It’s an audio dance party and 32-bit float is the guest of honor.
After reviewing the MixPre II series, there was a lot to like about the portable mixer-recorder, especially its 32-bit float recording. There were potential areas of improvement, too, including the ability to connect USB microphones directly into its USB-A port—the current configuration only supports keyboards, controllers, or USB hubs. But overall, it’s a favorite.
While that specifically hasn't been updated (and it’s unlikely to happen), Sound Devices expanded its 32-bit float by releasing an ASIO driver capable of streaming 32-bit float USB audio to compatible DAWs on Windows 10.
The ASIO driver is compatible with all 3 models, the MixPre-10 II, -6 II, and -3 II, and fully supports both recording and playback on Windows 10. With the update, the MixPre II series supports USB streaming for macOS Catalina and PC users.
What’s the big deal about 32-bit float recording? When the recording format is combined with multiple analog-to-digital converters, like it is on the MixPre II and the Zoom F6, the sky is the limit in terms of setting proper audio levels. It really doesn’t matter how high (or low) the input gain levels are set, the audio will never clip. Want to set the gain to +48 dB, go ahead (though we don’t suggest it). After importing the .wav file into a compatible DAW like Adobe Audition or Audacity, the audio can be processed to the preferred level without loss in quality.
The update brings 32-bit float streaming and recording through its USB-C interface, which allows up to 12 inputs on the -10 II, 8 inputs on the -6 II, and 5 inputs on the -3 II. This is especially good news for Windows 10 podcast users who record remotely or sound recordist capturing a remote ADR session. 32-bit float will come in handy if the talent is speaking too loudly or softly.
The only Windows 10 software that currently supports 32-bit float USB streaming is Reaper 64. MacOS Catalina users have several options, including Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Boom Recorder. You can find a list of compatible 32-bit float recording software here.
The ASIO driver for Windows 10 is a free download available here.