Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video De-ess on vocals with RX5, part of Music Production Secrets.
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- [Voiceover] It's typical practice to try and control S and T sounds on a vocal track with an automatic ds or plugin, but in many cases I want more control than that. I don't want it clamping in on the wrong words or obscuring something in the wrong way. So, I'll use Isotope RX5 to attenuate these sounds as needed. Here's the S sounds in the track I was working on recently. (The Masons - "It Is What It Is") You can hear those Ss jumping out right at the beginning.
♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ You say that you know you ♫ And they're in different kind of realms, one's higher, one's lower. So, let's go into RX5 and let's check this out. We use the Connect plugin to send it over to RX5 standalone version, which gives us a lot more control than the plugins that we use inside. And there we go. So here's our vocal, where it starts. Even as you are zooming in, you can start seeing where these Ss are. There gonna be these guys right here.
There's a band there, there's a band there. If you zoom in more you can see them where hit. Here here, here here here. This is the high-end energy. You can play and here. ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ If I solo and play it. (brushing sound) Compared to the rest of the track, it's a little loud. ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ You say that you know ♫ One thing you'd think about de-essing, is not like some routine function but something you want to do to just kind of balance out the vocal sound.
This could have possibly been on a not-so-expensive mic and that's going to be part of the problem or they didn't have a lot of mics to choose from; different mics will react differently to different singers. We're gonna go in and do some little attenuation to help this out. So I'm kind of looking for the spot where most of the harshness really is. And there it is. So, I love using the gain reduction plugin. A lot of times for this, I'll do minus four db of gain reduction.
This is just enough to help clean things up. I'll listen back. ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ And that seems like a little too much this time, doesn't it? So let's back off, let's go to two. ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ I think that sounds better. And we'll just go through all of these areas. That's a pretty bold one. I'm going to actually give that two hits. Which would be like four. ♫ When you say that you're sure ♫ You say that you know ♫ Next section.
♫ Sure, you say that you know ♫ And sometimes, that ch like a C sound, C-H sound. Maybe you reduce that a tiny bit too. ♫ Sure, you say that you know ♫ You got nothin' to hide ♫ Somethin' to show ♫ Right there on 'something'. ♫ Hide, some ♫ And just go through. A lot of these you can recognize visually. ♫ Thing to hide, somethin' ♫ Make sure you're doing the right thing. Let's do that twice. ♫ Hide, somethin' to show ♫ And realize, sometimes you're gonna be reducing these a little bit heavily.
Might allow you to add some brightening EQ to the whole track. So, the Ss aren't gonna jump out really nasty if you add some, like five K, six K, ten K to the vocal track while you're mixing. So this gives you a lot more balancing and evening out of the vocal sound. It's a real easy trick. This is really precise control that we probably dreamed of as engineers working on tape decks and stuff back in the day and it really allows you to, like I said, add more high into the track later, really manipulate the track, maybe compress it more in the mix and get more out of the vocal performance and more emotion into your music.
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.