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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 Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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