11 Best De-Esser VST Plugins 2022

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Best De-Esser VST Plugins

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Polishing a mix is a process. And while the general steps are known, the specific change from mix, to mix, based on the genre, the preferences of the artist or producer, and the tools available.

One tool that every mixer and producer should have at the ready, though, is a de-esser. It may not be anything fancy or especially spicy, but it is a necessary tool for fine-tuning vocals and removing harsh sounding frequencies.

In this guide, we look at the best de-esser VST plugins to help you tame troublesome sibilance.

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FabFilter Pro-DS by FabFilter – Best Overall

FabFilter Pro-DS by FabFilter – Best Overall

First up, we have the FabFilter Pro-DS. Generally, when you buy a FabFilter plugin, you know what you’re getting. You’re getting quality. From sound quality and features to design and versatility, their dedication to creating powerful and versatile tools is obvious.

If you’re shopping for a de-esser, then you probably know why you need one. You can put your vocals through the best gear – mics, preamps, converters – and still end up with a lingering harshness in the higher frequencies, especially after EQ, compression, saturation, and even reverb.

FabFilter Pro-DS features an intelligent “Single Voice” detection algorithm that makes it easy to identify sibilance and attenuate it without affecting the original performance.

The “Allround” mode can be used for high frequency limiting on any track, whether it’s drums or full mixes.

All the tools you need to tame intense highs are included here – wide band or linear-phase split band processing, optional look-ahead up to 15 ms, adjustable stereo linking with optional mid-only or side-only processing, and up to four times linear-phase oversampling.

Of course, you get all the features FabFilter plugins have become known for too – perfectly tuned knobs, MIDI Learn, smart parameter interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, a help file with interactive help hints, SSE optimization, and more.

So, all together, you get “Single Voice” and classic “Allround” detection, transparent program-dependent compression / limiting, adjustable threshold, range and detection HP and LP filtering settings, wide band or linear-phase split band processing, optional look-ahead (up to 15 ms), and freely adjustable stereo linking.

As well, you get access to optional mid-only or side-only processing, up to four times linear-phase oversampling, real-time de-essing display, side-chain input meter, and real-time spectrum analyzer (built into the HP / LP filter controller).

One of the best things about FabFilter Pro-DS is probably the visualizer, which shows you where all the harsh sounds are and how they are being processed by the effect. For a transparent result, Pro-DS is a shoo-in.

While a de-esser typically isn’t anything sexy, FabFilter makes an ordinary thing cool. And with all the power this plugin puts at your fingertips, we make no qualms about it being our best overall pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Oxford SuprEsser by Sonnox – Best Premium Option

Oxford SuprEsser by Sonnox – Best Premium Option

The cleverly named Oxford SuprEsser is a powerful de-esser and dynamic EQ VST plugin.

You can take advantage of simple mode for quick fixes, and the advanced mode for additional fine tuning. The three listen modes make it easy for you to hear where the trouble frequencies are so you can quickly attenuate them.

SuprEsser, though, can be used at all frequencies, meaning you can use it to remove any unwanted or offending audio. It also comes with automatic level tracking, linear phase filtering, and a wet / dry blend control.

So, whether it’s sibilance, fricatives, whistles, spirant artifacts, plosives, or thuds, you can treat all problematic sounds with the frequency specific compressor.

Oxford SuprEsser’s graphical display offers visual feedback, which makes it easy for you to find the frequencies you need to treat.

Overall, Sonnox’ Oxford SuprEsser is 64-bit compliant, and comes with linear phase dynamic EQ, automatic level tracking, full spectrum operation (20Hz – 200KHz), three listen modes, advanced mode (for additional control over the dynamic EQ), and multiple presets.

The Oxford SuprEsser is a sophisticated piece of kit that allows you to home in on the frequencies that are most bothersome and reduce their harshness. Since it handles more than just vocals, it’s a no-brainer as our best premium selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

AVA De-Esser by Harrison Consoles – Best Budget Option

AVA De-Esser by Harrison Consoles – Best Budget Option

Harrison Consoles’ AVA De-Esser is a favorite for music, broadcast, and even video post-production efforts (AVA stands for AAX, VST, and AU – indicating its overall compatibility). AVA De-Esser features Harrison’s fourth generation algorithm designed to detect and help tame harsh sibilance.

With AVA De-Esser, you can control band frequencies and depths from the main display graph. The S and H controls let you adjust “Ess” and “Hi” band frequency and depth.

AVA De-Esser comes with controls for Ess freq and Ess depth controls (low-frequency cutoff and maximum attenuation), hi freq and hi depth control (high frequency taming), Ess center (lets you move the entire Ess band in unison) and Ess width control (control how wide or narrow the Ess bandwidth is), attack, and auto solo (audition your Ess band).

Altogether, AVA De-Esser comes with an intelligent algorithm that operates on harsh sibilance while ignoring fricatives, band solo and auto-solo features, up to 12dB reduction in sibilance, adjustable threshold and depth, six control dimensions, zero-latency processing (suitable even for live use), gain-reduction meter (for Pro Tools and Studio One), ear icon (momentary bypass), gear icon (additional features), and an alternative vintage theme.

The AVA De-Esser features a simple interface that allows you to dial in your treatment with ease. And that probably is the best thing about the AVA De-Esser. It’s relatively easy to use, and you can fine-tune on the fly.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

DE555 Advanced De-esser HD v7 by McDSP

DE555 Advanced De-esser HD v7 by McDSP

McDSP’s DE555 Advanced De-esser HD v7 may have a convoluted, long-winded name, but that contrasts with its simple, visually appealing interface.

DE555 comes with intelligent signal analysis, which means it can de-ess at any signal level. You don’t need to manually adjust input threshold.

DE555 also comes with continuously adjustable ratio and release controls, high frequency (HF) mode, high pass and bandpass filtering, focus control, and real-time displays of de-essing and key filter response.

Altogether, you get zero latency algorithms, new presets, double precision processing, frequency shift control, unique key filter focus and de-essing controls, real-time metering and key filter response plot, high frequency (HF) only option, as well as mono and stereo versions.

The video below is obviously from an older version of the DE555, but it does give you a bit of an overview of how the plugin works.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SYBIL by Antares

SYBIL by Antares

Most producers will be familiar with the name Antares because of their legendary Auto-Tune effect.

Here we have their SYBIL de-esser.

The SYBIL variable frequency de-esser features a flexible compressor and variable frequency high pass filter. You can fine tune the compressor with threshold, ratio, attack, and release controls. Use the high pass frequency control to determine which content you want to compress.

There’s nothing overly complex about SYBIL. Its interface is streamlined, with just a few controls and a display that allow you to visualize the frequencies you’re cutting. For a no-nonsense de-esser, it will more than do the trick.

Antares’ SYBIL is compatible with Windows and Mac and is available at Plugin Boutique.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Weiss Deess by Softube

Weiss Deess by Softube

Softube’s Weiss Deess purports to be an all-in one de-esser and high frequency tamer for vocals, hi-hats, and even mastering.

Founder of Weiss Engineering Daniel Weiss says the plugin has the “same golden sound as the original hardware,” and mastering engineer Maor Appelbaum liked the parameters and attractive interface.

Weiss Deess has two independent bands, a variety of filter shapes and band-width control, an intuitive display with FFT readouts and filter shapes, an uncluttered interface with a side menu giving you control over everything (including ratios, attack, release times, knee settings, make-up gain, and more), a low-latency mode, and all the Weiss algorithms code-ported from the DS1-MK3.

Weiss Deess is perfect for precision de-essing, and it is very competent even on a master.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SSL DeEss by Solid State Logic

SSL DeEss by Solid State Logic

Solid State Logic’s SSL DeEss allows for pinpoint sibilance reduction and for removing harsh frequency buildup.

With a relative threshold algorithm, SSL DeEss lets you change the input level of the signal non-destructively. Also included is an automatic auditioning and brighten control for bringing tamed de-essed signals back to life.

With SSL DeEss, you can also target just the mid or side components of a signal. Additionally, you can toggle automatic oversampling and lookahead. There are presets for different vocal types (tenor, alto, soprano), and instrument processing too.

Overall, SSL DeEss has a simple workflow that lets you dial in your processing with relative ease.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

DeEsser by Waves

DeEsser by Waves

Waves’ simply named DeEsser is a simple and popular option for reducing excess sibilance in your mixes.

Engineer / vocal producer / mixer Rob Cohen said Waves DeEsser defines the crispy rap / pop vocal of the modern era, producer / engineer Andrew Scheps found it highly usable on vocals, guitars, and cymbals, and mixing engineer Tom Elmhirst says it’s his go-to de-esser for vocals.

DeEsser comes with sharp sidechain filters, wideband and split compressor modes, as well as audio or sidechain monitoring.

DeEsser is quite uncomplicated, and it does what it says it does. Even the interface isn’t anything fancy or over the top. If a no-brainer de-esser is what you seek, then you will love this plugin.

Learn more: Waves

Sibilance by Waves

Sibilance by Waves

Waves’ Sibilance takes full advantage of their Organic ReSynthesis technology. This transparent vocal de-esser helps you find sibilance with ease, while maintaining the tone, duration, and resonance of the original performance.

Where most de-essers are essentially narrow-band compressors, Sibilance uses spectral filters to find your troublesome frequencies, all while leaving the rest of the signal uncompromised. This means you can keep your aggressive EQ settings.

Sibilance is ideally suited to treating vocals and voiceover tracks, and it comes with threshold and sensitivity controls, sibilance detection graph, and variable range modes (wide to split-band processing).

Mixing engineer Dave Pensado called Sibilance “a step into the future of plugin technology,” mix engineer / drummer Emre Ramazanoglu called it “the most intuitive and transparent de-esser” he’s ever used, and composer / recording / mixing and mastering engineer Dave Darlington called it his go-to de-esser.

Learn more: Waves

BSS DPR-402 by Waves

BSS DPR-402 by Waves

Waves’ BSS DPR-402 is a dynamics processor, perfectly matched to the studio, live, and even broadcast scenarios. In collaboration with BSS Audio, Waves modeled the original hardware unit in developing this powerful plugin, and all signs point to the idea that they did a killer job.

BSS DPR-402 functions as a compressor, limiter, and de-esser. What makes it especially desirable is that you can combine these processes and selectively process specific parts of the audio band.

More than a mere de-esser, this VST serves multiple applications, from low-frequency expansion and narrow band compression to dynamic equalization.

Not content to model the original BSS DPR-402, Waves added five new features – the MS matrix, mix control, noise control, gain reduction, and L / R metering. This baby also comes with 12 modes that give you access to various dynamic processing possibilities.

Producer-engineer Mike Hedges found the plugin was comparable to the original hardware unit and thought the de-essing was even more precise than the original.

BSS DPR-402 offers plenty of possibilities, not just in terms of de-essing, but for dynamic processing in general. Whether it’s attenuating harsh vocal frequencies, adding some punch to your drums, or tightening up your bass sound, this is a great sounding, versatile VST.

Learn more: Waves

Renaissance DeEsser by Waves

Renaissance DeEsser by Waves

Waves’ Renaissance DeEsser is a specialized sibilance attenuator that combines Waves’ C4, R-Vox, and DeEsser plugins. It comes with phase-compensated crossover and adaptive threshold as well.

This plugin works for tracking, mixing, mastering, live sound, and even broadcast. It comes complete with presets by the likes of Lu Diaz and Dave Pensado, as well as three skins for the graphical user interface – light, dark, and legacy.

Producer, DJ, and recording artist Mark Ronson liked the fast workflow of the Renaissance plugins, artist / writer / engineer RENEGADE EL REY called it his go-to, and producer / songwriter / mixing engineer Albin Nedler found it effective, even with aggressive settings.

Learn more: Waves

What Should I Look For In A De-Esser VST Plugin?

Unmistakably, the above de-esser VST plugins are the best available. And while it isn’t a special effect with magical powers by any means, it’s a necessity, and it’s fair to say there is still a difference between each of the plugins in this guide, whether it’s the general workflow, or how the taming / processing occurs.

So, here we will consider a few major criteria to help you make up your mind about which plugin(s) to buy. They are as follows:

  • Sound
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s look at these in more depth.

Sound

With most VSTs, be it instruments or effects, we’d reserve this space to discuss the tonal characteristics, timbre, and perhaps the variety of sounds a specific VST offers.

In the case of a de-esser, though, the conversation is a little different.

First, it’s important to consider the overall transparency of the effect. Not all de-essers are 100% transparent, preserving the integrity of the original performance. Now, this isn’t to suggest that transparent is always and automatically better. Producers sometimes like effects with coloration, and that can certainly go for de-essers too.

But if you want to apply the effect without it affecting the energy of the performance, you’ll probably be on the lookout for a more transparent effect. If you know how to maneuver around added coloration, and even prefer it, then transparency is not a prerequisite.

Second, you’ll want to listen for what state the effect leaves the vocals in. Most de-essers let you reduce harsh sibilance to mere lisp, but if your de-esser does this by default, you might be in trouble. You shouldn’t run into that problem with any of the above de-essers, mind you.

Features

As with any other effect, de-essing plugins do vary quite a bit in terms of parameters. Some give you more control. Some give you less. And more control isn’t always better than less control, or even vice versa.

But it’s always good to be mindful of the specific way in which the effect works, as well as how you can control it using the onboard parameters.

As well, a dynamics processor / channel strip will always feature more functionality overall. If you especially like the characteristics of the channel strip, then there’s nothing wrong with sort of an “all in one” solution that comes with a built-in de-esser.

I happen to like channel strips a lot, especially ones that give you control over all the basic functions you would typically apply to a track, like EQ, compression, limiting, and reverb.

Either way, though, you’re the one doing the tweaking, so you’ve got to purchase a plugin you’ll be comfortable working with.

Budget

Spend wisely and don’t go into debt! Use your budget to filter your buying decisions, especially as applied to something as potentially addictive as buying plugins!

Top De-Esser VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Once you’ve purchased your de-esser VST plugin, the next step is to download, install, and start experimenting with it. The more familiar you are with the plugin and how it works, the better the chances that you will be able to use it well in every situation.

And don’t forget – while most de-essers were created with vocals in mind, some can help you tame the harshness of cymbals, screechy guitars, and more. So, use this power wisely, and here’s wishing you happy recording.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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