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How and When to Use Serial De-Essing

There was a question about de-essing going inside one of the Facebook communities I’m a member of a few days ago.

A good friend of mine, Sigurdór Guðmundsson, master audio engineer and awesome musician, had some great thoughts on de-essing that I thought I’d share with you.

The question was:

“As far as de-essers go, where would you put them in your process chain? Beginning? After wideband compression? EQ?”

I usually put a de-esser on a vocal once I hear that it’s needed. However, it’s usually after EQ and compression.

I had never thought to use multiple de-essers at a time, but Sigurdór had some great thoughts on the subject.

If you want to know exactly what a de-esser really does, and how you can actually create one with an EQ and a compressor, I wrote this article 7 years ago: How to Create a De-Esser from Scratch.

Since a de-esser is basically a frequency dependent compressor it makes total sense to think of them the same way. I use serial compression a lot, with multiple types of compressors compressing a couple dBs at a time.

In fact, I do just that in the compression module in the Mixing With 5 Plug-ins course, using both an 1176 style FET compressor for the peaks and then a slower LA2A opto style for general leveling.

If you’d like to get better mixes using only 5 plug-ins, check out the course here.


Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of The Long Wait’s debut album, a band I am very proud to have been a member of. Although the band is no longer, I’m still proud of the production and mixing work I did on it. The reason I mention it is that Sigurdór Guðmundsson, the De-Esser Wizard above, played bass on track #9, “Dispute.” 

It’s a small world when you’re an Icelander…

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About me

About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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