Whether hardware or software, I hate using de-essers—that is until the Eiosis e2deesser plug-in for Win/Mac computers came along. It works in 32/64-bit on AAX, VST2, VST3 and AU hosts and is super-easy to use. A good de-esser “zeroes in” on problematic “S” and other fricative sounds and instantly compresses them down—one-by-one and without collateral damage to the rest of the vocal’s audio quality.
I tried e2 on a problem male lead vocal track in a Pro Tools 12 mix. I liked the simple, two main parameters: Sensitivity and Amount. With the Auto control fully CCW, Sensitivity acts like the attack time to set how fast e2 grabs the S and then Amount dials in how much de-essing you’d like. That is about it unless you’d like to shape the S sound with the Auto and Smooth sibilant controls.
Auto adjusts the frequency response of the sibilants; some singers have several different sounding S that would require more than one single-frequency de-esser. The Smooth control saturates the detected S and mellows out its harshness.
For eliminating even the most severe sibilant problems, get the Eiosis e2deesser; it sells for $99 downloadable and requires an iLok 2 dongle to run.
BARRY RUDOLPH is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com