Online Review: De-Esser, Waves

Every studio owner who deals with spoken word knows the problem very well: a wonderful voice, but those esses....

Experienced audio engineers know how to handle this problem. They open the good old trick box, fumble around for 15 minutes with the recording and the distorting esses are gone.

Who has to pay for that? You do. Hiring a studio engineer for one hour will cost you let's say 100 bucks. So, removing those darn esses in 15 minutes will cost you 25 bucks at least. And in that case, we're talking cheap...

Now there is a handy tool that -for it's price- will let you remove esse from 8 recordings. Remember: 15 minutes per recording? Just kidding: of course you can handle more than 8 recordings. The buty of this plugin is: when you start de-essing on recording nr. 9, it's free. And it will remain free for the rest of your life (our your studio's life, if it lasts that long ;-). How come? Read on.

The trick to de-ess quickly at very low costs and with professional quality comes from Waves, the post production plugin producers. The DeEsser plugin (US$ 200). Which is 8 times 15 minutes for 25 bucks. Getting the light why nr. 9 is for free. And the rest too? I agree, it's a bit stupid calculating of course, but is sounds nice, doesn't it?

Waves shipped this plugin recently, and it works fine with software like Peak, Deck II, SoundEdit 16, DigiDesign and any other audio editing software that supports the Waves plugin-shell.

What can I tell you more then that this plugin does it's job very well. Just load the audio file into your audio editor and fire-up the WaveShell. Choose the DeEsser Stereo plugin. While previewing, switch on the SideChain Monitor. This will monitor the "sharp" parts in the recording that will be removed when you execute. The rest of the audio is surpressed. When you unclick the Monitor button, the complete recording is monitored.

When you're happy with the upcoming result, just apply the settings to the audio file. You will notice that the distorting esses are completely gone. In just a few seconds.

The presets option in this plugin is very handy. Of course, the plugin comes with a couple of presets, of which the shown "Female Shh" is just one. But: suppose you work with a group a text readers, each of them having his or hers specific esses. You could store a preset file for every text reader that comes in your studio on a regular basis. You can imagine this will save a lot of time when post producing the readers recordings.

Of course. the DeEsser plugin is perfect for singers who exaggerate their "esses" while singing the stars from the sky. Such things do happen: it came to our ears that even Michael Jackson has to be de-essed from time to time. Don't know if that's true, but the story goes.

The trick is done by isolating specific "ess" sounds for attenuation. You have two basic choices: bandpass-mode for a specific narrow frequency, or high pass-mode for a variety of "ess" sounds. Using one of these methods, you isolate high-pitched frequencies from the rest of the recording. Then these frequencies are compressed, thus creating a cleaner sound output.

If you own a Mac based recording studio and deal with spoken text or solo vocal recordings a lot, this plugin is an absolute must. Quick and convenient de-essing is a piece of cake with Waves DeEsser, and therefor (on our scale of 1 to 10) we give this plug-in a 9,5. Just excellent.

And, however we cannot imagine that any audio engineer would like to record on a Windows machine ;-)....yes, the DeEsser plugin is available for that platform too.

If you like, you can download a Mac-demo for non authorized WaveKeys at:

The "other platform users" will find a demo at:

All reviews in are written by Peter J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.

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