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Sometimes a vocal has short bursts of high-frequency energy where the S's are overemphasized, and that's known as sibilance. It comes from a combination of mic technique by the vocalist, the type of mic used, and heavy compression on the vocal track. Sibilance is nasty sounding and generally felt to be highly undesirable, so a special type of compressor called a de-esser is used. In this video I'm going to show you the typical de-esser parameters and what they do. So first of all, de-esser is a tunable compressor, and it allows you to compress only a selected band of frequencies, usually between 3 and 10k, and specifically to eliminate sibilance.
Now you'd want to use this rather than an EQ, because if you use an EQ, you'll cut out those frequencies all the time, which is undesirable and just won't just sound the same, and that's why a de-esser works a little bit better. First of all, let's listen to what sibilance is. Let me play you a track with a lot of sibilance. This is a vocal track. (music playing) So the S's really come out at you, they really spit out, and that's what we want to get rid of, because they'll just jump out of the track and they'll make you crazy when you listen to it later.
Most de-essers only have a couple of controls. They have a frequency control, and that allows you to tune in the exact frequency where the S's are happening, and the reason for that is everybody has a little bit different frequency where the sibilance occurs at. The second control that you have is a Range control, and that's the amount of attenuation that you'll have at that particular frequency. The other thing that you have on many de-essers is a Listen control, and that allows you to listen to just the particular high frequencies where the sibilance is happening so you can dial in a little bit better, and let's have a listen to what that sounds like.
We'll engage Listen control. Here it is. (music playing) So between the Listen control and the Frequency control, it allows us to zero in on the sibilance, and then it allows us to control it as a result.
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