For those in de-essing hell


Recently finished up a spoken word CD, no background music, just voice. The talent has a “tonal” voice, lots of fundamental but very few harmonics. Additionally she has an ess that will cut steel. Therefore getting more harmonics in her voice got nasty fast.

The de-essing combination that worked best for me was to put the Waves de-esser and the Nuendo de-esser in series, each doing their own flavor. I’ve always thought the Nuendo de-esser is better than advertised and the Waves de-esser has a flavor that is good if you need that effect, but on this project nothing worked well; the two in series did the job.


I agree… The Nuendo de-esser is a little undersold! When I’m taming audiobook sibilance I usually use UAD’s Precision De-Esser, because you can dial into the frequency more specifically (and because I freakin’ paid for it and it has a convincing and technically reassuring interface), but the Nuendo plugin does a nice general job.

Another thing to try, if you don’t want to hammer your track with multiple de-essers, is to use a carefully attenuated PostFilter or two in combo with N’s de-esser. N’s is nice and general; you can set the Post Filter(s) or two to get the most irritating and more complicated stuff that gets through a natural sounding de-esser setting.

Every project a new adventure-- with the audiobooks I do I get stuff from a ridiculous myriad of sources, environments, mics, ambiences, etc. I’m actually finding myself using the N6 plugin more and more.

(I don’t have Waves, fwiw)


Funny, I’ve been more and more frustrated with the UAD plug. I really don’t like it at all. I find it usually does more harm than good. I liked the Waves De-esser but I’ve only used it at other studios. I happened to recently try the Nuendo De-esser as I’ve been giving all the Nuendo plugs a new look lately and I was impressed too. Not quite as good as my memory of the Waves one but definitely better than the UAD. A truly rare miss by UA whom I normally love. I thought maybe it was just the “flexibility” of the UAD and that I had to invest more time because it was more accurate but geeze! It’s just a freakin’ de-esser, if I have to spend more than 15 seconds on it, it’s the technology’s fault, not mine :slight_smile:.

Different strokes, I guess. But… I gotta say, I really don’t understand how (unless you’re not using it right, or if you want things to sound “harmed”) it could possibly be doing more harm than good. It does what you tell it to do, no more and no less.

Maybe your de-essing requirements aren’t as complicated as mine. I don’t know what kind of material you’re dealing with, but for audiobooks, at least, transparent de-essing’s much more than a 15-second job regardless of the plugin, and it’s “not just a freakin’ de-esser”, it’s arguably the most critical single element in the mastering chain. The UAD plugin has the controls, and it takes time and work to use them, but the end result is that it’s miles ahead of Nuendo’s (which DOES sound good as a general fixit and which I often use for less demanding applications), and what I remember of Waves. If you don’t have the patience for it… well, that’s another story.

It’s not the technology’s fault; it’s what you need to get out of it. In my case, there’s no question that it’s worth the time.


Ok, there was a way to say all that without the obnoxious quoting. You started off strong with “different strokes”.

I’m sure the UAD does what it claims in terms of “precision” - which is clearly what you need. The interesting thing I find, is that it doesn’t seems to do what I need which is to simply and quickly reduce sibilance in a sung vocal without negatively affecting the overall sound. I mean it CAN. I’ve gotten it to work, but It’s generally a big pain and 1/2 the time I find it isn’t that effective. Meanwhile for that very simple need, the waves excels. I’m using the Nuendo more now and it’s not quite as good as the waves.

I’m glad the UAD serves your needs. I wish they’d make another one for mine.

I’m sorry you found the quoting obnoxious. It was the “more harm than good” thing that I really didn’t understand. And it doesn’t matter; if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. More power to you.

UAD’s multiband compressor (and for that matter, Nuendo’s, though the detail’s not quite as controllable) will do just what you’re apparently looking for. And there is a decent general preset.

Many ways to skin this cat.


Fabfilter’s Pro-DS is the best I’ve found. Two in series for tough voices.

But good to hear Nuendo’s worked well.

I still prefer applying manual gain reduction. Nothing can beat that.


Not when the tone, or time isn’t there. We avoid de-essing when there is time to automate/edit, and the dialog or VO lends itself to simple gain reduction. But that just isn’t always the case. The best solution is to do what works best for the project and not adopt any hard rules.


One size does not fit all. The very idea of trying to take, by hand, all the sibilance out of 35 hours worth of home-recorded audiobook sends me plummeting into an existential spiral.

Hugh started off something cool describing his recipe… Great when that happens!



I probably should have added that I still needed to manually reduce the gain on probably 100-150 sibilance points, but the de-essers took care of the other 2000 or more.


Just curious to know how and if anyone has used UAD’s Fatso’s warmth to de-ess. Perhaps, it adds a nice natural touch.