Chris Lord Alge's Secret Vocal Mixing Trick: Stereo Delay
Updated: Jul 24
For those who don’t know, I’m a massive Chris Lord Alge fan. Sounds strange right? Being inspired by a mixing engineer? Well, when you get into the world of music production, you discover new heroes.
Some of my favorite records have been mixed by Chris, including Paramore’s third studio album “Brand New Eyes”. As you may have already read in my previous blog, I’m a big fan of the Nashville based band, particularly ex guitarist Josh Farro. However, that is not what I am here to talk about today. Stay focused Ryan!
Aside from his amazing drums sounds, CLA is a master at mixing vocals, finding the perfect balance between presence and depth. His vocals always sound crisp and clear, yet don’t sound unnaturally dry. So how does he do it?
For this blog post, I want to focus on one particular element in Chris’s vocal mixing chain. And no… it’s not his renowned blue stripe 1176 compressor. It’s his use of stereo delay.
I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with delay when applying it to vocals. It never really achieved the effect that I wanted it to, cluttering the mix. However, whilst rummaging through YouTube the other day (looking up educational content of course… I never procrastinate on the internet!) I came across a great video by the content creator “Mix Better Now”, explaining CLA’s vocal chain.
At first, when discussing the use of reverb, I didn’t attain any new information, as I already knew about Chris’s use of pre-delay. However, my ears pricked up when the topic of stereo delay entered the conversation.
Now… I have used stereo delay before. It just turns out that I didn’t know how to use it properly. Let me explain.
The clue is in the name. “Stereo”. Chris’s secret technique involves pulling the left and right delay lines out of sync with one another, essentially placing a delay between the two delays... if that makes sense.
Having acquired this new information, I went about applying the technique to the lead vocal in my final major project. Eureka! The delay no longer clutters the mix, adding width and depth.
It just goes to show. You learn something new every day!