De-essing: What it is and Why it’s Important

Gustaf Lindberg
May 26, 2019 · 3 min read

When recording vocal tracks or voice-overs, every individual’s voice will have unique and distinct characteristics. That being said, when you listen to how words are pronounced and articulated, it is likely that you’ll notice these different characteristics. This is something you need to pay attention to when doing your podcast editing.

Recorded show or audios with two (or more) speakers will have s, t, or z sounds that can ruin the audio’s quality. These sounds are called vocal sibilance or sibilant sounds . They are very common in voice recordings. As you get the hang of podcast editing, this is one aspect you’ll be able to easily pick out.

Aside from sibilant sounds, there are also other key parameters that can significantly impact sound quality. These include microphone placements, equipment used, and other technical audio recording aspects.

Fortunately, advancements in technology today has provides with with de lesser plugins and tools so annoying noises can be effectively eradicated.

De Essing in a Nutshell

Simply put, the process of minimising (if not totally removing) those sibilant sounds with given parameters like frequency of the audio and volume is called de essing. The de esser will will respond to those parameters and control or treat the unwanted sibilant sounds.

Basic De Essing Tips to Keep in Mind

So what can help ensure you provide your audience with an impeccable listening experience? Make sure you provide a show with exceptional audio quality! Fortunately, this is where a great de esser tool or plugin can come in very handy. Below are top tips to help warrant you’ll get the most out of your de easing tool or plugin:

  • The attenuation parameter with set frequency is used to help you gauge how much reduction is made.
  • Sibilance will often manifest in the 2kHz to 8kHz frequency ranges. However, in some instances, it can go up. This is the range where the de esser should be set up and given a good kick using the threshold parameter so it works accordingly.
  • In most cases, the female ess is noticeable at around 6.7kHz. The male ess on the other hand is present at around 4.5kHz. There will be times however where you would need to gauge using your ears which frequency is ideal once the de esser does its job. In addition, there will be instances when the recorded audio quality will not provide the typical frequencies the de esser will respond to.
  • When it comes to de essing, there is one thing you need to keep in mind: too much can lead to audio quality loss. With that in mind, it pays to always exercise caution with said threshold parameter. You need to make sure it’s not too little or too much.
  • If you have an audio background, keep in mind that knowing where to put the de esser in the plugin chain can impact the results significantly.
  • Taking into consideration what a de esser is capable of doing, it would not be sensible to put out a show without using one. What’s your experience with a de esser so far? I’d love to hear about it!
Gustaf Lindberg

Written by

Swede who calls California home. Entrepreneur who's into technology, history, and podcasting.

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