Let’s start with the obvious use for Soothe 2, which is to reduce resonances that make an instrument or vocal sound imbalanced. I personally enjoy using it on my vocals and centering the pre-emphasis band over my low mids to create a clear sound.
I’ll also use a slightly higher sharpness, and lower the mix a little, before increasing the processing quality to reduce any phase issues. Let’s listen to how the vocal sounds more balanced.
If we want our vocal to sit on top of a mix but not make the mix sound unbalanced, we can place Soothe 2 on the instrumental bus and side-chain the vocal. I’ll use just about the same settings that I used in chapter 1, but with a higher mix.
This way the instrumental is attenuated by any excessive frequencies in the vocal - letting the vocal sit on top of what’s being attenuated. Let’s take a listen to how our vocal gets placed in the forefront of the mix.
If we want to opposite of last chapter, that is, we want the vocal to sit into the mix and sound more blended, we can place soothe 2 on the vocal and side-chain the instrumental. When doing this, I like to emphasize the mid-frequencies.
This gives the instrumental a more prominent role and helps it cover the vocal slightly. Let’s listen to how the vocal is pushed back but the overall mix still sounds balanced.
Bass ducking can be really helpful for creating a balanced low end - what’s great about using Soothe 2 to attenuate the bass via a side-chained kick, is that the attenuation will be frequency specific. This way parts of the bass that don’t conflict with the kick will retain their amplitude.
Since I’m having to perform this using the full drum loop as my side-chain, I’ll isolate the processing to my low frequencies. Let’s take a listen.
This one is a little complex, but I think it’s a cool idea nonetheless - my vocal performance has 4 primary notes, in this case, C, D#, A#, and F. With sine waves, I can create an instrument track that includes all notes not included in the vocal performance.
I’ll bounce this down to an audio track, then use it as the side-chain for Soothe 2 - which I’ve inserted on the vocal. What this does is attenuate frequencies that don’t pertain to the intended performance, or in other words cut out out-of-tune or mis-sung notes.
I’ll have to use sharper settings and higher-quality processing to avoid phase issues, but, the processor now makes the vocal sound more in tune, and gives it an overall clearer sound.
Let’s take a listen.
We can do the same thing we did last chapter, but to the instrumental - I’ll use the same side-chain as last time since it works in this case, but it may need to be changed slightly. With soothe 2 inserted on the instrument bus, I’ll side-chain these out-of-key notes.
To my ear, this makes the instrumental sound slightly more musical since it reduces small aspects that don’t coincide with the intended notes. Let’s take a listen.
Saturation is great, but it doesn’t always create in-key harmonics, and it can also make a signal sound unbalanced. That said, I’ll saturate with the PSP Saturator and turn on oversampling to avoid aliasing - then I’ll insert soothe 2 to reduce any added resonances.
As a result, I get all of the benefits of saturation - the full sound and harmonic complexity, without it adding any frequencies I already have and don’t need more of.
Let’s listen to how the saturation is present, yet sounds balanced.
This trick is a little strange, but I think it has a good sound - in short, I’ll send my vocal to a reverb, in this case, one Crystalline by Baby Audio, and then dial in my settings. After it, I’ll insert Soothe 2 and side-chain the instrumental bus.
With the EQ covering the full frequency spectrum, the reverb’s reflections will be attenuated depending on the instrumental. As a result, the reverb really sits into the instrumental - making it a great way to have reverb on a vocal, or any track really, while making it sit into the mix.
Let’s take a listen to it with the reverb and instrumental soloed.
Phasers and flangers make a cool effect, but sometimes they add resonances to higher frequencies. We can try to isolate the effect to certain frequency ranges, but then we lose some of its sound - instead, I like to insert soothe 2 after a phase effect.
In this case, the flanger from Cableguy’s Shaperbox plugin set to its Liquid Module.
Since its attenuation is frequency specific, I can reduce artifacts and shape the sound of the sweep with the pre-emphasis EQ, while still retaining the intended sound.
Let’s take a listen to it used on the bass.
If excessive resonances are present in individual tracks, then it makes sense they’d make their way to the stereo output. With Soothe 2 inserted on the output, we can use very subtle settings and set the processing to mid and side, but with de-linked triggering.
As you’d imagine, we need to use very high processing settings to reduce phase cancellation and aliasing. Let’s listen, and keep in mind the effect with be subtle.