capturing multiple cameras and switched program feeds, involving ridiculous amounts of data for over three hours without a pause, and this guy is eating his second desert from the buffet! How could you possibly eat at a time like this?

After we wrapped, I went to take a look at the rack full of Video Devices Pix 270i recorders they were using. With pairs of machines racked up side by side, all with redundant power supplies and a ton of attached hard drives recording backups on the fly, I couldn’t help but be a bit envious.

I got home that night & immediately sent a message to Sound Devices. I had seen the 970 a handful of times in the wild and needed to know more. Thankfully they were willing to send over a demo unit for us to take a look at, try out & take apart together.

Check it out & hit the comments with your best mobile recording and live tracking stories… I bet there are some good ones out there.

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