Annoying Sibilants

 

Back in the day, vocals were usually recorded far away from the microphone. While all this was going on, there was no need for a handy little thing called DeEsser. As technology progressed we were able to record vocals by singing or speaking closer to the microphone and that’s when we stumbled upon a problem.

Sibilants like the ‘s’ in “seem” produce noisy high‑frequency consonants. They are created by the turbulence as air whistles through the speakers teeth. There is no denying that excessive sibilance is a persistent concern in vocal production. Now you could ask ‘Why can’t we just bring the volume down (or use a pencil tool) every single time this annoying sound occurs in the recording? Well, you could do that, but this would be a tedious and a very time consuming process. For this reason, smart people invented a DeEsser, a fairly simple tool which is capable of locating and attenuating these annoying sounds and eventually, saving you a lot of time.

 

Basic De-essing

 

Firstly, let’s hear a short vocal take that has some “s” noise when the word “seem” is sung (towards the end of the sample).

vocal-channel

 

~ Vocal Unprocessed

 

Needless to say, there are many different DeEsser VST plugins available on the market these days. I find one of them particularly useful and that one is DeEsser by Waves Audio.

waves-deesser

As you can see from the picture above, there are a couple of essential parameters I adjusted. The frequency parameter determines the frequency spectrum the DeEsser will be applied to. The Threshold parameter controls how much of the effect will be introduced, and its meter section represents how much of the effect is used on the clean signal.

I would like to point out that it’s important to be gentle with the threshold parameter. This is because it is in charge of ‘Threshold’ and it determines how much of the actual effect will be applied. I feel very strongly that it is crucial to be gentle with it since applying it too much can lead to artificial and lifeless sound.

Now with the DeEsser’s parameters set, let’s here the processed vocal:

~ Vocal Processed

Download the patch here.