Baby Audio has released Smooth Operator, a signal balancer plug-in based on spectral processing. While you can use Smooth Operator to bring out clarity and balance in your audio tracks, its biggest strength lies in creative tone shaping, Baby Audio says. Interesting!
Baby Audio Smooth Operator
Baby Audio calls Smooth Operator an “intelligent signal balancer”. While the plug-in looks much like an equalizer, it relies on spectral processing to bring dull frequencies to life. The developer says that Smooth Operator’s intelligent algorithm automatically detects those frequencies and resolves the problems associated with them. Think of it as a combination of an EQ, compressor and resonance suppressor in one plug-in, paired with some intelligent code that automatically makes the necessary adjustments.
Spectral processing breaks up the audio signal into small particles using Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), which are then processed separately and put together again. The technique is most often used for audio restoration in applications like Steinberg SpectraLayers and iZotope Ozone. But Baby Audio says that Smooth Operator is also a creative tool that let you shape the tone without leaving behind harsh resonances.
More than an EQ
The workflow is pretty simple: After you’ve increased the effect level by pulling down the middle circle, Smooth Operator starts to look for the most dominant or dull frequencies and applies the necessary processing. You can adjust the curve and shape the sound by dragging the four outer nodes, much like an EQ, and use the Focus control to determine how surgical the plug-in gets. The result is a smoother, more balanced sound.
Smooth Operator also offers a side chain mode, which lets you duck the signal based on the frequency balance of another track. They say that this feature could have been a plug-in in its own right, and I’m inclined to agree. Using the frequency content of one track to control how the plug-in processes another, opens up all sorts of creative possibilities.
Price and compatibility
Baby Audio Smooth Operator is now available for an introductory price of USD 39. This offer lasts until May 31st, 2021; the regular price will be USD 69. You can also get the plug-in at Plugin Boutique*.
Smooth Operator runs on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher (including Catalina and Big Sur). It comes in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats. The plug-in includes a library of 63 presets created by renowned audio engineers like Preston Reid, Rob Kleiner and Steven Holness.