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Hardware De-essers in 2017 Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 7th September 2017
  #1
Hardware De-essers in 2017

Hi there,

I'm mixing hybrid using Pro-tools to an SSL desk with outboard on the inserts.

I use plugins for De-essing along with manual automation, my favourite is the Fabfilter Pro-DS, but when I hit the desk post de-essing I'm using some analog EQ and compression the vocal can get too sibilant at times and then I have to fix it using the pre analog chain De-essers and riding which takes a lot of time to fine tune and ride to make it sound natural.

So I'm looking for an outboard De-esser.. I already have the Pendulum DS500 De-esser which is the same De-esser from the Quartet, it's OK but threshold dependent so if I De-ess the vocals in the verse to my liking the chorus can be over processed or vise versa, I can tweak it to work for the choruses but then the verses would be too sibilant.. the other problem I have with the DS500 is its pots are variable and not stepped so recalls are never 100% exact..

If working with a specific tool like the DS500 I'd prefer stepped pots for recalls or buying a set and forget kind of De-esser that I'd never have to touch

So I currently narrower my options to a DBX 520\902 or an SPL 500 which are both on the set and forget side because they have a kind of an auto threshold, or a Maselec MDS-2 which is very high quality and has stepped pots, I already have the MLA-3 multiband on my drum bus and love the way Maselec VCA's react.

Your thoughts ?
Old 7th September 2017
  #2
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the fxs's Avatar
 

since you mentioned some 500 series units:

XQP Products - 531a

520 | dbx Professional Audio

Amtec Audio

Empirical Labs Deresser - Analog De-esser and High Frequency Limiter

Or just use any good hardware compressor with a sidechain input.

(The Tonelux TX5C is great for that purpose)
Old 7th September 2017
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
since you mentioned some 500 series units:

XQP Products - 531a

520 | dbx Professional Audio

Amtec Audio

Empirical Labs Deresser - Analog De-esser and High Frequency Limiter

Or just use any good hardware compressor with a sidechain input.

(The Tonelux TX5C is great for that purpose)
Thank you! From your experience which one of the units you have mentioned would you recommend on and why ?
Old 7th September 2017
  #4
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I've only used the old DBX 902 De-Esser and it was pretty good, and the 520 is supposed to be the new 902.
The Deresser gets a lot of love on GS, too.

Me personaly, i prefer a combo of manually riding the esses and mildly using the Fabfilter Pro Ds over any hardware.
Old 7th September 2017
  #5
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zmix's Avatar
 

I have a pair of Valley Audio DSP-815 de-essers, that I'm selling... these are also threshold independent, and nearly inaudible (until bypassed!) they are the only de-essers I've found that don't turn "esses" into "efffs"
Old 7th September 2017
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

check for a dbx 263A. not the X model. it is one of those little half rack/slider units. very effective and doesn't eat up rack space or a 500 slot.
Old 7th September 2017
  #7
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ryguydrum@netsc's Avatar
 

DBX 902's are great. But I sold mine when I got the XQP 531A. Very easy to use and great sound.
Old 8th September 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
Hi there,
......or a Maselec MDS-2 which is very high quality and has stepped pots, I already have the MLA-3 multiband on my drum bus and love the way Maselec VCA's react.
Hi TanTan,

Ruairi here, I do some work with Leif at Maselec. Just to clarify, the MDS-2 does not have stepped pots or rotary switches, it uses regular pots. Along with the MPL-2 they are the only units that use pots in the Maselec range.

I use mine every day and in fact I'm in the middle of printing a recalled master as I type. I've never had an issue with recall, the front panel is very clearly marked.

Many people ask whether the MLA-3/MLA-4 can be used as a de-esser and it certainly can be. My take is that the high band on those units is excellent for shaping the character of the top end but for pure de-essing and high frequency limiting the MPL-2 and even more so the MDS-2 are better units.

I've also done quite a bit of vocal tracking with my MDS-2 and it works extraordinarily well for that, although I never see it get mentioned. My favorite chain with the singer I worked with was U67 > GML pre > MDS-2 > Pendulum OCL-2, nothing needed when mixing.

Good luck with your search.

Cheers
Ruairi
Old 8th September 2017
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Hi,
Is the vocal tracks comming from clients or are they/you recording in your studio because it might just be the mic. What microphone are you using? Btw empirical labs makes a good desser as we'll.
Will
Old 8th September 2017
  #10
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Ever tried a dynamic EQ plug-in rather than a de-easer?

Heresy from me to suggest a plug-in in an outboard chain, but it's something a lot of live sound engineers do.

Just a thought...

(If you want analogue I always liked the SPL de-essers)
Old 8th September 2017
  #11
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
So I'm looking for an outboard De-esser.. I already have the Pendulum DS500 De-esser which is the same De-esser from the Quartet, it's OK but threshold dependent so if I De-ess the vocals in the verse to my liking the chorus can be over processed or vise versa, I can tweak it to work for the choruses but then the verses would be too sibilant.. the other problem I have with the DS500 is its pots are variable and not stepped so recalls are never 100% exact..
The Empirical Labs Derresser does what you want. It limits the HF based on the ratio of HF to LF, rather than the HF level. This keeps the signal from becoming proportionally too bright, and provides de-essing no matter what the level. Also great for getting rid of squeaks on acoustic guitars.
Old 9th September 2017
  #12
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andersmv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Ever tried a dynamic EQ plug-in rather than a de-easer?

Heresy from me to suggest a plug-in in an outboard chain, but it's something a lot of live sound engineers do.

Just a thought...

(If you want analogue I always liked the SPL de-essers)
Someone on here turned me onto the Tokyo Dawn TDR Nova plugin a few months ago. It's a great dynamic EQ that lets you solo bands, it also has an equal loudness function that keeps the source at the same level regardless of how much level you add or duck. I've almost stopped using de-essers after getting it, and the best thing is that it's a free plugin!
Old 9th September 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Since I found the fabfilter Deesser I haven't looked back. To me it just works better than any hardware I've tried . Never liked the 902's
Old 9th September 2017
  #14
WAD
Gear Maniac
 

I really like the Drawmer MX50
Old 9th September 2017
  #15
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Fidelis's Avatar
 

I use a combination of software and hardware: Massey Deesser before everything else and empirical labs Deesser after everything. It works great. And the recall is easy.
Old 10th September 2017
  #16
Here for the gear
 

+ 1 for XQP 531A.

But I'm a bit tempted to get a Weiss A1, which "is supposed to" be very good. It comes with a preamp. It's a 500 format unit. A tad on the pricey side.
Old 10th September 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by zmix View Post
I have a pair of Valley Audio DSP-815 de-essers, that I'm selling... these are also threshold independent, and nearly inaudible (until bypassed!) they are the only de-essers I've found that don't turn "esses" into "efffs"
Hey thanks Zmix ! nice to see ya man, I'm still using the MU-R201 on snare very often , thanks for letting me know, I'll see where my search ends.. I'm trying to avoid vintage units when possible these days and buy gear with warranty and available spare parts..

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
DBX 902's are great. But I sold mine when I got the XQP 531A. Very easy to use and great sound.
Thanks ryguydrum, is the XPQ 531A has auto threshold ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi View Post
Hi TanTan,

Ruairi here, I do some work with Leif at Maselec. Just to clarify, the MDS-2 does not have stepped pots or rotary switches, it uses regular pots. Along with the MPL-2 they are the only units that use pots in the Maselec range.
Hi Ruairi, thank you, I'm surprised a Maselec mastering oriented units doesn't have stepped pots or rotary switches.. actually the feel of the stepped pots on Maselec gear I have and used is my favorite ! why are the MDS-2 and MPL-2 use regular pots ?

I'm using the MLA-3 everyday, when I mix it lives on my drum bus and when I master I'm using in 99% of the time on the program, adding another MLA-3\4 is an option but not the natural one in this case because I need dual mono for my vocal channels on the board..

Quote:
Originally Posted by willz33 View Post
Hi,
Is the vocal tracks comming from clients or are they/you recording in your studio because it might just be the mic. What microphone are you using? Btw empirical labs makes a good desser as we'll.
Will
I'm mixing and mastering, I very rarely get to record myself so I have no influence on the recording chains.. my goal is making the songs work regardless of the sources I get, many of my clients are recording at home and many combine commercial studios and project studios, Unfortunately I can't control it but always trying to improve my skills and gear in order to be able to love how my product sounds even if it came in in a total mess ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
The Empirical Labs Derresser does what you want. It limits the HF based on the ratio of HF to LF, rather than the HF level. This keeps the signal from becoming proportionally too bright, and provides de-essing no matter what the level. Also great for getting rid of squeaks on acoustic guitars.
I've heard a lot about the EL Derresser, the frequency relation dependent side chain is a huge advantage IMO over an old school hi frequency limiter with threshold and ratio..
I wonder if the Derresser is a specific tool that sometimes work and sometimes doesn't and needs a lot of tweaking or a set and forget kind of device that would always keep the vocal from being over sibilant..

The DBX 520 which is basically the 500 series version of the 902 works on the same principal as the Derresser but costs only 150$, I wonder why the EL Derresser costs more than 3 time its price.. did you ever compare them side by side ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Ever tried a dynamic EQ plug-in rather than a de-easer?

Heresy from me to suggest a plug-in in an outboard chain, but it's something a lot of live sound engineers do.

Just a thought...

(If you want analogue I always liked the SPL de-essers)
Hi Jim, yes I'm using a combination of Izotope dyn EQ, Fabfilter Pro-DS and Fabfilter Pro-MB to soften the sibilance, I mix on an AWS900 though so the sound coming out of PT is being further processed on the SSL and on some channel inserts including a Manley Massive Passive so I need an extra De-esser on the end of the chain which can only be hardware in this particular case

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fidelis View Post
I use a combination of software and hardware: Massey Deesser before everything else and empirical labs Deesser after everything. It works great. And the recall is easy.
Sounds good ! how do you recall ? no stepped pots on the EL Deresser.. do you keep it on preset or move it a lot ?
Old 10th September 2017
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Silvertone's Avatar
Bob Ludwig turned me onto the Weiss DS1 25 years ago, said it was the one piece he used everyday. I know why, I use mine on just about every project as well. It is very powerful (like all Weiss units) and has a pretty steep learning curve but I've not found better myself.

Good luck in your search. Have fun.
Old 10th September 2017
  #19
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
I've heard a lot about the EL Derresser, the frequency relation dependent side chain is a huge advantage IMO over an old school hi frequency limiter with threshold and ratio..
I wonder if the Derresser is a specific tool that sometimes work and sometimes doesn't and needs a lot of tweaking or a set and forget kind of device that would always keep the vocal from being over sibilant..
It's kind of set and forget. You press the listen button and turn the frequency knob until you hit your s's. Then you set the threshold so they don't poke you in the ear, and don't sound like f's, unless, of course, you like f's. It's pretty straightforward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
The DBX 520 which is basically the 500 series version of the 902 works on the same principal as the Derresser but costs only 150$, I wonder why the EL Derresser costs more than 3 time its price.. did you ever compare them side by side ?
Who knows. There aren't a lot of parts in it. If the 520 works just as well, why pay more for the same thing? The Derresser can also act like a normal, level dependant de-esser, and there are some effects you can do with it, like the "Bruce Hornsby piano" thing. So if for some reason you want those, they're in there.
Old 10th September 2017
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Bob Ludwig turned me onto the Weiss DS1 25 years ago, said it was the one piece he used everyday. I know why, I use mine on just about every project as well. It is very powerful (like all Weiss units) and has a pretty steep learning curve but I've not found better myself.

Good luck in your search. Have fun.
Thanks! I'm sure a Weiss would work great but I'd rather stay on the analog domain because the De-Esser will be patched to my console's insert so I'd prefer to avoid the extra ADDA..
Old 11th September 2017
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
ryguydrum@netsc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post

Thanks ryguydrum, is the XPQ 531A has auto threshold ?
Hi TanTan. The reduction knob essentially acts as a threshold while also being the amount of "de-ess" you want to apply. Kinda like an LA2A (without the gain control) if it were a de-esser. I re-read your post and I should say that the frequency selector (W,X,Y,Z) is stepped but the reduction knob is not. Don't know if that is a deal breaker but I will say it's a very natural sounding de-esser. And because it doesn't have the frequency breakdown on the unit, it forces me to listen more and I feel like I make better decisions based on what Im hearing vs getting too technical and getting into the weeds with frequency selection. Just my 2¢.
Old 11th September 2017
  #22
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Empiricle Labs Lilfreq an amazing EQ with 8 Bands and comp/ and a De-esser, that you can chain last or slide up to a more robust frequency scenario, its internal compression and 1073 type Trafo output sounds lovely! Highly recommended or at worst Drawmer DS201 and a gate or comp BuzzSoc 2.0 and EQ side chain Filtek Mk5 taking out plosives and syllables etc.
Old 11th September 2017
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
The Empirical Labs Derresser does what you want. It limits the HF based on the ratio of HF to LF, rather than the HF level. This keeps the signal from becoming proportionally too bright, and provides de-essing no matter what the level. Also great for getting rid of squeaks on acoustic guitars.
Yeah or Lilfreq same thing though Empirical Lilfreq has Trafos!
Great call!
Old 11th September 2017
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
I've only used the old DBX 902 De-Esser and it was pretty good, and the 520 is supposed to be the new 902.
The Deresser gets a lot of love on GS, too.

Me personaly, i prefer a combo of manually riding the esses and mildly using the Fabfilter Pro Ds over any hardware.
Have a good friend who swears by the DBX900 De-Esser thing, never worked for me or in 900/500 size at least?
Hmmm
Old 11th September 2017
  #25
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
Thanks! I'm sure a Weiss would work great but I'd rather stay on the analog domain because the De-Esser will be patched to my console's insert so I'd prefer to avoid the extra ADDA..
Oops, my bad just realized you were talking analog only. The Weiss units are only AES/EBU in and out so no converters are built in anyway.

I myself never found an analog de-esser that really worked back in the day, I always hear them working. To me they seem so much more heavy handed than what you can do in the digital domain. Then again in mastering there are lots of tricks you learn for such problems because the tools are there to handle it, in the analog domain you are much more limited on options.

Best of luck and keep us posted. I'm always interested in hearing about tools that work.
Old 13th September 2017
  #26
The Drawmer 1973 is very cool for taming the top end sweetly and in general across the bands.
Old 13th September 2017
  #27
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Fidelis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post


Sounds good ! how do you recall ? no stepped pots on the EL Deresser.. do you keep it on preset or move it a lot ?
Hi TanTan,

I answered a while back but don't know why my post didn't go thru.

I also mix on a console (SSL 4k). So my chain is:

On Pro tools: massey DeEsser as first insert, then I do use some plugins after that.
On console: API 5500 or Pultec Eq inserted on vocal channel followed by Empirical Labs DeerEsser. After that I float the channel to some compressors that works in parallel (1176, Retro, LA3A... etc...) and I use a blend of those (kind of a M. Brauer vocal setup).

That chain works great for me. That being said there are some more problematics vocals that I do have to cllip gain or automate the "s" in ProTools.

As far as recall no big deal. I use the Teaboy software to take notes and if I need to go back its easy. DeerEsser is very detailed on its marks so I use the settings either on the mark or in the space between them... that's more then enough spots for me. Although I've been working with STEMs lately and don't have to recall anymore.

Hope that helps!

Ps. Oh, I use the DerrEsser in HF Limit mode, works much better for me.
Old 20th November 2017
  #28
Gear Addict
 
dariva's Avatar
Just curious what did the OP get eventually. I have the Drawmer 1973 multiband comp (hardware) and it does tame the high band register pretty good, but deessing always needs multiple steps.

I was about to get a pair of the Derressers but had some doubts - it seems a number of people are not very happy with them and there's literally one video demonstration that I've found with not very good audio quality.
Old 20th November 2017
  #29
I've got four DBX 520 modules which are the 500 series version of the classic DBX 902, it works very well, it's a set and forget kind of modules because it doesn't use threshold but engaging GR when the selected frequency range selected, say everything above 2.5Khz exceeds the level of everything below 2.Khz, so it responds the same for all parts of songs with very dynamic vocals.

So I use a Fabfilter Pro-DS followed by an Izotope RX6 De-esser which are working very well together before the analog chain and a DBX 520 on the last part of the analog chain, so far I'm very happy with this setup!
Old 20th November 2017
  #30
Gear Addict
 
dariva's Avatar
Thanks, for getting back, and this is pretty good news! I was about to blow double the price for two used and really discounted Derressers......

Still, the Derressers have the HF limiting mode and the LP and HP filters - there you go, I am still undecided.
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