Anyone have experience with using de-esser for sibilance in home audio system?

I've been experiencing sibilance over the past year and have arrived at the conclusion that it's my hearing. 

I'm wondering whether a pro-audio de-esser might help.

Does anyone have experience with this?  



Is this with all sources or just turntable? Do you have horn tweeters or mids?

I ask because one of those or both can often cause sibilance and it may not be you. 

CD only. No horns. Tweeters are soft-dome. Recently I also started experiencing sibilance when listening to music on YouTube via inexpensive PreSonus monitors in our home office, which hasn’t always been the case. It was this development that led me to conclude my hearing is at fault.

If my logic is faulty I’m open to other interpretations but swapping out cables, transport, dac have had no effect. Nor has closing drapes and draping fabric over other hard surfaces in room

I had my hearing tested last spring and was told it was better than normal for someone my age and that nothing in the test data suggested a link with sibilance

This has been going on for a year, now and I’m pretty darned frustrated


If your home office and your main listening room have similar acoustic problems (ones that cause sibilance) then your inference it is your hearing could be wrong.

Right -- I can’t definitively rule that out. They both have lots of glass but as I mentioned, shutting (lined) drapes has no impact. They both have 10.5’ ceilings. Listening near-field with PreSonus monitors.

Believe me, Dave; I’d be very happy if it turned out to not be my ears! But nothing I’ve tried so far has had any effect. I haven’t swapped out the Hegel yet but will tomorrow, when a Heed LaGrange is scheduled for delivery. I’m also considering a Vincent hybrid integrated.

I would be surprised if there is anything wrong with your ears. Does the issue happen with every song that you hear or only with some of the songs?

As far as the de-esser is concerned it could possibly help, as could a parametric e.q. Most de-essers now days are plug-ins so you would need a DAW to be able to use one. The couple of outboard de-essrs that I’m aware of require a special rack to mount them in.


Pretty much all vocals. Used to be just female soprano vocals but it's no longer gender-specific. This is one reason I suspect my ears. 

I looked at de-essers on Sweetwater. Some are fully encased and mounted horizontally; others have only front plate and mounted vertically. 

Not interested in software. 


A de-esser is a frequency tuned compressor.  I would start would the EQ first. Try a parametric and gently scoop out the frequencies that offend.  That could be all you need.  Adding the compressor part can be tricky in that many popular compressors have a distinct sound.

Never heard of that as an ear issue. Same distortion in the car? Sure it's sibilance and not resonance?


Thanks for the clarification.

Can you recommend an EQ? 

I've read 5 - 8 KHz is correct range but others say 3 - 10 KHz.  



I totally get where you are coming from, Stuartk. I have found that even though it is not the "purist" approach, the dBx 231S, 2-channel, stereo EQ unit does a great job at allowing me to reduce (not totally eliminate) sibilance in my hi-end system. It is extremely quiet and sonically transparent and much easier to use compared to digital EQs e.g. Beringher, etc. You can pick one up for about $300 new, and it could be an ear saver for you... I love mine.



I would start would the EQ first. Try a parametric and gently scoop out the frequencies that offend.  That could be all you need.  

Good suggestion. Effectively, my question about the rooms is getting at exactly the same cause, but this solution does not require inconvenient changes!


It can be associated with tinnatus, apparently.


Don’t have my headphone amp set up, currently but I do hear it through earbuds.


Where is it in your signal chain?

The only time I tried such a product was in my guitar rig and it was really noisy but that was many years ago.


I will check when I have time but I'll be astonished if i don't hear it with headphones. 

but I do hear it through earbuds.

This is a problem.

Do you only hear it when a "S" or "SH" is enunciated, or do you hear it thru the entire vocal track?

Does it sound like a very high pitched hissing sound or more like a high pitched ringing sound?

OP, I'd still have your ears checked and taken out of the 'formula'....🤷‍♂️

Doesn't cost much, esp. if your health plan/insur. covers a regular check-up.

When mine began to go south, highs were the first to suffer....and tinnitus began to 'whistle/hiss' softly....don't know how old you are, but...if you find self going 'What?' more often to folks....

Just sayin', no ' j'accuse ' implied....;)

Meanwhile....back in the lab.......wonder how thin v. ridged, and if it's ferromagnetic...or could be....?

...or flexible...or translucent/transparent....?

...or a material you'd rather not see in a pissed-off bot...anywhere near you....😖


"A new way to let AI chatbots converse all day without crashing" (an article included in the above link) just makes me feel all warm inside...

Robbie and Rhonda's AI 'motivation minds' can chat it up 24/7/365.25 'bout how annoying their organic 'stupidvisors' can act and treat them....🤔🙄😒

I'm not paranoid, per se.....well, maybe...

Treat your cellphone nice...never really know what it's thinking, anymore...

If you drop me One More Time.....


S, T and P but S is by far the worst. No high pitched ringing, just ssshhhh.


Had hearing checked a year ago, when I first became aware of problem. I was told my hearing was better than average for my age and that nothing in the exam suggested a link with sibilance.

I could get it checked again. 

@stuartk ....(Watching Jon Stewart on DVR, but I've got my 'mental ears' still foke-assed....😏... ;)...)

Do...'better than average For Your Age' starts tossing flags on my field....😖

Saw my cardio recently.....spouse 'in tow', although that's a debate I won't have w/her.....( Asking 'Why?' indicates to yours unruly you're sliding into the POTUS debate of late {"Is he....capable?"}....[ the Chump is Better?!  Don't start me...I'll get most of A'gon locked down....]

I ramble.... ;).....Cardio sez I'm go to go to eat whatever I like, after having me on Jardinance....I'm not diabetic, my A1C is Fine, and @ 130ish, I'm comfy with the weight I get to trudge about with...
...which seems just to make her more 'noid over me.

I'm 72.6, agree with J.S. on his 'close-up' that...

I'm not happy 'bout This, either....but, I'll run what I've brung.

I'll try to keep in mind and hand that sooner than desired...I'm Toast.

I'll try to spare y'all for whatever goes with That.

Anyway....'chure, check the ears...  We seem to rot faster than we'd like to admit, and Yes, we try to blame the mirror of lying.

It can't.

My best, and best for the prognosis....Jerry.

Back to J. Stewart....more funny than I, gets paid more to do so....

...and that's not fair either.....

Weiss makes a DAC with a de-esser in it. Incidentally, Weiss makes the industry standard de-esser for recording and mastering, and he includes the same code in the DAC that’s in the professional units.  I’ve used it, and he simplifies the pro audio settings into a few controls that are easy to use for hifi. YouTube has more info on it. Extremely good DAC, too. 


It's in your system


All in your head.

Daily Show got cut off @ :35 min. in. 😖

Faulty programming....

I have been having that same problem for about a year now. IMHO it is your ears.As we age our hearing changes as mine did and now at almost 65 I have no choice but to listen to your music with a background hissing ( tinnitus).Believe me, I did so much experimenting (and very costly) to finally accept my tinnitus condition after seeing an audiologist.BTW, I have the Weiss 501 with all the room improvement features and it’s not the room but ears. My friends tell me my music is crystal clear like they never heard before so on that note I accepted my condition and decided to stop looking and spending and JUST ENJOY THE MUSIC 🎶🎼

My tinnitus started almost a year ago, and it bothers me throughout the day. Fortunately, I haven't noticed a change in the sibilance level from my audio systems. Does this rule out tinnitus as the cause? I don't know, but I want to emphasize that there might be a correlation rather than a causation.

I recall two instances where I observed improvements in the sibilance level. The first occurred during an audition of the Wharfedale Evo4.2 speakers, where the sibilance level diminished substantially to my surprise. However, I opted to return them due to other considerations. The second instance was when I introduced a preamp into my system’s chain. It notably enhanced sound quality in almost every aspect, including sibilance control. In my case, it appears to be gear-dependent.

I have tinnitus but I'm not specially bothered with sibilance even so it is present in some songs. I have no experience with de-essers but I don't see why I would limit myself to adjusting only one frequency. Instead I use the Loki max eq. Not often but it comes in handy with poorly sounding recordings. If that does not help, it surely would be your ears and just like tinnitus, the best way to deal with it is to learn to accept it, relax and enjoy whatever sounds you can still hear. Good luck to you.






asvjerry Thanks for posting that web site amazing research finding. This MIT discovery is gonna be revolutionary. The dad in the movie the Graduate was correct plastics is still the future. Science rules!


Assuming you DO hear it through headphones, then EQ is the right answer instead of a de-esser, compressor.

If you don't it's the room being too bright and needing absorption and diffusion.

It is generally around 7-8k. I’ve found that speaker height and toe in can make a difference. My speakers have level control of mids and highs, and using a calibrated mic and RTA to voice them differently helps a lot. I can reduce that 7-8k range and almost eliminate the sibilance. 
A high quality studio de-esser is something I’ve considered as a last resort. I wish more mixers used them effectively. Compression accentuates natural sibilance and some singers have sibilant voices. It can also be accentuated by mastering compression. 

OP:  A hearing test would be very helpful.  In particular, it is possible you have lost hearing everywhere BUT the sibilance range.  In that case, instead of lowering the sibilance you may need to raise the surrounding frequencies.


My best, and best for the prognosis....Jerry.



Weiss makes a DAC with a de-esser in it.

Yes; I’m aware of this but based upon reviews, I’m not convinced I’d enjoy its presentation -- not organic enough, I’m guessing. If I could buy one and return it (without a re-stock fee), I might try it out.


In my case, it appears to be gear-dependent.

So far, I’ve swapped out everything but the integrated, with no change. I’m expecting delivery of another, today, so we’ll see.


It is generally around 7-8k. I’ve found that speaker height and toe in can make a difference.

I’ve moved speakers around a lot, with some difference but not really enough to matter. I haven’t played with height. Did you move tweeter higher or lower than ear-level?


Assuming you DO hear it through headphones, then EQ is the right answer instead of a de-esser, compressor.

Thanks for the clarification.


Instead I use the Loki max eq. Not often but it comes in handy with poorly sounding recordings. If that does not help, it surely would be your ears and just like tinnitus, the best way to deal with it is to learn to accept it, relax and enjoy whatever sounds you can still hear. Good luck to you.

I haven’t found my Lokius helps. I find it hard to relax and enjoy vocal music when it’s marred by unnaturally emphasized s’s, t’s and p’s. If you can, more power to you!


OP: A hearing test would be very helpful. In particular, it is possible you have lost hearing everywhere BUT the sibilance range. In that case, instead of lowering the sibilance you may need to raise the surrounding frequencies.

Important distinction! Thanks for this.


Correct, the Lokius is not an EQ but rather a tone control and thus will not allow one to hone in on the offending frequency band precisely enough.

@stuartk  Ageing can be challenge, no doubt.  When my hearing became affected, I cried.  But I have somewhat overcome the challenge by relaxing, enjoying the music, and seemingly forgetting about the hearing issue(s).  Mind over matter, I guess you could say.  We have to accept that we age and are lucky to do so.  The other option is not as good.  However, I did find that using a very good acoustic panel for absorption, on the wall and directly to my left ear, eased the sibilance by a good amount.  As an example/test, I also discovered that while in my car, and with the window to my left, the sibilance is rather prevalent.  But when I move my head back, now with the B-pillar next to my left ear, the sibilance is greatly diminished.  Thus, I added the acoustic panel in my house and found a nice improvement.  I hope this information is of value to you.  Best to you, and I hope that you can continue to enjoy the music.

You say that you hear the sibilance issue when using ear buds, so that eliminates the room as an issue. Sounds like you have at least two systems maybe three depending on where the ear buds are used. Assuming the gear for each system is unique to those systems, I think it would be highly unlikely that a different component in each system would develop the same issue at the same time, so though we cannot 100% rule out the gear I think the odds for the gear being the problem are very very slim. If you have tinnitus I would think that you would be hearing the hissing sound constantly all day long and if you are not, I doubt that is the problem. It could be that you have developed a sensitivity to high frequencies and this should have shown up in your hearing test and your audiologist should have discussed this with you if you were outside of the standard deviation for that portion of the spectrum. Also I think you would hear overabundance of sibilance when watching television and in conversations in general. As far as the reverse, where the sibilance region is normal and everything else is deficient, this too should have shown up in your hearing test and your audiologist would probably be recommending hearing aids, not to mention that the whole world would be sounding rather thin and tinny.

Is it possible to listen with other people to see if they hear the same issue? That would at least tell you if it was a gear or source material issue.


Thanks for the suggestion. Panels are not an option in my listening area.


Thanks for your comprehensive response. At times, I do hear a slight hissing and have so for decades but I hear no sibilance when people speak. Nor am I aware of any other sort of distortion of everyday sounds. Watching tv and listening to instrumental music are sibilance-free. By no means does the" whole world sound thin and tinny" and the hissing has not worsened in the period of time during which sibilance has become an issue.

I only notice sibilance when listening to music with vocals. The rest of the track will sound fine but most vocals exhibit exaggerated T’s, P’s and especially, S’s. I’ve directed a couple other forum members to tracks I find especially annoying and they’ve heard sibilance in those tracks, too. They attribute it to overly hot recording levels. This may well be true but I find it very difficult to accept that across many genres, most of the vocal tracks in my collection were recorded at too high a level. That makes no sense to me.

I’ve swapped out everything in my system except for the speakers and the integrated. I just took delivery of a different integrated. I’ll hook that up tonight and see it it makes any difference but like you, I doubt gear is to blame. I don’t have another pair of speakers but as I mentioned, sibilance is clearly audible on my desktop monitors so I doubt it’s my speakers. It’s possible that a warmer, less detailed amp might be less annoying to listen to, when it comes to vocals. I’ll have to experiment.



Acoustic panels can be had as a portable unit, with stands.  That's what I use for when listening to music.  Otherwise, the panel goes back into my office room.  I have other acoustic panels affixed to the wall for first reflections and bass traps.  But I needed this extra panel to help with my hearing needs. GIK makes a nice portable model and is relatively inexpensive.  I have a 2' X 5' panel and it has really helped.  Worthwhile to try it and for not much cost.  Hope this helps.

I found tweeters just above ears helps the most. That may be related to my driver layout so I would experiment. Does the sibilance change when you change your listening position? That’s one test. 


I had no idea portable panels were available. 


No; sibilance doesn't change. In fact, I can stand right next to speaker and hear sibilance as easily as when I'm in the listening chair. 

I will try the "just above ears" placement. 

@scott22 ....Yeah, that's another fascinating material that tweaks my rabid designer that has my left shoulder next to the 'better ear'....Stronger than steel, and tougher than polycarb leaves one wondering what sort can be fashioned from it, and wtf can cut/machine/formed with it....

Received Monday a 2'x4' sheet of PET/R plastic, .02" thick, glass clear, masked both faces....a clear Walsh cone pair of Frankenspeakers ought to be a hoot... ;)

@stuartk .....sssSibilance, like sssShingles, won't care where you stand or how...

...kickstarted my personal Wayyback 'chine, searching for when my tinnitus tiptoaded into my consistence....and it resembled your malady... sneaks in, settles into a comfy spot, and squats. 😒

Mine begins @ around 5ish Khz, and anything above is meh....

The Phonak Audeos' (prior to one of our felines destroying the R 'channel driver') could be adjusted to minimize 'the Tin din' and still improve on the 'above and beyond' to a reasonable degree....But...I had and will need again to have the custom-molded ear inserts.

These block out any 'interference' from the Real World, which negates the 'improvements' of the aids themselves....

(i.e.; '30 day Free Trials' are pointless in my case.  I either 'do it'....or not at all....)

Going to try out the Widex units....supposed to be superior in terms of 'musical rendition', and the BT is touted as 'Real Time', with near-nil delay,,,

The Phonaks' BT wouldn't 'pick up' one or the other sides/channels as they had become an annoyance, so I guess I should thank the cat that torched the aid....*LOL*

I'm not inferring that you Need aids @ this time...your issue seems mild, so a pair of the available 'ear buds' might do the trick for you....🤷‍♂️

Ask the've more options available at this time....than I.

Good luck....👍 Jerry

PostPost:  'Buds' to deal with your sibilance 'primarily'...and 'not so much' any deterioration above that....if it exists....?

FreeStand Acoustic Panel (Gobo) - 2" thick (



I attached the link to GIK for the panel that I use.  There are a few other options in the category so check them out.  I hope this helps you.

Sibilance can often be the result of digital clipping where a dac‘s output is too hot for the pre. If you can, lower the output volume of your dac and use the pre‘s volume control to compensate. This is even more the issue on radio broadcasts and new recording because of excessive loundness

@stuartk You can demo a Weiss from The Music Room for very low shipping fee. You can keep it for months, they are super cool people. Thats how I tried it.

It's not clinical at all, but you need to give it 100+ hours burn-in. It does start out very washed out, but becomes sweet and musical. I suspect 90% of people don't bother to break it in fully.

I have no idea if it will solve your issue though. You can also email Daniel Weiss about your hearing situation and he may have something interesting to say. He's basically a genius.

good luck



By the way, your issue with sibilance on vocals most likely comes from FET mics versus tube. You can YouTube people demonstrating mics if you are curious. (Check out the Chandler Redd, a very smooth sounding new tube design and see if those examples still bug you).

I am super sensitive to highs on both my systems and real life, and my spontaneous irritation with them varies based on stress, sleep and diet usually. If I maintain those, I don’t have an issue. When those things fall apart, the world becomes sonically horrid, like needles.

Most likely your issue is neuro, and something like neurofeedback can address it. My $0.02.

I'm very interested in what works for you. I have the same problem. In my case it's hearing damage from COVID. One of my ears has substantial high freq hearing loss and this ear also hears a lot of distortion and "grain" that isn't there. My doctor tested my hearing and says it's better than average, but the test is NOT hifi. It tops out at 6kHz. The bad ear doesn't hear certain cymbal sounds any more and it seems like my brain cranks up certain frequencies from the good ear to compensate, which results in sibilance. The same thing happens with any speaker in any room, but not with headphones! I think it's because of the room being removed and there's no cross feed between the ears.


I'm curious -- how might neurofeedback address perception of sibilance?

Yes; I’m aware the TMR is a Weiss dealer. I can’t afford that dac currently but I may indeed end up trying it down the road.


That must be very frustrating. I will probably try a pro audio EQ, at some point.

@stuartk It has to do with where our brain puts attention on stimulus. It can be rearranged in priority and sensation.