Two minute ableton live tip # 17: compressor for de-essing

Turn Ableton Live's Compressor into a De-Esser

Have you ever recorded the perfect vocal track, only to find the "S" sounds are just too loud?  A lot of air is required to create the "S" sound.  Microphones, especially condensers, can capture that air and really exaggerate the "S" sounds.  This can make an excellent vocal performance irritating.  To fix this, producers turn to the De-Esser.

Ableton Live doesn't come a dedicated De-essing plugin, but the compressor is built to handle the job.  In order to de-ess, we need to find the frequencies of the "S" sounds (usually anywhere from 2-10kHz).  Then we need to set the compressor to react only to those frequencies.  In other words, the compressor only turns on when the "S" sounds occur.  Here's how:

First click on the expansion triangle to reveal the sidechaining and EQ parameters.

triangle
eq

To the left you can see the EQ section.  Enabling this section will tell the compressor to listen to whichever frequency range you specify.  In this case, we want to focus on the "S" sounds.  So we set the EQ to a bandpass filter at 5.88kHz.  This means the compressor only reacts when the specified frequency reaches the threshold.  Normally the compressor listens to the overall volume.  Here, the compressor listens only to the frequency range.

This principle is useful for many applications.  Suppose you have a drum mix and the kick drum is too loud.  You can have the compressor only reduce the volume when the frequencies of the kick drum reach the threshold.  Also, if you only have a drum mix and want to side chain other tracks to the kick drum, this technique can be used to isolate those frequencies.  Watch the video below as I show you how it is done!


The musical example contains sounds from my Super Tape Drums and WindChimes packs.  If you dig the sounds, check them out!

Super Tape Drums Ableton Live Pack
9.99

Over 450 individual drum sounds, all sampled on to a Tascam 8 track reel to reel tape machine. They are warm and punchy. Delivered in over 30 drum racks, each organized in useful and easy to use that will make finding and creating drum parts as simple as possible. Divided into four 5 different categories of sound” 8 bit, drum machines, OP-1 drums, live and synthesized drums, and odd percussion.

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Wind Chimes Instruments Ableton Live Pack
6.99

A collection of Instruments, all created from samples of a beautiful set of high-end WindChimes. The sound is natural, alive and organic. 

The Live Pack has 5 Instrument Racks, 4 Drum Racks, 4 Audio Effect Racks. Also included is AfroDJMac’s 4-song WindChime Ambience EP, created using only the WindChimes Pack, and the Ableton Live Projects used to create the songs. 

All  sounds in video above created with this pack.

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