So I've been using my Sound Devices 442 now for about 9 years (I got one of the early ones). It's been a great mixer, probably the best purchase I ever made for my business. There's nothing wrong with my 442 at all, but the 552 came along and it has some pretty nice features. I do not NEED a 5th input. I have had probably 2 jobs in the last 3 years that required 5 inputs. But having the built-in recorder is a nice feature. I've used a Zoom H4 for the last 3 years as a transcription/main recorder with mixed results. Those of you who have been on this forum for awhile have probably read some of my issues with the Zoom recorders, so I will not revisit that here.
My biggest concern switching to the 552? Ergonomics. One of the things I love about the 442 is the way the controls are laid out on the front panel - and to a lesser degree, the side panels. Does the new layout, with its extra input, feel more cramped than the 442? One of the things that I hate about the 302 is how small the knobs and switches are. Surely the 552 has better ergonomics than the 302, but since they are cramming more features into the same size frame as the 442, it does make you wonder.
Can anyone comment on how the 552 "feels" compared to the 442?
I feel your pain. The major issues I've had with SD products over the years is that they were not designed for adult sized hands & fingers. I have no experience with the 552 so I can't comment on it's layout but if it's anything like SD's other product designs it's another case of trying to put 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound bag.