Create Better Headphone Mixes—
in Chris Lord-Alge’s Studio
Compared to mixing in a beautifully tuned mix room with world-class monitors, mixing through headphones used to be a poor substitute. But that’s in the past—CLA Nx recreates the acoustics of Chris Lord-Alge’s Mix LA studio, in your headphones, using Waves Nx® spatial imaging technology.
CLA Nx creates a three-dimensional soundfield that feels—and sounds—like you’re mixing in CLA’s high-end mix room. The plugin also comes complete with EQ correction curves for over 270 headphone models. Now you can check your mixes in a world-class studio, wherever you are.
Finally—You Can Trust Your
Headphones for Mixing
Create Mixes that Translate to All Systems
Headphones are a convenient way to mix, but they are limited in their ability to represent what a mix sounds like over speakers. Mix on headphones, and you might easily add too much reverb, make problematic panning decisions, or misjudge the low end. CLA Nx gives you a well-calibrated mixing environment that will let you create well-balanced mixes.
Choose from 3 Custom Monitors
CLA Nx simulates the well-balanced acoustics of renowned mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge’s studio. Mix over Chris’s custom NS10 near-field speakers. Get the big picture with his custom-built Ocean Way HR1 monitors. Or do reality checks with his Sony boombox.
EQ Correction for 270 Headphone Models
CLA Nx uses the state-of-the-art Harman Headphone Target Curve method to correct EQ response for over 270 studio headphones, including models by Sony, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, AKG, Audio Technica, Audeze, Focal, and dozens more brands.
Hear the Same Thing Your Collaborators Are Hearing
The Nx breakthrough means you now have a standardized, ideal studio sound for collaboration. As you work on a project with others, you’ll know you’re all hearing the same sound, and mixing with identical studio acoustics.
Customize Your Mix Environment
Use the accurate emulation of Mix LA’s acoustics, or dial in wetter or drier ambience. For personal adjustment of the 3D effect to your head/ear anatomy, enter your personal head measurements into the plugin’s head anatomy calibration section.
Track Head Motion for Enhanced Immersion
For the ultimate in realism, track head motion so that as you move your head, the sound changes as if you were moving your head in the studio. Track with your computer’s camera, or with the Nx Head Tracker for maximum accuracy.
CLA Nx provides a reliable, three-dimensional acoustic reference environment on headphones.
The plugin’s main point is to help your headphone mixes translate better to speakers.
This can help if your real room is not acoustically treated; or if you’re away from your studio and need to mix on headphones; or if you simply want another helpful reference to check your mixes.
What CLA Nx is NOT:
Some mixing decisions are harder to make on headphones, especially if you want your headphone mixes to translate to speakers.
Headphones inject the sound directly to your ears, instead of letting the sound travel to your ears from a distance, like in a real acoustic environment. This makes it harder to accurately judge issues such as mix depth, stereo image/panning, reverb, or the sustain (or time response) of various frequencies, especially in the low end.
CLA Nx bridges the gap between headphones and speakers by recreating the auditory cues (channel crosstalk, head filtering functions, head motion tracking, room reflections) that ‘persuade’ our brain to hear three-dimensional sound in the real world.
It does this by combining Waves Nx technology for binaural 3D audio, with impulse response measurements from Chris Lord-Alge’s Mix LA control room.
For a more in-depth explanation of how this works, see this article about 3D audio on headphones.
Insert the plugin on your master bus; and bypass it before you bounce your mix. Again, this plugin is primarily meant for monitoring, not for processing.
Spatial acoustic response and frequency response are two different things.
Spatial acoustic response is about the way that sounds spread through a given space—the time it takes for sounds to reach various locations in the room, the sustain of various sounds and various frequencies in that room, and the way in which different sounds travelling in that room build up a complete three-dimensional sonic image, or soundstage.
Frequency response is about the range of frequencies that a certain device (such as your headphones) can reproduce.
CLA Nx recreates the missing spatial acoustic response of headphones. This is the main thing it does, and it does it for any headphone model.
In addition, as a bonus, CLA Nx corrects the frequency response of a handful of popular headphone models: see the current list here.
Headphone EQ correction can help you fix issues resulting from the frequency balance of your headphones, but it won’t account for the fact that your headphones (any headphones) lack a spatial and directional image compared to speakers in a real room.
CLA Nx fixes the issues resulting from the lack of spatial acoustic response on headphones. It does this for any headphones. As a bonus, it also corrects EQ for some headphone models.
(See the previous question for a fuller explanation.)
Yes, it is. CLA Nx recreates the spatial acoustic response of a masterfully designed studio control room—over any headphones. (See the previous two questions to understand what this means exactly.)
This can benefit you by helping your mixes translate better to speakers, whether or not you also use EQ correction.
Of course, you can use CLA Nx to add spatial acoustic response to your headphones, and add EQ correction on top (whether using this plugin, or other software).
Also worth knowing: Many users report that CLA Nx (like other Waves Nx plugins) help relieve ear fatigue when mixing over long period of times, because they reduce the sense of sounds being ‘injected’ directly in your ears.
Of course it matters which quality of headphones you’re using! The plugin will not take $2 earbuds and turn them into high-quality studio headphones.
What it will do is add the spatial acoustic image of CLA Nx to whichever headphones you’re using (see the previous questions for more details). This will help your headphone mixes translate better to speakers, and will give you another helpful reference for your mixes.
Obviously, the better-quality your headphones, the better the overall result will be.
The sustain (or decay time) of the low-end frequencies has a big effect on the overall sound of a mix. Unfortunately, it is generally lacking in headphones.
The CLA Nx plugin will not add low-end frequencies that your headphones are not capable of generating in the first place. But it will let you hear the sustain, or decay time, of your mix's low-end frequencies in an accurate way, the way they would decay in Chris Lord-Alge’s real Mix LA control room. This is crucial if you want your headphones mixes to translate reliably back to speakers in a room.
No, we did not. When using this plugin, your headphones will still have their own transient response for the most part.
What we did model is the 360-degree impulse response of each of the speaker sets inside the Mix LA control room. In other words, we modeled how the room reacts to each of the speakers from its position in the studio.
Think about it this way: If you took one of the wall-mounted speakers from Mix LA and put it in a random living room, how would it sound? Probably very different, and not for the better.
This plugin is not primarily about the response of the particular speakers themselves; it’s about how the room responds to these speakers—it’s about Mix LA’s acoustic response.
CLA Nx is powered by the same Waves Nx algorithm for spatial audio over headphones as the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin; but it combines the Waves Nx algorithm with precision impulse response measurements from Chris Lord-Alge’s physical Mix LA control room.
The Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin creates an ‘imagined’ virtual room; the CLA Nx plugin recreates, over headphones, the precise proven acoustic qualities of the original Mix LA control room.
Even if you already have other Nx plugins such as Abbey Road Studio 3 or Nx Ocean Way Nashville, you may very well want to add CLA Nx to your arsenal of studio reference tools. It’s another fantastic ‘virtual’ reference environment in which to check your mixes.
In our real studios, we all like to have more than one set of good, reliable monitors to check our mixes on. More good reference options = more confidence that our mixes will translate. With CLA Nx, Abbey Road Studio 3 and Nx Ocean Way, you have accurate emulations of three top monitoring systems – inside your headphones.
You can use CLA Nx with head tracking, but you don’t have to.
The head tracking feature tracks your head movements in real time, so that when your head moves, the acoustic environment around you remains constant—including the fixed direction of sound coming from the virtual studio speakers. This enhances the immersive realism of the plugin. (To understand why in more depth, read this article.)
However, you can choose to use the plugin without head tracking: some people prefer to use the plugin with head tracking, some without.
CLA Nx can be used with head tracking in two ways: via your computer’s camera, or with the dedicated Nx Head Tracker Bluetooth device. Visit the Nx Head Tracker page for more details.
CLA Nx can be used with the same Nx Head Tracker as the Nx Virtual Mix Room, Abbey Road Studio 3, and Nx Ocean Way Nashville plugins: no need to buy a new head tracker if you already have one.
The audio processing created by CLA Nx is meant for headphone listening only, as it adds filtering and delay between the channels (that is how the crosstalk effect is created – see question #2 above). On speakers, these effects would not make sense and could even sound like phasing.
Though the plugin is designed for monitoring, you could try to use it as a creative spatial panner and bounce audio through it. In that case, you would insert it on individual tracks (you could even use several instances of it in your session, on several tracks).
Just remember that if you use it in this unintended way, the results would be experienced properly on headphones only, not on speakers. Also, once the audio is bounced, you would not be able to perform head tracking over the audio or adjust the head measurements.