Vocal sibilance can bring a frown to any engineer's face, and although it's a common challenge in the production process, it doesn't need to ruin your day. By using repeatable techniques and simple tools, you can conquer the "S" (and "T") and keep them from derailing the most essential part of any song – the vocal.
Sometimes the easiest way to fix sibilance is to apply an excellent de-esser plug-in to your vocal track – there are plenty! But is it the best solution that fixes all problems big and small? Not always!
In this free tutorial, you'll see how using offline fader automation lets you zero in and custom tune your de-essing in a sophisticated manner. It starts with moving the track view to Volume (Command + Control + Right Arrow.) Once there, you can zero in on sibilance and write in a fader dip that would be impossible to do online (while the music is playing.) These moves can be easily fine-tuned to fix the smallest or largest offender.
Those using Pro Tools' highest end software can use clip-based processing to tame sibilance with both EQ and compression. It leaves the fader alone and writes the correction directly to the clip. Start by isolating an S by separating just that part of the clip with the Letter B (Keyboard Focus ON) and selecting it. Open the clip-based processing window and set your EQ at a slight dip around 4kHz with a moderate Q. Fine-tune this setting until it reduces the sibilance without being heavy-handed. Save this EQ setting as a preset as you would in a plug-in. Then move to the next section, separate and select it, and apply the new preset. Don't have HD? Don't worry! You can do the same processing using AudioSuite plug-ins found on any Pro Tools system. No matter how you operate, once you have a working formula, save save it to use on other productions.
Watch this free tutorial to see all these tips at work