Another home-run here! Although T-DeEsser Pro is packed with features, it is surprisingly easy to use. It is intuitive and the layout makes sense. I love the powerful monitoring features so you can hone in on what you want to eliminate and what you want to avoid affecting. To boot it also has its own touch of saturation, if you want it, and it too is tweakable.
It's quite a challenge to bring something new to the world of deessers... While not revolutionary, the T-De-Esser Pro answers enough modern needs about frequency selection, attack, release and parallel processing to make it useful in quick & practical in day-to-day mixing. Perfect when you want to try softening the highs without messing up your EQ.
Disclaimer I've written and posted over 200 user reviews in the past 10+-years. You've probably seen my name here and there. I have clearly spent too much time writing reviews and not enough time writing and producing music. I recently vowed to stop doing reviews unless I came upon something extraordinary. Alas, here we are.. .
De-Essers, in General De-essing (also called de-sibilizing) is the process of reducing harsh and/or loud sibilant consonants, i.e., "s", "z", "ch", "j", soft "c", and "sh", in voice recordings. De-essers are similar to compressors but more focused on the high frequencies that cause "s" and similar harsh spikes. There are many software units available on the market. Some are more effective than others, but even the best options, have a tendency to make audio sound unnatural and cause artifacts. They affect the frequency balance with their dynamic processing, which is good and bad. The goal is to use a de-esser that is straightforward, accurate. and natural-sounding — one that will help smooth out abrasive high sounds. As modern-day producers strive to brighten-up mixes, it's even more important to tame loud sibilants to avoid blowing out listeners' eardrums.
Intro T-De-Esser Pro is the expanded and enhanced version of Techivation's fabulous free T-De-Esser Plus release. According to the developer, "Our plug-in is meant to smooth out high sounds in a very natural and musical way." So, does it live up to this claim? Let's investigate.. .
Getting Started There is a simple purchase, download, install, and authorization via a code. .. no iLok or dongle of any kind. No confusion. The plugin was recognized and launched swimmingly in Apple Logic Pro X and GarageBand, Cockos Reaper, MuTools MuLab, Serato Studio, Image-Line FL Studio, and Twisted Wave. The initial launch reveals a neatly designed, eye-pleasing, inviting interface with no clutter or chaos. Yet, this comes with more features than a standard de-esser.
Buttons, Knobs, Sliders, Menus, Gizmos, etc. • In the center of it all is a big processing dial that regulates how much audio signal slides through before the effect is engaged. This is the threshold.
• Users can de-ess in a wide frequency range, which is easily selected via four presets scopes (Low-hi, Mid-hi, High, Hi-end) as well as a handy slider to dial in more custom, specific range via a slider (1kHz to 20kHz). The presets are fixed and the slider is smooth and responsive. This is an excellent feature when working with instruments like guitar, cymbals, and sound FX.
• The Intensity dial works in ratios (1.0:1 to 10.0:1) and is reminiscent of standard compressors. I like how these ratios have micro tunings beyond the standard 2:1, 4:1, etc.
• In my noodling, Sharpness seems to affect the smoothness of the audio. According to White Noise Studio, "Sharpness will set the crossover slope between the unprocessed frequency area and the de-essed."
• Attack (0.0ms to 30.0ms) and Release (1.0ms to 120ms) work as they should.
• Mix (0% to 100%) is a slick way to blend and fine-tune-adjust after the user has the desired effect. .. wet vs. dry.
• The Quality menu is something I found interesting and unique. This drop-down enables users to manipulate oversampling via the internal processor that correlates to aliasing (1x, 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x). If a user's processor was struggling, I would recommend rendering after tracking. On my system, the difference between 1x and 16x was almost exactly double within one of my DAWs (31% to 60%).
• Another feature that goes beyond standard de-essers is the Saturation (0 to 100%) "Filter" (orange when engaged). This drives the audio through virtual analog circuits to create a subtle form of distortion with harmonics. What I like about this particular saturator is how it processes the selected high-frequency range. Using Saturation also helps to smoothen the sibilants.
• Hi-cut (3kHz to 20kHz) reduces some of the overall annoying hi feq. harmonics, Mode (processing of stereo vs. side signals), Link (balance between L, R, mid, side), Undo/Redo.
• Lookahead is really nice to have. It allows the unit to get a jump on the input signal, thus resulting in more accurate processing. The manual warns that this feature "will increase latency." So, like the oversampling feature mentioned above, it's probably best not to use Lookahead for tracking.
• The A/B switch is invaluable for comparing and dialing in.
In Action T-De-Esser Pro is extremely responsive, even without Lookahead engaged. The controls are all easily adjusted, with smooth transitions between parameters. The presets (available via download) provide a nice start-point, and if you've ever worked with compressor/limiters and similar hardware or virtual gear, it's not difficult working from scratch. I found it easy to go from subtle de-sibilizing "s", "z", "ch", etc. for vocals up to 10 kHz to more extreme editing/sound design with cymbals and screaming electric guitars. Harsh drum transients can also be warmed-up without sacrificing the overall punch. Users can also domesticate out-of-control snares without beating them into roadkill. By virtue of the Saturation feature, this unit has two ways to de-ess. For me, I need my de-esser to do a better, more natural job than editing manually with EQ, compressions, and de-amplification. Alas, T-De-Esser Pro does it for me! Words that come to mind. .. smooth, creamy, effortless, fleshy. Note: Users can click on "Filter" in the audition section to hear the side-chain input, and the "Diff" button allows you to hear what's being altered/removed.
Things I Like A Lot • Eye-pleasing interface that scales nicely up to 150%.
• Stress-free workflow. .. easy to ascertain the desired effect. Fast.
• Hover tooltips, which are super helpful in getting to know the plugin and identifying numerical parameters.
• High-quality algorithms that yield a sweet sound - ranging from natural to FX. This de-esser is hard-working, but the results are organic and seemingly effortless.
• Extra cool features include Lookahead, Oversampling, and Saturation "filter"
Thing's I'd Like Added/Changed • Although this plugin is relatively CPU/latency efficient, I'm hopeful future versions will be even more optimized to keep performance up and consumption down.
• Ability to turn off hovering tool tips. Once a user knows the plugin well, this might become annoying.
• Here's a dream. .. a wish-list item. .. what about a built-in frequency analyzer to illustrate A/B of original vs. effected?;-) That would be cool! I, like many producers, use my ears and eyes when editing audio.
Summary The developer claims, "Our plug-in is meant to smooth out high sounds in a very natural and musical way." So, does it live up to this claim? The answer is YES!!! Upon launch, it's apparent that T-De-Esser Pro offers more than most de-essers, including its little brother - the free version. This plugin crosses over into side-chain compression and is fully stocked with features, without being a bloated, chaotic mess. The Pro edition delivers more flexibility, versatility, and options. It keeps the sound musical and doesn't create artifacts. It doesn't just work as a repair tool but also as a creative tool that can help you be more creative while fixing the issues in the audio.
Techivation's T-De-Esser Pro is an extremely effective, hi-end plugin that delivers musical results, and best of all. .. it's fun to use.;-) The only question I think potential users need to ask is, "Am I a hobbyist, who simply wants to clean up spoken/sung word(s), or am I more than that?" Amateurs have the free versions (I think there are two options). Pros and pro-hopefuls have this spectacular version that comes with a lifetime license! The price is very reasonable considering what other hi-end units cost, but when you consider free lifetime updates, it's a fantastic bargain!! I highly recommend this sweet tool for any eMusician, producer, sound designer, DJ, etc., looking to improve their control of sibilances or for sound design and mixing. It delivers as promised.
For my final sentence, I'll quote Tory G, "T-De-Esser Pro is a freakin' beast!"
*I sincerely hope my user review has been helpful. .. or at least a fun read.;-).
It's a great Deesser. The sound is natural, the sibilance of the voice is well attenuated. And the saturator adds interesting overtones. It is a very good complement to other Deessers such as Soothe. I use them in series.
The best de-esser there is by a far stretch, but also a lot more than that. It can work miracles on your drum bus and can tame and smooth out aggressive cymbals, guitars and what not. A mainstay on all my mixes. Go grab one if you haven't already.
Working with the T-De-Esser was very reminiscent of what a real life vocal sounds like since in real life, we don't really hear all the harshness, loud S's and unwanted high frequency that gets translated to our digital music world. This plug-in is user friendly, very comprehensive and easy to use. The look ahead feature in this plugin is a top tier feature and, in my opinion, is a must have.
I know there are a lot of DeEsser plug-ins out there, but not many of them can do what the T-De-Esser can do. I highly recommend you to give it a try and see the magic for yourself.