Today I want to write about something that I had to learn over the years. One of those things where when you know the rules….you can break them! I always thought that using 1 de-esser plug-in was some sort of rule. If I used more than one then it would hurt the audio. While that can be true if you don’t know how to go about it…it also can keep your hands tied if you are struggling controlling the sibilance and trying to just use one de-esser!
No one ever taught me this, it was something I had to try for myself and experiment. So what I like to do is set one de-esser in the high-mids at around 4k. I select wide band setting because it sounds more natural to me and also compresses frequencies that are nearby as well. Bring down the threshold until you hear the sibilance tighten up just a little. If you are crushing it and taking away the sibilance completely, it’s too much.
If the one plug-in doesn’t do the trick, load a second de-esser. It can be the same plug-in or a different de-esser plug-in. Set the frequency to a higher frequency further away like 6 or 7k. Bring down the threshold until you hear those higher frequencies in the sibilance get smoother. You can try wide band to start, and resort to split, or narrow band on the de-esser. Whichever sounds the best is the keeper. The goal here is to have a natural sounding vocal. If you want to try a third de-esser in another frequency area, do it but be subtle. Just control the ess’s…that’s it!