Radial is maybe the most well-known company for the more practical side of audio, recording and live performance. Their DIs (both mono and stereo, powered and passive) are found in venues all over the planet, their re-amp units nestled comfortably into 500-racks in studios everywhere and the Radial logo often sits unseen in the back-end of studio and live rigs; performing tasks night after night, session after session while flashier gear takes the limelight. Radial Engineering products are trusted, and rightly so. Their ingenious, inconspicuous, faithful products provide musicians and producers of all calibres the routing options that turn their wildest tonal imaginations into sound waves.
The Radial KL-8 keyboard mixer is no exception, and continues to bring Radials legacy to every in and every out of the product. A four stereo channel mixer with USB inputs, MIDI I/O, monitoring options and inserts, as well as auxiliary sends and returns and further routing options for where the returns are played back. The KL-8 is a force to be reckoned with.
The KL-8 is designed to be a total solution for the keyboard enthusiast, either live or in the studio, and I think Radial have nailed it (as if we expected anything less?). Up to five keyboards can be simultaneously plugged in, two of those on the USB channel that can be toggled between A and B inputs. The first three analogue channels have auxiliary sends, on/off toggles, cue buttons and level control whereas the fourth channel has a toggle between 1/4” inputs identical to the first three channels, or a USB input in which you can further switch between USB A & B. Everything is clearly labeled, and you can get creative with your sends and outputs (don’t let their intended uses stop you! Use the headphone out as another send etc.) The back panel features MIDI I/O, which is located next to the USB A/B inputs and the live/rec toggle button, isolated main outputs and send/receive link for when you inevitably buy a second (or third!) KL-8 for your growing family of keyboards.
Keyboards and synths are a wormhole, and Radial appreciates that. The KL-8 is a unit designed to make a lot of gear a lot easier to wrangle. Think of it like an ingenious patchbay. For a recording studio it’s endlessly handy and it doesn’t have to be used for only synths and keyboards, but it certainly works best for that. Gear can be plugged in all at once and sent and received whenever you need it, rather than stumbling around cabling and plugging and unplugging things in and out. For producers it keeps the creativity going, while synths are tested to find the perfect tone and colour for whatever you’re doing. What’s more, you can change the auxiliary return output on the top of the unit. A handy little switch switches between the returns going to all outputs or just the monitors, i.e. not to the main output. Monitor with effects and record the DI to be tweaked later. Genius.
The KL-8 is maybe the most feature packed product I’ve ever held. For a 1U unit, it’s unbelievable that Radial has packed not only the 5 inputs and outputs in, but also sends for every channel, and toggles between USB inputs and headphone sends. There’s three output options, including the headphones, as you can have a main output as well as a monitor only out i.e. that you’re not recording. The Radial is now the heart of your array of keyboards and synths, which can be permanently installed, used and loved.
Hits and Misses
Lots of routing options
Lots of I/O, also linkable with another KL-8