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Waves CLA Signature Collection signal chain diagrams

A while ago I found this page on the Waves site explaining the concept of the Chris Lord-Alge Signature series effects. On that page there are some signal chain diagrams showing what’s going on, if you can’t afford the collection, these may come in handy coming up with similar results. In any event, you may find them interesting. Because I’m feeling lazy today, I’m going to paste his comments on each plugin too.

Click to enlarge images.

Let’s talk about each plugin, starting with CLA Guitars.

The unique thing about CLA Guitars is that I made it for the guitar player that wants to sit late at night, plug in his direct box, and instantly have three choices of sound. Especially with so many people recording DI signals now, there’s that instant gratification, to take a DI signal and automatically get a sound. And the re-amping makes it completely unique, and the EQ I picked is really conducive to guitar. The EQ, compression, and the way the delays are setup, it’s like, the perfect guitar setup.

On a Wurlitzer or a Fender Rhodes, the biggest problem is that you can’t get an authentic sound using a DI, you have to mic the amp. You can use the re-amp on the cleanest setting for a Rhodes or any of the keyboards that you just can’t mic, so it really works for any of your DI needs.

CLA Bass

The hardest thing I always find with bass is getting a good distortion preset, to get a good distortion sound that’s actually useable. So with CLA Bass, I put my three flavors of distortion there that work in every mix. I really took from all the mixes I’ve done and picked the right distortion that you can add to overdrive the bass. Plus, the frequencies I used to boost are just the ones you need: the upper, the mid, the bark, and the bite, so it’s completely tailored just to bass. But like I said, with these plugins, you try them on anything, you’re going to get great results.

CLA Drums

The most important thing to get right is the drums. For CLA Drums, I looked at the kit, I looked at mixes I’ve done, I looked at all the EQs I would use for each drum, and gave you a toggle switch to pick the EQ curves for each of the six drum types. And just for laughs, I put cowbell on there, just so you have a percussion setting with some delay. So that’s designed to just use the compressors and emulation of what I would use to get my drum sound. So it’s really useful, a really hard thing to duplicate later with just piles of plugins. I was really happy with the drum one.

Can it be used on sampled drums instead of a live kit?

Absolutely, that would totally help out BFD or any sample drum library. It’s just designed for the curve and the character of drums and the transient of drums. It’s really built for that.

CLA Vocals

You know that the song is the song when the vocals are right. I’m really fussy with my vocal chains, so on CLA Vocals, I took the three best compressor chains and the EQs that I would use to make the vocal thing happen, and just created the reverb space and the EQ curves that I would use. And that’s the one I end up using the most, because you can go right to it and instantly it has everything you need. Everything I would use in a vocal, it has.

CLA Effects

One of the things that makes the CLA Effects plugin special is the throw. The biggest hassle that you run into when you’re mixing in Pro Tools is when you want to do an echo throw, you want to delay a word. Let’s keep it simple: All you have to do is duplicate your vocal track, put it on 100% wet, automate the throw button in all the spots you want, and you’re done. And you can pick: All my delays are time stamped so, done. Your echo throw is done. And you can EQ it, you can actually put another plugin on it to EQ it or you can have the delay be filtered or reverbed or whatever. So it really shortcuts the stuff that we take for granted.

Aside from the throw button, I put in some filtering and vocal distortion, some effects you can use for distortion, which are really great for delays or vocals. So the stuff that I use as effects on mixes which is, you know, distort something or filter it or built into the plate, that’s all built into that.

CLA Unplugged

CLA Unplugged is like a Swiss-army knife. This is the one that you would use for piano, strings, for keyboards, for acoustic guitars, for stuff that you want big, broad strokes on. What this plugin has that you don’t see in the others is two different reverbs with two sets of pre-delay controls. You know, one of the big sounds from the early ’70s and ’80s was that big pre-delayed plate. You can get massive, long pre-delayed reverbs and sonic soundscapes with Unplugged that would take so many chains to create the same atmosphere. It’s really great on strings, to just have this nice delayed plate and this big broad EQ that’s really thick, with wide shelves, and incredibly smooth compression.

Would Unplugged work on sampled guitars, strings or even synthesizers?

Absolutely. CLA Unplugged is there to help beef up all your DI stuff, all your direct keyboards, all your direct synths. Because by having the reverb and the compression and the EQ, it’ll help amp it up a bit.


  1. Sean
    Sean November 23, 2010

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been playing around with the bundle and it’s nice to know what the hell he was thinking.

  2. Hakim Callier
    Hakim Callier November 24, 2010

    Hey Jon,

    I, like many of your readers, hate pre-sets like the CLA “brand”.

    I’d rather analyze the signal flow and learn how he was thinking about routing – if these ARE really his diagrams and not Purple Cow styled marketing antics.

    Thanks for posting, I’ll take a look at the routing in these mock-ups and if I find anything noteworthy I’ll be sure to return to this post.

    My distrust for software manufacturers producing Pre-Set Mix plugins has reached an all time high this year. Sorry if I sound so negative.


  3. Björgvin
    Björgvin October 10, 2011

    I love the CLA plug-ins. They make everything sound like a record. Using them is almost like a cop-out but I don’t care. They sound that good.

  4. Andrew Zeleno
    Andrew Zeleno August 13, 2013


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