How do I remove sibilance from my EQ?

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My voice is a bit too sibilant, and I'm wondering how to EQ it out of my recordings.
asked in Home Recording by ryanflanigan (140 points)

3 Answers

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Unless you want to set up a side chain compressor, you are better off with a dedicated de-esser. It compresses the frequency of your sibilance, knocking down the peaks, instead of pulling out an frequency range completely.

If EQ is your only tool, I'd suggest dialing in a narrow band between 3kHz and 6kHz, possibly using a spectrum viewer to dial in your primary ess frequency, otherwise just play around with it and see what works best for you.

For technique, put more room between your mouth and the mic. I've found that metal pop filters can both reduce or amplify sibilance - your mileage may vary.

Last piece of advice is to check your mix on different devices. Even the best headphones can hide and/or amplify sibilance.

Good luck. Sibilance can be tough to tame.
answered by Voiceversa (3,800 points)
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Instead of a high-tech answer, you may want to work on reducing the siblance naturally.  There are a number of great exercises that you can do to reduce the sound of your "s."  Check with VASTA.org for a list of speech coaches in your area, or contact me and I can recommend someone.
answered by deborahsalebutler (17,190 points)
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I can sssure sssssympathize...I spent the better part of a year trying to scrape the "ugly" off of my voice (plosives too).  I tried using pop filters, windsocks, recording off-axis, raising the mic, lowering the mic, moving closer, moving farther, the pencil trick - you name it!  Best advice for me came from another message board where someone bluntly said "Stop hissing and spitting at the mic!"  

Easier said than done, but sometimes you do have to go right to the source.  I started doing facial/mouth exercises to relax my jaw (we humans apparently carry a lot of tension there) and spent a few months training myself while reading out loud to place my tongue behind my front teeth when saying my "essess" (tricky, because if you overdo it, you end up with a lisp!)

I learned that the mic I was using actually made my sibilance WORSE, so I rented a bunch of different ones from my local music store and finally found one that didn't.  Anytime I use a compressor, I add a de-esser afterwards, since compressing also creates more sib (and we work with mp3's).  Lots of hard work but it paid off because I no longer sound like the snake pit in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

So yes, it can be done!  Try everything and best of luck to ya!
answered by genjonesgenjones (200 points)