The Orca OR-270 is a nice bag, and it’s great for some stuff but it’s aimed a sound-for-film, and it doesn’t really protect the recorder much while it’s in use.
So, I decided to give the Strut STR-MP6 MixPre6 case a try because it looks like a better bet for the kind of work I do. Strut cases are made in Vermont, and they make a variety of cases with many aimed at smaller recorders.
Where the Orca OR-270 has some structure to it, the Strut case is fabric with some foam in the front and back. It comes with a harness, but no shoulder strap.
The recorder attaches to the case using little straps that go around the top pillars.
The ends have short sleeves that extend from the end of the recorder, and seal with Velcro. On the side that rest against your body, there are little zipper openings to get to the power and volume controls. Getting to both is a matter of feel. Of course, tearing open the velcro will give easier access but that is neither easy nor a single-handed operation.
The bottom of the bag has to overlapping velcro flaps that cover the open bottom, and serve to hold a battery. However the ends are open, so the bag comes with an adhesive velcro patch that you’re supposed to stick to your battery so it stays in place. One advantage of the battery ends being exposed is that it’s very easy to get to the battery for charging.
The removable cover has an integrated clear window.
Here’s my thoughts:
- Getting to the power switch and headphone knob are more difficult. Like, really difficult. I found that with a USB C battery plugged in it was almost impossible to get to the switch, and the headphone knob was reachable but barely, and very hard to use in the cases where a single click as to be hit like setting a high-pass filter. Using a hirose adapter it’s more workable, but not as easy as the OR-270. If the bag is hanging from the shoulder strap the recorder moves downward and the strap that strap-rings connects to moves out of the way. But, if you wrap the bottom tightly the recorder pulls that same strap downward, covering up the power switch/volume knob. See the two pics below to see the difference. In fact, with the 8AA case, the bottom needs to be opened up a little to provide the necessary slack so the recorder is hanging from the straps.
- The sides can be sealed up well, and the bottom seals pretty good. I would not hesitate to use this case on a beach with blowing sand. I would hesitate to use it in a driving rainstorm, or out in rain for a long time. I would not want to set it down on sand, or in a puddle. While better than the OR-270 it’s still not close to waterproof.
- The integrated rain cover because it’s not in the way if you don’t want to use it, and always there if you do.
- A nice front pocket to hold wireless or batteries, or even a pair of cans (albeit a tight fit). It’s large – probably large enough to hold both the Anker battery and a smaller talent cell at the same time. The pass through opening is much small than on the Orca, so small items stand a better chance of staying in the pocket but the flap cover leaves gaps at the ends and isn’t going to keep small items in when the bag is upended.
- The bag is stealthy looking and nondescript, mainly due to it being black with a pretty small logo as well. Many would take it for a man-bag or murse. Personally I’d prefer something in khaki or some other less tactical color.
- Keeps the heat in very well. I don’t really worry about the recorder getting too hot to function, SoundDevices builds very robust equipment. I do worry about it getting too hot to handle. That and melting any snacks I might stash in the pocket.
- There are Velcro patches here and there so no matter how you have the cover configured it’s not flapping around.
- With so much Velcro, it’s a noisy bag when you’re getting things set up and making adjustments.
I really want to like this bag more than I do. It ticks a lot of boxes and in many ways it’s a better fit for me than the Orca OR-270. The problems are the volume encoder and the power switch. To be fair the only way SoundDevices could have put those two items in worse positions is if they put the power switch in my neighbor’s basement and the volume control in the middle of last week. Bag makers are facing a challenge when trying to enclose a MixPre recorder in a way that leaves power and volume accessible. Still, Orca managed to do it, and turning the recorder off while in the Strut is like giving a ferret a prostate exam – it’s not exactly fighting you, but it’s not helping either. Add a USB cable proving power, and it starts to get entertaining for anyone watching you.
Where does this leave me bag-wise? Later this year I’ve got a trip to the coast where I’ll be making recordings while on a family vacation. Originally I was planning to pick just one bag, and leave the other but now I’m thinking I may take them both and see which one wins.