There is no denying that it is hard to make things sound good especially when the source is some wooden or metal body. Acoustic instrumentation requires specific mixing techniques. Furthermore, a lot of records use heavy acoustic instrumentation like acoustic guitars, percussion or drums and the mix-engineers spends a lot of hours mixing.
CLA Unplugged is a to go solution for mixing a variety of acoustic instruments.
This plugin has been developed by Waves in collaboration with Chris Lord-Alge who is a famous mix engineer for artists like Foo Fighters, Green Day, U2, Bon jovi, Santana etc.
How does CLA Unplugged works?
First of all, this plugin combines equalization, compression, delay and reverb in a tried and tested signal chain. At the same time, the algorithms are designed to replicate the best acoustic sounds that are found on the records that Chris Lord-Alge has worked on.
Regardless how basic plugin this might sound, it really adds an amazing flavor to the sound, making it stand out and sound strong in the mix.
This is how the plug in looks:
Starting from the left, the parameters are as follows:
It determines the amount of sound entering into the plug in. It helps to balance the overall gain and volume of the sound.
Reverb 1 & 2 Pre-delay
These two knobs help to determine the amount of the time between the dry sound and the onset of reverb.
Bass & Treble
As the name suggests, these two faders are the basic equalization parameters. Moreover, both of them have three different settings that can be seen right on top of the fader. These are basically three sub settings with different Q’s and center frequencies.
This is the built in compressor fader. The fader let’s you choose the threshold and the ratio is decided by the three fixed settings right on top of it.
Reverb 1 & 2
These help you select the amount and type of reverb.
This fader helps to control the amount and type of delay. The three types of delays available are Slap back, Eights and quarter.
This fader let’s you decide the output gain.
Practical use with audio examples
Below is a raw recording of an acoustic guitar plucking that I made:
You will notice that the plucking sounds dry and poorly recorded. Also notice how less detailed it sounds.
Now If I add just the CLA plugin, you will notice the sound becomes much bigger and every detail is highlighted perfectly. It also adds nice and warm low end to the sound.
The whole thing sounds something like this:
To conclude, next time if you have an acoustic instrument to mix, do try CLA unplugged and see for yourself how it works.