Help Me Find a De-Esser Plugin For Spoken Word/Podcast

Four TV Sports

New member
Looking for guidance on a de-esser for spoken word/podcast. I know usually people would say to de-ess through editing, but for spoken word, and weekly episodes that amount to 1.5-2 hours of content each week, that's not really an option.

Is there a plugin that anyone would recommend? For some reason, the stock plugin isn't installed and I can't find it for the life of me.

I'm on a Mac using Cubase 4 (b/c I'm too poor to upgrade my DAW ha)

I'd prefer a plugin than an outboard gear. I'd rather be able to edit fully within the software. I also don't want to complicate the signal chain too much, so not having to do side-chains, sends, etc, would be helpful, as I'm not super familiar with that.

Thanks in advance! Any help is appreciated.

Also, I've done a lot of Google searching and haven't seen much on this topic that isn't 3-4 years old, or threads that recommend plugins that no longer work for Macs. I'd use SpitFish, but it's not Mac compatible anymore. Same story for a few others I looked into.

I was considering buying the Waves plugin, but wanted to ask around first.
 

mixsit

Well-known member
I've never used a dedicated software de-esser, but any single band of the few multi band comps for duties like that. Or dynamic eq. (I use the UAD multi-band mostly
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
I haven't found need for a de-esser plugin in years.

What mic are you using and do you have a pop filter or something to stop it? The best way would be to kill it at the source.
 

Four TV Sports

New member
Thanks for the interesting thoughts guys. Really appreciate the help on this. I have to confess, I'm not too sure how to go about de-essing using a comp or EQ, but I can google and read up on that.

Setup is pretty good, esp for podcasting.
MXL 770 (for me) and an AT 2020 (other host) into a MOTU 8pre, fed into Mac running Cubase 4 via firewire. Pop filters on both mics.

I've been using EQ, a multi-dynamics plugin with Gate, Comp, Limiter, and sometimes turning off that limiter and using a dedicated limiter plugin.

I've been wondering if I would be better off running an out board gate and comp in the input chain. I've been hesitant to do that because if the signal sucks, I have to record it all over again.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
Get some different mics...both of you guys have really over-pronounced "sssss" sounds when you speak, and the condensers mics are accentuating that. You should try a foam wind filter over the mics, and then get in a bit closer so you get more body to your voices.

These dynamic mics will do a much better job:
EV RE20 and Shure SM7B
They will give you that classic "radio announcer" sound out of the box.
 
Big +1 to that.
This is something you can usually sort out at the source.
The microphone are probably a bad pairing so if you need to go condenser go with something less hyped like mk219
or, as miro says, classic dynamic. Very hard to go wrong.

In the mean time you could experiment with rotating the mic 45 degrees ish so it points at the talents cheek or over their shoulder, instead of directly at their mouth.
Might help.
 

Four TV Sports

New member
Thanks for the thoughts, guys. I've always liked the vocal results of those mics (esp the MXL), but I've been disappointed with their use as a spoken word mic (the AT 2020 has performed better than expected, though.) I've been hesitant to move to a dynamic mic because I'm worried that it wouldn't give me the kind of presence and depth that I have been looking for, but I've also been wondering if that would help clean up the sound a bit.

Appreciate the thoughts. I'll let you know how things come out.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
It's always best to go as far upstream as possible to fix problems like this. If you push your esses, that's how it's going to sound.

That said, a dynamic mic may make a big difference. Borrow an SM58 and get as close as possible, even touching your lips. It might be great on its own or it might be better with a foam windscreen. If you find it to be an improvement, that may be the answer or you may want to try an RE20 or other dynamic.
 
Out of all the dynamic options I might take the re20 last, where sibilance is an issue, although it'd still certainly be better than an MXL, I'm sure.

I've been hesitant to move to a dynamic mic because I'm worried that it wouldn't give me the kind of presence and depth that I have been looking for, but I've also been wondering if that would help clean up the sound a bit.

Don't be fooled. They're broadcast and V/O staples for a reason. Well, for a lot of reasons.
 

Four TV Sports

New member
So, sadly, $800-$1,000 isn't in the budget for those two mics. I'll do some googling of this question, but any quick suggestions of roughly similar mics that are $50-$100 ish?

Perhaps I'll have to live with the current set-up until the higher end mics are an affordable purchase. Maybe I can clear some "ssss" out by lowering the gain a bit and being a bit more picky on the EQ.

IMO, right now the sound quality is good enough that the sibilance isn't ruining the listenability of the audio. It's more just a picky annoyance that I'd like to solve. Any disagreement with that? I'm 100% open to harsh criticism.

Really appreciate all the help!
 
Did you try the off-axis idea?
It wasn't a wild stab in the dark. It will solve the problem or, at least, go some way to helping.

Lowering the gain won't make a difference. The same content is there.
eq or de-esser can help, of course, but just move the mic. :)
 

mixsit

Well-known member
Sometimes the need to deess is too much -no let's say more high end, than is needed... or in the wrong frequencies. Have you considered that? (And/or a fairly narrow notch centered on the offending peak?
 

Four TV Sports

New member
Did you try the off-axis idea?
It wasn't a wild stab in the dark. It will solve the problem or, at least, go some way to helping.

Lowering the gain won't make a difference. The same content is there.
eq or de-esser can help, of course, but just move the mic. :)

So I did try that last night as I was setting up. I couldn't tell much difference, but in monitoring or in playback. I do have the mic positioned oddly though, to make room for my hands and such, so I had it either pointed up at the ceiling or down at the table. But in both scenarios, the difference was minimal if anything.

I may just have to live with this until I'm in the higher priced mic budget category.

Thanks for the thoughts, though. I'll continue to experiment with that in the event that it yields any results.

---------- Update ----------

Sometimes the need to deess is too much -no let's say more high end, than is needed... or in the wrong frequencies. Have you considered that? (And/or a fairly narrow notch centered on the offending peak?

Any thoughts on figuring out where the peak is? Would I need to grab a spectrum analyzer plugin to discover that?
 
So I did try that last night as I was setting up. I couldn't tell much difference, but in monitoring or in playback. I do have the mic positioned oddly though, to make room for my hands and such, so I had it either pointed up at the ceiling or down at the table. But in both scenarios, the difference was minimal if anything.

I may just have to live with this until I'm in the higher priced mic budget category.

Thanks for the thoughts, though. I'll continue to experiment with that in the event that it yields any results.

Really? If you can't tell much difference, that's worrying.
If the mic was pointing at the ceiling to start with that's probably more worrying. lol.

I understand you have to create a comfortable work environment but it has to sound good too. Prioritise. ;)

Point the mic at the talent's face.
If it sounds echoey move it closer.
If it sounds boomy apply the mic HPF (if it has one) or move it farther away.
If it's too sibilant move it a few inches left or right so it's 'firing' past their face slightly.
If it's too thin move it up and point down towards their chest a bit.
If it's too bassy move it down and point up towards their head a bit.

If all of that sucks consider how the room itself sounds. Is it a good room? Does it sound like a bathroom?
Maybe consider trying an sm58 very close to the mouth.
If the 58 fixes your issues but seems to be missing something, that's nature's way of telling you you'd love a 7b. ;)
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
The only reason I can imagine different mic positioning being useful is if the esses are causing turbulence/plosive problems, blowing into the mic like wind. If it's just the ess sound then moving the mic won't help.
 
The only reason I can imagine different mic positioning being useful is if the esses are causing turbulence/plosive problems, blowing into the mic like wind. If it's just the ess sound then moving the mic won't help.

SoundOnSound article.

"Changing the angle of the mic in any given position will also change the sound,
especially if you've followed the norm of using a large‑diaphragm cardioid condenser mic.
Even the best large‑diaphragm cardioid mics deliver an altered frequency response off‑axis, which usually means less sensitivity to the high end of the spectrum"


I thought this was common knowledge?
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
SoundOnSound article.

"Changing the angle of the mic in any given position will also change the sound,
especially if you've followed the norm of using a large‑diaphragm cardioid condenser mic.
Even the best large‑diaphragm cardioid mics deliver an altered frequency response off‑axis, which usually means less sensitivity to the high end of the spectrum"


I thought this was common knowledge?

You could just as easily cut those frequencies with eq, but that will detract from the tone of the voice. It's a problem of dynamics more than eq, the relative level of the esses to the rest of the voice. Either change the performance or use frequency-specific dynamic processing to fix it.
 
You could just as easily cut those frequencies with eq, but that will detract from the tone of the voice. It's a problem of dynamics more than eq, the relative level of the esses to the rest of the voice. Either change the performance or use frequency-specific dynamic processing to fix it.

Which is it? Moving the mic wont work or there's an easier way to do it?
Not meaning to be a dick but you just moved the goal posts.

Edit: Although pointing the mic at the ceiling or the table in an unknown room isn't exactly a great starting point.
OP could be making problems for all we know.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
Which is it? Moving the mic wont work or there's an easier way to do it?
Not meaning to be a dick but you just moved the goal posts.

Edit: Although pointing the mic at the ceiling or the table in an unknown room isn't exactly a great starting point.
OP could be making problems for all we know.

If it's purely a problem of the ess sound being too prominent and everything else being okay, then moving the mic won't help. For this it's either change the performance or use frequency-specific dynamic processing.

If the whole sound of the voice is too bright then moving the mic, using a different mic, or using eq, can help.

If it's a problem of the esses blowing into the mic causing a rumbling sound, then moving the mic or using a pop screen can help.
 
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