Starter Sound Kit Guide

If you’re starting out in the world of location sound mixing and are wondering what’s the best gear to get for a basic kit, here’s a guide:


  • Sound Devices MixPre-10T – $1,799 – It’s got 8 XLR and 1 stereo aux input, making it a 10-input recorder for 2lbs. It has 8 full-sized knobs. But does not have XLR outputs, only 2 TA3 outputs. Which is not a problem… you can send your output via a TA3 to mini cable if you’re using the Sennheiser G3s as wireless camera hops. It also requires a few more steps to adjust individual channel gain using the menus, unlike the more expensive mixers that have dedicated gain knobs.
  • Sound Devices 633 – $3,328 – It’s got 3 XLR and 3 TA3 inputs, making it a 6-input recorder for 2.56lbs. Since it only has 3 full-sized fader knobs, channels 4-6 are controlled with the mini knobs instead.




For a basic kit, you need 4x transmitters + 4x single channel OR 2x dual channel receivers. This gives you 2 systems to use with talent and 2 systems to use as wireless hops to camera.


  • K-Tek Avalon Traveler Boom Pole – $256.50 – I use this because it is able to collapse to a very short length, and is relatively light. Portability and weight is a big consideration when I buy gear because we tend to run around for long hours in doc. It has an internal coiled cable, which is the way to go. It saves you a lot of messy cable tangle trouble, especially when you need to move around fast.
  • Rycote Super-shield Kit with Windjammer – $299 – for outdoor windy shoots
  • Sennheiser MKH-416 Shotgun Mic – $999.95 – Industry standard workhorse shotgun mic
  • Sennheiser MKH-50 Condenser Mic – $1199.95 – Great mic for using indoors. It will sound less echo-y and tinny than when shotgun mics when used indoors.


  • K-Tex Coiled XLR Cable 1.5’-9’ – $47.50 – for connecting your boom pole to your mixer. Coiled to avoid tangles
  • Sachtler SN607 Mixer Bag – This is the bag I use with my Sound Devices 633. Small enough to be portable. Big enough to handle about 5 transmitters/receivers. Handy pockets in front of and behind the mixer. Velcro strips hold the mixer off the floor of the bag so you can easily run a cable through the bottom.
  • Sachtler SN605 Harness – $133 – Thick and comfortable. I can tighten it enough to fit my build (I’m about 5′, 98lbs). Lots of loops from which to clip or hang accessories.
  • Sony MDR7506 Headphones – $79.99 – Popular and affordable choice. Not the most comfortable for me.
  • Audio Technica ATH-M50x – $142.10 – I use these. Thick, comfortable, good isolation. My one gripe with this is the side of the cable that connects to the headphones tends to stick out too much and rub against my jacket collar.
  • Eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries – $26.30 – Save the earth. Use rechargeables!
  • Dr. Scholls Moleskin – $9.30 – For mounting lavs onto people. I cut these up into little strips.
  • Rip Ties with Carabiner – $12 – For keeping cables tidy. Easy to just pull and release when you are on the go.

Sound Devices MixPre-3 vs. MixPre-6

The new Sound Devices MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 mixer/recorders are out. Given how lightweight and compact they are (even smaller than the Sound Devices 633), they sure pack a lot of punch.


One important thing to note is these do not have balanced XLR outputs. They instead come with an unbalanced 3.5mm stereo output, suggesting that Sound Devices had DSLR shooters in mind when they designed this.


If you’re trying to decide between the two, here’re the main differences I’ve seen:

  • MixPre-6 gives you the option to do 192kHz sample rate, on top of the 44.1, 48 and 96kHz sample rates that the MixPre-3 also does.
  • Mixpre-6 allows you to have 1/4″ inputs also, which are more commonly found on music instruments.
  • MixPre-6 gives you 8 tracks (stereo mix + 6 ISOs), while the MixPre-3 gives you 5 tracks (stereo mix + 3 ISOs).

Which to get?

Personally, since I already have the Sound Devices 633, I would primarily be using this unit as an XLR adapter for my Panasonic Lumix mirrorless camera. Given that I would seldom need more than 3 inputs, I would choose the MixPre-3 for its smaller and lighter build.

If you’re hoping to use the unit both in a one-woman-band shooting situation with a DSLR camera and in a two-person-crew situation where you have a sound mixer operating this device, I would suggest choosing the MixPre-6 for the additional inputs. That said, I’d also suggest checking out this post where I compare the Zoom F8 with the Sound Devices MixPre-6, before you make your decision.