Updated: Feb 19, 2020
What happens when one of the coolest tools you've ever used gets even better?
oeksound is the brainchild of Finnish mastermind Olli Erik Keskinen who released his first product, Soothe V1 in 2016 to the universal astonishment of the interwebs and it quickly became a brand new staple "always on" part of the signal chain for gobs of top flight mixers and mastering engineers.
There is a line on the About page of oeksound's website that, depending on how you're wired, could easily rub you the wrong way: "With so many companies around already chasing the perfect modelling for yet another 1176-emulation, oeksound is here to craft new tools for modern needs." We've all seen language like that before from other developers, but, not often from a brand new one with only one -- pretty aggressively priced -- plugin. But, her's the thing... Olli's not using canned marketing language or purposely being dismissive of other developers (including those responsible for the 15 or so 1176 plugins I currently own). Rather, oeksound took a really complex and bedeviling problem that vexes both new engineers, experienced mixers and mastering engineers alike and came up with a tool that uses all of this computer power for good, not evil... Something truly new and unique.
Originally designed as a vocal processor, Soothe was described as a "dynamic resonance suppressor for mid and high frequencies." Based on the input signal (setup with a threshold) the plugin engaged a dynamic equalizer with self-adjusting frequency bands in the mid and high frequencies. Which, in singer's terms, the plugin magically listened to your audio in real-time and made as many little notches as needed to make you sound awesome.
“oeksound took a really complex and bedeviling problem that vexes both new engineers, experienced mixers and mastering engineers alike and came up with a tool that uses all of this computer power for good, not evil... Something truly new and unique.”
Soothe Version 2 has been completely re-written from the floor up and adds full frequency range, attack and release, mid-side processing, external sidechain input and a giant reduction on CPU hit. Also, Soothe 2 introduces a new "Soft" algorithm which is faster to set up and is less level dependent. oeksound claims that Soft mode also introduces fewer artifacts that the classic "Hard" mode; however, it's our experience that you have to push this thing well past red zone to start getting artifacts... In other words, by the time artifacts start popping up, your program will have already been transformed into a hot mess.
I'm usually rather perplexed when I see presets for plugins other than space/time FX. However, Soothe's use of some Baltic black magic version of machine learning and/or AI makes the possibility of a curated preset library an interesting proposition and oeksound thought so, too! In addition to the various instrument and situational presets:
Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Drums, Electric Guitars, Master, Synth, Vocals, "Let's just record it with my iPhone," Orchestra, Sound Design, etc) oeksound has also included presets created by well known Soothe users, like Dave Pensado, Greg Wells, Jacquire King, Joe Chiccarelli, Darrel Thorp and Jamie Lidell.
All of that being said, the freaky ability that Soothe has to make things sound straight up better by just throwing it on a track without turning a single knob is uncanny. Take the and learn how all of the functions work and you'll just fall deeper and deeper in love.
But, why's it so expensive, though?
I've read quite a bit of chatter on the forums about the price point of this and several other plugins recently and without consciously attempting to fan a crowd of pitch-fork wielding rage monsters, I have a couple of thoughts.
Soothe is one of those plugins that you should have if you're serious about your career in music and find yourself at the stage where you are mixing music and presenting it to other human people. It makes everything sound better, sure. But, it really can hone in on those frequencies that cheap microphones, poorly recorded guitar amps, poorly or untreated rooms live. I say all of that to this: Soothe isn't like another 1176 plugin or synth emulation that you'll forget that you even own six months from now; rather, it's a professional tool that will help you bring your recordings to the next level. It's one of those tools that simply doesn't have an equal. There isn't something like this built into your DAW or done differently by another small developer for cheap. So, save up... Skip a couple rounds of GAS plugin buys or whatever and grab this. It might just be a real step up in your journey making music.
$199; $50 upgrade for Soothe V1 Users
Free 20 day trial at
BUY RECOMMENDATION FOR PROS: YES
BUY RECOMMENDATION NEWBIES: YES (Well, not BRAND newbies)
WORD OF MOUTH: STRONG
PROS: It makes you look even smarter
CONS: NONE. (It isn't backwards compatible with Version 1, though)