Chris Lord-Alge (CLA) is one of the most famous mix engineers in the world. He has worked with so many top notch artists contributing to their success.
He is the brother of both Tom Lord-Alge and Jeff Lord-Alge, both of whom are also audio engineers.
Chris and Tom are known for their abundant use of dynamic compression for molding mixes that play well on small speakers and FM radio.
They frequently collaborates with Howard Benson, who has produced the plurality of his mix discography.
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Chris started as an assistant engineer at H & L Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey where he was mentored by Steve Jerome while working on projects with The Stylistics, The Softones, Van McCoy and others.
He soon moved on to become a staff engineer for Sugarhill Records under Joe & Sylvia Robinson
working on projects such as The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, Grandmaster Flash and others. After Sugarhill, he gained notoriety in the early 80’s while working at Unique Recording Studios in New York City.
The huge collaboration list
There he worked on engineering and mixing for James Brown’s “Living in America”, (including the Rocky IV soundtrack) and“Gravity”, Joe Cocker’s “Unchain My Heart”, Tina Turner’s “Foreign Affair“, Steve Winwood “Back In The High Life”, Jeff Beck’s “Flash”, Chaka Khan’s “Destiny”, and many others.
At that time he also mixed Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again album, Pat Benatar “Wide Awake in Dreamland”, Peter Wolf “Come As You Are”, Hall & Oates “Possession Obsession” and many others.
Some of his work will be at New York’s Hit Factory Studios.
He also mixed and added production to many Singles and 12″ remixes including Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”, The Rolling Stones’ “Too Much Blood”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, “Cover Me” and “Born in the U.S.A.”. The Cars “Hello Again”, U2 “3 Sunrises” and many productions by Arthur Baker including Artists Against Apartheid “Sun City.”
In 1988 Chris moved operations to Los Angeles and set up shop at A&M Studios,
Skip Saylor, The Grey Room, Larrabee, Summa Sound and many years at Image Recording.
Projects that Chris produced, engineered and/or mixed include Eddie Money, Tina Turner, Prince, Peter Frampton, Oingo Boingo, Rod Stewart just to name a few.
He also spent time in the early 90’s in Nashville at Loud Recording working with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, John Anderson, Ty England, Chad Brock and others.
Back in LA the projects continued: Green Day, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, Rob Zombie, The Replacements, Duran Duran, B.B King, The Black Crowes, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, The Black Eyed Peas, Sheryl Crow, Pink, Cold, Courtney Love, Papa Roach, Alanis Morrisette, U2 and many others.
He also found time to produce, engineer and mix Ian Moss, Rick Price, Tina Arena, and Savage Garden from Australia.
In 2000 Chris won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing a Music Series on HBO for “Cher Live at The MGM Grand.”
In 2008 Chris acquired his own studio and called it the Mix LA.
Many projects have been carried out from there: Cheap Trick, James Blunt, Slipknot, Aerosmith, Muse and many others.
The software and hardware products
In early 2009 Chris and Waves Audio began working together and released the Chris Lord-Alge Artist Signature Collection of audio plug-ins.
This is a collection of 6 application-specific audio plug-ins called CLA Bass, CLA Drums, CLA Effects, CLA Vocals, CLA Guitars, and CLA Unplugged.
In 2016 Waves released CLA Mixdown as well as a collection of CLA-branded compressors, labeled the “CLA Classic Compressors” bundle, featuring the CLA-76 (Urei 1176LN), CLA-2A (Teletronix LA-2A) and CLA-3A (Urei LA-3A).
In 2018 Waves released The CLA MixHub, the first multi-track plug-in ever.
In 2012 Chris started his relationship with Slate Digital He created a Drum sample library which became very popular and created the Audio Legend series of videos.
In 2017 Chris started his relationship with Avantone Pro and Black Lion Audio. They released the CLA 10 and CLA 10a speakers.
These re-creations of the widely popular studio monitor the NS-10 have become the biggest selling passive studio monitor in the world. The Avantone CLA-200 Studio Reference Amplifier has also been released to provide a reliable companion for the speakers.
With Black Lion Audio they realized the “Bluey” that is a modified “Blue Stripe” compressor based off of the “golden” unit owned by Chris Lord-Alge
The training and the seminars
In 2011 Chris started working with Mix With The Masters for teaching mixing techniques.
He has had seven years of very successful seminars at La Fabrique in St. Remy de Provence in France.
Training classes from this set are also available as recorded videos.
In 2015 Chris worked with PureMix to release some CLA mIxing videos on the PureMix platform.
The Chris’ studio
The Chris mixing activity is based on his 60-input 4056 E-series SSL and the incredible amount of mostly vintage outboard gear present.
He has most of his boxes permanently set to one setting and hard-wired to specific channels of his SSL.
If he finds himself regularly using an additional setting, he tends to buy another copy of the same box for that purpose.
This explains the wall of gear on his back.
Since he started working on plugins he also included software components in the workflow.
Some typical configuration of the track’s processing can be deducted from the available references even if Chris says he applies processing as required and he can change the processing chain to properly fit the track into the miz.
For Drums he usually uses bus compression from Urei 1178 or Neve 33264 with reverberation coming from a Sony DRE2000.
For Bass compression he start from Urei 1176.
Electric guitars are usually equalized with an SSL EQ followed by a Teletronix LA3.
With Vocals Chris might use a hybrid approach combining plugins with hardware processors.
The Waves L1 helps the Urei 1176 or Inward Connection TSL3 compressors.
The Roland SDE3000 reverb with a Line 6 Echo Pro processed by Marshall Tape Emulator could be taking care of the ambient related part.
More information can be taken directly from Chril Lord Alge in the following video by Warren Huart:
CLA and the Dolby Atmos
Chris has recently started working on Dolby Atmos reconfiguring his studio as we have described in our dedicated post.
With Dolby Atmos Chris starts from the stereo mix on the SSL console.
From the stereo mix several stems are extracted to be sent to the Dolby Atmos workstation.
The goal is to create “stereo pairs” that will be objects for the Atmos mix.
The sound is defined by the stereo mix (thanks to the SSL console and the outboards) that is thought as the foundation for the immersive one.
Chris Lord Alge has been giving his fingerprint in almost every aspect of the audio technology used in modern music production.
He has always been at the top notch and ready to consider evolution while keeping an eye to the good old things.
He is still in the business so it is very likely that he will give us more on both the technical and the emotional side of the music.
The information collected in this post is coming from following references: