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Trick For Reducing Sibilance

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by musicproducer, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    I've rarely used this trick, but it can be helpful, and was on a recent project. The singer/mic combination I wanted for the tunes was a little too sibilant for my liking, and I was afraid the mixing engineer wouldn't have enough tricks in his bag to fix it convincingly.

    It was the kind of session where the singer sang the songs almost exactly the same every time. So I did a pass of the songs that were the worst offenders with the singer turned 90 degrees away from the mic and back a few inches. So that pass had less of the esses, but they were in the right spots and of course were connected to the proper word. During the comp, I was able to easily cut and paste esses from the 'less sibilant' pass onto the comp track where necessary.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Why not use the proper mic ? A mic that is not too bright combine with proper gain staging would simplify your world !! ;)
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    If the singer overemphasizes S sounds then the problem is the performance. Gain staging and mic choice won't fix that.
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You're right, but if gainstaging is done well, a deesser can do the rest ;)

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  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There are some people who just have an inherent amount of sibilance when they sing, regardless of whether they are singing into a cheap mic or a U87...

    Mostly, I'll try to zone in on that particular frequency... could be anywhere between 4 and 8 k, or thereabouts,... it really all depends on the individual... and notch that frequency with as tight of a Q as I can to try and attenuate the sibilance while preserving as much of the other top end that is pleasing.

    The only other thing I could suggest is to work with the performer on mic technique, and get her to sing slightly off axis when those ssssibilant moments occur. But it ain't easy. It takes some time and practice.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I've never had problems w sibilance that mic selection couldn't fix, or at least eq after the best mic was found, but oddly I've never really had sibilance problems and rarely even need a de esser. Interesting workaround tho, I just wouldn't want to use a mic that had those characteristics.
  7. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    In a perfect world that's a perfect answer. In reality, it's not. There are many reasons why it may just not be that simple in every situation, from the mic choices forum members might have, to a singer with pronounced sibilance issues. Not every engineer has every conceivable mic choice, so the little tip might actually help - which was the intention.

    There are some singers that can practically turn their back on the mic and it's still too sibilant....
  8. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I bought a ribbon mic solely for the purpose of reducing sibilance in my own voice. I was classically trained to "stick it" with precision. It works in a choral setting, but singing a lead and then applying compression makes me too sibilant. The ribbon mic has enough "roundness" on the transients to undo my transgressions.

    * With practice, I'm getting better and using an SM57 more and more.
  9. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    I know a singer whose trick for reducing sibilance is sticking a little bit of kleenex between his two front teeth. Without it, he has a tendency to whistle. :)
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Also, aiming the mic at the upper chest/throat area rather than the mouth helps quite a bit. Goes along with the horizontal off axis idea but gains more tone and body to the sound. And don't let the singer eat the mic.

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