A de-esser is a specialized plugin that is used to reduce sibilance on vocal tracks. Sibilance is the harsh, "sss" sound that can occur when singing certain words or sounds, and it is typically found in the 5kHz to 10kHz frequency range. De-essers are commonly used in music production and audio engineering to improve the clarity and intelligibility of vocals.
De-essers typically combine EQ and dynamics processing to target and reduce sibilance. They work by detecting the sibilant frequencies in the audio signal and then applying dynamic processing to reduce the level of those frequencies when they occur. This results in a cleaner and more natural-sounding vocal performance.
When using a de-esser, it's important to understand how to adjust the settings to achieve the desired effect. The most common control on a de-esser is the threshold, which sets the level at which the plugin will begin to reduce the sibilant frequencies. This can be adjusted to achieve a more or less aggressive reduction of sibilance. Some de-essers also offer a frequency control, which allows you to adjust the range of frequencies that the plugin will target.
EQ is another powerful tool to use in conjunction with a de-esser, as it can be used to further shape and enhance the vocal sound. For example, if you want to add additional thickness and midrange to a vocal, you can use a three-band EQ to boost the mid-frequencies. There are many different EQ plugins available, but a common one is VC5 by Bomb Factory Joemeek, which features three bands: Bass, Mid and Treble. The Bass and Treble controls are fixed at 100Hz and 8kHz, respectively. However, this plugin is unfortunately no longer available.
In conclusion, a de-esser is a powerful and essential tool for reducing sibilance on vocal tracks. By combining EQ and dynamics processing, de-essers can improve the clarity and intelligibility of vocals and make them sound more natural. It's important to understand how to adjust the settings on a de-esser to achieve the desired effect, and EQ is also a powerful tool to use in conjunction with a de-esser to shape and enhance the vocal sound.