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Sibilance

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by huitson_l, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. huitson_l

    huitson_l Active Member

    Hello People,

    Im having difficulty with sibilance in vocals I have recorded and I am looking for some useful tips and techniques.

    From what I understand the best way to deal with sibilance is Mic placement.

    Recently I have been placing the Mic just higher than the mouth and this has helped but I have just read in another thread 'Recording Vocals' the cons of using this technique.

    Another suggestion in the 'Recording Vocals' thread was to shift the Mic to the right or left of the singers mouth. Can anyone comment on this technique?

    I use Logic Studio De-esser after compression but the sibilance is still irritating.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You might want to try the De-esser before your compression. Then again, you may want to try a high frequency limiter. You may want to combine a high frequency limiter after a De-esser. You may want to utilize a De-esser before your high frequency limiter.

    I don't care where you've read about moving the microphone around. You may also want to not use condenser/capacitor microphones on certain vocalists where a ribbon microphone may be more appropriate. Condenser microphones are not made for every vocalist. For a lot of female vocalists, I can't stand them on condenser/capacitor microphones. That's where I'll usually utilize a ribbon microphone. Sometimes I'll put them on a dynamic microphone. And it may also have something to do with the type of condenser microphone you've utilized. If you've already cut the vocalist, you may be forced to deal with this and other numerous ways. Some De-esser presets no variability. Others do. And if you over utilize a De-esser, folks can start sounding like they have a speech impediment.

    We've all had to deal with this
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  3. huitson_l

    huitson_l Active Member

    Thanks Remy Ann David, I appreciate your response. I will try using a high frequency limiter, unfortunately microphone selection is minimal.

    Ta,
    Liam
     
  4. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Mic technique also comes into play. The old timers use to "flash" their plosives (run their hand in front of their mouth as they sang P's, T's , K's, etc.. and move their head slightly out of alignment with the mic as they sang S's.

    The benefit of home recording is "free studio time" try everything, but I would look at inexpensive technical fixes BEFORE trying to fix it with plug ins that solve some problems but create lots of other ones.

    Phil
     
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Phil is indicating microphone technique. But if this is a track that has already been recorded you'll have to screw around with both De-esser & High frequency limiter. And you will do this in your software. This is commonly utilized in FM radio where the De-esser is part of the microphone processor and the high frequency limiter is in the last stage audio processor just before the transmitter. You can do this in software where you would use a De-esser plug-in first followed by a high frequency limiter plug-in. What we call daisychaining or one into the other. That should solve most of the issue. And then you'll also be able to add whatever equalization you want to create just the sonic signature you want the vocalist to have without the fear of splattering sibilance like Bugs Bunny used to sound like.

    DA... what's up Doc?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    All the above and I will add, I have a small gap that has caused me grief over the years so I have practiced to sing without pushing my sss's. Could this be a problem for you, no mic in the world will help more than technique.
    But there are also tricks and certain mics that can help reduce which is noted above. I've read placing a pencil in the middle of a mic to defuse the upper mids can help and also closing the gap on front teeth with wax or an engineered dental plate will help. Some people have large gaps that push air right through the middle which is like a whistle. Some have a small space that are just enough to drive us crazy and some people just have terrible speech technique and this is where the de-esser comes in or a comp with a sidechain.
     
  7. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I'll second that ribbon mic suggestion. I'm a male singer but my SSSssss were hissy and spitty. A ribbon mic smoothed that right out.

    But also, practice makes perfect, too!
     
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I have had similar problems myself as an announcer. I have worked hard to modify my speech patterns in order to reduce my own sibilance. And so when I want to go in the opposite extreme direction, in order to emulate a more gay oriented speech pattern, I'll over accentuate my "ess" annunciation and then I can sound totally gay when I want to. Not something I'd do very much however. But it's good in the standup comedy routines when you want to over emulate that. I also enjoy trying to emulate other American regional accents from New England to the deep South, to French, German & British style accents, including even Middle Eastern. I've got the British, Australian, New Zealand and even South African imitation accents down fairly well. I actually even fooled a female British Londoner recently by telling my story about my interview with Sir George Martin. When at the end of my story, she asked me what part of London I was from? LMAO, I had to tell her I was just a redneck from Virginia, USA. She seemed to be highly insulted by that but I sure got the French guys and the French-Canadian guys all laughing over that one, whom I was telling this story to. I didn't know she was standing behind me listening to be tell this story how I turned Sir George Martin down of his offer to be a maintenance engineer at his AIR Studios in Montserrat the Caribbean. So I'm probably really dumber than doggie Doo Doo? But we all make our mistakes when we are still young.

    I also like doing cartoon voices.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Man, we love ribbons. I've got to try my Royers on Vocals for real. I did try the SF24 when I first got it and was blown away on how real and smooth it was. John from Royer told me he's heard that used with a well know opera singer that just loves it.
     
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Here is Fab Dupont's tutorial comparing several desser plugins. Has anyone tried the Eiosis? That looks very nice.
     
  11. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Brilliant Remy! Ha ha thumb
     
  12. Ferry0123

    Ferry0123 Active Member

    There's always lines with more s's, p's or t's. I think in those lines the singer should be more aware of singing further away from the microphone. Preventing things is better than solving them.
     
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You are mentioning things as if this was the perfect world in which it ain't.

    Sibilance has had to be dealt with since the beginning of electronic recording. It started with optical film soundtracks. It became an issue with Cutting Records, magnetic tape & TV and FM. Failure is not an option and so requires knowledgeable and experienced engineers. So this must be dealt with utilizing dynamic sibilance controllers & high frequency limiting. This is all available in virtually every software package today. So you have to become one with your software.

    Fighter of sibilance
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  14. godchuanz

    godchuanz Active Member

    I typically use an EQ with high Q to notch out the most offending frequency, and then follow up with a multiband compressor set to no compression on the lower frequency bands, and the fastest attack and release setting on the band above 5000+Hz where the sibilance occurs. A high ratio (10:1 to 20:1) is used, and I set the threshold setting such that all non-sibilant parts of the vocal track it fall well below the threshold. When sibilance attacks, I'd see an instantaneous spike in gain reduction, and that makes me happy :)

    I don't know if I'm doing it correctly, but it sounds pretty transparent to me, and gets the job done better than a simple low pass filter. I wonder if this is the way the commonly used de-esser works internally, does anyone know?
     
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Back in the 1980s, Dolby A noise reduction units were utilized as a standalone microphone processor. This was due to the fact that the noise reduction unit was a multi-band compressor/expander a.k.a. compander. With an exterior control box, you had a powerful microphone processor. So this is not your typical use for a tape noise reduction unit since it was only being utilized single-ended. I don't have the CAT 450 control box, so I have to do it via adjustment screw driver on my 361's, which can be accomplished through the front panel. So what you're doing is virtually the same thing. And now you know how powerful it can be.

    Lots O Fun
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  16. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Of course, we're talking static, single-position mic technique in a studio...

    Not to hijack the thread, but Tony Bennett is great to watch, in terms of hand-held mic technique. I remember him on old TV shows in the 60's "working" the mic to best advantage. He must have had a seirous sit-down with some engineers who hip'd him to the whole concept of clipping and overshooting levels with hi notes, p's popping, etc. When I had the honor of doing live sound for him (way back in 1976 & 77), he had his own mic (an EV hand-held; I forget the model #), he spared me all kinds of problems and basically did his own level-riding by moving the mic up and down as needed. Made my job all the easier!
     
  17. Kazek

    Kazek Active Member

    Good advice.
     
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    In answer to your question godchuanz, you are quite correct. High frequency limiters and De-esser's are very similar to each other. A De-esser generally only affects most typical male sibilance between 3-6 kHz. That's where the sensor is dictating the dynamic range limiting. With women, that De-esser window needs to move up in frequency encroaching upon a high frequency limiter more than a De-esser. Sometimes if I want to heavily EQ a female vocalist I will use both a De-esser and high-frequency limiting. This can give me a great stylistic sound without drywall screws going through your eardrums. And you can make them sound quite S E X Y that way, dripping in sensuality without that fingernail effect on the blackboard with the sibilance. Ouch! Stop that! Just writing about it I can hear it.

    Anti-sibilance control was very important with optical movie soundtracks on film. That recording medium couldn't handle any sibilance. FM, TV and record cutting suffer the same problem. And that's because many recording and broadcast systems have to utilize heavy preemphasis of the high frequencies. A corresponding complementary rolloff is built into playback or receiving circuitry so as to reduce high-frequency electronic noise levels. Much has changed in the 21st century with digital as no preemphasis is typically used. So digital can reproduce that sibilance better than any other medium could ever do. Making that spectral energy quite annoying to listen to. And that's another reason why multi-band dynamics processing is so popular. It actually evens out the energetic spectra in areas where it's most problematic. And that provides for much greater overall consistency between numerous different recordings and their inherently different techniques of different mixers and mixing. All radio Station processing is through multi-band dynamic range controllers for greater consistency and loudness levels. Many of those processors also include downward expansion when signals fall below certain preset thresholds. And that's to keep the rush of noise from compression in check and at the same time provides for a certain amount of noise reduction, all in real time. No previous encoding to decoding necessary as in Dolby and DBX analog tape noise reduction units. This is all after-the-fact processing. It's useful, powerful, necessary. But like anything else too much of a good thing can be detrimental. Knowing that the radio stations do it, you don't need to overdo it. Etc. etc. and blah blah blah.

    Recording people with excellent microphone technique is always a pleasure.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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