One of the biggest problems facing producers who process vocal takes is that of sibilance. Sibilance refers to the harsh consonants, notably ess and eff, that are exaggerated due to either the singer's voice or delivery (sometimes getting too close to the microphone can exaggerate sibilance). The microphone is merciless in picking up sibilance and taming these nasties can be a nightmare if you don't know how.
The process of taming or controlling sibilance is called De Essing which makes perfect sense as what we are trying to do is to de ess, ie, remove the sss or attenuate it. Quite often the producer will manually search for sibilance and use volume automation to attenuate the sibilant frequencies. However, this can be time consuming and quite laborious and in these instances we prefer to use a dedicated de esser. The de esser is designed specifically to treat sibilance in vocal recordings.
The problem with treating sibilance is trying to locate exactly where it resides in the vocal waveform. Sibilance invariably can cover quite a wide band of frequencies and I have often treated them from 4 kHz all the way to 12 kHz. Additionally, you need to be careful not to attenuate too heavily as the process can suck the life out of the band of frequencies being processed: remember that we are attenuating a range of frequencies and not individual frequencies.
With EDM vocals sibilance can be really problematic because EDM productions tend to lend themselves to high stem counts and getting vocals to cut through a busy mix requires that some of the sibilant letters be pronounced as opposed to being attenuated. However, there are always workarounds to every problem in this industry.
Understanding how best to de ess female lead vocals can be make or break for a mix. Let me show you how to avoid the pitfalls and how best to use a De Esser.
Topics covered in this video are:
Sibilance and Plosives
Bandwidth and Range
Pre de essing EQ
Cubase De esser
Tips and Tricks