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Hi people, I've been recording voice over dialogue for a cooking show and have never encountered so much sibilance problems. I hate what auto deessers do to a track and haven't the time to scrub them manually. any advice on dealing with sibilance on the way in, mic placement tec. ? cheers

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5 Answers

+1 on Mike's suggestion regarding lavs. If you're using stand mounted mics though, try placing the mic capsule above the mouth (cheek bone height) and slightly to the side. Obviously, still aimed at the mouth. The point is to get it out from in front of it.

A quick fix for you in post...

Create a duplicate track of the DX with your de-esser on it. Set it so that it controls that sibilance well, even when it's at its worst. Yes, the rest of the track will probably sound awful, but that's why you do this on a duplicate track. Now kill the volume of that duplicate track (negative infinity, don't mute it). When you hit a spot where the sibilance is needs to be controlled in your original/primary DX track, put in a quick crossfade between the processed and unprocessed tracks. Fast, simple, and avoids overfiltering the rest of your track.

Another favorite, though more time consuming, trick of mine is to de-ess using RX2. Use "spectral repair" and "attenuate" the offending sibilance. You can get far better sounding results that way.

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i'll often use spectral repair to lose whistley esses. just circle the whistle, put spectral repair into attenuate/vertical mode, and they go away seamlessly. De essers don't deal with whistles well AT ALL. –  Rene Oct 18 '12 at 16:48
    
@Rene - exactly! –  Shaun Farley Oct 18 '12 at 17:16
    
Great! It would be also handy to comp it from a second playlist, right? –  Jascha Viehl Oct 21 '12 at 18:40
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If you are using personal clip on mics, providing they are omni, turn them upside down so they are facing down rather than up with help sibilance.

As to de-essers, there are de-essers and de-essers. A lot of the de-essers are wide band so when a sibilance is detected they gain reduce the whole freq range. Good de-esses can be configured to just reduce the sibilance frequencies and so sound so much much natural. Plug-in wise I would look at the Waves, Sonnox and the new FabFilter Pro-DS one is rapidly becoming my go to de-esser.

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Great tips Shaun! I have also heard of people getting good results out of RX2. (Which is on sale!)

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I've never had satisfactory results with plugins.

In addition to mic selection, placement and a pop shield I think the best method is to just go through the material in an audio editor with a spectral view (I use Soundtrack Pro) and reduce the volume of offending frequencies.

You have much more control this way and don't end up with artefacts all over the place and people sounding like they're underwater.

A little time consuming but well worth it for the results.

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I've found sibilance to be accentuated on recordings of dialogue inside hard-surfaced rooms, such as a tiled bathroom or kitchen for example.

I would look at ways to baffle the space you're recording in (it's probably got a hard-surfaced counter and tiles and a nice big metal cooking pot to reflect on), and I think this could be a good way to start hunting down your problem.

What type of microphone are you using?

I find that the CMIT-5U from Schoeps has some pretty smooth sibilance to it.

Also, make sure if you're using a lav, that the HF boost isn't on if it's outside the guy's shirt...

Just a couple thoughts I can give without knowing what type of mic, acoustics, etc. you're dealing with. Can you give a little more info?

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