139: De-Essing & Sibilance Control Deep Dive


Sibilance in recordings needs to be controlled. The top end needs to be balanced and appropriate for the song. Period. 


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

You have to get the top end right at the source and in the mix. And sometimes additional refinement has to be done in mastering. 

Whatever it takes to get a clear, bright, but smooth and pleasant sounding top end.

An overly sibilant recording/mix is a dead giveaway that you're listening to an amateur production, unless it's intentional.

It's worse than a slightly dull/dark production in most cases, because it's distracting at best and even painful to listen to in some cases.

In this episode we're talking about different ways to do this at every stage of the process:

  • We're explaining mic positioning techniques and other recording tricks.
  • We're discussing signal flow, plugin order and of course go-to plugins, settings and starting points
  • And we're talking about special tools and techniques outside your typical de-essers and EQs

Here's to a bright but smooth sounding future!


Mentioned On The Episode:


  • Pro-Q 3
  • Pro-DS
  • Pro-MB


  • Renaissance DeEsser
  • Sibilance


  • Soothe
  • Spiff

Eiosis e2deesser

Eventide Split EQ

Soundtheory Gullfoss

DBX 902 De-Esser (Hardware)

DBX 902 De-Esser Plugins:

Empirical Labs:

  • Distressor
  • Fatso

iCon Platform M+

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 139 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Malcom: There's so many tools, like we went, that's a deep dive. That's probably the deepest dive anybody's ever done into dse. . 

Like we could have just. Told you about a ESR and you probably would've had the tools you need to get most jobs done.

But, it's fun digging in and, kind of showing other ways, to get the job done. 

Benedikt: hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I'm your host, Benedictine, and I'm here with my friend and co-host Malcolm Owen Flood. Hello, Malcolm. How are you? Good to see you again.

Malcom: Hey Benny. I'm doing great man. It's great to see you as well. It feels like it's been a couple weeks. Has it been, uh, since we've gotten to catch up? Yeah. Busy times, but. Very fantastic to see you and dude, you gotta see this, Actually, check this out. People that are just listening, I am holding up faders. 

Benedikt: what do you, what 

Malcom: with faders. It is the icon platform M plus. so we got eight fades on there and yada yada. I use it for, I got it for my cart for, for doing like location sound stuff, mixing on set. But, I then was mixing a song last week, uh, and was like, well, why don't I bring it in, connect it to Pro Tools and I'll have some faders for Pro Tools as well, and it'll be super fun.

Benedikt: And is it fun?

Malcom: well, I thought you would love that I was doing that because you made that switch and loved it. Um, but the , just the, the downturn of the story is it wasn't working. So I decided to update the firmware and, uh, something went wrong with like the power. Through usb well updating and the update failed and it seems like I've ed the unit, like it seems like it's totally broken , which is very upsetting actually. 

Benedikt: So you can't use it live too now,


Malcom: it like, just straight up doesn't work right now, so I'm kind of in the midst of, support and like, they're really quick to get back to me. I, I've got an email sitting in my inbox right now, so I'm kind of yet to read it. But from what I found online, if that happens, it might just be toast, which is, Pretty sad cause it worked perfectly for my location stuff.

Benedikt: Was it your fault though, or is it like, can you

Malcom: No, it just, it just failed. And then, uh, yeah, some just something went wrong. So I don't think it was my fault. 

Benedikt: So they gotta send you a new one basically.

Malcom: I hope so.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yep. Send Malcolm a new one. Definitely.

Malcom: blaming them yet, but, uh, we'll, we'll, uh, see what we can do. Maybe there's like a factory reset. I don't know how to do, but I really want to use it with pro tools. I think that'd be so fun. I was balancing a bunch of guitars and I was like, this would be so much easier.

Benedikt: dude, Like I had that happen with an interface once I, I won't say the name of the company, but it happened and it's got stuck during like firmware update and, uh, it, I could never get it to work after that 

Malcom: Oh my gosh. 

I don't know enough about how software and hardware works, but I just don't get how, You can't just be like, you know how like old game boys had a little reset button or something? You just hold that and it goes back to how you got it. It makes sense to me.

Benedikt: Totally. That's the way it should. That's the way it should be. Yes. but like, yeah, I don't know. They will, I think they will send you a new one that if it's not your fault,

Malcom: We'll see. but in the meantime, my studio looks pretty cool. I like having the faders sitting there,

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, me too. Like I did a little sort of, not revamp, but I've reorganized things a little bit too this week. So I got the control slightly on the left now because yeah, I just rearranged things a little bit and got the stream back in front of me and a little additional mic that I was connected to my phone because soon I'm gonna be experimenting with a second camera from the side for some things, and I have the mic there and like all these things. And I got, I spent way too much money for Iraq. Mount for my monitor controller that used to be here, that's now in the wreck next to me. But I'm so happy that I spent it because like just looks so much better in the wreck. And I, I just love when things are like organized so did a little bit of that too, Yeah. But the controller, I, I can't wait for you to, to be able to use it because I think it is really cool and I sort of went back and forth on controllers, but I really, for now I think, I really think it's better

to have. 

Malcom: I think I'm like really just looking at it for the faders, so the, the rest of it is, is not necessary. I'm, I, I, 

know like 

Benedikt: i, 

find that to be pretty cool too. 

Malcom: Oh yeah, I could see that for 


Benedikt: Uh, 

Malcom: I'll report once I actually manage to get it working, I'll uh, definitely report back and let you know how I like it and whatnot. so stay tuned.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally, By the way, if you're watching on YouTube, I just noticed that my lights behind me are kind of weird, blue and red, which was not intentional. Like I think one of them might be on like sound detection or something, , because it used to be all red and now one of them turned blue. Let's see what happens during, in the episode, it looks like I'm having a police car back there or something.

Malcom: Here's a fun fact. I am, uh, mildly colored, efficient, and I see very purple lights behind you.

Benedikt: Oh really? Both of them? Both of them the same.

Malcom: I, I don't know if I have, Let me go full screen here, see

Benedikt: So one of them is red and one is yellow.

Malcom: Oh yeah, yeah, the red is pretty much pink to me. And, uh, and then so the, yeah, over your right shoulder is pink and then over, uh, I guess both over your right shoulder, but the one closer to you is very purple to me.

Benedikt: Ah, okay. Interesting. Now they're blue and red. At least I may. Maybe I don't see you

Malcom: you're definitely right. This happens all the time.

Benedikt: All right. Let's see. Maybe they changed during the episode. Gotta do something about that. Anyway, let's get to today's episode. This time we're talking about sibilance. We're talking about SS zent noises in vocals particularly, we're talking about how to control them. So it's about ding sibilance control, but not just using ERs, but how to get rid of, or how to control sibilance in vocals in general. Because I think, and most people would agree, I think, or I hope so, that Synt needs to be. Sort of controlled, like it shouldn't be all over the place and annoying and piercing. So, and, and I also think that overly civil and vocals especially are a problem in a lot of DIY recordings and many DIY recordings. Um, sometimes it's also the symbols and other stuff, but like, especially in the vocals, I hear it a lot and there's multiple reasons for that. And we'll, we're gonna get to that. So we're gonna talk about how to deal with that, how to avoid it in the first place, or reduce. the synt stuff. Um, you can't really avoid it, but like control it. And then we, also gonna talk about things you can do after the fact. So the part of it is like capturing it ideal. And then, the other part is like what you can do. After the recording to keep it in check and to make sure that it's not, piercing and annoying to listen to. And there's multiple ways to do that. And I think it's an, it's really an important topic that we haven't really talked about, because I hear it all the time where it, you can't almost, you almost can't listen to the song if it's like, really bad because it's so distracting. At least to me, I, I hate that stuff. It's also, by the way, On some podcasts. I don't know about our podcast. Maybe we were too civil and two, I don't know because it's she bright, but there's a lot of podcasts and audio books that I've listened to where I could barely focus on the content just because it's

like SS 

all over the place. 

Malcom: Yeah, 

Yeah. But so all humans kind of have this shared ability to know what a voice should sound like. And as soon as that is messed with too much, the whole recording's kind of scrapped. I mean, there's, there's exceptions, you know, like, there's certain sounds we like, like, you know, really. Slap back echo. Heavy vocals have been a sound over the ages and stuff like that. but There's something about the quality of the voice where if it's like recorded in a way that seems phasy or something or it's EQ´d too harsh or like scooped out and hollow, we just instantly can tell that it's not right. And everybody can do that, cause we're so used to hearing people talk. That's how we communicate. So esses are something that in real life, this doesn't happen. It doesn't sound weird. Esses sound totally normal in real life, but when we're recording them and we're compressing signals and even, or saturating and whatnot, they become more of an issue and it's something we need to combat to make it normal again. We need to make it natural and what we expect to hear from a human voice. and it, as Benny said, it's not something you can avoid. It will happen. so it's learning how to deal with it and, and training your ear to look for it as well, I think.

Benedikt: Yes. Yes, absolutely. that's actually interesting. I don't know when it happened, but I remember that. Like years ago I didn't ever think about this. I was just listening to stuff and I never thought about about this is Synt or the SS are painful or whatever. But at some point I started to notice that in other recordings and like as I said, podcasts and stuff, and I feel like it got worse over the years, so it didn't get worse in the recordings, but my perception of it and how much it annoys me get worse. So there's definitely something about to be said about developing your, your hearing. And now you could say that. Well, if like. Normal people, sort of, um, non-music pros if they don't hear it as well, Well, why should we, worry about this? But I think that even if you don't, if you can't put your finger on it, I mean, if you don't really hear it the way we hear it, it's still distracting

Malcom: Oh yeah, no. If you can't tell it's an s you'll still think it sounds weird. I'm convinced that you'll be like, Something's wrong with this vocal. I don't like it very much. And it might be that it's the s it might be something else, you know? Um, it could be like an overly crazy proximity effect or something like, you know, But if it's just not right, we, we, it's kind of universal for humans, I think. now, The same is true if you, uh, like Penny and I hate s's, it's really easy to just overkill them, you know, and, and make them like just disappear together. And that sounds very wrong as well. so it, it is a fine line, uh, of getting this right. but I mean, it's, it's really not that hard. I don't, I don't wanna make it sound hard, but there, there is kind of multiple ways to get there and sometimes it's not as straightforward as, You might have 10 mixes where it's as easy as just opening up your default DS or plugin and you're good, but, and then the 11th mix, it takes you an hour,

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, totally. And, and the thing is, sometimes when it, when. Recording is really bad and you, you sometimes have to decide if you wanna keep it like the bad harsh SS or you wanna do something about them. But then, sometimes that can't be done really transparently, and so you, you get a, you end up getting like a lisp or some we, or like just weird sounding ss and there's always this, like, if it's just recorded badly, there's often this weird trade off where it's not good if you don't do anything about it, but if you, if you're treated, it's also not really good. So there's really, you gotta capture it. Well, I think, and I have. Favorite records of mine, actually. some punk records are out there where, I don't know what happened to the recording, but I just know that they deed so much that it sounds like the singer has a list, and that's just as annoying to me. so yeah, uh, you can definitely overdo it on, on, uh, in the processing too, but maybe, maybe the recordings were so bad that this was still better than the original. I don't know. It's really hard to tame that stuff sometimes, but usually there is a way because you have multiple options of dealing with it. And we're gonna talk about.

Malcom: Absolutely. 

Benedikt: Okay, cool. Now let's start with the tracking actually. I think the big one, the biggest one to me, and that's kind of also hard to do for a lot of people if you don't have a Mico full of different mics, but mic choice. Is where it starts for me, because some mics even like very expensive. Great mics just don't work for certain people. That's just the fact. And I'm talking to this modeling mic right now that has a virtual sort of mic locker that you can, uh, use and like do a shootout in the computer, which is very convenient. And when I go through the different models in there and I have no idea how close they sound to some of the, the real things, the, at least the ones that I haven't heard yet, uh, in real life or haven't used, I have no idea how close they are, but I just, I can hear that they are very different, Especially when it comes to the sibilance and some work super well on one singer and like for a different singer, it doesn't work at all. And the other mics that I have owned, when I was still producing and recording, I would always do shootouts or I had some go-tos that I knew for certain types of vocals, it might be a good choice, but I had to always try because what worked for one person did not necessarily work for a different person. So I think mic choice is a big one.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. if, if you have that luxury, we realize, you know, being DIY home recorders, you might kind of have. Into one solid all round mic. and in which case, yeah, make it work. It's not gonna break you, you know, , if you've got a a decent vocal mic, you're gonna be able to make this work. but if you do have a couple options, it's totally we're shooting out and seeing which one compliments your vocalist the best.

Benedikt: Yeah. Which, uh, it's worth mentioning here that if you followed our advice that we gave multiple times on this podcast, and you got yourself a dynamic mic for vocals, if you're tracking at home like an SM seven or the protester of the road or some, some, large diaphragm dynamic Mike, like the typical voiceover mics, these I think are. Not very problematic when it comes to SS and they are very versatile. They work on a lot of people and I can't remember having a session with an being in a session with an SM seven and had, and like having weird SS or something like that was never a 

Malcom: it's it's very smooth.

Benedikt: It's mostly the, the cheap, condenser, um, microphones that have this problem often where they try to sound like hyped and expensive, but what they really do is just make things harsh. And Synt.

Malcom: Yes. Looking at you Road NT one. at you, or G one. I can't remember what the model

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. NT one, uh, is the one, yeah. when in doubt I'd say you can even use. I mean, but not, not even use, You can absolutely use an SM 57 or something even, or an F SM 58 or some other dynamic micro, like you can do a shootout with all kinds of mics that you have, as long as they're not super acute. I, I mean, you know, there are special things that kicked drum mics and stuff, but like the, the typical instrument mics that you have lying around, they could work for vocals. And when you have, like, when your only options are a cheap Condensor mic and maybe a 57, I'd compare it against the 57 and maybe that's the better.

Malcom: Totally. Yeah, definitely give it a shot. You never know. choosing the mic. Yeah, if you can get that right, fantastic. If you only have the one, you gotta make it work. Um, there's still some stuff you can do. the first thing I would mention would just be placement. And it's not uncommon to experiment with your, your access on the microphone for. Explosives and s noises. I find that if you just sing a little off access on hard postives or hard consonance, it really smooths things out, that the s's get better under. Hmm. With the dynamic, I'm not sure it's gonna make much of a difference, but we could do a little test snake that was on Access Snake that was off access

Benedikt: Yeah. 

Malcom: see sounds different.

Benedikt: There was a difference too. I can do that too. I mean, that's what I'm doing all the time here. I have the mic slightly from the side and I'm talking straight ahead, which is like, I'm, I'm not talking into the Dharm directly. That's why I don't even have a pop filter on my, on my condenser mic here because it just works the way it does. But if I'm, if I'm talking Yeah, if I'm talking straight into it, it's gonna sound differently and Snake, these were two different, directions that I was talking to right now, and yeah, you can totally do that. The thing, the, the biggest thing for me when it comes to access, when it comes to placement is when you make an s noise, typically air goes the top of your mouth downwards, basically. It goes, the airflow goes down, and, uh, you can even feel that when you make an s noise, you feel it on the, on the lower lip, typically.

Malcom: Yeah.

Benedikt: And, uh, Yep. 

Malcom: is fun. I can just picture all of our listeners

going, driving around in their cars. 

Benedikt: Exactly. Uh, so that means if you have the mic coming from below, like you have now, Malcolm, that will Yep. That will, is likely to increase the sibilance and cause more problems. Uh, it doesn't have to, but can, and if you're coming from above, then the, the airflow goes below the mic and it's, it oftentimes works better for me. With, with s is also with plaus. That stuff sort of tends to go down. And if you're coming from, from slightly above and don't do the lemy thing, like don't sing upwards. Like just point the mic, like to have the mic a little higher, point it down in your mouth, but sing straight ahead. That can solve, issue

Malcom: Everybody's probably seen pictures of the upside down mic. you know, like a tube mic hung upside down and. That's, Some people 

say that's, Yeah, for, for the two peed is, is one thing. But I actually do find if you're trying to get this above the, the singer a little bit, it looks to their eye like it's kind of in the more centered spot so they don't tilt their head as much. Where if you have it, in its usual, uh, orientation and you raise it up high, they tilt their head to follow it. So it kind of tricks them into singing straight without manipulating their neck too much. 

Benedikt: Yeah. I haven't thought about that, but that's totally true. And also might get the mic out of the way when they have to look at lyrics or something, or no, you know, so, 

Malcom: At the same time, I have an irrational fear of it. It just looks like the mic's gonna fall outta the stand and plum it to the ground. Just head first.

Benedikt: I mean, shouldn't 


but, you know. Yeah. and then there's the other thing that I often used actually, and it sometimes worked, sometimes it didn't work, but it's worth trying. And that is the pencil trick, that works with PIFs too. And I, I hope you, you mean the same thing that I mean now, Malcolm, because you added that. Yeah, so it's just putting a pencil in front of the, the capsule in front of the mic, like fixing it with a like, uh, with a rubber, band or something.

Malcom: yeah. Do you have a, a pencil handy? I would love to just try this out for the listener.

Benedikt: uh, not, unfortunately not.

Malcom: See, I, I got a pen, but I don't, I'm on a condenser or on a dynamic and it's just, it's more of a, a condenser thing I feel like, but we could try it, see what happens. All right, so let's do Aus first. That was no pencil. I don't know if made a difference. 

Benedikt: Maybe 

Malcom: no pencil, pencil. We'll see 


that translates. 

Benedikt: To me, the S sounded a little smoother indeed. yeah, I, I don't, Yeah. 

Malcom: what we're doing this year is dispersing air, though we're dispersing air from directly hitting our, uh, capsule, so, or diaphragm. that, that's kind of the idea here. 

Um, yeah.

Benedikt: Totally simple as that. Put a pencil in front of the mic and see if it changes things. Uh, so yeah, the BA basic idea behind all of this is to avoid the direct airflow into the, the capsule of the diaphragm. and if you can pull that off, but still capture the, what's important, um, the essence of the sound, then you're good. I think. So these are the things you can do when it comes to, Placement and mic choice. Is there anything else we can think about when it comes to capturing stuff? I, I think these are really the main ones. Sometimes you get like a weird sort of bright stuff from, from room acoustics, but like, that's a whole different kind of worms. But I think when, when, if you're, let's assume you're in a somewhat controlled space, and then it's typically just about what happens directly in 

Malcom: Well, I think maybe just the one thing worth mentioning is that the, the room acoustics that come off of S sounds are very high frequency and the easiest things to treat. you really shouldn't have this issue if you've even just hung blankets and like, you know, the bare minimum stuff. Just get something up. This is like the kind of thing that egg cards might actually help

Benedikt: Yeah.

Malcom: Like the one thing, you know, . so you shouldn't have this problem. There's no real excuse for having high fluttery stuff that high up.

Benedikt: Absolutely. By the way, my light test changed. I haven't, didn't notice when it happened, but it's, it's now it's yellow and red, so whatever that is to you.

Malcom: Yeah, I can't really see the yellow, but I think that's just kind of the video 

stuff going on. 

Benedikt: yeah. yeah. Anyway, good. Uh, next one is signal flow. I wrote it down here as signal flow and plugin order. What I mean with that, by that is, it's not about the, the actual processing yet, but it's about the order of things in your plugin chain. So now we have recorded, we are in the doll, and to me it makes a big difference, whether I'm like EQing into a compressor or if I compress first and then eq. So for example, on a lot of vocals, I will boost a bunch of top end when I wanna make it more airy, when I wanna make it more present, when I, you know, the intelligibility and all of that, I wanna add, oftentimes I just add top end to a vocal. And if I do that before a compressor, the compressor will, will then react to the now brighter signal. And when there is like loud, bright stuff happening, it will rec to it and turn it down. It will do what, what a compressor does, but it will also hear the brighter stuff and it will react to that signal if I EQ after the compressor and I boost, especially if I boost top end after the compressor. The compressor will bring up ss usually anyways, and then if I queue after that, I will just make those alre, like these ss that are now louder because of the compression. I will make those brighter. And to me, you just have to try to me, it, it sounds smoother to boost top end into a compressor than to boost top end after compressor. That that doesn't mean I don't ever do that. I often do it and oftentimes it's not a problem. But sometimes when I feel. It sounded okay. And then after ECU and Compression, it just got too synt. I tried to boost up and into the compressor and that. that often helps really, So,

Malcom: Yeah. I don't really have much to add here, but if, if you just think about what's happening, you can kind of predict what's gonna happen after. compression is the thing that tends to make these ss. Go crazy, I find. I, I'm personally usually trying to deal with it before the compressor, but it's totally common for me to end up having something later in the chain as well. That's helping. Again, it's like Ds compressed. Ds

Benedikt: Yeah. Same here. Yeah, same. Same here. I was just talking about the basic like EQ and compression order. Um, there, there's definitely a yes or in front of it most of the time. Yeah, 

Malcom: now, 

Benedikt: us about your guessing workflow.

Malcom: well, DSRs, there's, that's a whole thing because there's so many different DERs and they all do kind of sound different to me, which is interesting. that said, don't overthink it. You don't need to own 10 DSRs. the, the stock ones probably gonna do a great job. In fact, the Stock Pro Tools, dsor is my most used dsor. I think maybe. Possibly

Benedikt: interesting. I don't really like the cubase one, but maybe I just have to learn it a little better, but, but it's definitely doable with it too.

Malcom: Yeah, maybe, um, give, give it a shot. I mean, and then, uh, I mean like the, and I know a lot of people own the, the Waves DSR as well, and that's a great one I think as well. we're huge fab filter fan fans on this podcast, and, and their DSR is great as well. But like those three cover everything for me as far as just reaching for a a, a Ds or standalone plugin, where that's its whole job. It works. One of those is gonna do the, the trick and usually it's just kind of any of them really. It's only when it becomes like you got a tricky thing that I have to try and audition them a little bit. But like I said, I usually have one at the start of my chain just because I know that I'm gonna be compressing things heavily usually. so it's like I'm kind of compensating for knowing that the s is gonna get louder once I compress it. So the first stage is probably turning it down too much. If there wasn't a compressor later, it would kind of be neutering it, but the compressor brings it back up to where it should live.

Benedikt: yeah, that makes sense. And do you, if you have two 2D sers, one before and one after processing or like after AQ in compression, are those set to like this, are, are those the same or are they, do you use different settings there?

Malcom: Uh, it would be different settings, probably just a different like, range, I guess. Um, so like for how much reduction is happening when it's hit and, uh, I just dial it. To taste really. lately though, I would say that I've got my first dsr, uh, and then my compressor, and that's kind of on all my vocal tracks. And then on the bus I have another, some kind of DSR going that is just ding the the vocal group actually. And I've had results with that and it's less tweaky for me. but I'll get into what that DS or plugin is cuz it's not usually an actual DS or plugin. Uh, a little 

bit later in our outline. 

Benedikt: Okay, good.

Okay, cool. I, I love that the good old, R dsr Renaissance

Malcom: right Yeah. 

Benedikt: thing. 

Malcom: Yeah. Totally Great one. Yep.

Benedikt: just love that. Still. I have tried a bunch of others, but that's the one that I keep coming back to. And I use two of the 2 1 1 in the beginning of the chain and one somewhere at the end. And the first one typically for me is a broadband. Yes, sir. Where I. you know, with the Deser you set, there's, at least with this Deser, but with many of them, you set the. Frequency range that the Esso should listen to. Like the where, where it detects the ss. So that's one perimeter, that's not what you hear, but you set a certain frequency range where the SS are, and then the, the SRX to that. And then the other thing that you have control over is what it actually reduces once it's detected an S and with, uh, the Renaissance one. What I do is, the first one is a broadband yes or so. I set the range, the detection range, and then I set it to, whenever you hear an S you turn down the whole signal like a fader going down quickly and back up again. Whenever an S happens. That's the first one that I do. That's, Very transparent because it's like just turning down the SS manually. You just have to, to set the timing and stuff correctly or like whatever you have control over. But that's what I do first and then the other one at the end. that's when, where I have dialed in my sound that I want so much that I don't want to affect. Or like everything and like the, everything's like so dialed in. I, for whatever reason, I don't like the broadband thing anymore, but sometimes the ss just got too loud and then I end up using a second instance where it only controls the top end, almost like the upper band of a multi band compressor or something where, so that's what I do. The first one, broadband transparent, the second one, trust affecting the, and it's usually their shelf. It's like upwards of 5K or something.

Malcom: Yes. Yeah. Um, I'm glad you brought that up. Cause that is important. Yeah. The, the like broadband versus, kind of, it's multi-band, but really you're, you're choosing one band, single band, um, specific frequency allocation that like that. I, I actually, I'm, I'm usually using, uh, just a high shelf for my first one. but not always. Yeah, it's kind of, maybe I'll play with that. You, you're convincing me to look at that again in my workflow. but it, like, as long as the SS are getting turned down right, 

Whatever sounds natural. 

Benedikt: exactly. For whatever reason, I rarely use as a narrow band, like when the, the detection band is narrow, but like the actual thing that's being turned down is very rarely just. A narrow band, it's almost always a shelf. It's like upwards of a certain frequency and then all of it, because you can, some people go in and like find the, the most annoying frequency and just turn that down. But that always, I don't know, that just doesn't work for me most of the time. It always changes the sound so much. It's not transparent enough for me. It 

Malcom: Yeah. 

Benedikt: a list or I don't know.

Malcom: Yeah, it just, it doesn't work for me either. It's either a shelf or the whole thing. You're right. Um, don't really know where that is, but that, that is the way it is. I, I do think we should talk about the inner workings of AER a little bit. Cause I think that will be valuable for our listeners. You already mentioned that there's the detection circuit and then, kind of the. What you're actually affecting. You can know setting that range as well. some of them have a listen feature, which is extremely useful, especially if you are on one of those tricky voices where it's hard to make this s do what you want to do and you can then, uh, listen to. The, the detection circuit, essentially. So you are click on listen, and it starts playing what it's listening to, what it uses to search for an S and then you can kind of scroll around and find the frequency that that person's consonants live at, where their asses jump out. I find like six K is kind of usually the default, but some people definitely 4k, some people a little higher. it like you can find where their ss really jump out and then that this is gonna make it easier to control, the dynamics of it because it's can only be the SS that are really triggering your DSR to go off. Super handy. Plus I doing that can help you also kind of figure out what to eq, um, if you want to go after it with like a kind of normal EQ or something like that. It's, it just kind of tells you learn more about their voice by listening to it that way, I think.

Benedikt: hundred percent agreed. 

Malcom: there could be speed and release of the, and stuff like that as well, but generally kind of don't give you those parameters, which is good. I think it's, it's best not to be too tweaky on it.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And then there are some special sers where like, I love, actually that's one, that's the one I use on the vocal bus. Like you mentioned, you Yes. The vocal bus. I do that too. And on there I use the, it's called Lance by Waves. I'm not, I'm not the biggest waves plugins fan for various reasons. But like these, in this case, like with the sers, 

Malcom: That's the one I meant, 

uh, when I mentioned the waves ds, 

Benedikt: Oh. 

Malcom: one I was talking about, Wave

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And the, the lance one, I don't know exactly what what's going on under the hood, but they say it's like the resynthesis, whatever. So they, they detect the Ss and they do whatever with it. , you read it up, it's like not normal dsr, it does something with the D with thess, recreates them in some way or whatever. that one seems to be really transparent. I can do a lot of yessing with it. And, and it still sounds transparent. So there, there might be certain tools that have a different kind of, feature set or controls or like the, what's the one called? The, the slate one. The, Aosis, 

um, you know that one 

that has sort of. Yeah. 

it has, it comes with the slate bundle. That one has a, a smoothing knob, whatever that does, and some sort of like, I think it's some sort of saturation. We'll get to why that could help with ss. So there are some ss with extra options, but the typical ones give you the detection, then you can control, uh, so you, you can control what, what adheres you can control what it turns down and how much of it, and then maybe the speed of it. But yeah, it's mostly frequency threshold and that's,

Malcom: and range. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So then up next on our list was EQs. and now the, the fab filter. ProQ is the EQ we mentioned almost every episode. I feel like that has a dynamic EQ built into it. so there's two parts to this. You can just carve out the frequency that is ssy , but you might not want that when it's not an S sound, right. You're just kind of dolling the whole vocal. So then if you go to a dynamic EQ that only jumps down on those loud s noises, you've essentially created a DSR at that point. this totally works. I just find that a DSR plugin is a quicker way of doing it. Um, I don't know about you Benny. yeah. The only time I would say that I U like to use an EQ is if I am finding a compressor is really igniting a certain frequency in an S, carving it out just a little bit right before the compressor Can't be a quick way to just get that done. It's like if the plugin's already open, I'll just it out.

Benedikt: Yeah, Same for me. And, uh, there's only two situations where I use a Tatic EQ band, and that is when it's actually not just the Ss, but it's a resonance that's, that's just there in the vocal. Sometimes there's. Some harsh frequency, similar to like a guitar cab resonance where it just whistles or is like harsh and annoying. And, uh, that also causes the ss to be sharp and all the, and in that case, I just, yeah, I just, uh, detect that sort of, resonance and turn it down and leave it there. So that, that's the, the one instance where it's like a, a notch, a very narrow band where that I would just take out. And then the other situation, Sometimes, And that depends on the mic sometimes also the room or, Yeah, mostly that. Sometimes also the, also the voice. It's when just a broader part of the spectrum for whatever reason, is just too harsh or too, Forward or something. It's oftentimes in the upper mid range and it's, it's not really a resonance or something like that, but it's like overall too much and I can just turn that down and, um, with a bell and, and that will often solves the SS too. So you gotta know if it's really. a lance, like an S thing, an S problem that you have or if it's just generally there in the recording and then you can use in a basic eq, but be very careful with like, just addressing the S'S with eq unless it's a dynamic one because as you said, Malcolm, you don't wanna sort of punch holes into your vocal, all the time. You just wanna do it to the ss if, if those are the problem.

Malcom: Yeah, it's kind of a shame to make the whole vocal doll just to get around Ss. Yeah. multi band compression is like another kind of a form of the same thing really Here. That's what I like to use when it's a broad thing where the vocal overall is a little bright and that that makes the asses kind of jump out extra where I can just kind of tame the top end broad as a broad baller or shelf. With a dynamic comp, not something I do very often though, , I feel like I'm always gonna warm whenever it's dynamic. Anything or multi-band anything? just because people think it's the magic bullet as we've talked about before,

 it sounds so convenient, but it's really not something I find myself doing that often.

Benedikt: no multi-band compressors sometimes give you the option of like doing site chaining things or stuff like that. And in those cases I might use it. But for standard yes. Saying there's better tools or like other tools, it's the same thing. Honestly, it's, it's almost the same thing. So the upper band of a multi-band, Depending on which comp you use, but with the fat filter one, you can also set the, the, the internal side chain filter to detect certain frequencies, and then you can choose the band that 

will get turned down. So it's very similar to the Yes, sir.

Malcom: It's very similar. It's almost more tweaky. Um, which if, if you really need it, is great because you then you do have attack and release times, you know, Um, and you have that really detailed listen circuit and there, there is a lot of power there. But, um, like that's, if you're spending that much time on Ds in the vocal, gonna be a, a rough mix ahead.

Benedikt: Exactly. All right. The next one is interesting though. And that's one I've been using more and more, um, recently, and that's saturation where, I mean, I've always used saturation and I love distorting things, but specifically to make things sound smoother, um, saturation and even distortion is a great tool. especially for, uh, when it comes to TAing lance and harsh stuff, I love using saturation more and more. It's just an amazing tool, even distortion sometimes. And the way I always explain it, and I don't know if that is pr it's probably not correct, but it, I think it helps get the concept. So the way I think of it, When something is harsh to me or like sticking out or a synt, it's usually a pretty narrow, part of the frequency spectrum that just sticks out, that's piercing. And when I saturate a broader part of the frequency spectrum around that annoying frequency, or if I saturate the whole thing, then. The saturation sort of fills in the gaps between these peaks. It shaves off the top a little bit and it adds harmonic content in between, which sort of makes those harsh resonance not stick out as much. So it, if you think about white noise, where like every frequency is essentially the same volume, you get closer, closer to that, The more you saturate things because you bring up the, all the content in between those narrow frequencies that stick out. So to me, that's how I think of it. When I think of saturation to make things sound smoother, it just takes the edge of, it fills in the gaps in between the harsh stuff and just what it sounds like to me is just, yeah, it sounds less edgy in a way. And it might be counterintuitive because we think of, of saturation and distortion oftentimes as something aggressive. When you think of distorted guitars or distorting anything really, but. If you do it in two, like, um, intentionally, and if you do it carefully, if you do it to just maybe parts of the signal or there's ways to make saturation sound really smooth. And that's also what a lot of people refer to as a warm or pleasing sound when they talk about analog stuff or tape or tubes and that sort of thing. so I think saturation can sound really smooth. Take the edge of something and oftentimes when I saturate a vocal a lot in the tracking, for example, I find myself not having to Ds much. And if it's a really clean vocal, especially with a cheap mic just in two, the built in Preem or something, that's where I have to do the most work to make the, the S'S work sort of. And, but when it's like saturated, it's got some mojo already and it's like it's, it's smoother in a way. It's, it's harmonically rich and I don't have to do as much to it. I

Malcom: Yeah, a warm vocal isn't probably gonna have jumpy asses, so it kind of works out that way. But not every mix needs a warm, saturated vocal. So this, this isn't a, a magic bullet either. It's a. It's kind of, you get lucky if that's the the case. It goes.

Benedikt: Yeah, that's why I'm very careful with the saturation, recommendations and stuff, or like with using terms like VM and, and things, but it still is true that we just like the way. Certain tools sound. And I'm not saying you can't do that in the doll. You absolutely can. There's emulation of all that stuff. But a very accurate digital representation of something is gonna give you all the accurate, like annoying stuff too. And if you just shave off the top a little bit and saturate it a little bit and you do some quote unquote analog mojo to it, even if it's just emulation, then. That just sounds smoother to me, but it's not what I need every single time.

Malcom: Right

Benedikt: Yeah. But, but just play around with that. It's an interesting concept. It's also something that I love, for example, on if you have an acoustic guitar that just sounds hard and harsh, or if somebody just recorded it without mics, just the di or something, um, saturating. It just makes it sound a little rounder, softer, whatever. And that's similar. Difference and feel that I get when I do it to a vocal. So just experiment with it and see how you like it and if it helps you with yeses, but it, it is definitely a tool 

Malcom: Absolutely. Now the next thing is, uh, manual de Yessing, which, if you've ever spent any time editing a podcast or looking at recorded dialogue at all, you can actually see an s It's really easy to, to identify an s just looking at a wave form of a voice. And you can quite literally just write in volume automation to turn that s down or just clip gain that part of the file further down. and that will make the s more quiet. So it, it's really that simple. This is a time consuming way of doing things, but also, you know, you can get it just how you want as well. Worth mentioning, if you're using clip gain, that is still gonna run into all of your processing after that. So, That, that's gonna turn it down, but it's still gonna hit a compressor after that, which might make it loud again. which could be great. But it's just, you know, you need to remember that it's, it's not staying that way where volume automation is usually post effects and is gonna, uh, kind of yield a final result. But even then you still have bus compressors and limits going on, so that changes things too. You might have to revisit all of your stuff,

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. I, I gotta say though, as tedious as it is, I love manual yessing, um, despite all the tools that we have, that doesn't mean I do it all the time, not at all. But Sometimes I do the usual things first, but sometimes there's just the occasional s that just is too loud or sounds weird or gets a list or whatever. And in those cases, I absolutely go in and just clip, gain the, the one s down. Or what I al also do is sometimes there's one s that just doesn't sound right, no matter what I do. That every other s sounds great, but that one thing sounds, like a lisp or something in that case. I'll just cut it out and copy a different s from somewhere else on the song in, in there instead of it. And it works perfectly well if you do it right and you zoom in enough and you find one that's like similar, ideally the same word somewhere else on the song or something, you can absolutely do that. And I've saved myself a lot of time, tweaking things by just removing it all together and replacing it with a different s and

Malcom: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's totally great tip. Actually just grabbing a normal sounding s and swapping it in, you can totally do that. at a certain point in the mix, I think I'm more prone to just volume, automate an S down as well, like rather than tweaking the s the Ds anymore, if it's working for, you know, most of the S's, I'm not gonna keep messing with it. It's just grab the offending one and turn that.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And yeah, as you said, it's important there. You can do it with clip KA at the beginning or with volume automation after the chain. That's worth mentioning for sure. Yeah. Cool. The next one is also one that I haven't used for a long time until I discovered it, and now I love it, which is using transient tools to deal with, ss so sort of transient designers. I, I love a particular one, which is, um, spiff by Oak Sound. Uh, it's mentioned in a diff, like you could also say that's one of those intelligent tools and things that we get to later, but, it is a transient designer, a multi-band transient designer that sort of detects transients and then turns 'em down or boosts them. And I find that sometimes it's not the whole s that's offending that's a problem, but it's like when it's very percussive or just the beginning of it when it sounds really hard. So sometimes just making it sound less percussive makes it sound smoother and is all the guessing that I need. And. yeah, I find that that, especially multi band transient tools are actually pretty cool thing and like help a lot with it. And, and the, the spiff especially is, is totally cool on vocals. I just use, the upper, very upper part of it. I ignore the rest and I set it to cut instead of boost of course, than in this case. And then you can, monitor the. The delta. So, you know, the, thing that, 

Malcom: Essentially what you'd be removing. 

Benedikt: Yeah, the differe, exactly what you'd be removing the difference between the un unaffected and the affected signal. And then you hear what, what you will hear then is that it's, Part of the Ss, the Ts, but also like mouth noises, clicks, things like, it's almost like a DCL thing, uh, that I really like. You can absolutely overdo it and you have to be very careful with it. But sometimes that really is better to me than turning down all of the, uh, of the s

Malcom: Yeah. That's fascinating. Cause it's, it totally can be just the shape of the s that's the problem. And if it's like a hard consonant attack on an s it, it kind of, it's like, ugh, , it doesn't sound normal. Right. Um, so you can, you could shape it a little bit. I like that idea. I'm gonna definitely experiment with that. 

Benedikt: No, and there's another great tool, by the way, that I just have tried a little bit. I haven't bought it, but I've tried it a little bit and I found it fascinating and I, I don't know if you've tried it, there is the, I think it's called Split eq. I even tied, um, 

do, do you know of that?

Malcom: I do. Yeah. I've definitely seen it floating around, but I haven't, Haven't given it a go yet.

Benedikt: So the concept is very interesting. They, it's not really cheap, but I, I find the concept to be very fascinating with, it's an eq, but you have, you can choose whether you wanna EQ the whole thing, the whole signal, just like with the fat filter or something. Or if the EQ changes only applied to the transients, or only apply to the sustain. So you can boost and cut, but you can say that high shelf. I will just EQ the sustained portion of my signal and leave the transients alone, or I will reduce only the transients. And, you know, so you could add air to in vocal, for example, without making the transients harsh and you know, or you can cut harshness with without making the whole vocal del, because you can only affect the transients, for example. So that is really, really interesting. and it's a mix of EQ and like a transient tool.

Malcom: I didn't know much about it and now I know more. 

Benedikt: Yeah, it's, it's really cool. It's just, that's why it's called Split eq. It's just the only difference to a normally EQ is that you can split it up into transient and sustain more or less, like, and you can apply EQ moves to either or, or to both.

Malcom: Very cool. 

Benedikt: I've never had a success with a, just a standard transient designer, or at least I, it's mostly the multi band transient tools that work for me.

Malcom: I would think it would almost have to be, otherwise it would be messing with things pretty hard. but that, that's a really cool line of thought to, to experiment with. I'm gonna have to, to dig into that some, some more.

Benedikt: okay. And then the next one I, but I know, I, I, I'm pretty sure you have experimented with that though, the sort of repair tools, which is, it is actually one category. I'd say it's like all the intelligent, automatic sort of tools and in that category are things like RX Isotope, um, where you have a spec or any sort of spectral. Editor, uh, that sort of gives you control over very deep, very like granular control over the frequency spectrum. And you can detect what exactly is the harsh sound and you can basically delete it out of your signal and um, or you can do an automatic like de click d whatever, thing with the RX modules. So that is definitely a thing that a lot of post post production folks use, like also in, in film and, and that sort of stuff. 

Malcom: yeah, yeah. There there's rx, which is overkill for anything Musical.

Benedikt: yeah, it's a fascinating tool. It's like so powerful and, and awesome, but standard yessing, it's not what I would reach 

Malcom: Yeah, I, I do think like if you're a pro mixer, like you professionally mix music, it's, it's totally worth having. You know, the amount of time I've removed click tracks and weird noises from stuff is, is totally invaluable. but for a recording musician, it's not something that you need to own probably at all. the other side of this, where, The other automatic tools you're talking about like Soothe or SP we already mentioned, Gofo being another one. These are like intelligent auto tools as well. Auto in a sense, in that they, they definitely are making decisions on their own, but you are still kind of selecting the parameters in which you want them to be allowed to work in. these can be fantastic actually. Sooth, funny enough, is probably my least favorite dsr, although it has been the perfect tool for the job on more than one occasion, I'm sure. Spiff I haven't tried, but I'm very curious too, after you said let you like that. But Gofo, that's like my all time favorite , uh, for, for ding. And it's so fantastic, I think. And that's the one I like to use on, on my vocal bus as kind of like a bus vo dsr. it, it's working on more than just the sasses, but it really reacts to the s's. and it's, so it's kind of like a top end tamer, uh, and glue machine for me cuz it's kind of giving like a uniform. More static, uh, result there, but it really jumps in when the SS come in and I find it just cleans it up really transparently for me. Um, and it's so simple. It's like a couple clicks and I'm happy. so, so yeah, these, these are cool tools as well. They're, for me, they're really less, uh, specific Lynn, like a DSR is, but it, it, they're also just really fantastic and sound.

Benedikt: Yeah. To, I have to agree about the sooth part as, as amazing as sooth is. I don't use it as like a, um, my only dsr, but I like to use it in combinations of the combination of soThe and spiff is like the perfect one for me. It's similar to what you described with golfers. Because Soth alone is more of a. how do I say that? It gets rid of like the more sustained stuff. Even if you said it very fast, it's like when the vocal is, is getting harsh when they're saying higher notes or something, or when there is like a resonance happening, that's where it's really cool, but it doesn't really address the super quick, um, hard sounding ss very well and in combination with spiff, it's like perfect because spiff gives me the control over the transients and the clicks and all that, and Sooth gives me more of. yeah, control over over longer s and other annoying stuff and the vocal both together, give me the smoothness that I want, um, which is probably what you just do with Golfo and I have to look into Gulfo more, uh, because I haven't really used it a lot, but everybody just tells me how amazing it is,

Malcom: Yeah, I really do like it. Um, Yeah. Yeah, they're, they're all fantastic. I mean, I use Sooth all the time. It's, uh, it's one of my favorite plugins ever, for sure. Um, it's just for the s job specifically that I, I'm not usually reaching it. It's probably on my vocal though, , 

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. And you could definitely make it work. So I know a lot of people who swear by it 

as they're yess. So it's just the way we use it 

Malcom: totally. It's also 

a very CPU heavy der

Benedikt: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Totally, totally. By the way, I dunno if you have the same experience, but since I've switched to the M one, MacBook, I find myself having sooth on

like yeah, like ultra and like max overs settling and everything. And I can use like 10 instances 

of that and like, 

you know, which is not necessary at all, but you know, but it just can't handle it. 

Malcom: Yeah, why not

Benedikt: yeah, totally. 

Malcom: I'm with you. I'm 

using it like crazy. yeah. So there, There's so many tools, like we went, that's a deep dive. That's probably the deepest dive anybody's ever done into dse. . Like we could have just. Told you about a ESR and you probably would've had the tools you need to get most jobs done. But, uh, it's fun digging in and, and kind of showing other ways, um, to get the job done. And, uh, you know, the last thing I would like to touch on that isn't on our outline here is, uh, have you ever used a hardware ESR on the way in?

Benedikt: no, I haven't actually. I've done other things to make it smoother on the way and like I said, with saturation and stuff, but not 

a real Harvard Yes 

Malcom: pencil trick off access. That's, that's the stuff you should be thinking about. But yeah, there are actual, you know, hardware DSRs. I did use, I used the DBX Dsor, for a session. I like, absolutely loved, really thought about buying them. I thought they sounded 

Benedikt: Yeah. I've heard them. They sound great. And there's an emulation by plugin lines now


Malcom: yeah. Uh, Yep. Yeah, the, it was fantastic. but it's, yeah, not necessary.

Benedikt: Nah, no, not really. I mean,

Malcom: money in. 

Benedikt: yeah, I, And oh, I gotta add something there. I have actually used one, but that one I wouldn't recommend. And before people go and buy some cheap thing, I had, when I started like 15 years ago, so I had. One of these cheap, Compressor Limited Yes. Or channel strip things that you use in the people use in live sound sometimes, but one of the really cheap ones where it, it had two channels of compression, a limiter at the end, and the Yes sir, somewhere in the chain. And it was like 150 bucks or so with those two channels. And I used that back then because I just wanted to learn compression and use and I thought I had to use analog stuff. anyway. That yes. Or, and like all of it just isn't worth it. It sounds terrible. And so before you go out and buy some, like the cheapest hardware thing with the Yes. Or built into it, they 

don't do it. Like focus 

on mic 

placement and then all the other things that we mentioned.

Malcom: Yeah, the only reason I was using them at all was that I was heavily compressing on the way in. I had like two distressors and a fatso going, like, it was a really, really processed things, and the DSR made that possible, right? I had two DSS in the chain. I think , it was like a super intense chain.

but, uh, like that's, that's not usual even for me. Like I. Crushing on the way in. That's, that's still way more than a usual vocal chain. So, yeah, don't worry about that. just wanted to mention that 

Benedikt: Yeah. Absolutely. And by the way, because you mentioned like the, the, the, um, compression on the way in my destressor actually does both for me. That's what I love so much about the destressor. When I, when I was still recording a lot, I compressed the shit outta things with this, but, I used the high pass filter on the detector. On the detector in combination with the upper mid range boost that it has. So the detector would listen to less low end and more of the upper mid range, and that would cause the distress to react more to the harsh synt stuff. And if I did that, I could compress like 10 12 db, especially in the Optum mode. And it would give me a very smooth sounding compression that at the same time also almost acted like a deser. That's what I loved about the stressor, by the way. And, and that's the one thing that the software Emulations kind of do, but not, not exactly like the hardware does. Not that I really, it's, it's one thing that I really miss about my, I mean, I have it here, but I, I don't use it as often in the mix right now. And, that's one thing that it does. So, super. That being said, you can experiment with that too with plugins. Like, if you have a side chain eq that's sort of advanced stuff now, but if you have a compressor with a side chain that you can tweak, you can try avoiding some of the low end and boosting some of the top end in the side chain so that the compressor will compress more if there's more harsh stuff 

Malcom: Yeah, totally valid to bring up. Yeah. How you compress and how you process your vocal also influences the assets. It's not like, That's, I think that's really important. Dazing isn't actually, the only way we're dealing with s is while we mix vocals it, that's just a part of it that's like the specialized part of it, but everything else affects it too. You know, if we're cranking up the, brightness on our vocal with an EQ that's gonna affect our s is huge. Um, so you gotta be careful doing that. And, and, you know, that might dictate if it's a, a shelf, a bell, or a tilt, you know, like those sort of gonna yield different results in that s situation for.

Benedikt: 100%. Yeah. All right. I think that's, enough

Malcom: That's tons. That's tons. That is, yeah. Again, the deepest dive into yessing. Almost an hour worth of yessing. That is not our intention. We thought this was gonna be so quick

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. But know that, just know that there's one takeaway. Just know that, that keeping the lance in check is really important and like controlling that. That is really, really important. And just have to listen to this episode, if you from now on, just pay attention to that more and, and think about how you can make that smoother while still having the air and the brightness you want, then it's already was already worth it.

Malcom: Totally. Okay. Well thank you very much everyone for listening. We'll see you next 


Benedikt: Up to you next week. Bye bye.

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