New Toys: Baby Audio Smooth Operator

Smooth Operator is an intelligent signal balancer capable of creative effects, tone shaping and effective problem solving. It uses a combination of spectral compression, equalization and resonance suppression in an easy-to-use and understand interface with few controls.

At first look, the resizable GUI appears as a four-band equalizer—its initialized setup has a straight flat line ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz with five click/drag nodes. There are fixed nodes at the 20Hz and 20kHz extremes that only the Gain is adjustable. The larger middle Master node can be moved horizontally (frequency) and retains the relative distance of the nodes on either side of it. Pulling it downward increases compression around the other nodes.

There is a Spectral Side-Chain mode that will compress the audio going through the Smooth Operator based on another track’s dominant frequency content. The spectral compression amount is monitored visually across the top of the GUI and displayed as an inverted shape compared to the waveform’s spectrum behind the 20Hz to 20kHz node line.

I thought the spectral compressor is well thought out and it sounds transparent until you push it for effects. It seems designed with a good ratio, attack and release times settings built in.

So far, I’ve been using Smooth Operator more as a vibey element/effect in mixes than as a problem solver. It is like an EQ but much more colorful when you crank it. I like it (so far) on mid-range frequency instruments—electric pianos, especially funk guitar parts, and synth pads. It also will kill ugliness anywhere and that will always make my mixes sound better! What a fun plugin Baby Audio’s Smooth Operator is!

It sells for $69 as download for VST 2/3, AU, AAX host DAWs.