Sound Devices 664
My thoughts after the first week.


What a joy it has been rolling out the 664 and making the move to a computer based mixer/recorder that brings with it a plethora of innovative features. Clearly the place to begin is with the integration of the hard switches and menu options.

When looking at the business face of the 664 you are immediately comfortable with what you see. A PFL switch that when toggled to the left locks the PFL for extended monitoring and is released by a quick 2nd tap of the toggle. The channel input LED flashes yellow as a reminder that you’re in PFL. Toggling to the right accesses the channel input settings for quick shifting/setting of:

Input selection (mic-ph, mic, line, Line-ph and AES)
Pre/post iso track
Aux 1 & 2 assign
LR mix assign
Phase inversion

All of which are available on all channels. The ability to remove a channel from the left right mix while still maintaining full functionality is very important for flexibility in the aux sends. For example I utilized aux 2 as my IFB send feeding Comteks by routing the interrupt feed through my channel 5. Having the ability to very quickly provide additional gain and other feeds such, as the correspondent’s own voice without rigging a sub mixer is tremendous. The same benefit applies to reality IFB feeds with the flexibility to accommodate quite a few scenarios on the fly.

Note: An update that I view as very significant would be the ability to remove the tone from the aux sends to keep them clean as IFB’s. This is probably my largest request for the near future that has a direct impact on almost a daily basis.

The Pan, I still operate as a mixer and throw the pans quite a bit on the fly as characters come and go interacting with wires and booms. There might be a very slight delay in the pan but I don’t feel it to be anything that I’m concerned about. The fact that I’m throwing pans means there’s a bit of a disruption already!

The Roll-offs seem to be a very nice improvement. Engaging is quiet and smooth and the sweep has gentle a feel to it.

The metering… I can’t help but love the screen layout. The ability to see both the channel input gain and the 4 outputs simultaneously is a huge win for me. I still find myself grabbing the PFL to have a look at my input but that urge faded very quickly! The track naming on the screen was a wonderful add that I know will help me with my mixes.

As for the headphone selector I hope to see perhaps the ability to assign some favorites to the return toggle positions. I like to switch around and doing that via a menu selection can be a little cumbersome on the fly. This is not a huge negative and quite possibly just requires me geting used to it.

The Menu

Simply put, this is the best-designed menu system I’ve ever seen. Intuitive, simple, concise and very flexible are the adjectives that come to mind. For a first time user I’d say the learning curve is very short and the manual is not required to navigate around the setup, so much so that I really don’t feel the need to say much more about it. Personally, I feel as if I’ve been using this machine for years and it’s only been one week.

More to come, as I tend to base my reviews on my fieldwork and not bench tests I'll update my experiences as needed.


The input selection screen when you toggle a channel
to the right. Easy routing options for your
primary busses as well as phase reverse.


My current configuration in a Petrol PS602.
Its a little to small with restricted access to the
media access points but it'll work for now.


- 2 Aux Sends for ISO routing of selectable inputs.

- 4 isolated L/R pairs

- Extensive meta data entry for sound reports via the menu or an external keyboard. I should add that entering the info without a keyboard is quick and easy.

- Input selection is at your finger tips via the PFL toggle.

- No more hunting for the hard switches on the sides for the in/out levels

- Media flexibility, I already like LR Polys on the CF with ISO's on the SD.

1st Job Scenario


Yes I should have cleaned the screen before taking this pic! This is a view of my first day out of the box with the 664. Working live for NBC News covering the 2012 Presidential election.

The A B C indicators you see in the bottom right hand corner represent your return audio from the 3 primary camera feeds. At a glance you can see the activity and know that they are receiving your feed.

Additional 664 Thoughts

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"Being a great mixer is knowing what sounds good and what doesn't as it applies to the situation you find yourself in..." - Thom Shafer