In the new gear department, I’ve just taken delivery on a Sound Devices MM1 mic preamp and headphone monitor. While it is possible to find a cheaper headphone monitor these days(for example, this one by Behringer), I decided to invest in this unit, partly because of Sound Devices‘ reputation for quality gear. My initial impression is their reputation is quite safe… this is a very well-built and functional little unit.
A recent shoot for CNN required NO mixer in the signal path… rather, they wanted a direct wireless lav in one channel, and a wireless boom in the other. While I have the wireless transmitters covered, the “butt plug” Lectrosonics that I’ll use with the boompole doesn’t have a provision for monitoring the signal. The MM1 will be perfect for this application… at least until I come up with the $3K for a Zaxcom 992 wireless camera link.(For a review by Glen Trew, click here.)
Besides reputation, the reason I selected this unit was for available features on the preamp section. Inputs and outputs are transformer-balanced, there’s a limiter and a high-pass filter that can be set to 80 or 160 Hz. Also of critical importance is the mic powering section, which can be set for 48 volt phantom or 12 volt T-power. I have two Sennheiser shotguns that use T-power, a long 815T and a medium 415T. The 415 has a smoother high end than my Sennheiser ME66/K6, but its power requirements and sensitivity to moisture mean that it doesn’t get used as often as I’d like.
There is one thing that I DON’T like about it… if the preamp section is set to 0dB, as in no added gain, the unit doesn’t pass a signal at all… no signal at the headphones or the output. So the unit can’t be used if you want to monitor a signal without boosting it. I tried to use it to monitor to my boompole signal before transmitting into a Lectrosonics 187 “butt plug” transmitter, but that requires a mic-level signal. Any boost will distort the transmitter, so this hasn’t been the solution I’d hoped. Some custom input cables for my Lectrosonics transmitters will help (thanks to Lectrosonics for making their wiring information available… click here.)