Baby Audio Smooth Operator is a kind of “smart” dynamic EQ and multi-band compressor plugin that is designed to quickly and easily remove muddy and raspy audio. In addition, it makes them sound better, more balanced, and smoother!
The Smooth Operator relies on spectral processing and balance. The basic principle is theoretically simple: The signal is broken down into many fine frequency bands using FFT, these are then processed more or less individually and then reassembled.
The bands are not only amplified or lowered, but also compressed. It is not clear how many bands are used, in what resolution, and with what time constants. But you don’t have to know such details, it’s enough to know that the algorithm works in a balanced way. In the GUI, five control elements in the form of dots are provided above the chic spectral visualization.
These five points of the threshold curve can be moved with the mouse. The outer yellow dots serve as art low and high shelves, the white inner dots are to be understood as bell filters and can also be adjusted in the Q. The middle point represents the global threshold and can be moved left and right to smooth the transition between the two bell filters.
With the mouse wheel, you can adjust the Q factor once above the white bell filter points. Otherwise, the mouse wheel moves the entire threshold curve up and down, as if you were grabbing the middle point. In addition, there is the Focus control, which makes the entire curve narrower or wider – at zero the thing actually becomes a completely normal compressor.
The Solo function, which isolates individual “filter points” so that you can hear them better when moving and adjusting the operating points, is helpful. There is also a sidechain in the VST 3 version, which allows you to duck the signals with a different trigger, for example.
All in all, working with the Smooth Operator is easy and clear: There is no function where you cannot hear what it does. The handling could be improved in small details: it would be desirable for the middle threshold point to shift if you want to go beyond it with one of the lateral points. I also find the anchor points too small, so changing the Q with the mouse wheel is really fiddly. The same applies to the output control, which is too coarse for precise level matching – and an auto-gain function would also be desirable here.
Baby Audio Smooth Operator is a good plugin for creative tone-shaping and easy-to-use multi-compressor/dynamic EQ for musical sound design and down-to-earth mixing tasks. The GUI is sleek, intuitive, and musician-friendly, so fast results are guaranteed. Smooth Operator is a recommended and standalone tool, but more for sound designers and creative producers. The price is fair, so you can’t go wrong!