Review: Baby Audio Smooth Operator


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Main characteristics: The beginnings of audio plugins were essential to say the least; behind the nostalgic square program designs, there were frustrating limitations on the number of plugins you could use due to a lack of processing power.

As processing power gets faster and cheaper than ever before, knowledgeable audio plugin developers have turned to optimizing user experience. Mixing and mastering engineers searched for audio plugins that prioritize workflow and ease of use, to reduce the time spent changing parameters for minute differences in sound, in an effort to make so that the process resembles an art rather than the scientific experiment that it has partly become.

Baby Audio, a New York-based plugin company, quickly gained popularity. Baby Audio’s latest work, Smooth Operator, is a signal balancing tool that uses spectral processing to smooth and enhance audio signals in ways that cannot be achieved with regular EQs or compressors.

So what does this mean for the uninitiated? Put simply, Smooth Operator is a versatile, intelligent EQ / finalizer / dynamics designed to optimize frequency and dynamic information in the context of a mix, providing subtle separation while taming harsher transients and resonances in the mix. sound envelope.

The result is one of the best plugins we’ve found to instantly ‘professionalize’ a track, proving the best antidote to taking the ‘low budget’ out of your super low budget recording practice.

As its name suggests, the “Smooth Operator” is mainly concerned with correcting the wrongs of the past (especially with regard to resonance peaks) and for that, it is simply exemplary. Featuring cutting-edge intelligent resonance detection algorithms (designed to automatically detect and resolve “ tired ” frequencies), the Smooth Operator showcases some of the most advanced processing of anything in this stage.

Anyone familiar with Baby Audio will be able to tell you how visually pretty their plugins are and Smooth Operator is no exception. The modern, whistle-like UI optics are a cut above. The plugin itself is fully scalable and can be switched between three different pastel color schemes, to reflect your surroundings / mood.

The frequency curve on the user interface works more like an extremely smooth multiband compressor and less like a traditional graphic equalizer, allowing you to set the threshold in a rippling fashion across the frequency spectrum, meaning you can adjust the cut. to gradually decrease, as you move away from the frequency of infractions. The red knot in the center allows you to reduce the attenuation curve in its entirety, which is ideal for processing a wide range of different programs.

Another handy feature is the solo feature, it’s a great way to hear what’s going on below the surface with regards to attack transients and secondary and tertiary harmonics.

Smooth Operator comes with a massive library of presets, proving the perfect starting point for working and it is in these presets that we have had the most success from this extremely powerful audio processor.

Mixdown says: In an effort to appease the audio nerd inside, we tested Baby Audio’s clever algorithm, blindly placing Smooth Operator’s presets on a slew of poorly recorded sources and then A / B the results. to see if the detection algorithms would. translate well on multiple reading systems.

More often than not, the presets have improved the overall sound quality and balance of the source, meaning that if you’re wondering if a particular instrument is too harsh (and doesn’t have the proper control setup to be sure? ), then the ‘blind Smooth Operator hail mary’ might be the last trick to add to your playbook.

For instruments like Kick and Bass (i.e. instruments that exhibit inconsistent dynamics associated with extremely complex harmonic information, also with a tendency for masking and frequency building at the mic position), we found the unique blend of the Smooth Operator’s Spectral Dynamic EQ to be perfect. Get out of jail for free, ”displaying a remarkable ability to continually save the unsaleable.

This also applies to sources such as guitar or backing vocal subgroups, or any other place subject to resonance build-up caused by using the same microphone on multiple tracks. For these kinds of tasks, the Smooth Operator is your new best friend.

Overall: An extremely powerful plugin, with the prettiest user interface and with the ability to turn your ramshackle trash into a fluid, translatable treasure? What’s not to like?

Visit Baby Audio to find out more.


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