How to ADD sibilance

This isn’t really a Cubase question per se, but this may be a problem other Cubase users have dealt with.

I recorded an orchestra and small choir. The choir was masked. This had the effect of vastly suppressing the syllables, making it hard to discern the words. As a result, I had mixed the choir hotter than they really should have been. I have just listened to this mix after putting it on the shelf for awhile. I think if I could actually ADD sibilance, then I could lower the choir in the mix, which would be an improvement.

I will experiment with EQ settings. However, I know there are lots of VSTs designed to cut sibilance. Has anybody had experience with any VSTs to ADD or accentuate sibilance? That is, to make it sound like the choir were not wearing masks?

Never tried this, but one odd idea did come to mind. Some de-esser’s allow you to invert the de-essing process so that you hear only the “sss’s” that it’s removing, as a check. If you put a de-esser on your track and managed to record the inverted signal onto a new track you could then process it separately and mix it in louder than it would have been.
It’s a bit crazy, but that’s all I could think of.
You also could try adding some distortion/harmonics with a VST that gives you a lot of control over what type you’re adding such as Voxengo’s Shinechilla or FF Saturn2. That might work on either the original or the inverted de-essed signal.

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you can use a multi-band tool… reverse de-esser…
or just the dynamic settings in Frequency

These are usually found at the beginning or end of a word, sometimes in the center. It is possible to exaggerate them taking the time to listen to each track and finding each place where we find this phenomenon and cutting the WAVE, increasing the volume of this portion to taste. But this is a monk’s job and it could give the desired result.

Good luck!

Melodyne has an adjuster for sibilance that lets you both increase & decrease it - even on a Blob by Blob basis. Let’s you adjust lots of other elements too - which could also be useful resolving your issue.

Problem is Melodyne is expensive.

However they offer a free 1 month trial that has no restrictions (last I checked).

Can you do what you need to do in 1 month? If so, that’s what I’d do…

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The basic one is quite cheap right now actually: Black Friday sale.
Melodyne 5 essential for only US$49

Good idea. I tried this using the Izotope RX8 De-ess module. Unfortunately there was too much orchestra bleed-through on the vocal mics, so I could never really isolate the sibilance very much.

Fundamentally, I am trying to amplify something that really isn’t there – or is just barely there. Those masks really kill the clarity of the sung music. it is a shame, but a lot better than killing people by spreading the virus around.

I think I am able to get an acceptable result by kicking up the very high frequencies on the choir mics (above 2k.) I also did some stereo shaping to put the choir in a narrow width center stage, and widened the orchestra as much as possible. That allowed me to lower the gain on the choir while still hearing the lyrics decently.

I appreciate all the ideas here. I do have Melodyne, but there is so much bleed through on the vocal mics that it would be really hard to make Melodyne work in this case.

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That’s one of the types of audio problems Melodyne is designed to address, separating sounds that are mixed together. Have you tried opening the Vocal recording in Melodyne, selecting the Vocal line(s), inverting the selection and delete everything selected.

If you don’t mind could you post a snippet of the audio so we can hear whats going on.

This snippet is after I did some additional editing. I did boost the HF on the vocal bus which gave a little clarity. The main thing I did here was to put the vocal bus in the center and used a Waves plug-in to give it very narrow width. The orchestra is on another bus and I gave that the widest practical field. That helped a lot. I think this gives a decent balance and still allows the lyrics to be heard adequately. It would have been better without masks, but that wasn’t an option when we recorded this.

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Didn’t hear the ‘before’ but that sounded pretty good. The choir was pretty clear. To get a really polished sound you might want to fine-tune the EQ a little more and even automate it. Which Waves plugin did you use to control the width?

Waves S1 Shuffle. I like that one a lot. I know you can control the width directly in Cubase, but I feel like this plug gives me more positive control.

I probably have a dozen Waves plugs, but I use that one more than all the rest combined.

Is that this one? S1 Stereo Imager

Yes, indeed. Give it a try. It is awesome.

Good job.