Those “ess,” “sh,” “z,” or “ch” sounds in any vocals can sound really annoying.
But you can remove these sibilants from the vocal sample using some plugins.
In this tutorial, I’ll show the step-by-step process of de-essing vocals in FL Studio using stock plugins.
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De-essing Using Maximus in FL Studio
Maximus is a great multi-band compressor plugin built into FL Studio.
It can control specific sections of an audio sample separately by splitting them into frequency bands.
Instead of compressing the whole audio, it compresses specific parts of the frequency spectrum.
Step 1: Opening Maximus
To open Maximus, go to the mixer window by clicking the view mixer button or pressing F9 on your keyboard.
Once the mixer opens up, go to the effects slots section of any mixer channel (master or insert).
Click on any slots and add Maximus to the effects rack, as shown below.
Once Maximus is open, you’ll see a similar window (as shown below).
Step 2: Setting Up Maximus
After opening Maximus, go to presets and select “De-esser narrow band.”
What this does is that it turns off compression for the lows and high bands.
On selecting the preset, you’ll see three bands (as shown below) – low (red), mid (yellow), and high (green), as shown in the picture below.
For de-essing, we only need to work with the yellow band, representing the frequency range between 2,000 Hz and 9,700 Hz.
Step 3: Analyzing The Vocals
Click on the “spectrogram output” option. It’s the round button on the left side of the “monitor” option.
Then try to see where the frequency spectrum is peaking in that yellow region.
Every vocal is different, so you can’t use the same settings for all vocals. You’ll need to use your ears and adjust the settings accordingly. There’s no single formula.
Drag and adjust the yellow band in that region, as shown below. For the vocal I used in this tutorial, it is nearly 6k and above.
Step 4: Compressing The “ess” Causing Sounds
After doing all the above steps, go to the left side of the plugin. You’ll see a curve.
The point (A) marked by the blue arrow determines where the compression starts in terms of volume, and the curve after A (highlighted in white) determines how much the audio signal is compressed.
You’ll see that normally the yellow shade below the curve is low (marked with a purple arrow), but whenever there are “ess’ sounds, it goes way up (marked with a grey arrow).
Bring down point A a little above where the shade normally is. This way, we set a threshold point for the compressor to work on.
After selecting the threshold point, bring the curve down to set the amount of compression.
You can right-click on the curve to get more points. This will give you more control over the curve to make it sound exactly how you want.
The curve for the vocal used in this tutorial looks something like this (as shown in the image below).
You don’t necessarily want to bring the curve all the way down because that can make the vocals sound unnatural.
While de-essing, it’s best to listen to the whole mix together. This will give you an idea of how much de-essing the vocals actually need in comparison to the entire track.
De-essing Using Edison in FL Studio
FL Studio has a great audio editor plugin called “Edison” built into it.
Like Maximus, Edison is also an effect plugin, so you must access it through the mixer panel.
Although mostly used as a noise removal tool, Edison can also be used as a de-esser. But in Edison, you have to remove the sibilants manually.
Step 1: Opening Edison
Double-click on the vocal sample you loaded into FL Studio. This will open up the vocal in a sampler.
Right-click on the waveform at the bottom of the window and select “open in audio editor” option. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl+E.
Once you do this, your vocal sample will open up on Edison.
But initially, the waveform doesn’t properly show us where the sibilants are. To see them, you have to adjust some settings.
Step 2: Setting Up Edison
To know where the “ess” sounds are, enable spectrum view under the view option (eye icon).
A window similar to the one shown in the image below should appear.
Then go to display settings under the view option and select natural scale. This will make the search for those “ess” sounds even easier.
On the horizontal scale, we have time; on the vertical scale, we have frequency (increasing as we go up).
The bright yellow spots on top of the scale (marked with an arrow) are those “ess” sounds you’re looking for—press play to monitor them.
Step 3: Removing The “Ess” Sounds Manually
Once you have completed the above steps, navigate your mouse along that yellow spot and monitor the variations.
Then left-click and drag to select the area with ess sounds (highlighted in red in the picture below).
Then go on top to the tools area and select the equalizer option (highlighted in blue).
This will open up an equalizer inside Edison. We’ll use this equalizer to duck the volume whenever that ess sounds hits.
In the equalizer, some parts of the spectrum will be colored yellow. Those are the “ess” sounds you’re looking for.
Now all you have to do is left-click and create a ducking pattern with the equalizer around that yellow part in the spectrum.
You should see a Mix fader on the right side of the equalizer. Adjust it to determine how much de-essing you want to apply to the audio sample.
You can preview how it sounds using the preview button (highlighted in yellow). Once done, click “accept” (highlighted in white).
Then if you view the waveform, you’ll see the region you equalized no longer has a bright yellow spot. Now it’s more orangish.
Repeat the process for each of those orange bars in the frequency spectrum.
After you have completed de-essing the entire sample, use the drag option (shown as an arrow icon) to drag the audio into the playlist.
I know this method is tiring and can take a lot of time, but it gives much more control and is very useful when addressing various issues.
So, these are two ways by which you can de-ess vocals using the stock plugins in FL Studio.
Best Third-Party Plugins for De-Essing in FL Studio
There are many smart third-party plugins specifically built for de-essing purposes.
They make de-essing much easy by providing a user-friendly interface and simple controls.
Following are my preferred third-party plugins:
- Spitfish from The Fish Fillets Pack (best free)
- FabFilter Pro-DS (best paid)
- AVA De-Esser (Underpriced but excellent)
- Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR Nova (free)
- Tonmann De Esser (free)
- Weiss Deess (paid)
- XILS DeeS (paid)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you de-ess in FL Studio?
To de-ess a sample in FL Studio, open the Maximus effects plugin on the master channel and select the de-essing template. Based on the needs, you can optimize it to de-ess across a wide frequency range.
How do I remove sibilance in FL Studio?
In FL Studio, you can remove sibilance manually by adjusting the spectrum view on the Edison plugin. Alternatively, you can use a multi-band compressor to cut off high frequencies that cause sibilance.
Is there a de-esser in FL Studio?
There is no dedicated de-esser plugin on FL Studio. You must use Edison, Muti-band compressor, or Maximus plugin to de-ess using peaking and shelving modes.