A little trick with the Waves CLA plugins

Chris said the Waves all-in-one CLA stuff was designed to sound good with the faders at zero. It just occurred to me, the reason why they sometimes don’t do shit at unity, is because of the INPUT level. Sometimes the same plugin will act very different based on how much income it sees. The Boz Panther is a great example of a plugin that doesn’t give a shit. The CLA does.

So I took a Ukulele that was double tracked in stereo, warmed it up with a UAD 1073 preamp just for the saturation, then chased it with a CLA unplugged. Nothing…so instead of ramping up all the faders, I just ramped up the master input, and moolah! Everything came alive. Then I tried the same thing with the CLA vocals plugin.

I hadn’t been using these much, and if I did, they usually had 4 of the 6 faders de-activated. By the way, then fader still works when the yellow light is off. So to turn the channel/effect off completely, you have to mute it AND drag the fader all the way down.

No one knows whats going on under the hood here. But we do know that the faders don’t work like they do on a mixer. So on the compressor channel, when you move the fader, you’re changing like 10 things. The ratio, the threshold, the input, the parallel wet/dry, the attack, release…everything changes as you move that fader up and down. Interesting stuff.

Any chance we could hear some samples? Now I’m curious

Sure. As you can see the CLA stuff is doing the heavy lifting with like…No faders moved on both the vocal and the mandolin.

…keep in mind that this was just a quick test to see what the plugins did with all faders centered. Its not like…a finished mix I’d brag about.

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@Jonathan Don’t you have to run those until the “light” starts to turn orange? I think that’s how they were designed. I don’t have any of those “all in one” signature plugs. But I did use some of the manny plugs and demoed the scheps. I was still running everything pretty hot at the time and had to back off to get back DOWN to orange/yellow.
BTW… I’d brag about that mix if I did it… :slight_smile:
Have fun

The lights on the CLA don’t change color unless you press the button. The bottom row of text is green, then it turns, orange, then it turns red. But that’s based on the character…like for compression (on the CLA vocal), push=green, spank=orange, wall=red. The color of the text doesn’t interact with the incoming level. Are you maybe thinking of the Parallel Particles plugin? I think that one changes colors based on the individual parameters.

The Kramer and CLA are the least flexible. They either sound glorious on the track, or they sound like shit. No in between. They’re either totally right or way wrong. The JJP series is a little more flexible because the settings aren’t as committed, but they’re equally extreme. The Maserati only tends to work on real raw organic stuff. None of his stuff does heavy rock or aggressive blues worth a piss. The exception is the Manny series. That junk is very very useful! And the reason why is that they’re common tools, not specialty items like the CLA. So like the Manny triple D is a filter, a De-esser, and a multi-band-something that is highly simplified, but amazingly effective. The Manny overdrive, and the delay plugins are just that…they really don’t have anything to do Manny’s personal mix style like the Kramer all-in-ones do. They’re more like Manny’s take on a delay plugin…then his take on a saturation plugin. And they’re clearly Manny’s workflow preferences, not his sonic preferences. If you only get one set of those artist plugs, get his.

Thanks for the kind words…I really didn’t do much as you can see from the signal chains. I warmed everything up with that 1073, then I sent it to Chris Lord-Alge. haha. Then he did all he work.

On the vocal chain, the 1073 is adding some heat. Nothing else. There’s some slight 2:1 coming from that neve compressor, then the singer had some real harsh spikes at 4.5k, so I ducked them with a multi-band compressor so I wouldn’t damage the tone. All of that is surgical. Then to the CLA. And it literally did everything else.

The Ukulele was even more strait forward. 1073 for some warmth, then immediately to the CLA unplugged. Didn’t touch a fader. You’d have to be pretty novice to mess that up lol.

Interesting timing on this thread - I got the CLA Drums last year and never really used them. After watching a couple of interviews with the man, I decided to give them an earnest try and used them on the Personality mix. Not nearly as “scientific” as the test here, but I actually really liked how the drums came out. The downside is that after a few instances of the plugin, my CPU was begging for mercy. Don’t know that my mixing is on par with most of you guys here… FWIW, here it is: Personality Mix with CLA Drums

Just for the hell of it, throw them on your drums, and try the one fader method I used lol.

Take a kick:
-Only do all surgery. Filter, gate, and EQ kick. Set the EQ them to where they’re pretty neutral and natural.
-Load the CLA drums over the kick, then select kick.
-Then just move the fader all the left leaving everything else alone.
-If you don’t hear anything, keep pushing it until you do!

Another part of using these, is understanding how he built them. He said he built something he would want to use himself. And when talking to him in person, I believe he actually does (or used to anyway). He doesn’t get his mixes until his minions have edited the hell of everything and mashed folded 200 tracks from the producer down to the 48 that he dumps onto his Sony reel-to-reels. He says he doesn’t want the mix until he can push all of the faders up and have it sound like natural balanced record. Then he adds his own layer of processing and tweaking which is more like a pre-mastering or a remix than what you can I conventionally think as mixes. So he’s really only interested in tweaking the mixes in their almost final form. This is why he’s able to spend that little time with the songs and push billable hours so efficiently. It appears he actually doesn’t do most of the work (and he’s also really quick).

Yup… guess I’m getting mixed up… :slight_smile: But what you’re saying is that you need to push into it to get the desired effect, right?

Ah! I see where the confusion is.

The red circle (above) doesn’t not change. Its yellow or off.
The yellow circle (above) changes based the selection settings, not the incoming level.
The blue circle (which contains a yellow light in this screenshot) DOES change. It goes green, yellow, orange, red, just like a normal meter.

Yup. That’s what I was saying. Until THAT light gets hot, you won’t really be hearing the plug at its potential.

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I took the “typical” approach and got the input light in the yellow, selected the appropriate drum preset, then pushed and tweaked and clicked until I found something I liked. I’ll give your method a try tonight or next time I get a chance.

In the interview I watched he said he likes to do a mix within 3 hours (or something crazy like that) before he gets bored of the song. I’ve been thinking he is like super-human or something, but your “minions” comments makes that timeline much more "human’.

Yup… that’s what I was talking about :beerbang:
When I played with them, they were red from the get-go… :slight_smile: Sounded horrible so I decided I didn’t like them. Went back at them with a more subdued level and had more joy. But I had to give back the customer back their machine and no longer had access.
I demoed the MM stuff and still had the “meh” impression built in to my brain. So I didn’t give it a fair shake.
How is the MM stuff CPU-wise. The MM distortion is $29 today and I’m tempted now…

Here you go. After a few CPU related false starts, I finally put the “test” mix up here: Personality CLA Mix

That’s what I get from him too - he’s never one to be subtle in his mixes. If you’ve ever watched him, it’s all about something sounding exciting - all in or go home.

A lot of people poo-poo’d these plugins when they came out whether it be from lack of transparency to lack of editability to it just being from CLA.

I don’t use them on everything, but they’re one of the tools I’ll put on a track that I’m frustrated with just to see if something pops out. I just did what @Jonathan did on a bass track recently - boosted the input a bit and voila - a killer tone that had beef and cut through at the same time.

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