Review: Allen & Heath CQ-12T

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Review: Allen & Heath CQ-12T

Allen & Heath CQ-12T
Words by Jamie Colic

Allen & Heath CQ-12T | Technical Audio Group | RRP: $1999

A common trend in the trajectory of modern technology is the phenomenon of consumers wanting smaller devices that don’t compromise on professional feature sets. The music industry is a sector where this emphasis has been felt strongly and the Allen & Heath CQ-12T is a direct embodiment of this mantra.

With the CQ series, Allen & Heath have gone all in to design a line of ultra-compact mixers that meet the demands of modern musicians, home producers, small venues and AV installers. The CQ-12T is the smallest of the CQ line taking Allen & Heath’s world-class effects processing and assistive mix tools, bundling them in an affordable and easy-to-use package.

Read more gear reviews here.


Being the little brother of the CQ-18T and CQ-20B the CQ-12T is a compact digital mixer that harnesses 12 inputs and 8 outputs. 6 of the CQ-12T’s line inputs are combo jacks enabling you to run a ¼” directly into the mixer without the need for an extra adaptor. The unit also features one set of stereo inputs and a single headphone out. 

The Allen & Heath CQ-12T processes 96kHz of pristine audio with the ability to record multi-track direct to SD or function as its own standalone audio interface via USB for use in conjunction with any DAW. As to be expected with a unit of this type snapshots of any mix arrangement can be saved for future use and all of this functionality is compatible with both Mac and PC systems ensuring that the CQ-12T is easily incorporated into any existing setup.

Additionally, the CQ-12T features network compatibility, meaning you can easily route this intelligent mixer to a router or directly to a computer and enjoy using it in tandem with Allen & Heath’s fantastic CQ MixPad mixing application as well as CQ4You. Both serve as Allen & Heath’s in-house applications for remote mixing and the adjustment of personal monitors for performers on stage. All of Allen & Heath’s control apps are compatible with Apple, Android and PC.

Intuitive user interface

Upon firing up the Allen & Heath CQ-12T I was met with an attractive and intuitive user interface. Boasting a beautiful 7” touch screen and a substantial rotary knob navigation on the CQ-12T is a pleasant experience, avoiding the pitfall of constant menu diving that sometimes ails other devices.

The unit itself is very compact sitting in a footprint around the size of a typical laptop. Not only is the CQ-12T compact, it is also built like a tank, a trait we have come to expect from Allen & Heath products over the years.

The face of the CQ-12T also houses three customisable soft keys that can be assigned to any number of tasks. For example, if a user desired, they could set one to use as a tap tempo for allocating delay feedback, one as a mute, and another as a shortcut to a quick channel. The implementation of these softkeys is only limited to the parameters of the CQ-12T and the user’s imagination. 

I feel that one of the most notable features of the CQ-12T is the incorporation of two different mixing modes being Quick Channels and Complete Channels. Quick Channels give the user a simple and easy means of managing a selected channel with the ability to dial various parameters such as effects processing with the turn of a single knob. 

On the other hand, Complete Channels give users in-depth control of any selected channel providing advanced tweakability and adjustment of any parameter such as gain, compression, FX, and a plethora of others. 

Upon diving into the feature set of the CQ-12T it quickly becomes apparent that Allen & Heath have put an immense amount of thought into making the CQ line a product that can adequately cater to both the needs of the professional without leaving students and casual users out in the cold.

This notion becomes even more pronounced upon interacting directly with the CQ-12T’s assistive functions. The first of which is worth mentioning is the excellent Gain Assistant which effectively monitors input signal upon setup and automatically trims gain on each channel to avoid any unwanted peaks. 

This is a game changer as it not only cuts down on setup time, it will also continue to monitor these levels throughout the performance to ensure that gain levels are always optimized giving you time to focus on other aspects of the job at hand.

If this wasn’t enough, Allen & Heath have also implemented their phenomenal Feedback Assistant which can detect and eliminate problem frequencies of up to 16 filters per output. Not only does the CQ-12T prevent unwanted feedback, it also eliminates the need for an engineer to ring out the PA system manually as the CQ-12T is capable of doing so automatically. 

Allen & Heath effects

Of course, tools such as the CQ-12T’s Feedback and Gain assistants can be bypassed, meaning that if an experienced engineer prefers that they undertake these tasks themselves, and they can do so without the assistance of the unit’s prerequisite features.

As to be expected, the CQ-12T features a plethora of industry-standard digital processing and FX solutions. With fantastic Delay, Reverb, and Modulation algorithms onboard, Allen & Heath have even included a variety of instrument-specific presets that once again cut down on setup time. On the CQ-12T, users can assign up to two effects per channel not including the unit’s fantastic built-in compressor and noise gate algorithms. 

Allen & Heath have really knocked it out of the park with the CQ-12T, providing a compact and extremely intelligent mixer that will adequately serve the needs of anyone from the demanding professional working in a small venue, through to the budding hobbyist who is working out of their bedroom.

For local Allen & Heath enquiries, visit Technical Audio Group.