Using De-Esser or Dynamic EQ to tame harsh sounds in your mix
The De-Esser was originally designed for vocal processing, however they can be very helpful for taming harsh sounds in your mix.
Originally designed to work on the “sibilance” of vocal recordings, in theory it works similar to how a compressor works, although it is designed to only affect a certain range of frequencies.
Say, for example, you have a vocal recording, and the “S” sounds are coming through too strong, simply using an EQ to reduce that frequency range may result in deadening the overall recording.
The power of a De-Esser is that it only kicks in when necessary, and with some fine-tuning it can be a great tool for taming almost any harsh sounds in your mix.
In electronic music and synthesis, using filters with a high resonance can often cause harsh resonant tones particularly when swept through a wide range of frequencies.
Again, simply slapping on an EQ at those frequencies may end up killing the overall sound.
The human ear is particularly sensitive to frequencies in the range of around 1kHz to 5kHz, I think due to the fact that our brains alert us to these sounds instinctively as a scream or baby crying would occupy a similar frequency range.
Distorted lead sounds and band pass filters are often a cause for concern in this range of frequencies, when they come through too strong in the 1kHz to 5kHz range they can often drown out a lot of the other sounds in the mix.
A De-Esser is a quick and easy way of taming that, if you want to get more advanced with it you can apply a dynamic EQ, however I find often they don’t offer very much control over the envelope.
Kilohearts Slice EQ and Envelope Follower are a great combo that work particularly well on transient sounds as you have incredible control over the envelope.
For an in-depth walkthrough on these techniques check out the video here: