If you’re hissing like a snake, every time you listen to a playback of yourself singing, then you might want to consider one of the coolest de-essers that I’ve come across in a long, long time. Swedish developer Klevgränd have graced us with Esspresso, a visual de-esser that comes in the form of not only a VST/AU version, but also an iPad version as well.
Dialing it in...
We all know the joys of trying to dial in a de-esser. We hope for the miracle explanation of, in fact, what a de-esser is really supposed to do—set it up once, and it continues to remove that same high-frequency, sibilance from your voice, no matter how many lines you sing. However, it doesn’t always work that way. Especially, when you’ve got a really unique voice to work with, or a really crappy recording.
Esspresso is one of the first de-esser that might actually fit the true mold of ‘set it up, and leave it alone’. The clever, real-time display of what your audio is doing, close up, at a range that most visual displays don’t grant you. Small selection areas that blend in beautifully with the cream colored background are the windows that allow you to pinpoint the dirty frequencies, and suppress them. Let’s talk about them now.
At the top of the display, you have the threshold selection area, where you can select a wide, or relatively thin frequency range.
Once selected, you use the clever little threshold slider at the top (known as the Detector) within the selection area to dial in how much, if any, sibilance can pass through before the Suppressor (below) shuts it down. This is where things get interesting...
The Suppressor actually has an independent set of handlebars of its own, meaning that the threshold can be set for one set of frequencies, which trigger the Suppressor, which is set to shut down another, distinct frequency range of its own.
Attention to Detail
Not only can you get surgical in your frequency selections, but you also get options in how Esspresso suppresses sibilance. Three filter modes are included: All, Band, and High pass come in extremely handy coming up with healthy and natural (or unnatural) sounding methods for removing your audio lisp. In addition, you do get an expected solo mode to really hear what Esspresso is doing when you aren’t sure.
One of the coolest features could end up being with the iPad version, just on its own. Of course, we’d all like to have source audio that has already had the ‘S’s removed, getting rid of the need for us to do even more editing. That’s where having an iPad, and a VST/AU makes life extremely handy. Track your vocals, through the iPad, S-free, and then fine-tune any additional sibilance with Esspresso afterwards (if necessary at all).
Personally speaking, I will never use another de-esser again, after experiencing how easy it was to dial in some really crappy recordings. Even recordings where I was deliberately holding out my SSSSSSSSsss, Esspresso found an elegant way of pushing it out of the way. Ultimately, I love the display-based method of taking down irritating audio intrusions, and love the flexibility in doing so, with the independent detector and suppressor. Usually, I’d just encourage grabbing one version of Esspressor, or another. In this case, you really want both!
Pros: Amazingly simple de-esser that can remove some very complicated sibliance, for a damn good price. Easy to use!
Cons: The interface can be a little difficult to read, at times.
Price: $49 AU/VST $7.99 for iPad version