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.
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!
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