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Sonible Smart:Comp 2

Smart:Comp 2 has some of the most useful visual feedback of any compressor plug‑in currently available.Smart:Comp 2 has some of the most useful visual feedback of any compressor plug‑in currently available.

Sonible have packed even more ‘smarts’ into their second‑generation AI‑driven compressor.

Sonible make an impressive range of plug‑ins which offer the user the choice of an ultra‑simple control set or the ability to dive much deeper. This dual‑level approach to complexity is made possible by the use of AI (predominantly, I assume, machine‑learning). Smart:Comp 2, then, might be yet another compressor but it’s a very different proposition from most!

Compress De‑stress

With Smart:Comp 2, initial configuration of the compressor for almost any audio source is as close as it gets to a one‑click job.With Smart:Comp 2, initial configuration of the compressor for almost any audio source is as close as it gets to a one‑click job.

If it’s a software‑assisted easy life you are after, you can confine your attention to the Learning section (top left) of Smart:Comp 2’s UI. This consists of three very simple controls. Once the plug‑in is inserted on each of the desired tracks in your DAW, you can then simply trigger playback (Sonible suggest using one of the louder sections of your projects) and click on the large green Learn button. The plug‑in listens to around 10 seconds of your audio before analysing what it has ‘heard’, and then it applies what it considers to be suitable settings to produce transparent‑sounding compression. While its processing choices perhaps tends to be on the conservative side, that’s a sensible design choice in my view (better than the opposite!) — it’s a super‑simple process and a solidly effective means of gently smoothing out the dynamics of almost any signal.

If you want to give the plug‑in a gentle nudge in the right direction, which should increase the probability of more pleasing results, you can pick from one of the many profile types available in the drop‑down menu prior to executing the learning process. The list includes candidates for all the most obvious cases, including your master bus, various instrument busses and a goodly selection of individual instrument types. If you go on to make manual changes to one or more of the controls, clicking on the Smart State button (with the interlocking waveform icon, next to the profile drop‑down) will take you back to the AI‑suggested starting point.

Of course, once the AI has done its thing, Smart:Comp 2 can be tweaked to take things further. Staying in somewhat shallower waters, the plug‑in provides a fairly conventional combination of Threshold, Ratio, Attack and Release controls. But while the selection of controls may be conventional, their graphical representation is perhaps less so, and they all interact directly with the real‑time waveform display.

It might offer simplicity but Smart:Comp 2 also allows detailed control. For example, the Attack and Release curves can be tweaked to taste.It might offer simplicity but Smart:Comp 2 also allows detailed control. For example, the Attack and Release curves can be tweaked to taste.So, for example, as you change the Threshold and Ratio values, you see a clear visual representation of what this does to the audio waveform in ‘before’ and ‘after’ displays. Hover the mouse over the Attack or Release (both of which can be adjusted by dragging up/down), and the waveform display highlights (in green) the portion of the signal impacted by that specific setting. These visuals can be used alongside the Delta monitoring option (located towards the top right, this lets you hear just the audio difference between the processed and unprocessed signals — ie. what’s being removed). So even if you choose to confine your manual adjustments to the familiar Threshold, Ratio, Attack and Release settings, you do so with some of the most helpful feedback I’ve ever seen in a compressor plug‑in’s UI — it could be a great learning...

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