I want to start this article out by saying I didn’t know exactly what Soothe2 was all about. All I knew was that many, if not the majority, of my most talented producer friends said that Soothe2 was an absolutely essential tool for their tunes. I have been producing for a long time, so when I had the opportunity to give Soothe2 a test run for my unbiased review, I jumped at the chance!
Before you dive in, it’s important to note that I took a little bit of a different approach to this. All impressions were from my first time using the tool. I wanted to offer a perspective of how large the learning curve is, and if it might be a tool you can easily pick up and use with little to no issues (spoiler alert: it is). Without any further ado, let’s jump in!
Right off the bat, I have to say how nice it is that Soothe2 has a tutorial that not only walks you through how to use it, but incorporates its own actual sounds and editing so you can get to learn the tool first hand. As you walk through the steps of the tutorial, which is inside the actual VST – not some Youtube video or static web page, you actually can mess with the functions it’s describing and see how they affect what is happening. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I found this to be one of the most helpful ways I have ever been introduced to for any VST or online tool. You’ll start with a tutorial on the very basics, then get into more advanced information on Soothing drums, vocals, and then finally stereo processing with Soothe.
After the tutorial (which I ended up taking more time on as it allows you to play with the tools as you go along so I ended up spending way more time than expected I think) I dove into my newest track to see how I could apply what I just learned. I’m writing this as I am exploring Soothe2 for the first time so I can do my best to give an absolutely honest review of the tool right from the very first time using it, as I feel like it will be important to see what may, or may not, be easy to utilize and apply.
For those who may not know what Soothe2 does, now that I have gone through the tutorial (which again I can not praise enough how they organized that) this is what I took away: Soothe2 exists primarily for one reason, to “soothe” your sounds. That translates to taking away the resonant frequencies on any specific track, or even through the entire mix if you apply it on the master chain. It applies as much or as little suppression as you want, and I feel immediately confident to start attacking a new tune I’ve been working on.
Applying to a Synth
My first step after the tutorial is applying what I just learned, which was in my eyes the most obvious way I would want to use Soothe2: on my synth. I will start off by saying I’m not immensely confident in my musicianship so when I think of where I need help the most, it’s always in the most musical aspects of my production. I will tell you that my first impression is a little goes a long way, I can immediately tell when I A/B test with and without Soothe2 the difference is night and day. My synth pops out in the mix crystal clear and sounds much more pleasing to the ear. Pairing these new changes with SPAN on my master channel, it was really easy to adjust and place perfectly into the mix.
Applying to Drums
Next, I moved onto the drums, because that just seemed like the most logical progression of where you may want to remove harsh frequencies. I think for my own needs, this is where I feel like I used Soothe2 a little less intensely. I think we all end up mixing the crap out of the drums, so they tend to be mostly where we want them but I found it most useful to apply it to the master drum group to just tame down, albeit very gently, the resonances in the drums. I found myself using the delta (the option to hear exactly everything that’s being suppressed) function a lot here to make sure it may not be removing some tones I wanted in the song because let’s be honest, in Drum & Bass resonance isn’t always a bad thing. Some of the weird sounds and funk comes from pushing sounds to the limit and creating those weird frequencies and manipulating them.
Applying to Bass
Next up, I applied this to the bass. I have to admit I was a little hesitant to apply much here, as I often find the weird quirky sounds and resonances in basslines, at least the ones I like, are what give them the most character. I ended up toying a lot with the sharpness and selectivity but also pushing it into “hard” mode, rather than “soft,” helped me to get what I was looking for here. I again utilized SPAN to monitor the overall output (I tend to be more of a visual person where I can see exactly what’s going on in combination with my ears) and found myself toying around with most of the options more than any other things I have applied it to yet.
I started off by selecting a low cut all the way to 500+ as I didn’t want to apply anything to the mid/low area of my basslines. Again, as you are reading this review please keep in mind I am by no means a master producer so everything is just my thoughts on what will work best, so your applications may differ.
Applying to Master Channel
Lastly, I applied this to my master channel to see where I may be able to tone anything down there in the final output. Here is another instance where I felt like a little less is more, especially seeing as I had already applied Soothe nearly everywhere else on the individual tracks or groups. I feel like as I continue to learn Soothe2, I will eventually use it a little more judiciously on my master channel (maybe not, but that’s my feeling). For now, I again low cut to not affect anything on the low end and this time I cut to almost 2k and found that turning up the sharpness and selectivity in hard mode got the results I wanted. I also found this is where I kept the depth the most minimal (about -3) as I didnt want a huge impact on my overall track.
In Summary, Soothe2 is a Must-Have for Your Studio
I’m not sure what else I can say here. After just the first part of the tutorial I was hooked and instantly felt like this was going to be one of the most useful tools in my arsenal. After hours working on the mix this morning I noticed an additional, unexpected and amazing result: I don’t have the usual ear fatigue that I typically go through. I do monitor loud, probably louder than I should, so this is a huge bonus for me and another way I can really tell this tool does the job right.
Comparing my new export to my previous one, which Soothe2 is the literal only thing that is different from that previous version, I can tell that the track overall has a more appealing sound. I don’t quite know how to put it technically, but it really feels like all the grit is taken off, all the edges are now smooth, and it feels much more full without those extra frequencies.
When I took this request on, originally I asked if they wanted to sponsor the podcast that I host and get the word out about their product. They actually were the ones who suggested we do an in-depth, and unbiased review, which just shows the absolute faith (rightfully so) they have in their amazing product. They haven’t steered me in any way, or asked me to write about anything other than my honest opinion. I’m happy to report that I’m beyond impressed and can already tell how much of a level up this tool has caused.
Dont trust just me?
Hear what some other amazing producers had to say! Each also has an example of a track which Soothe 2 was utilized in.
Soothe 2 is the perfect finishing touch in mixes.
I usually put it in all the groups of my tracks. And also for other problem areas.
A perfect example would be when adding a clap to a snare. In this case, there is usually a sum of frequencies in the area of 700-1000 with an undesirable metallic sound. If you used only EQ you would kill the power of the snare. This is where the soothe comes in, put it in that area and you will get a perfectly joined snare clap!!
I legitimately use Soothe2 for everything. It’s one of the best resonance control units I’ve ever used, especially helpful on guitars and things with abrasive overtones. It’s a surgeon’s scalpel if used correctly
The Lions Den Mastering
I use soothe on everything from Vocals to synths it’s the instant clean up and a little goes a long ways. It’s one of my main plugins that I use multiple times daily on every clients music. On top of that it is incredibly useful for sidechaining vocals main elements to allow vocals to easily cut through the mix.
I use soothe 2 in few different ways on almost every production. My immediate go to use is to tame vocal resonances after processing. I produce a lot of remixes (both bootleg and commissioned) and soothe makes light work of cleaning up any harshness that comes from ripping the vocals from an existing track or adding extra saturation, excitement, or other post processing. I also use it against drum breaks, post saturation to clear up any high mids that might be grating and I feel like it works really well in this capacity as opposed to manual dynamic EQ, followed by a transient shaper. And last but not least, I use it on my midbass layers post distortion, excitement and saturation to dial back any harsh frequencies. It’s really my go to plugin right next to saturation, EQ and compression. Soothe 2 saves a lot of time and effort in my workflow reel my mids and high mids back in.