The Sound Devices CL-12 mainly comes, for the sound cart, as the single 688 comes for the shoulder, adding 12 linear faders, for controling and mixing of the 12 mic and line inputs of the 688 (these faders are Penny & Giles 100 mm on the CL-12 Alaia), a 3-band parametric equalizer for each mic and line input, and many illuminated buttons for activation and setting, used to control almost all 688 functions.
The CL-12 attaches directly to the 688 via a single USB B-A cable that provides both power and control, and thus doesn't need independent power supply. Even though it has low power consumption (90 mA at 5 V DC), a micro-USB B port can however provide a 5V DC additional power supply allowing connection to a second USB A port of a QWERTY keyboard that would be particularly high power consuming, and the connection of a lighting lamp to a third USB A port. On the rear panel, a 6.35 mm jack socket enables the shifting of the 688 headphone output on the two headphone outputs, coupled 6.35 and 3.5 mm sockets, on the front panel of the CL-12.
Ergonomics and build quality have changed significantly compared to the CL-9. In a stronger metal structure, with the same graphite black paint as Sound Devices audio mixers, the different sections of the control surface are wisely organized:
Mix section, in detail, for each input:
- 1 linear 100 mm fader (Penny & Giles for CL-12 Alaia);
- 1 input 7 LED vu-meter;
- 1 PFL pushbutton;
- 1 LED indicator of Mix Assist enabled;
- 1 LED indicator of activation for the corresponding ISO track input;
- 1 LED indicator of input activation;
- 1 select pushbutton for input adjustments;
- 4 LED indicators of routing to LR tracks and Aux 1 & 2;
- 1 LED indicator for parametric EQ enabled.
EQ and outputs section:
- 4 serrated rotary encoders for HF 3-band equalizer LF, FREQ and MID, HF;
- 4 22 LED vu-meters for LR and Aux 1 & 2 output levels;
- 4 non-serrated rotary potentiometers for level control of LR & Aux outputs and arming of corresponding tracks.
The Transport section is notably reduced and rather unsatisfactory owing to the total absence of playback controls, offering only two Stop and Record buttons.
The track setting section enables input activation, parametric equalizer setting activation, phase inverting, arming and naming of the corresponding ISO track.
A particularly comprehensive section of six pushbuttons gives access to the metadata completion of a take.
The Quick Access section has three customizable items according to user wishes. These buttons can notably be assigned to transport functions, Play, Rewind, Forward, or to file access functions. An access button to timecode functions and an access button to SL-6 menu, if connected to 688, complete this section.
Then there is a particularly comprehensive section for returns and communication, and a rapid access section to Meters and Menu functions of the 688.
Last, the serrated rotary encoder for headphones output level allows validating some actions at the touch.
In the 688 menu, a CL-12 sub-menu allows configuring the mixer according to its use.
The color display on the LCD screen of the 688 of Parametric EQ input is really effective and practical, even if one must sometimes be careful with radical corrections in a sound recording through headphones.
The CL-12 is thus a particularly comprehensive control surface, despite this strange absence of monitoring and file access functions in the transport section, as on the CL-9.
If the wooden side panels are aesthetical frills (not well finished as for sanding and varnish despite the Amish hand woodcrafting), as of the Zaxcom Oasis or Deva 32, the rest of the CL-12 draws confidence in the strength and quality of the components. However we may regret that, as on many linear mixers, the stops, down and up faders, are not acoustically amortized. Moreover, there is nothing to block the levels of output potentiometers (but they can be disabled in the CL-12 sub-menu).
The set Sound Devices 688 + CL-12 proves to be a wise choice, practical and efficient, for television or film fiction, with the ability to mix six mic inputs, with Sound Devices quality, and six line inputs (eg for twin receivers Wisycom MCR-42) to sixteen tracks. The efficient and intuitive ergonomics, easily implemented, which made the well-known reputation of Sound Devices, is here remarkable. In addition, the almost imperceptible fader latency allows responsive and accurate mixing.