“The perfect single device for routing, mixing, performing and producing”: Allen & Heath CQ-18T review

Can one device solve all your studio and performance routing needs? The CQ-18T is giving it a go

  • £899
  • €1049
  • $949
Allen & Heath CQ-18T
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

The perfect single device for routing, mixing, performing and producing in small to medium-sized setups. Expensive but worthy.


  • +

    The touchscreen is a dream to use: no annoying glitches.

  • +

    It seems to know what you’re trying to achieve, often before you do.

  • +

    Build quality is superb. Could easily stand up to life on the road.


  • -

    An audio pro may not find the various wizards and automatic settings to be of use.

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Allen & Heath CQ-18T: What is it?

It’s always baffled us that there aren’t more devices that offer the benefits of both a multi-input mixer and a computer audio interface. It seems a natural fit, yet we could count on one hand the number of products that truly get it right. 

The PreSonus AR8c was one such device, which sat happily in our studio and rehearsal room for years. When we wanted to work free from the laptop, we could plug in every synth, drum machine and guitar pedal we wanted and it would happily whirr away in the corner of the room, facilitating totally fuss-free audio routing with tactile control of everything. 

Then, on the (rare) occasions inspiration struck us, we could plug it immediately into our laptop via USB and it would transform into an 8-input audio interface, recording each hardware device onto its own track in Logic. So simple, yet so liberating from a workflow perspective. 

So why aren’t there more of these devices around? In the Allen & Heath CQ-18T, we may have found the new king, and it’s brought the bells and whistles. 

Allen & Heath CQ-18T

(Image credit: Future)

Allen & Heath CQ-18T: Performance and verdict

Essentially, the CQ-18T is an 18-in/8-out hardware mixer/audio interface, with plenty to get the home studio owner and live performer excited. Featuring eight XLR inputs, and another eight XLR/jack combi inputs (plus a stereo jack pair), the CQ-18T has all the connectivity a reasonably well-stocked studio or rehearsal space could need. At the centre of the fairly hefty unit sits a 7” multi-touch display, which gives you instant control over everything from faders to track routing. Thankfully, in our testing, the display didn’t suffer from any noticeable lag or glitching, which kept our own personal nerd rage to a minimum. There’s also a master rotary control knob, which switches functionality automatically depending which screen is displayed, and then three customisable rotaries for instant control over whatever settings you’ve mapped to it.

For live performance, the six jack outputs meant supplying on-stage monitor wedges was simple, with controllable EQ and effects on each. Where the CQ-18T really shone, though, was through its remote control functionality. Essentially, using the built-in wireless router, each performer can quickly alter levels using their smartphones, ensuring everyone is happy and minimising angst directed towards the venue’s sound engineer. Venues, take note.

This functionality will soon be expanded to laptops via a forthcoming app too. In practice, it worked like a dream, without any technical hitches in the time we spent testing. Always nice when that happens. We also quite liked the built-in ‘wizards’, which helped ‘automagically’ combat feedback and offered preset gain and EQ controls tailored to a variety of different situations. If you don’t need or want your hand holding, however, you can easily get in there and tweak just about everything.

The CQ-18T’s usefulness is rounded out via the ability to record high quality 96kHz audio directly to SD card, so live performances can be captured quickly and easily. There’s also a smattering of reverbs, delays and modulation effects to help colour your sound which, while they won’t have the Strymons and Eventides of this world quaking in their boots, will help in a pinch. 

So who stands to benefit from using the CQ-18T? Honestly, it’s rare we come across a truly useful, multi-application device like this, let alone one that does everything so simply and intuitively. For live performance, studio and rehearsal, the CQ-18T is as close to a eureka device as you’re likely to find.

MusicRadar verdict: The perfect single device for routing, mixing, performing and producing in small to medium-sized setups. Expensive but worthy.

Allen & Heath CQ-18T: The web says

"The CQ‑18T has all the features you’d expect in a modern remote‑controlled live sound mixer, with added niceties such as multitrack recording, helpers to simplify key operations, feedback suppression available on all outputs and the Automatic Microphone Mixer."
Sound On Sound

Allen & Heath CQ-18T: Hands-on demos


Andertons Synths, Keys and Tech

Springtree Media Group

TJ Walker

Allen & Heath CQ-18T: Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: 18-inputs, 8-outputs, 7” touchscreen, USB audio, 96kHz processing, WiFi, Bluetooth, Direct recording to SD card, Feedback assistant, App control.
  • CONTACT: Allen & Heath
Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.