Baby Audio have just released a new plug-in called Smooth Operator, and they're describing it as an “intelligent signal balancer”. It combines EQ, resonance suppression and spectral compression processing to “bring out clarity” and “automatically resolve fatigued frequencies” in your audio.
Rather than simply boosting or attenuating frequencies, Smooth Operator uses Fast-Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis to “break the incoming audio into tiny particles, which are analysed and processed separately, before being put back together again”. It's a real-time process, and Baby Audio say it is much more surgical than traditional EQ. The analysis and processing is dynamic too, and so changes depending on the different resonances it detects.
Clever stuff is going on under the hood, then, but in use it would appear to be very intuitive. You pull the dot in the middle of the EQ-like GUI down to increase the effect or up to reduce it (so it works a little like a compressor threshold control), and Baby Audio say this may be all you need to do to achieve the required effect. However, you can go more in-depth by moving the frequency graph nodes around, pulling them up to preserve the original audio in that band, or down to apply the processing in that band more aggressively (bandwidth, or Q, is also adjustable).
At the bottom of the interface is a slider labelled Focus, and this essentially sets how precisely the plug-in works. At low levels it takes a broad-brush approach, whereas at higher settings the audio is split into ever smaller bands, and is thus capable of being more surgical.
To get a better insight into what the plug-in is doing, you can solo each frequency band individually, by hovering your mouse over the frequency node. You can use Smooth Operator in Side-Chain mode, in which the plug-in listens to one track while applying its multiband attenuation in another, which Baby Audio say is ideal for carving out space in your lead vocals. Finally, you can choose between three pastel colour schemes for the GUI (the pink above, the blue below, and a third sage green option).
Smooth Operator is available now for just $39 until May 31st, after which it reverts to its full pricing of $69. It comes in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats.