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. The turbulence creates them as air whistles through the speaker’s teeth. There is no denying that excessive sibilance is a persistent concern in vocal production. Now you could ask, ‘Why can’t we 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 very time-consuming process. For this reason, smart people invented a DeEsser, a relatively simple tool that is capable of locating and attenuating these annoying sounds and, eventually, saving you a lot of time.
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 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.
As you can see from the picture above, I adjusted some essential parameters. The frequency parameter determines the frequency spectrum the DeEsser will be applied to. The Threshold parameter controls the quantity of effects introduction. Its meter section represents the usage of the effect on the clean signal.
I want to point out that it’s essential to be gentle with the threshold parameter. This is because it determines the application of the applied effect. 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 hear the processed vocal:
~ Vocal Processed
Download the patch here.