I have long admired Sound Devices gear, but found it a bit annoying that they sell separate component mixers and recorders, which is probably ideal for a dedicated audio pro, but a bit unwieldy for me.
Tascam has just launched a new 8 channel location recorder for the production industry which looks very interesting. I'd love to have more than 2 channels of audio, though this is a $5,000 field recorder:
Sound Devices just released a 5-channel mixer/field recorder. It lists around $2,899. If you can stand to have a 2-track recording and mix on-location, OR if you have a recorder already, this might be a good purchase.
There's a lot to like about everything in the Sound Devices product line. But I think they missed the mark on the 552. 5 tracks of audio would be plenty for me, but the lack of discrete record channels is a deal killer. A puzzling product, actually.
BTW - I am no total Tascam fanboi. I do own a Tascam HD-P2, and before that a Tascam DA-P1 portable DAT. I've produced good work with both, but I will note the build quality of the HD-P2 was far lower than the DA-P1, which was (and still is) a beautifully built piece of equipment.
The HD-P2 has been great, but it seems disposable and not built to last. Specifically, the metal XLR connectors on mine are rusting, even though it has been well cared for and stored in a Pelican 1550 case. I have no clue how this happened, and none of my other gear operated in the same conditions has rusted.
People don't rave about Tascam mic preamps, but I guess I'm not all that sophisticated. When my stuff is projected on the big screen to audiences of 200-300 or so, it sounds 100% Hollywood.
I've been around since open reel multitrack days, and Teac and Tascam were always semi-pro gear, not something you would find in Abbey Road Studios. Still, I think Tascam is on par with RED and Sony EX1/EX3, and certainly Canon EOS 5D Mk II.
Well, there are Direct Outs on the inputs of the 552. It is definitely meant more as a field mixer with 2-track recording capabilities than a purpose-built recorder. We've all had times where gear dies or batteries are nowhere to be found...a piece of gear like this provides a nice backup.
It may or may not work for your situation, though - that's your choice. Happy trails!