One of the most important new additions in the latest round of updates had to be Logic Pro's latest dynamics plug-in. After reviewing some of the more useful and practical features last week, we will take a closer look at how to use DeEsser 2 today, along with an overview of the basics for beginners, their intelligent new Relative tech, and some helpful tips for getting make the most of it.
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Apple's All-New Sibilance Remover
Not to be confused with Apple's multi-year campaign to modernize the user interface of its existing LPX FX, DeEsser 2 is a brand new plug-in built from the reason of. And thank you bass gods for that because the previous gene-legacy version was absolutely nothing to write home about. Dated and hard to use, the original DeEsser worked, it just wasn't very good or too practical in implementation. However, the sequel is very opposite.
A DeEsser is a dynamic plug-in or effect that reduces visibility or unwanted / harsh "Ssss" sounds as well as other high frequency offenders. Ideal for vocal performances – singing, rap, voice over – it is also used on other instruments and even in the mastering process sometimes too. That a basic "Sssss" remover doesn't sound so interesting, but they make a difference to almost all the sound we use every day. Podcasters, YouTube content creators, reviewers and, well, anything with unbearable, sharp, ear-piercing visibility can use some DeEss-ing.
How to Use DeEsser 2
Learning to use DeEsser 2 (or any DeEsser really) is all about trusting your ears and understanding the controls. It basically comes down to making a few adjustments to reset to unwanted frequencies without adversely affecting the vocals in general. We will ditch the tough high-end ones where they always appear in a performance without destroying the top end of the vocals. But with some careful listening and understanding of the readings on the plug-in, De-Esser 2 makes the whole process quite simple.
You can find DeEsser 2 via the Audio Effect track on the channel strip: Dynamics> DeEsser 2
First, let's focus on the three main options along the front of the plug-in: Threshold, Max Reduction and Frequency. Set the frequency control to center around the frequency range you want to remove. In general, female voices land between 5 and 8 kHz while male voices are in the range of 3 to 6 kHz. A good place to start (this can be adjusted at any time in the process) will be around 6 or 7000 Hz. From the Area section, you can choose whether to reduce a narrow frequency band with the option Split or a wider range with Wide (centered around your previous selection on the Frequency knob).
A tip here is to insert a Channel EQ into the FX track just before DeEsser 2. Use the EQ analysis function while the vocals are playing to see what the high frequency response looks like. Your favorite frequency analysis plug-in works just as well. You still need to use your ears to set the threshold in DeEsser 2, but this is a great way to get into the ballpark. Don't be afraid to turn the gain control on the right side of the EQ temporarily just to get a better look at the high frequency energy analysis.
Threshold determines how much of the vocal performance in the selected frequency range is to be reduced. In general, you will have to play with this control by ear, as it will change depending on how a given vocal was recorded. For beginners, a good rule of thumb is to adjust the threshold until we see The Detection Meter on the left begins to show blocks of yellow in the moments in the performance with a cool Ssss sound. You will see real-time feedback on the companion reduction meter next to it at the same time.
As the name implies, the Max Reduction button indicates the maximum amount of reduction (in dB) vocal performance may be subject to. The reduction meter to the left of the user interface shows the amount of real-time visibility reduction. Like the threshold / detection setup, you can either use the button to set the Maximum Reduction or the small blue line on the Reduction Meter itself.
DeEsser 2 Filter:
Now on to the filters. After selecting a frequency to center the reduction of visibility around the frequency switch, you can fine-tune the selection with the filter options. The Low Pass filter (left), is much a wider area that will reduce the visibility from the frequency you selected (on the frequency switch) and upwards. While the Peak filter (the right option) is a much narrower reduction area that centers around the setting you chose on the frequency switch.
You can also use the new plugin for choice-based processing on individual sound regions
There are two different global Modes available on DeEsser 2 which determines how it responds to incoming vocals / tracks. The threshold offer Absolute can be seen as a more legacy or traditional method for DeEssing. Great for high level (or high) signals, this is the option that seems to work best for us in most situations. It's about like third-party products from DeEsser that we are used to.
With a Relative Threshold:
However, the new Relative Mode is very interesting. It is designed for nuanced reduction and lower level signals and provides a more responsive type of gain / strength control. To keep things simple, it basically automatically adjusts the threshold behind the scenes based on the input signal. Once you set a threshold in that way along with a split or wide range, DeEsser 2's Relative tech adjusts the threshold so that there is a consistent amount of visibility no matter how high or quiet the vocal performance is.
That's the kind of thing you want to experiment with – Most pros are probably used to handling this in a more convenient way with automation and the like, and it can be difficult for beginners to wrap their heads (ears) around with the first one . To us, it seemed to work well in general and tends to make it easy to get a natural or transparent, if not subtle, DeEsser job. There are times when it seemed Logic's automatic adjustments might not have been the same choice we could have made manually or with automation. But overall, it's a very welcome new addition to Logic's mix-suite / compression options, although you still need to dial in more specific edits after that.