Hello folks, So I was wondering if any of you have experience using the Sound Devices USB Pre2 in location audio recording situations. I was thinking of purchasing one and using a USB battery pack. It has a standalone mode, allowing you to route analog and digital out with out it being plugged into the computer. The pre2 has a lot going for it (same mic pre specs as the 7 series) and for the price it's a killer deal. I can't afford the 702 so i figure this paired with a decent digital recorder, is the next best thing. lend me your experience and thoughts if you can. Cheers!


  • i'm interested in this possibility too, for use with inputs 3&4 on a 744....
    – user49
    Oct 18, 2010 at 18:31
  • Since hearing about it's release, I've been trying to suss out the best combo to match the USBPre 2 up with - I don't know if I'm looking in the wrong places but there seems surprisingly little talk of it online in terms of it's exciting field recording potential. For what it's worth, I'm currently looking at using the Microtrack 2 digitally linked to the USBPre 2 which would be powered by a Tekkeon USB powerpack - no idea how much recording time you'd get out of that setup though. I'd be interested to hear of any better solutions. Oct 18, 2010 at 21:49
  • @time prebble, Yeah, its strange. you'd figure that location audio recordists would be jumping at the opportunity to use this in the field. @Michael Maroussas, That set up looks pretty solid. I have the Microtrack 2 and it does a pretty good job for what it is. The microtrack2's battery doesn't last a super long time, so the only way you can charge it is through USB, USB powerback? speaking of which, the usb power specs for the usb pre2 are 5V 500mA max current. The rated power output for the Tekkon is 5V 1A. Do you think the extra 500mA from the Tekkon could damage the usbpre2? -Kevin Oct 19, 2010 at 0:20
  • good luck to anyone looking to use MT2. you'll need it.
    – georgi
    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:06
  • (zenandtheheart, a A 5V/.5A device will draw 0.5amps from a 5V/1A charger, leaving .5A to spare.)
    – georgi
    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:12

8 Answers 8


I'm not an expert but scouting around on the internet I came across this comment on a forum:

"Normally, a gizmo with a 5V USB host port (such as a computer) can be expected to supply up to 500ma (1/2 an amp). That is a published USB standard. I've got a little battery brick with USB ports on it, and I use it to power an H120 or a MR1. The recorders have their own internal battery so this brick "helps keep them charged." When you boot up the recorder and the hard drive starts to spin up, it uses more than the 500ma (MR1 is quoted as more than 1 amp), but the recorder's internal battery makes up the difference in the short run. If you have a device without an internal battery, and you are JUST running it off the USB port you have no built in shock absorber, and depending on the device you might exceed that 500ma rating and it might drop out."

That suggests to me the extra half amp is a good thing; a buffer or cushion rather than something that's going to blow it. Correct me if I'm wrong anyone! I never considered the MT2's battery being a problem - that seems a bit lame for a portable recorder.

  • Michael, this is great. Thank you for researching this. Here's to all of us getting our hands on a usbpre2! Oct 19, 2010 at 5:18
  • If MT2 is anything like MT then the battery (and charging it) will be a traumatic experience. re battery as cushion, this really depends on the device's circuitry. Some devices refuse to use power from the USB port until they recognise a computer or specific charger on the other end (iPod). Some devices may not use the internal battery when there's voltage on the USB port. Really down to engineering. Probably wrong to assume anything.
    – georgi
    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:10
  • I'll contact sound devices about this and relay their response for everyone. surely others have asked them about this. Oct 19, 2010 at 16:26
  • From the horses mouth: "Yes the USBPre2 will operate in stand alone mode powered from a USB battery pack. We have all of its features and specifications located at sounddevices.com/products usbpre2.htm" -sound devices rep Thanks for everyone's help and research. Can't wait to use this device in the field! Oct 20, 2010 at 16:55

I've been testing the USB Pre for just over a day now and it definitely works great as an computer interface. It has been rock solid from 44.1 all the way up to 192. I have a 744T and I have yet to take out the USB Pre in stand alone mode for channels 3 and 4, but honestly, I've already got the Sound Devices MP-2 (pre-cursor to mix pre) and it runs on AA batteries. Not having to worry about a USB power supply means I will most likely continue to use the MP-2. Plus, I like the sound of the MP-2 a bit better than the pre-amps on the 744 and the USB pre.

I could see Michael's reasoning in using it with a recorder with a digital input and this unit seems well suited for that. I'll probably buy the USB Pre so I can have a nice mobile interface when I'm on the road.

  • I just go this reply from sound devices when I asked about powering both the 744 and USB PRe with an NP style battery: "There isn't a manufactured solution to get 5V regulated from an NP-1 that I know of, but it would be pretty easy to set up for anyone who knows their way around power supply electronics. Just like the various BDS systems out there can have 12V and 9V regulated outputs on Hirose 4 pin or coaxial jacks, this would be the same concept: A 5V regulated output on a USB jack. (cont)
    – sepulchra
    Nov 24, 2010 at 16:36
  • One roundabout solution that I have heard of other users using (for other applications) is to get a NP-1 to cigarette lighter adapter (like in a vehicle), which is something that is available. Then you can go from that to a USB jack with a standard cigarette lighter to USB jack adapter which you can find at any general store. I haven't heard of this solution being tried with the USBPre 2 yet, but I don't have any reason to believe it wouldn't work. I've heard good things about a company called Blue Cow Cables, in terms of getting custom cabling done like this. bluecowcables.com "
    – sepulchra
    Nov 24, 2010 at 16:37

For those of you who have been using this successfully in the field, could you please post full names and model numbers of the USB battery packs/power supplies you have been using with the USBpre? Thinking of getting this to double as a 2-channel field mixer with my Fostex FR-2, as well as a PT interface.


1 caveat via the manual:

Sample rates below 32 kHz are not supported on the coaxial or optical (TOSLINK) digital interconnections. 192 kHz sampling rate is not supported on the TOSLINK interconnections.

so use the spdif on those high sample rate records. :)



well bought a usbpre2 to use in the field with my 1st gen. Micro Trac recorder.

My setup is basically the following: 1. use USBPre2 in stand-alone mode, e.g. w/o computer 2. configure USBPre2 for Phantom Power for my two condenser mics 3. configure USBPre2 for 96 KHz sampling rate, e.g. see: attached DipSettings pic 4. connected both mic's to the XLR inputs 5. connected the SPDIF or digital output to my MicroTrack's SPDIF input. 6. plugged in some headphones to the MicroTrack to hear the "end" results. 7. connected USBPre2 to USB pwr source

Unfortunately it only worked once!? Since then i have not been able to get an digital i/o out of it. I have tried various sampling rate settings, devices, etc. to no avail.

So i have been dealing with sound devices support which has def. been great. Via email correspondences/trouble shooting we were not able to get the thing working again... So i sent it back to sound devices and they updated the firmware and ran some tests on it. Apparently the device had difficulties recognizing/producing SPDIF i/o. Yesterday the device came back but unfortunately it still exhibits the same behavior, e.g. problems with the digital i/o.... :-( The preamps/analog parts work fine and sound great but the digital functionality seems to have problems with certain devices still. So now I'm not sure what i will do, e.g. maybe try to return it to sweetwater, since this setup was the reason i bought it.

Oh yea btw. i had it connected to a sony USB battery and the device worked fine.

Regards, Chris

  • Thank you much Christopher, I ended up buying a tascam dr-680 with busman audio mic pres, but I have from time to time thought you buying the usbpre for the s/pdif inputs... But your story doesn't give much hope for that possibility. Have you ran into other people having similar issues with the device? Cheers Jun 4, 2011 at 20:10
  • Hi, no, I haven't been able to find anyone else with similar problems. The last suspicion was that the spdif bit-depth didn't match that of my MT. The USBPre2 has 24 bit-depth on its spdif port and we thought that maybe the MT only supports 16 but over at the M-Audio Forum "someone" said it is indeed 24 bit. Anyways i got a sony pmc d-50 to try out and I'm still experiencing the same problems. Now using TosLink io. But maybe its because I'm not configuring the sony correctly. I still need to check the sony's bitdepth setting. Cheers, Chris Jun 13, 2011 at 17:28
  • Chris, Do what was the model of the sony USB battery that you are using. Regards, Ameen
    – user1154
    Jun 15, 2011 at 22:26
  • 1
    Finally figured out what the problem was.... My portable Sony USB battery seems not to have sufficient power for the USBPre2 or maybe something else, not 100% sure yet but its def. the Sony battery that caused all the problems. After hooking up the preamp to my MacBook Pro's USB port in stand-alone mode, everything worked! I verified this setup with both the Sony pmc d-50 and my MicroTrac at 48 and 96 kHz sampling rates. So be aware of the portable Sony CP-L USB battery pack!! Now all I have to do is figure out a portable power solution for the USBPre2. Jun 16, 2011 at 17:54
  • Hi, it was the Sony Cycle Energy USB Battery, e.g.: see cheers, Chris Jun 25, 2011 at 13:06

I bought a USB Pre 2 to use on a gig this week, it was an excellent tool.

As for getting USB 5v power to the unit...

I purchased a hefty USB power source, the iSound Portable Power Max (16,000 mAh) The outputs are rated up to 2.4amps, well above the USBpre's needs. This power supply is almost as big as the USB pre 2 and attached nicely on top with velcro. I ran the unit for a good 5 hours and barley drained the iSOund battery, I expect you could do several days of recording on a single charge. iSound sells a half sized 8000 mAh unit as well which I expect would also be great and be about half the weight.

You could also likely power your recorder off this unit for extended periods if its takes 5v power in. I think the Zoom H4n runs on 5v, but I dont think the Zoom has SPDIF in. Because, ideally to really take advantage of the USB pre2 it may be best to record the units digital output.


A further question:

I am studying options for recording the USBpre2 onto a portable recorder.

The only two small recorders with Digital Input that I am finding currently available are:

Sony D-50 (with toslink digital in) http://transom.org/?p=82

Marantz PMD661 http://transom.org/?p=1774

and then there was also the discontinued M-Audio MicroTrack, which was a lowcost product (with reliability issues) but it did have spdif in.


Experience? Recommendations?

I am not thrilled about having to use Sony's memory stick storage or using the recorder itself to offload (instead of just pulling common format cards and popping them into a reader.) The digital in connector also seems like it could be an issue. But Sony makes 'em pretty solid in general.

The Marantz is bulkier (not looking forward to getting it and the USBpre2 and battery all laid out in a working bag set-up) But on the plus the Marantz is very old-school solid, easy to see whats going on, and has a nice simple spdif in.

  • 1
    i looked at that particular model as well, but i found too many explicit reports that the internal battery has a tendency to swell...and that's never a good thing. i went with a "New Trent" instead, but haven't used it much for field work yet. do be sure to let us know how well the isound unit holds up a few months down the road. Aug 14, 2011 at 2:49
  • Thank you Mike, The Isound is very attractive considering its low price, but as shaun has mentioned the reviews of its performance aren't too flattering. How has yours held up? Aug 16, 2011 at 22:58
  • So far the iSound battery power supply has been working fine for me. But good to know that it might show issues down the road.
    – Mike K
    Oct 1, 2011 at 22:19

Try the Powergorilla as a battery pack, I use one of the smaller models and they are very reliable.


You can also trickle charge the battery through solar panels to extend the life.



So after a few days of research around different forums - Christopher pretty much laid out how my setup will be.

1) mkh 416's T - XLR - barrel converter (Rode PG2 and softie dead cat) 2) USBpre 2 (wish it had 12v out) - powered by iSound Portable Power Max 3) S/Pdif out 4) Tascam DR-100 MR2 S/Pdif in 5) 96k 24 bit

this setup (without mics) is about $1k - i can't seem to find a USBpre 2 used anywhere so that's at least 650 bucks. the power supply like 50 and the tascam you can't really find used either so that's about 275-300 bucks.

I'm still saving to buy the SD but this setup is significantly less than the 702 ($1800) and if push comes to shove you can always just record with the tascam if you want to go super light weight.

all Sound Devices really had to do was put an SD card slot in the back of the USBpre 2 to make it a recorder, but that would beat the purpose of selling the 7 series I guess.

does anyone have any comparisons between recording straight to your bit bucket vs using the SD as a pre/AD converter?

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