Tips for Quickly Dealing with Sibilance on Voice Overs

When editing my vocal tracks, I definitely spend way too much time editing the sibilance throughout the track. What I’ve done to deal with sibilance is go through the track and manually edit each S, T, Ch, and Th using the Limiter effect, but this takes so damn long.

Are there any effects I can use that will allow me to more easily edit out the harsh sibilance I’m encountering during the mixing process? Or, are there any suggestions on how to more quickly edit out harsh sibilance rather than just manually using the Limiter effect on ever harsh sibilance in the track?

Additionally, any suggestions for ways to limit harsh sibilance when recording my voice over tracks?

You can try a de-esser plug-in. See [u]this post[/u] for a couple of suggestions or you can just search for “VST de-esser plug-in”. It may take some trial-and-error to find a 3rd-party plug-in that works with Audacity but it’s a fairly common effect so there should be lots to choose from.

If you’re going to de-ess manually,
envelope tool or Spectral editing are better tools for that job.

Which microphone are you using?

You don’t have to manually edit them. The DeSibilator can run through and clean them up back to normal speech.

These tools do have a volume setting, so I found they work a lot better after Audiobook Mastering where the voice volume is stable and predictable.

If you do it that way and never change microphone or studio, DeEssing/Desibilating is a quick step at the end of mastering. The settings stick time after time. Effect > DeSibilating > OK. About that fast.

I wouldn’t mind knowing which microphone you have.


On another forum somebody posted a link to a [u]YouTube video[/u] about recording voice/vocals. He mentions using a de-esser (always or almost always) but I don’t remember if he mentions which one and I assume he’s not using Audacity.

It’s a GREAT video with LOTs of good advice! …I do question his advice about recording “hot” (close to clipping).

…To me, the video itself (audio) has bit too much sibilance so I’m not sure if he followed his own advice or if he just has a taste for a “crispier” sound. And you can’t see the microphone(s) they are using in the video… There is a “talkback” mic on the desk but the way it’s positioned they are not using it. They are in a (soundproof) studio I guess they can get-away with a microphone at a distance (probably overhead).

They are in a (soundproof) studio

Start with a quiet, echo-free room and it almost doesn’t matter what kind of microphone you have. I guess the exception is the microphones that insist on Essing. They will always sound bad.

“Essing” is not simple crisp delivery. If you turn the treble down, you will get muffled voice with essing. Been there, done that. No equalization or other normal tricks will help this. You have to use software that “knows” what essing is and how to reverse it.

There is a thinly noted cousin problem. People trying to solve normal crisp delivery with the DeEssing tools. Nope. Those do respond to Treble suppression in Effect > Bass And Treble.

If this was easy, anybody could do it.


I use a Shure SM58. I have a small closet where I do all of my recording. I use a ZOOM H6, which rests on top of a dress I have in the closet, and I put my mic on a mic stand and put the stand in a draw. The closet has clothes hanging on both the side walls, the dresser to the back wall (I put some pillows and blankets on top of the dresser to try to soak up sound when speaking into my mic), and then the door behind me. I think the closet does a good job at providing a fairly quiet place to record.

Are there any plugins you’d recommend for DeSibilating?

I tried that Audiobook process, and I gotta admit I’m not sure I like how that sounds.

Here’s the process I do:

  • Compressor
    EQ-Bass Boost
    EQ-Treble Boost

I think that process provides a nice tone for my audio, but the downside is the sibilance.

Are there any plugins you’d recommend for DeSibilating?

I’m wondering why you’re sibilating in the first place. SM58s don’t do that.

Something is off.

Up for a ten second sound test? Read down the blue links. They’re really short.

Don’t process anything. Transfer the voice track out of the H6 and post it on the forum.

Are you listening to yourself with the monitoring on the H6? That takes a bit of getting used to, but it helps keep the performance volume constant and level. Which headphones?

Any reason you’re not using the microphones on the H6? I produced a perfectly swell audiobook voice track with the microphones on my H1n.

Second quick test. Do you have a newspaper around? Doesn’t have to be Los Angeles Times or anything. It can be the newspaper ad for Pavilions Groceries. Crumple it up in front of the microphone. Back away a little from where you normally announce. Crumpling can be loud. Five or ten seconds. Post it.