Sound Devices CL-12 Alaia
The bag cart comes of age.
The bag cart comes of age... In many circles around the professional sound community that sentence represents the fall of what some hold near and dear to their hearts with an unrelenting fixed notion of what a cart setup should be... Locked in a box so to speak.
I just mixed a Paul Schrader directed movie with the Sound Devices 688 and was hoping the CL-12's release would coincide with the start of principal photography. Sadly, it was about a two week lag so the CL-12 was deployed mid movie for me but into the fray it went.
Wow what an impact the CL-12 made on my workflow from the moment it arrived on set. It was as if the 688 blossomed before my eyes coming into its full potential. I could almost hear the sigh of relief as the functionality exploded in the machine. (I know it seems a bit heavy on the adjectives but try it... You'll see and understand what I'm talking about.)
Simply put.... Everything is better.
Once the CL-12 was hooked up to the 688 I very rarely touched the recorder any more. The menu access is very ergonomically designed and allows for real time use with genuine, on the fly operations becoming just a simple 'matter of course' type of event. I must say I find myself gleaming over the mechanical benefits of the CL-12 in my mind because they really aren't the story to me. Yes the user programmable buttons are brilliant and the parametric eq is down right astounding along with the ease of the comm sends at your finger tips and on and on but to me... This is a moment in time... A moment when things change... When the culmination of a journey finally see's the magnificent destination shining along the horizon. The hybrid cart is now a reality and it is operating on a level we've never experienced before. The speed that I can move from the hybrid cart to pure eng is miraculous as is the level of operations that the 688/CL-12 bring to bare on a job.
Back to the unit. The Penny & Giles faders are as we'd expect... Fantastic. More importantly I can't discern any latency at all in my mixing operations and feel extremely comfortable mixing live TV with it. When I deployed the CL-12 I didn't hesitate or hedge on it. All in full speed ahead and didn't experience any hiccups of any kind with the remaining weeks I had left on this movie. In fact, the first day out of the box I was mixing exteriors in a nasty driving misty rain that thoroughly soaked my unit. I'll be honest, I was waiting for the wig out to occur but it never came and soldiered on never missing a beat.
For my setup I assigned user 1 as my slate, user 2 was my aux4 output send which was my directors comtek feed so that I could tailor his comtek quickly for what I felt was the most appropriate for each scene and user 3 I had set to bring up the take list. This was incredibly efficient and allowed me to very quickly access all takes to enter notes or make meta data changes or simply confer with scripty on any discrepancies that she was seeing in her logs.
My hybrid Sound Devices 688 / CL-12 Alaia Cart
Setup for "Dog Eat Dog" - Directed by Paul Schrader.
Nicholas Cage, Willem DaFoe & Christopher Mathew Cook
This cart configuration will change as I decide how best I want to engineer my hybrid cart.
I have not utilized the additional usb 5v power source yet and so far I haven't felt the need to. I did have a day of dirty power which had me off of shore power and running the rig via my bag BDS NP1 power system. I wasn't really pushing the envelope on the batts and was changing the np1 on average about every 2 hours. Thats 1 batt powering the 688, 5 Lectrosonics, a PSC RF distro with powered Lectrosonics ALP-620's and the CL-12. I feel good that with newer batts I could push the rig for about 3 hours on one np1.
I do love having the output/track level controls for the 4 mix tracks! That was a nice surprise for me that I didn't know was there.
The hybrid cart is now an extremely potent tool for those of us who truly love our craft and operate routinely in extreme conditions and bounce in and out of both worlds. I know this review is border line whimsical but to me... that is exactly what this combination is.
A long awaited dream come to life...
"Being a great mixer is knowing what sounds good and what doesn't as it applies to the situation you find yourself in..." - Thom Shafer
Thom Shafer / www.televisionsound.com Cleveland, OH