The Sound Devices PIX 240 production
video recorder stores video directly to
memory media as QuickTime files in
either Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD codecs.
It can connect to any video camera with an
HDMI or HD-SDI output. The PIX 240 also
provides high quality audio recording with
XLR analog and AES3 digital inputs, and automatically
syncs the audio to the incoming
And Sound Devices has recently introduced
the upgraded PIX 240i model,
which features an IPS-based LCD panel
with accurate color rendition, higher
contrast and improved off-axis viewing
capability, along with several other new
The Sound Devices PIX 240 records
video and audio through HDMI or HD-SDI
connections. The files are stored on Compact
Flash cards, or on removable 2.5-inch
solid-state hard drives with an optional caddy.
Video files are encoded in either Apple
ProRes or Avid DNxHD formats with video
signals up to 1080i/p. It includes a timecode
generator with genlock output. This unit is
also a professional grade audio recorder,
that includes such niceties as a limiter, highpass
filter and phantom power. The files are
compatible with either Windows or Mac
The PIX 240 recorder has hardware-based
video scalers that perform real-time
conversion of most video formats. It can
upconvert from 480i and crossconvert between
all high-definition resolutions. It also
does frame rate conversions with no loss of
quality, as well as performing 3:2 pulldown
removal to record 24p from 60i signals.
The PIX 240 is distinctive in its extensive
audio-for-video capabilities. It supports
AES3 digital audio using two XLR connectors,
which are capable of accepting up to
four digital audio inputs. And it can be connected
to an external audio mixer to expand
its capabilities. Audio is automatically
synced to the video signal, representing a
huge time saver in post.
The PIX 240 and 240i provide a 5-inch
LCD display with 800 x 480 resolution for
monitoring, playback, audio metering, and
menu access. Large, illuminated controls
make it easy to use in all kinds of lighting.
The 240i includes improvements in monitoring
by employing an IPS-based LCD panel and a firmware upgrade.
The PIX 240i includes an exposure assist
feature with that uses false colors or multilevel
zebra-stripes. There’s also a focus assist,
which includes a peaking filter and pixel
Monitor brightness, contrast and chroma
adjustments are also now available on
this unit. The PIX 240i also has a built-in
Ambient Clockit time-code generator/
reader with genlock output for use in
multicamera and double-system sound
applications. The new version also offers
HD-to-SD and SD-to-HD aspect ratio
conversion with selectable letter boxing,
cropping and support for anamorphic
The optional PIX-CADDY includes
FireWire 800, USB 3.0/2.0 and eSATAp connections
with drive powering and 3 Gbps
transfer rate over a single cable.
I tested the PIX 240 by connecting it to
an HD camera with an HDMI output and another
with an SDI output.
The PIX 240 incorporates a very logical
and easy-to-use menu that makes setting up
and connecting a simple task. I connected
my camera using an HDMI cable, and then
entered the menu to choose that setting.
Switching to the camera with an SDI output
connection was equally simple.
The PIX 240 offers several media storage
options. The simplest is a CF card. However,
it is essential that you get one that has a high
data transfer rate or it will not work.
I actually recommend getting the optional
PIX CADDY, which allows you to use
a solid-state drive. These SSD drives are the
way of the future. They are reliable, sturdy
and fast. The caddy can be easily removed
from the PIX 240 and connected to a computer
via a FireWire 800, USB-3, or eSata
connections. Then it functions like any ordinary
external drive for editing.
Whether you use a camera with an HDMI
or SDI connection, the biggest benefits of
the PIX 240 are the recording options. You
can instantly convert your video source into
Apple ProRes 422 at four data rates (36, 100,
145, or 220 Mbps) or Avid DNxHD at 36,
145, 220 or 220 10-bit Mbps.
However, there is a feature that sets the
PIX 240 apart from many other recorders. It
can perform instantaneous frame rate and
resolution conversions while recording. You
can choose to record the exact format that
your camera outputs. Or you can change it
to a very different one.
For example, one of my cameras has a
native output of 720p/59.94. It doesn’t offer
any other video format options. However,
I shoot most of my work with a Canon
DSLR at 1080p/23.976. With the PIX 240, I
can convert the video from any camera into
1080p/23.976 just by selecting that in the
This is an enormously useful feature. Not
all cameras offer a full menu of video format
options. However, with the PIX 240, you can
use any camera with an HDMI or SDI output
and convert it to the video format you
desire while shooting. This enables me to
use any camera available and still maintain
a consistent video format.
I experimented by shooting video and
recording it in all available resolutions,
frame rates and codecs. There was never a
glitch. The fi les were stored, sorted and easily
accessible for playback.
I prefer to capture in 24p because of the
film look it offers. So, I was particularly interested
in seeing the footage from the PIX
240 that was converted during recording
from 60i to 24p.
I connected the PIX caddy to my Mac
Pro and examined the files in both Final
Cut Pro 7 and Avid Media Composer 6.5.
Of course, one of the big advantages of recording
with the PIX 240 is that the files
are already in Apple ProRes or Avid DNx-HD, so they feed naturally into their respective
When I examined the footage that I shot
at 60i and recorded in 24p, I was amazed
by the quality of the frame rate conversion.
The 24p footage recorded from a camera
that could only output 60i looked great.
The image was not jumpy, which some
transfers cause by removing frames. The
PIX 240 footage uses sophisticated frame
blending to provide a smooth conversion.
Another very impressive and handy feature
on the PIX240 is the ability to record
sound through XLR or digital inputs and
have it synced automatically with the video.
This frees you from having to use the onboard
audio of the camera or rely on an
external recorder that requires syncing in
post. With the PIX 240 you can connect two
XLR microphones, or a mixer. It functions
as an external audio recorder while syncing
the audio with the video as it is recorded. I
found this easy to set up in the menu, and
was even able to monitor audio levels while
viewing the video that was being shot.
This is a feature on this recorder that
deserves some attention, as it has the potential
for eliminating another recording
device in the overall video production process.
People who shoot with DSLR cameras
generally use an extra digital audio recorder
and then sync up the sound in post
production, but with the PIX 240, you can
record audio with external professional microphones,
and it will be automatically in
sync with the incoming HDMI video. This
eliminates having to carry around that extra
recording device and the complications
of syncing numerous sound files in post.
At first glance, the PIX 240 recorder
may appear pricier than some of the competition.
However, if you take into account
the range of professional features, offered,
it actually is not. In fact, it’s a time and
money saver. It has the ability to perform
real-time format conversion while shooting.
And by offering full professional audio
recording synced to an HDMI or SDI signal,
it can eliminate additional audio recorders
and the headache of managing audio files
and syncing them in post. The recorder is
also very well designed and ruggedly constructed
to withstand the rigors of field
ENG/EFP location recording, studio
recording, any other situation where
high-quality video/audio recording is
Compact size, solid-state memory
card or solid-state hard drive media
recordings, high-quality audio
recording, built-in timecode