Zoom’s new L-12 LiveTrak could be a game-changer. The impressive unit boasts a digital mixer, a multitrack recorder, five independent headphone mixes, and an audio interface, all at the extremely reasonable price of $599. We’ve been putting the L-12 through its paces for a couple months. Let’s see how it performed.
The Zoom L-12 has twelve input channels, including eight mono TRS/XLR combo jacks and two stereo inputs with quarter-inch and RCA connections. That means that with the proper cables you can record up to fourteen tracks at once. When you record directly to the L-12, it saves the files to a standard SD card, which can then be exported directly to a USB thumb drive. The unit also acts as a fourteen-in/four-out interface, so you can use it to record directly to your computer. The Class Compliant mode also allows you to record directly to iOS devices using multitrack apps like GarageBand. This mode still sends each individual track, so if you want to use the L-12 to send a stereo or mono mix to your iOS device when recording video, you’ll still need an additional interface to connect to one of the L-12’s outputs.
WAV files can be recorded at 16- or 24-bit depths and at 44.1, 48, or 96 kHz. Each channel includes a three-band EQ, and the mono channels also include a compressor. The mixer includes sixteen high-quality effects sends, including various types of reverb, delay, and room simulation. You can save and recall nine different mixer settings, which are called Scenes. These make adjusting between various performing, practicing, and recording scenarios very efficient. I play in different fusion and rock bands, and I was able to save a separate set of mixer settings for each and recall them with ease when we rehearsed or recorded new ideas.
Each of the L-12’s five separate headphone/monitor outputs has its own volume fader, independent mix controls, and the ability to share the master mix. The independent mixes are sent without effects, so if you want to hear those effects, you’ll need to enable the master mix for that headphone output. The mixer is fully operational from onboard control knobs and keys, which means that you don’t have to dig through menus to utilize the board for live mixing.
Check out the Zoom L-12 Livetrak on Amazon…
An Ideal Choice
Prior to the Zoom L-12, I used two eight-channel digital interfaces and a six-channel headphone amp connected to my laptop for rehearsals and recording. The L-12 has replaced all of that. I lost a few inputs, but I gained the ability to mix and record my bands in my rehearsal room without having to start up my laptop. I can provide each band member with a unique and independently controlled headphone mix and adjust levels and effects with the onboard knobs and keys. I no longer have to deal with time-consuming problems like correcting latency or hunting through menus on my computer to change levels and effects. Recalling the different mixer settings is quick and easy, and having the option to use the unit as a multitrack interface with my computer and iOS devices has opened up a lot of additional options for recording.