After owning a Sound Devices 744t recorder for the last year I decided it was time take a step up. The 744t was a great deck but I always felt that it was very expensive for the feature set it offered. I also felt that it should of had 4 mic pres for the money and I would of never parted with it if it had. The 744t is the perfect size with dimensions coming in at 45 mm x 209 mm x 125 mm (H x W x D) 1.8” x 8.2” x 4.9” and weighing in 1.2 kg, (2.6 lbs) without battery. Sonically the 744t is a power house with top shelf mic pres and sample rates up to 192 kHz at 16 – 24 bit. It also uses reasonably light Aluminum and stainless steel in construction of the chassis which is designed to take on the most rugged environments. It is a very impressive piece of machinery!
On the other hand the 788t is physically a lot bigger. The larger size deck also boosters a very nice feature set. Besides 8 world class mic pres the 788 the front panel of the deck has four solo dip switches for quick access of input routing and settings. The optional IOS wifi controller (CL-Wifi) with the aid of a Apple IOS device and the Sound Devices free app, you can view input levels, the ability to rename tracks, and edit meta data on your mobile device. The application also gives you transport access. As a sound recordist this gives you the option of setting up your deck and walking away since you can arm your deck remotely. In a lot of the promotional images you will notice the screen is a rust red color. When the deck is in record the screen turns this red color. For playback the screen turns a green. These are options you can turn on or off. With dimensions of 45 mm x 257 mm x 163 mm (H x W x D) 1.8″ x 10.1″ x 6.4″ weighing at 1.7 kg, (3 lbs 12 oz.) without battery.
What I don’t like about the 788t? Surprisingly, there are a few things that went amiss. First up, the limiters. The limiters are set up like compressors on the 788t with settings for limiter threshold, limiter recovery and limiter knee all seem like a great idea. Well when you find out you can’t run the limiters and record at 96k you get a little misted…
The limiters are actually digitally controlled analogue limiters. When the limiters are switched on, 788t can no longer run at 96k because the limiters take too much processing power. Sonically the limiters on the 744t out preform those that are in the 788t. The main difference between the two designs is the 744t limiters are analogue and can only be turned on or off. Secondly, the 788t has a sample rate limitation when the limiters are turned on. Although there are no bit depth limitations, when the limiters are on you will not be able to record above 48k. Considering these are pretty big disappointments for me, I personally still think the 788t is a great value.
There are many factors that go into deciding what deck is right for you. If you are looking for the highest sample rates possible go with the 744t. If you need high track counts go for the 788t. Either way you will have to make some concessions in regards to features.
Sound Devices recently updated the 788t firmware to version 3.0. The new firmware version adds many appealing features which now makes the 788t more appealing to buyers. some of the new features included sample rate up to 192 khz at 24 bit with up to four tracks, new digital limiters on the AES inputs, MS decoding on the stereo bus are just some of the new features. i have been running to 3.0 firmware for the past two months with no issues and seems to be pretty solid. If you want to find out more about the new 3.0 firmware checkout Sound Devices website for more infomation