contenu en anglais
S2D 11/11/2014

FabFilter Pro-DS : l'avis de S2D (contenu en anglais)

« Sibilance be gone »

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De-esser's are very common these days, it seems every audio company under the sun have their own version of a De-esser plugin. They all do pretty much the same thing - eliminate sibilant 'esss' and 'efff' sounds of vocal recordings that are normally found in the high frequencies (around 5khz to 11khz normally) and the volume and frequency of these sounds is very dependant on the vocalist, microphone used and their gender. So with all these de-esser plugins from different companies doing the same thing, you would imagine they would all sound the same too? Well not quite. Some do better than others at first off eliminating the sibilance itself, and then secondly the effect or colour they have on the audio itself when not de-essing - which is normally a slight loss (or a big loss) in presence in the vocal and sometimes a lisping effect if overdone. In my experience there is no such thing as a perfect De-esser plugin, but there are ones that come closer than others. Enter FabFilter's Pro-DS.

Used in Logic Pro 9 on a macbook with OSX 10.6.4 and 4GB of RAM, the pro-DS runs smoothly and fairly efficiently. The setup and configuration are straight forward as the installation and registration prompts are all there so that even the most computer illiterate of people can get started. FabFilter are always top class at providing helpful tips and pop-up menus to guide users through not only the installation but for the use of the plugin itself.


The stability of the Pro-DS is rock solid. FabFilter have done a fantastic job coding this plugin to work on all systems and has never crashed a session i have worked on in the year-and-a-bit i have been using it. As a rough figure i would say you could easily run 10 instances of this plugin without any problems, although you would probably never need to run this many at a time anyway. There is an option in the Pro-DS to turn oversampling on for x2 and x4 which will in turn use up a lot more processing power so just bear that in mind.


In practise, the Pro-DS works exceptionally well. It doesn't come cheap but you definitely get your money's worth if you are serious about audio mixing quality. For a start the GUI is beautiful, the controls are large, clearly labelled, easy to read and the colour scheme is attractive to the eye - not that any of this contributes to the sound but it does make you feel comfortable using it and helps with the workflow of your session. It features controls for threshold and range which are 2 of the main parts of a De-esser plugin as this dictates when the de-essing begins (threshold) and how many decibels it takes off the offending frequencies. The threshold features an extremely useful 'listen in' button attached the side of it which let's you hear every 'ssss' reduced and the red meter to the right hand side will let you know how much gain is being reduced off of each one. The yellow horizontal bar is the frequency range where you can set the scope of the frequencies you wish to De-ess, underneath that is an 'audition' button which lets you hear the selected frequencies you have chosen to de-ess or if using the wideband mode - the sidechain area that triggers off the pro-DS into gain reduction. With the mode section, Pro DS has a choice of 'single vocal' and 'all round' which as you can probably guess is suited to be used on single vocals and group vocals depending on the track you are using it on. Below that is a choice of 'wideband' and 'split band', Pro DS recommends 'wideband' for vocal tracks on their own and 'split band' for full mixes to hone in on a very particular frequency. Split band also introduces latency so this can mess with the timing of vocal tracks if not careful, so i personally use wideband mode for single vocal tracks as it is the most subtle mode for this purpose and only drops the volume of 'Sss' sounds when triggered as opposed to just taking away 1 frequency (because sometimes sibilance can occur at more than 1 frequency within the track depending on the vocalist) The waveform display can be turned on or off at the users preference and there are lookahead and stereo link controls for added precision. The colour added to the overall audio by the Pro-DS is manageable with a little EQ after the insert, or if time is not an issue - by automating the plugins threshold or bypass so that it is only on when you know an 'ess' or 'eff' sound is coming up. The final result on the sibilance is super smooth sounding gain reduction, the best i've ever heard and if you have the processing power available then turn the oversampling on as well. Just be cautious that as with many other de-essers, there is gain reduction in action even before it starts to show on the meters so listen out carefully for that. A little bit of look ahead is recommended in any case.

I have tried at least a dozen or so de-essers by different plugin companies, both free and paid, but FabFilter's sits at the top of the pile for me. This will always feature on my lead vocal tracks, or if editing dialogue or narration then the main narrator/voice over artists track. You will never need another de-esser plugin if you purchase the Pro-DS. Compare it to something like Logic's own de-esser and the difference is night and day.

If you want a second opinion, ask top mixing engineer Mick Guzauski who recently mixed Daft Punk's latest album 'Random Access Memories'. When interviewed about his favourite De-esser plugin, he name dropped the FabFilter Pro-DS. See the full interview at this link -

So basically if Daft Punk's mix engineer gives something the thumbs up, then it's definitely worth a look and then some. The FabFilter Pro-DS is in my opinion the finest De-esser plugin available as of November 2014, so do yourself a favour and get rid of sibilance properly with the help of this incredible mixing tool.