With the Scorpio, Sound Devices is no doubt seeking to overflow as many segments of the portable multitrack mixer recorder market as possible. The US manufacturer seems to have reached with the 688 the end of this concept he had invented, that of field mixers with (reduced) recorder function. Apart from the 970 oriented DANTE and MADI, Sound Devices had not produced any recorder since the 788T with the characteristics and functionalities inherited from the 774T, in other words the proto history of the multitrack digital recorder. It was time to answer the competition facing the Cantar X3, Cantar Mini, Nomad, Deva 24, SX-R4+ and other SX62R.
The characteristics of this new recorder are breathtaking:
16 mic/line preamps (6 XLR3, 2 TA3, 4 TA5), 2 AES42 pairs (XLR3 common to microphone inputs 1 and 6), 32 mixing channels on 36 tracks!
Primary and Secondary DANTE with 32 channels out, 32 channels in.
12 analog output buses: 2 analog XLR outputs coupled to 2 AES3 pair outputs; 2 additional AES outputs on HRS10, 10 auxiliary outputs on HRS10 (6 of which are on TA3 and 2 on mini-jack).
Simultaneous 32+4-track recording on SSD 256 GB and 2 SD-HC slots at 96 kHz, 24 bits (18 tracks at 192 kHz, 24 bits).
With the ability to record in 64-bit WAV, the Scorpio is even able to produce files larger than 4 GB for (very) long sound recordings.
Time Code and Wordclock.
Bluetooth and USB-A MIDI MCU control, ICON compatible.
USB-C file transfer.
2 dual channel com and 3 camera return.
It's a bit of a Mister Plus! Despite some inovations (new mic/line preamps that overtake those of 688, with sharp sound and high dynamic, dual limiter, one on the first analog stage and the other on the digital stage, MIDI MCU control, WAV RF64 recording), Sound Devices remains faithful to its usual field mixer design, which implies an undeniable overload of the Scrorpio front panel with no less than 24 rotary audio encoders on the same surface as a 688! Not to mention 6 fugitive solo switches, the three menu, recording and headphones encoders, that leaves little room for a very small LCD display.
Real mixing on feature shooting (as for documentary shooting) has become very relative with the demand for post of pre-fader ISO tracks, at least for RF tracks. It is basically enough to ensure optimal levels for RF mikes, but accurate boom mike modulation (or two boom mikes), a basic level of stereo or surround mike and an average mixdown balance for daylies and picture editing.
Sound Devices is betting on analog to digital. Many sources can be used with 16 quality mic/line preamps! For example 2 boom mikes, one or two hidden microphones, 8 RF mikes and a Schoeps double ORTF Surround set. It is also possible to use two AES42 digital microphones such as the Neumann KM D 185 or KMR 81 D or the Schoeps SuperCMIT. And it innovates by offering a three-band parametric equalizer that can be applied either pre-fader or post-fader! Usefull for a pleasant mixdown listening without taking control over the further mixing process.
In addition to the two AES3 or AES42 pairs, digital is present with a complete dual (primary and secondary) DANTE support of 32 channels (32 inputs, 32 outputs up to 96 kHz, or 16 inputs, 16 outputs at 192 kHz). Thanks to DANTE, Scorpio could be inserted in a broadcast & record system (concert, theater, any live broadcast). Scorpio could also be used as a backup recorder of another DANTE able device (Cantar X3, Sound Devices 970), or reverse be backed up to another recorder.
Over the shoulder device by its compactness, sound cart device by its capacities, the Scorpio disappoints by its so reduced LCD display which can only monitor 8 tracks (and 2 of mixdown), because it lacks a direct integration of an RF multicoupler like the SL-6 and because it doesn't support the very practical CL-12 remote. But SD-Remote App for smartphone or tablet (Android only, connection via USB-A or USB-C) allows a much more optimal visualization of the device parameters and monitoring, the SL-6 multicoupler should soon be compatible via an adapter named SL-Riser, and the CL-12 can be replaced by a MCU compatible control surface (USB-A connection) like the M+ Platform from manufacturer ICON.
Given its price, between X3 and Mini, the Scorpio is undoubtedly a serious competitor of the Cantar Mini but, even if it exceeds the Cantar X3 in terms of number of inputs/outputs (except in AES), it will have difficulty competing with it in terms of mixing ergonomics, a very useful feature in ambitious movie shooting. The Scorpio is undoubtedly the ideal recorder for heavy documentaries, outdoor reality shows, low budget feature movie and moreover for the sound mixer whose back has been broken by increasingly heavy and complex sound gear!
Sound Devices Scorpio is now available for rent from DC Audiovisuel.