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Were De-Essers Used Back In The Day?
Old 18th May 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Were De-Essers Used Back In The Day?

I am listening to old Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (50's and 60's). I hear no sibilance in the vocals and am guessing they didn't have dedicated deessers back then.

If they didn't have them, can someone please explain why they didn't have to deess?

Aren't many people still using these same mics and pres from many years ago? Is it as simple as we boost more high end nowadays? Was it that tape was mellowing the high frequencies?

What the heck is it?
Old 18th May 2006
  #2
MDM
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MDM's Avatar
different mics were used with much less sibilance - is my thoughts ..
Old 18th May 2006
  #3
Gear Nut
 
twilt's Avatar
 

de-essing was often achieved by using an eq inserted into a compressor sidechain....
also can be done by turning the mic off axis to the source.....
de-essing can also be good for removing acoustic guitar squeeks
Old 18th May 2006
  #4
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Football
I am listening to old Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (50's and 60's). I hear no sibilance in the vocals and am guessing they didn't have dedicated deessers back then.

If they didn't have them, can someone please explain why they didn't have to deess?
You're right, analog tape is a VERY effective de-esser with no threshold, attack, or release controls! It is true that analog tape saturation and multiple analog tape generations can make sibilance worse, but usually it softens the sibilants.

In addition, sibilance often comes from running extremely aggressive compression and high frequency boost equalization, and there was a lot less of that practice in the 50's, plus when there was an HF boost, it was usually from the mike, and the analog tape took care of softening that.
Old 18th May 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for the info about this
Old 18th May 2006
  #6
Remember these were powerful singers. They didn't whisper. A powerful voice is many db's above the level of the ess sounds so they are less pronounced.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 18th May 2006
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Good point Jim heh
Old 18th May 2006
  #8
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GearHunter's Avatar
 

And they were often using ribbon mics, too, I'd imagine. Yes, I know, there's a lot of famous pics of Ol' Blue Eyes during his Capitol years with the big U47 in front of him. But RCA Ribbons were also commonly used at that time.

And those guys were not eating the mics. They were a couple feet away and belting it out.

Also, was there not some form of De-Essing used in the record-mastering process?
Old 19th May 2006
  #9
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theblotted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Football
I am listening to old Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (50's and 60's). I hear no sibilance in the vocals and am guessing they didn't have dedicated deessers back then.
i read somewhere here in GS, and i'm sure the older cats can confirm.. but the guys above have such great mic techniques. when breathing, they breathe with the side of their mouthes, and control the esses as necessary.

wasn't it John Lennon who would swipe his hand across between his mouth and mic for every ess sung during recording? it wouldn't surprise me if Dean or Frank did the same thing, or if they had their own way of dealing with it.

manual "analog" de-essers.
Old 21st May 2006
  #10
Gear Addict
 
rlnyc's Avatar
 

several reasons for a lack of sibilance in those wonderful old vocal recordings.

1) distance. none of those vocals were sung hard on the mic capsules - mostly a distance of 18 inches - 2 feet, or more, in real studios providing enechoic conditions.

2) tube mics and tube pres and less gain than nowadays where we fight to get the voices heard over stacks of amps.

3) ribbon mics. not always, but further back in time more likely, as condensor really only got developed and used on vocals from the 50s. ribbons are the most even and accurate mics and have no presence bump in the mids or high mids --where sibilance exists.

4) sibilance began to become a problem when condensors were tweeked to increase the "presence"; that is, when the capsules began to be adjusted to deliver more 7 - 9 kh. this gives "shine." unfortunately, this also increases the chances of sibilance, esp. when sung into from 6 inches or less.

hope this helps you to understand.

best regards,
rlnyc.
Old 21st May 2006
  #11
Not Quite Mate

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
You're right, analog tape is a VERY effective de-esser with no threshold, attack, or release controls! It is true that analog tape saturation and multiple analog tape generations can make sibilance worse, but usually it softens the sibilants.

In addition, sibilance often comes from running extremely aggressive compression and high frequency boost equalization, and there was a lot less of that practice in the 50's, plus when there was an HF boost, it was usually from the mike, and the analog tape took care of softening that.
If when I worked at Polydor as a tape op on one of the earliest studers and we lost any high frequency while using test tones the studio manager cancelled the session and we took the machine apart.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
Old 21st May 2006
  #12
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I remember Frank Zappa talking about de-essing tracks one "S" at a time, and that was '79 or '80.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #13
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

The first DeEsser I ever saw in 1964 was a tiny Fairchild module but nobody liked it. Before that they had made a box called a Conax which was a high frequency limiter intended for vinyl mastering.

The first one that saw regular use at Motown was an Ortofon high frequency limiter in the cutting system. Then we modified a Neumann so we could use it on vocals in the mix room beginning around 1970.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #14
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

all of the above, not to mention those recordings have nowhere near the hf exaggeration that is commonplace today, both in mixing and mastering.

a good mic, a tube pre, a little distance, hit tape, and arrange the song so that you don't have to eq the top of the voice... sibilance? what's sibilance?


gregoire
del ubik
Old 22nd May 2006
  #15
Go to the dentist

I am sure you all have cavity's. Other than that buy a compressor with an EQ in the side chain, thats what we old gits did when men were men and women were glad of it.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
Old 24th May 2006
  #16
Gear Addict
 
MBishopSFX's Avatar
 

Rather than use a de-esser, edit the gain of the offending siblance on the vocal edl. This gives far better de-essing than a plugin or piece of gear.

Of course, using a quality mic with better mic technique and not over-compressing works even better.
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