Sound Devices

In a sound engineer's ear

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In less than 20 years, Sound Devices has become the leader in the field of sound recorders and mixers for AV professionals.

The secret to their success lies in the design of their product and their ability to listen “in high definition.”

“They have understood that when I’m hanging on a rope in mid-air, half way up a mountain, I don’t have the time to keep checking whether my device is recording. On their recorder, the entire display lights up in red!” For Jürg Lempen, independent sound engineer working for the Swiss television, there’s no mystery: Sound Devices has become the “darling” of sound recorders for technicians all over the world, because the company knows how to listen to its customers and to meet their specific needs.

Founded in 1998 in Reedsburg, a small town in Wisconsin (USA), by three ex-employees of Shure Inc., Sound Devices specializes in the production of audio material for AV specialists – documentaries, television series, and movies. Have you been listening to a particularly lively dialogue in “Game of Thrones”? Have you been carried away by the roar of engines and the screaming warriors in “Mad Max: Fury Road”? Have you discovered for the first time the echoes of the sea or the roar of blazing fire in Turkmenistan? All of this and much more are possible thanks to Sound Devices products.

At the beginning, remembers Jon Tatooles, Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer, “we knew we had to learn a lot, so we started off with simple products and listened to what the users thought about them.” A simple but winning strategy. Sound Devices has received a number of awards – among them five Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Technical Achievement Awards for its high-quality, innovative, robust and smartly designed products. Sound Devices products are also highly complex. These portable recorders and mixers have replaced carts full of audio equipment used by sound technicians at the end of the 20th century.

Even more than the honours and awards, positive feedback from professionals is music to Jon Tatooles’ ears. “We are in very close contact with specialists. 

We want them to know that we would never let them down. Whether it is for a report in Alaska or a documentary in the sands of Dubai, our materials are always there to help them.”

Continually in search of new challenges, the company – engineering and assembling all its products at its U.S. facility has recently launched 4K video recording and monitoring with PIX-E5 and soon its sister product PIX-E7. A major step forward for the company and the positive impacts have started to be felt.

When asked about the product he is most proud of, Jon Tatooles comes back to his first love, audio material, without the slightest hesitation. “All our products are our children, but if I were to choose one, it would be the 633 – a highly compact, very powerful mixer-recorder. We offer much more sophisticated products, but a sound engineer will find everything he may need in his daily work and all he may expect from his material in this particular device!”

Sound engineer Jürg Lempen will absolutely agree: he would never set off for reporting duties without his 633.


The emblematic 633

 The emblematic 633, a highly compact and powerful mixer-recorder