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How to Clean Vocals with De-Esser and Breath Control in iZotope Nectar

Hi, and welcome back to the Nectar vocal master class.

This time, I’m going to show you about two things that you can use to clean up vocals, and one of them is the de-esser.

And the de-esser does what it says on the tin. It gets rid of the esses.

Now, sibilance can often happen when people overcook the EQ when they’re recording. In this case, this is a well recorded vocal, so I’ve had to simulate this effect by pushing lots of treble onto this vocal in here.

So let me play it to you for a second.


And it gets even worse if you add reverb to it. I’ve added a reverb in.

[vocals with reverb]

Hear all of that “sss?” That’s in there and we really don’t want it. So the way a de-esser works is a compressor basically. It has a filter in it, and this is the frequency you choose, and this is the amount of reduction you’re wanting on the ess bits.

If you play it…


And you can see straight away there it’s working.

Now one thing you have to be careful of is that there’s a compromise that has to be made. Not enough.


We have too much.

And then it sounds like she’s sucking the sweet while she’s singing.


Which is what we don’t want, so first of all, just fine tune the frequency.


Then just go through it.

Then you can de-ess it. It’s as simple as that. It’s basically a case of choosing the frequency you want to use, and you can use this as well. Do it like that. Or you can use the slider.


That said, you don’t want to get to hard on it.

And as I said in my video, the best thing is to get the vocal down right in the first place, but if you are presented with the vocal that has some issues, this is one of the ways to do it.


And of course, the other way is to go to the EQ.

It’s good to try the presets as well. If you press the Alt key and click on it, you’ll get the settings just…


That sounds good to me.

Now the other thing we can do is breath control. If you hear this as well…


Look at that “huh” there. If you zoom in on it, we can see it.


And we have a breath control. Let me play you that and show you it in action, and what it does is it cleverly figures out where the breaths are and takes them out. So the de-esser takes out the “sss, sss” bits of the sound. Breath is where it breathes, and we often get that by over-compressing the vocal.

So what we’ve got is a sensitivity and how much we want to reduce that by.



And we have a display here showing us so that you can go from no breath…


Or hardly any. You can hear it going.

We have two options as well then. We can either choose targets when we have a target gain, or we have a gain reduction.


That’s gain. Then the target is just going to go for the target gain.


Further down, you see it. Turn it back up. You can hear it coming back again now.

So those are two tricks. Put the reverb back on and play it from here.


And we have a nice clean vocal. Thanks for watching!




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