It’s hard to make things sound good especially when the source is some wooden or metal body. This is why acoustic instrumentation requires specific mixing techniques. What’s more, a lot of records use heavy acoustic instrumentation like acoustic guitars, percussion or drums, and the mix-engineers spend a lot of hours mixing.


Mixing Acoustic Instruments


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 of how this plugin might seem basic, it really adds an amazing flavor to the sound, making it stand out and sound strong in the mix.


Main Parameters


This is how the plugin looks:




Starting from the left, the parameters are as follows:


Input Sensor


It determines the amount of sound entering into the plugin. 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 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 Qs and center frequencies.




This is the built in compressor fader. The fader lets 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 lets 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.