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In-depth Feature:  JL Cooper CS-32
32 Faders, 96 buttons and transport control in a mini-sized unit.
Nick B writes: .

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JL Cooper have been creating a bit of a stir with their new mini-sized control CS-32 surface. You may not realise, but JLC have been around quite some time, Atari users may remember their fair priced MTC and MIDI Clock synchronisers with some fondness. Since those days they have been creating an assortment of synchronisers, and were one of the first on the block with MIDI fader control with the original Fader Master back in 1990 or so. They’ve also got many years of experience in the ProTools control area, their popular CS-10 unit is used by many for easy transport control. Their current model, the CS-102 features transport control and eight faders, plus a number of assignable buttons. So it seems that they are well poised to expand on this approach with their new CS-32.

What Is It?
Essentially, the CS-32 is a very compact MIDI control surface with 32 20mm faders, each with three switches, six knobs that act as pan, effect sends or other parameters, plus a full transport control with a weighted jog/shuttle wheel. There are also nine function keys, eighteen when used with the shift button, plus four navigation buttons for getting around the screen. There’s a surprising amount of feedback on the unit too, with a 2-digit LED display, null fader indicators, and an LED for each of the three channel buttons. Additionally, there’s a pair of activity LEDs - goodness knows how they managed to cram it all in but cram they indeed have. The CS-32 is reassuringly solid with metal end cheeks adding a decent weight to stop it from slipping around on the desk when vigorously fading.

The MIDI CS-32’s dangly bits
The CS-32 comes in two flavours - MIDI and USB. We have the MIDI version for review, which comes with an external PSU and a trailing lead which has the nessecary plug for it plus the MIDI in and out plugs. This is a little bit awkward as in my system it the lead wouldn’t quite reach my rack mounted MIDI interface. I for one would have preferred MIDI sockets, so I could extend the lead to fit my setup with standard MIDI leads. As it is, I need to find two MIDI sex change leads to place it in the ideal position. Perhaps JL Cooper might consider changing this on future MIDI versions, then again they might not…

The USB version is more compact in the connections department, with all power and interfacing taken care of with the single lead, a more elegant solution methinks. The only downside being that you can’t plug a USB version directly into a standalone HD recorder for MMC operation.

One thing that is worth mentioning at this stage is that the CS-32 has fixed control assignments – eg: what it sends out is not modifiable. This is fine for the software that supports it directly, such as ProTools but for use with say Logic or any other unsupported software you’ll need to map the MIDI messages to do what you need which indeed you can, with the supplied software utility – more on this later.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • JL Cooper Web
  • Download the manual (PDF)
  • CS-32 Direct
  • CS-32 Direct

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