Last Updated on February 12, 2021.
De-esser plugins are essential not only for making any vocal track sound professional, but also to tame the harshness on almost any other tracks in your mix; like hi-hats, cymbals, and even in the mastering phase.
If you don’t know what a De-esser does then here’s a post I wrote that explains just that!
Now, in this article I will list both free and premium de-essers, as well as give you my top 3 choices right at the end, simply to make things a bit easier.
For quicker and easier navigation, you can always use the table of contents below to navigate to the desired section.
Best Premium De-Esser VST
1. FabFilter Pro DS ($179)
With its ‘Single Vocal’ detection algorithm, FabFilter Pro-DS can accurately identify sibilance in vocal recordings and attenuates it transparently.
When using the ‘Allround’ mode, Pro-DS becomes a great tool for high-frequency limiting of any material, like drums or even full mixes. Try it out yourself!
FabFilter Pro-DS offers everything you need to get the best result possible, presented in a simple and easy-to-use interface.
Wide band or linear-phase split band processing, an optional look-ahead of up to 15 ms, adjustable stereo linking with optional mid-only or side-only processing, up to four times linear-phase oversampling… and more.
- Adjustable Threshold, Range and detection HP and LP filtering settings
- Wide Band or linear-phase Split Band processing
- Optional look-ahead time up to 15 ms
- Freely adjustable stereo linking
- Optional mid-only or side-only processing
Find out more about Pro DS here.
2. Waves Sibilance ($49)
Sibilance is a transparent vocal de-esser that is capable of removing harsh vocal ‘s’ sounds faster than all the previous de-essers released by Waves.
Sibilance allows you to make the vocals brighter without adding any harshness to them.
It doesn’t apply gain reduction to narrow frequency bands alone, but rather uses spectral filters to detect peaks in certain regions and then applies the processing after having separated the vocals from those regions.
This allows Sibilance to only process the problematic areas, leaving the rest of the track’s content unaffected.
Just like with Pro DS by FabFilter, Sibilance is not just meant to be used on vocals, but on any track where you need to deal with harshness.
- Smooth, glitch-free removal of harsh ‘s’ sounds like never before
- Separates the sibilant parts of the vocal without changing the vocal’s original tone
- Easy-to-use threshold and sensitivity controls
- Innovative sibilance detector powered by Waves’ Organic ReSynthesis technology
Find out more about Sibilance here.
3. XILS DeeS ($89)
DeeS can help you get clean and professional sounding vocals in no time, as well as restore other vocal tracks and get rid of their flaws.
Removing the harshness and the sibilance should be extremely easy with DeeS, plus the plugin is easy to use since it’s very visual.
It splits the track into two independent channels; The Vocals, without any sibilance, and the sibilance on its own, each with its own EQ.
The Detection module helps you to find the right Voice frequency range to process to remove the sibilants, and specify the quality of the processing.
Find out more about DeeS here.
4. Standard De-Esser by ERA 4 ($59)
If you don’t want to have to deal with loads of knobs and controls, then this plugin might be the right one for you.
The ERA De-Esser is the only single-knob plugin that allows you to smooth out audio problems caused by excessive sibilance consonants.
It features a real-time processing display that allows you to visually monitor plosive reduction in real time.
Once you have found a setting that works for your particular sibilance issue, you can then use the “Intense” button to get some extra processing.
Note: If you want to have more control over what’s happening, then I’d recommend that you check out the Pro Version of this plugin.
- Single knob operation
- Simple and streamlined user interface
- Automatic sibilance reduction
- Precision-grade audio repair functionality
- Uncompromised sound quality
Find out more about Standard De-Esser here.
5. Oxford SuprEsser ($244)
The Oxford SuprEsser is both a very highly-featured professional De-Esser and a Dynamic EQ.
There is a simple mode for quick fixes, but also an advanced mode for increased functionality and fine-tuning.
he combination of an intuitive FFT display and three listen modes enables you to easily see and hear exactly where the problem frequencies are, allowing you to quickly reduce or remove of the offending audio.
Since the SuprEsser can operate at all frequencies, ‘plosives’ and other annoyances can also be removed.
Additional features include Automatic Level Tracking, Linear Phase Filtering and a Wet/Dry blend control for final balancing.
- Highly featured professional De-Esser
- Linear Phase Dynamic EQ
- Transparently controls aggressive frequencies
- Automatic Level Tracking follows energy levels (no need to automate threshold)
- Large intuitive graphic display makes finding frequencies very easy
Find out more about SuprEsser here.
6. Weiss Deess by Softube ($199)
I really like Softube; I use one of their Saturation plugins quite often, especially because it’s so simple to use, and their Weiss Deess is also an amazing plugin.
Whether you’re trying to reduce vocal sibilance, the sharpness in a hi-hat or cymbals, or simply reduce some harshness in the mastering phase, a good De-esser can come quite in handy.
Weiss Deess has two independent bands and a variety of filter shapes and excellent band-width control, allowing you to home in on precisely what you need to deal with, without collateral damage.
Additionally, it’s a very visual plugin, which can be very useful since you can actually see what is happening to the signal.
- Two bands of de-essing. This is the only de-esser you’ll need.
- Stunning and intuitive visualisations make this de-esser a breeze to use.
- Clean tweak-and-go faceplate, with immensely detailed controls hidden in side-menu.
- Ultra-professional tool, but without the daunting, complex look.
Find out more about Weiss Deess here.
7. Oeksound Soothe2 ($199)
soothe2 is a dynamic resonance suppressor, which means that it identifies problematic resonances in real-time and applies matching reduction automatically.
It applies these reductions where needed, without affecting nearby frequencies; Basically, it attempts to smooth out the sound without affecting nearby frequencies, and therefore keeping the original tone.
Soothe2 puts emphasis on the visual aspect a lot more than most other plugins, since the controls section is very small, while the majority of the window belongs to the waveform display.
This can definitely be very useful to people who still can’t hear the subtle processing that is being applied, since they can actually see it.
Find out more about Soothe2 here.
Free De-Esser VST Plugins
8. Tonmann DeEsser
Tonmann DeEsser is a basic high frequency dynamic processor VST plugin, called a DeEsser because it’s mainly designed to get rid of “stinging” sibilants that may occur on vocals after compression or adding a high boost.
The plugin has been carefully designed to suppress any artificial or alienated sound that may arise under awkward situations with some other DeEssers.
- True independent stereo operation, but also runs in mono mode
- Wideband and lowpass reduction modes selectable
- Fully adjustable center frequency and bandwidth of the detection range
- Adjustable detection threshold to retain the “crisp” sound character of a vocal
- Look ahead feature for sibilants with short and sharp attacks
Find out more about the Tonmann DeEsser here.
9. SpitFish DeEsser
SPITFISH is a dead-easy to use de-esser, aimed mainly at mono or stereo vocal tracks.
Just like classic analog de-essers, this unit dynamically filters out harsh, annoying s-like sounds that would otherwise ‘spit’ in your face.
Note: Probably won’t work on the latest Mac OS.
Find out more about the Spitfish here.
10. Modern De-Esser
Modern De-Esser is a freeware de-esser VST plugin by Antress. It features frequency control in the 3000 to 9999 Hz range and output level control (-15 to +15 dB).
The gain reduction can be adjusted with threshold, ratio, width, and release controls.
The Modern De-Esser VST is part of the free Antress Modern Plugins package.
Find out more about Modern De-Esser here.
11. Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP
Whether you use a traditional de-esser, sidechained compressor, dynamic EQ, or even edit your tracks manually, cleaning up sibilance problems in your vocals can get pretty tedious.
Lisp is new type of de-esser that aims to speed-up this
process with its automatic sibilance detection algorithm.
Internally tuned to the human vocal range, Lisp can automatically detect and lower annoying “ss”, “teh”, and “ch” sounds in your audio by tracking both the amplitude and pitch of its input in real-time. Just set the reduction amount and let Lisp do the rest!
Find out more about Lisp here.
12. Dead Duck De-esser
This isn’t just a de-esser, but actually a full 25 original VST audio plugins bundle that also includes a De-Esser.
This bundle includes all the essential mixing tools such as EQ, compression and limiting to creative sound shaping tools such as delays, modulation effects and reverb.
Not only are all of them free, but they also sound and work impressively well.
So, make sure to get your hands on this bundle asap!
Learn more about the Dead Duck Bundle here.
Top 3 Choices
- Lisp (Free)
- Standard De-Esser ($59) and super easy to use because of the one-knob control.
- Weiss Deess by Softube ($199) Most versatile overall.
In most cases I don’t really think that premium VSTs are that much better than the free ones, but as far as de-essers are concerned, if you truly want to get professional results then I’d stick to a premium one.
Still, it’s much better to use free ones than nothing at all!
I hope this information was useful!
Have a wonderful day!