My battle with sibilance.

At the minimum sibilance is annoying to me. Its only present on a small percentage of my records. However today I wanted to see if I could improve it. The song in question is Men at Work's "Down Under". The cartridge is an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze retipped by Soundsmith. I went through a lot of the protocols for abating annoying sibilance.
1.My anti skate was not optimally set so I thought and I adjusted to less using a dead spot on a test record. I know some people don't agree with this. I tried Soundsmiths method but until I see a video I won't understand it.
2. I adjusted my VTA to at least 20 degrees. I realized it was off. It was set at 12-15 degrees. I know the Shibata stylus is sensitive to VTA.
3. I checked the VTF and it was set at the manufacturers suggestion at 2.5 grams. Which is dead in the middle of 2.3 to 2.7. I adjusted to 2.62. A lot of people think the higher range is optimum.
3. I made sure my stylus was absolutely clean.
Guess what? After all this, the sibilance was less but still there. As a check I listened to the song in streaming and it was in the recording!!! However not as bad as my record before my TT adjustments. So I'm happy now my TT might sound better on other recordings. Anyway I hope my fellow members here have had some success on sibilance and maybe some will benefit from what I did.

The sound you are referring to is almost certainly on the record, and nothing you can do will ever change that. Compare different copies of the same record and this is one of the differences you will likely find. The improvement you heard is minor improvement in cartridge setup. VTA by the way should always be set by ear. Also you do VTA last, as VTF affects VTA. So if you heard any improvement it was blind luck.

Forget sibilance. It is there, or not, and nothing much anyone can do but buy another copy. Which, this being the nature of vinyl, I can guarantee will have some other flaws. 

Instead, listen for the balance between the attack of notes and their fundamental tone or body, the balance between top and bottom end. Adjust VTA very, very slightly up or down. Either way. If you go up and the sound gets too thin then go down. If you go down and the sound gets too fat then go up. Whichever way you go, keep going one tiny bit at a time until it stops getting better. Then go back about half of whatever the last step was. Keep going back and forth until the sound locks in and you know you nailed it.

This is the way to do VTA. When done, you may be higher or lower than you were but it for sure will sound better because it is now set the way it should be, by how it sounds.
War of the World's is the Album I use to check Sibilance.
On Side One, Richard Burton does Three Narrations all with differing impaction from the Sibilance produced.
One of the Narrations is very detracting, to the point of being uncomfortable.
It is this Narration that I use to detect how changes I have made within the system can effect the levels of Sibilance.
True sibilance is caused because our ears are most sensitive at certain frequencies mainly between 3 and 4 kHz. Many recording studio's use a house curve with a BBC or Gundry dip which drops these frequencies a little to try and prevent sibilance in their recordings. Some recordings without this correction are going to sound harsh on any system. You can stop this entirely by EQing this frequency band down just a dB or two.
I keep such a curve handy in my presets to deal with this problem. Sibilance occurs with instruments and voices that have a lot of energy in this region. Female voices and violins are classic. If your system can make it through an early Ricky Lee Jones recording without slicing your throat you have the problem licked. The problem is if you depress that band too much the music will start to sound... I guess muffled would be the right term. So, there is a trade off. 
You will never stop sibilance by adjusting a cartridge, miss-tracking maybe. A cartridge can make sibilance worse by having a rise or peak in that region but it is upper midrange not treble. It is the highest frequencies that suffer with poor alignment and poor alignment does not increase high frequencies but decreases them and this is above 12kHz a full octave at the minimum above the problem. 
And if your system slices your throat. don't go running to Mijostyn.Seriously, Mijo, good point.  I never knew about the Gundry dip.
You did the right things.  Recordings are what they are.  Good quality digital helps establish a reference standard to help identify issues with tricky items like proper turntable setup 
Erik, my room is 13x10x8. I have acoustically treated it pretty well. The speakers are on the long side. Thanks for everyone's input. I really do appreciate it. I'm resting a little easier in that I hear otber members battling sibilance too.
There is a lot of siblance on a lot of recordings for sure but on the men at work album particularly especially the opening verse of who can it be now and you hear it more on the vinyl than streaming because a good vinyl setup does not hide the flaws in the recording at all.
I’m getting my Men at Work now. I need to hear this now :)

As an aside, I have used this test record with great success.

Only one I’ve used, but have managed to solve the problem of the "is it me, or the recording..." question with this as I know the cartridge/arm is properly set up.
Put it on. This is one of the few records that somehow survived in storage at my parents basement - I bought this when it first came out. 

Quite a "thin" sounding recording. Think I know why it survived. Must have left it in their basement because I didn't care for it. 

Plays as new :)
I find that capacitors affect sibilance quite a lot. The better the cap, the less sibilance (in general). There is a cap thread concurrently.

Also, the stability of the phono stage can contribute IIRC.

Other aspects of setup you have already addressed - but you may find that setting VTA so that the tail of the cartridge is down improves things.

Good luck.
This is probably totally off field. Although it could be similar.

In my case I found that a combination of certain close frequencies and intensities interacted to create a tinny sound. To give you an idea of the range, Kiki Dee in particular sounded dreadful.

Two solutions combined to fix the issue.

Firstly I worked on my speakers. Upgrading crossover components plus treating the internals to reduce reflections and adding sound absorption filling so contamination on the rearward movement of the cones was as reduce as far as possible. After all, inward movement of the cone is 50% of the sound.

Secondly I added Supertweeters.

Perhaps try cleaning the record? At this time, I’m going through the pile o records here. The difference is not subtle. Even a very clean record, in appearance, sounds improved after the cleaning. Sometimes there is some nasty stuff on the records that takes a while to dislodge. 
@lewm , really? Some speaker manufacturers, to make their speakers sound better at low volumes and reduce sibilance tuned their speakers with a built in Gundry dip. Wilson did this with the Watt/Puppy. It is just another application of Fletcher and Munson's research. I'm not entirely sure but I think the BBC first started doing this in broadcasting or in their monitors maybe both.

It seems that many people here are talking about distortion not true sibilance. 
It sounds like you need to cover your tweeter. No, What MC said. Before going to drastic changes to the VTA make sure it is the norm when playing all vinyl. If not, and it isn’t even the majority of your collection I would let it be unless you can adjust VTA on the fly. If not you can change your cables from your phono stage to your preamp to something less bright like a Cardas. I know this is a pain, but so is having to replace some of your collection or getting another TT for dulling some of your collection. I have met people who run MM bronze and also have a black MM. they switch stylus to change the sound. You will have to run the same type of MM to do this. The cartridge you have is one of the best value for money. Also, SoundSmith is second to none. 
I have a song that does this to me. Don’t Come Around Here No More. When Stevie Nicks says don’t it’s a very clicky sounding D. I can hear it on other systems, but mine seems to accentuate it. It’s hard to ignore.
I fought with a similar issue on the Willie and Waylon album; side 2, especially the first track, always had a sibilance issue.  I bought 2-3 copies over the years thinking it was just that copy, but it wasn't.  As I improved my stereo, I went back to that track to see if it improved.  Eventually, I updated my cartridge and I discovered that the sibilance issue was only on Willie's vocals and couldn't be fixed.  It's still a little annoying, but less so since I know it's not me or my system.
Schiit Loki+ has an EQ point at 4kH. They are a clever lot at Schiit!  I keep one in my tape loop for use only when needed. 

No sibilance from Stevie Nicks on “Don’t Come Around Here No More”. Nicks does not sing on that song.
Mijo, There is a long and very informative thread on the "Gundry Dip", also known as the BBC dip, on Hydrogen Audio.  A few of the contributors are speaker designers or acoustic engineers.  For one thing, it is pointed out that a "natural" dip in frequency response in the 1kHz to 4kHz range is not uncommon among 2-way speakers, where the woofer is giving way to the tweeter in that range.  I urge anyone to read the thread for many interesting tidbits, but the consensus is that the deliberate incorporation of a Gundry Dip in frequency response was a passing fancy, no longer espoused or incorporated so much in modern speakers.  As you suggested, the Gundry Dip is or was a way of incorporating a fixed compensation for the Fletcher-Munson curve, the tendency of humans to be most sensitive to frequencies in the midrange and relatively less sensitive to low bass and treble frequencies.  Why we used to have "Loudness" controls.  A Loudness control makes much more sense than a built-in fixed Gundry Dip in the crossover, because it allows the user to adjust compensation according to his or her listening habits, high vs low SPLs.  If Wilson use a Gundry Dip, I don't find evidence for it on the net.
Vocal sibilance can vary on pressing.

I hear differences on a period press vs greatest hits vs 2nd press vs later reissues.

Example- Donovan's 1968  Hurdy Gurdy  Man-title track perfect on my stereo and mono press. NOT implying a new reissue is inferior-that's another thread to argue about.

Hurdy Gurdy Man on the 1969 Greatest Hits-sibilance. 
"came ssssinging  ssssongssss of love"

"tizzy" high hats on drumming tracks drive my crazy too!
Here’s the the thing about sibilance: it’s human.  It’s a natural sound of the human voice for certain words.  You can’t even say “sibilance” without a bit of sibilance.  In the very old days they were trying to design mics that WOULD pick up vocal sibilance, because not having it sounds crazy weird.  It’s actually the unnatural version of sibilance that bugs all of us.  But when we ask “is it on the recording?” and determine that it’s on the CD, it’s on the streaming file, etc., sometimes we falsely assure ourselves.  Patricia Barber’s Nightclub LP was well done, and so was the DSD file I own.  When my cartridge isn’t right (usually VTA), I can hear unnatural, spitty sibilance on certain tracks.  Is it on the DSD version?  Yes, but not to an unnatural degree.  Not spitting at me.  So, it’s not an “is it there?” question, it’s a “is the sibilance correct or not?” question.  On one hand, this will help avoid falsely concluding “it’s just on the recording.”  On the other hand, it also will help avoid concluding “wait, now I hear it on everything.”  My two cents: listen for unnatural sibilance, and fix it.  But if you start listening for ANY sibilance, you’ll find it everywhere.  And you will gradually feel yourself losing your mind.  Trust me.  This will be obvious to many A-goners, but I’m sure there are a few like me who could be twisting themselves in knots hearing sibilance everywhere, and I suggest you give yourself a break and instead listen for INCORRECT, overly noticeable, non-human sibilance. 
Next maddening topic: does it sound like a real cymbal tap, or just a pulse of white noise?  
Ding ding ding winner winner chicken dinner!  

Beautiful answer! This is what I was getting at above. Sibilance in and of itself is neutral and nothing to be battling with. Get your cymbals to ring and ting like actual cymbals and you will find your sibilance "problem" magically solved in the bargain.
Cymbals… really good point. I struggled with the sound of cymbals for years. I kept finding that the ting… and following ring was mostly distortion, and that when I got to a certain level suddenly they started sounding like brass… a very different sound. (I am not contradicting Millercarbon, but digging into the point from my perspective). I found that I had listened to so many concerts (amplified) and stereos that had treble actually being high frequency noise that mimicked the sound of cymbals, bells, tambourines, etc. I actually though that was accurate sound reproduction. So each time I made a change that improved treble it got quieter and less pronounced… but it also took on the rich multifrequency tone with the true harmonics of brass. I had to go out and listen to unamplified cymbals to be sure that my system wasn’t just tilted too far to the warm side. Anyway, back to sibilants, I think that is right, if you have cymbals sounding like brass then the sibilants will take care of themselves.

Are you SURE is sibilance?  You haven't described the rest of your system.

There are a LOT of sources for annoying HF.  Speaker breakup, a crossover component gone bad, a tweeter issue, a metal driver starting to flex. 

Amp, preamp and phono stages can be sources of sibilance.  Lot 'o things can push electronics in the wrong direction.  Sometimes computers, their power supplies or switching power supplies can inject noise into the signal that can manifest themselves into HF noise.   

You might have addressed the phono source side, but there are a lot of other components that could be contributing.  
I found a fix that has massively improved the clarity of my hearing, be it live or recorded.

The hairs in the outer canals of my ears were the culprits as they are long, thick and rigid. Normally hairs are unlikely to have any impact when they are short, thin, soft and flexible. In my case they were having a negative impact on what I was hearing. Probably it can be likened to having sound bounce though many layers of hair combs.

I should mention I have no idea if I am the odd one out or in the minority as I don't go around looking into people's ears!

The solution is to keep them short so there is a clear pathway to my eardrum.

They weren't so long as to be protruding from my ears, so it doesn't have anything to do with vanity.

Great answers from everybody. Thanks. I just need to sit back and enjoy the music. Sibilance is only audible on a few of my records. I just wanted to tweak and optimize cartridge setup and that would hopefully increase fidelity over the range of my records. I must say the adjustments have been beneficial. 
Hi Blueranger,

I checked a 'Business as Usual' LP by Men at Work (made in Japan by Epic SONY, 25-3P-370), and its sounds fantastic, though there is a slight hint of HF hardness, but it's still OK. I suspect that your system is much more revealing than mine - I've got a vintage Micro DD8 direct drive turntable with Micro MA-505 arm and Nagaoka MP-500 cartridge, a vintage Sansui AU-517 integrated amp and open baffle Nightingale CTR.2  loudspeakers made in Italy. The system sounds very musical, dynamic and consistent, though not hyperanalytical and hyperdetailed. I am sure that if I hook up my Cary SLI-80 and a ProJect Tube Box DS2 phono preamp, I may hear more sibilance because the latter combo (Cary + ProJect phono preamp) is more open and revealing.  
@lewm, yes, Wilson did. I know this for a fact as I ran a test on a pair. They just don't talk about it and very few audiophiles actually measure their speakers. 
Loudness compensation you use to find in some preamps was not very versatile as it was only correct at one volume level. But if you tended to listen at one quiet level it worked fine, until the audiophiles trashed it.
I have a preset with a Gundry dip but for some strange reason I have not used it since I got the Sound Labs, haven't needed it.  
Sibilance is present to some degree but it must be more troubling than usual or you would'nt have asked for help.  
two things stand out to me- retip and VTA.  
I have had Soundsmith retips on two cartridges including a cadenza blue.  they may take 70 hrs or so to sound smooth, if yours is fresh this could be part of the issue. 
Second is VTA.  Not sure how yours is set but to me there is only one way to get an initial reference VTA-  make sure the top of the headshell is level when it is in a record groove.  
You do this by using a small round bubble level and set it on top of the flat surface of the headshell.  
Balance the arm and adjust VTF to what the cartridge uses to compensate for the mass of the level.  Lower it on to a stopped LP and adjust the arm height until the headshell shows level . 
Re adjust VTF and play away.  Most good carts respond well to a level headshell, which is parallel to the top of the cartridge.  
Other causes of sibilance i have witnessed-
too much phono stage gain
bright interconnects, avoid silver or hybrid
too high resistance loading on MCs

Thanks Avanti1960. Great points well taken. My Ortofon Cadenza Bronze is probably due for a retip. Even though I have meticulously kept the stylus clean and my records pristine and 99 % of my records have very little pops it might need to go to a cartridge specialist. I’m sure I have 1500 plus hours but from what I’ve read the Shibita stylus lasts longer than most other designs. I do have 3 other cartridges that have about 1/2 their life left. I kept switching for different sounds. The Ortofon black and the dynavector 20x2 and Shire M97 with an SAS stylus upgrade all have their own sonic signitures. I just looked for a stylus replacement for the new Ortofon Black and it’s $799!!!!! Verses a retip on a MC around $450. However the Ortofon Black is suppose to be an upgrade from the original. Thanks again for everyone’s opinions. We have a great group of dedicated audiophiles here that we all can gain a wealth of knowledge from. Happy spinning, streaming or data retrieval from an aluminum disc.
Assuming that song is being played off their "Business as Usual" album (not greatest hits, etc.), "Down Under" looks to be track #3, right in the middle of the album, which might not be helping.

Normally, sibilance is noticed more on the inner tracks with IGD in full form.  But middle tracks can also be a problem since they are smack-dab between the null points, where tracking distortion is raised.
I too once battled sibilance.  It was a long hard road, but with the right therapy of repeated viewings of the Cindy Brady lisping episode of the Brady Bunch, I was able to come to grips with it and learn to live life with its existence.  I now sell seashells by the seashore.  Each sold separately thru September. Godspeed
Post removed 
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what sibilance is and means. It is not tracking distortion and it is not due to tonearm misalignment. It is due to the high sensitivity of our ears to frequencies in the 3-4 kHz range and systems or recordings that tend to emphasize these frequencies. It has nothing to do with distortion. You can eliminate any sibilance with a notch filter at 3500 Hz. You can not get rid of distortion this way. Sometimes all you have to do is reduce the volume a little. Rickie Lee Jones will always get sibilant if you push the volume to high on even the finest systems.  
Post removed 
My experience with sibilance is as a live sound technician and in a home recording studio environment.

This article will explain a tool used by sound engineers to control sibilance, a deeser.

I run audio systems in churches where there is a large number of older folks with reduced ability to hear high frequencies. So I feel pressure to provide a generous amount of high frequencies associated with sibilance but without creating an unpleasant sound.

When I am working with a powerful digital audio mixer that has plenty of parametric EQ and deeser or compressor with frequency side chain (explained above) there is little difficulty controlling sibilance.

Sometimes I’ve noticed that sibilance can be controlled by reducing the attack time of the compressor.

For a home situation EQ would reduce sibilance but also hacks the high frequencies (4-8khz) for the entire mix. That is why a deeser is preferable.

If you notice the problem mostly when the volume is loud or when you are boosting the volume of a preamp, maybe the sibilance is causing unpleasant high frequency distortion somewhere in your signal chain.  Be sure to check your signal chain for a volume knob that is too high followed by one that is too low. 

In the case above maybe a tube preamp or tube compressor will create less offensive distortion in the highs while providing some gentle compression. The compressor will likely have an insert so you can use an EQ to turn it into a pseudo-deeser.

Your solution will likely be greatly influenced by your budget. There are plenty of options, including some not included above.
Hi nice tread about a problem, i think we all more or les are battling.
What bpoletti and jrw1971mentions makes a lot of sence to me as well.
could the siblings, that also is a part of the Human voice be an indicator of several diffrent problems in the chain, when they get to hard and excaterated.Its surely also a huge problem in the digital area, where the abselutely pronounce the digitalis in the sound.

I observed that cabels are a huge part of the problem/soulution.
I also had very good results with cleaning all pfysical connectors and adding contact enchaners.
Tuberolling  also makes Big diffrences as well as powerconnector rolling. The same with the fuses.
To hard siblings often makes the limit on How loud you like to hear the music as it gets so umpleasent.
happy listening
I mostly stalk the halls of this forum, but felt like adding my experience here. 

My previous cartridges from Sumiko and Ortofon all had sibilance issues. I noted this to be jarringly obvious on several LPs. The most obvious being a few old Tom Waits pressings and a few of the Nick Cave reissues that came out a few years ago. At some point I just stopped listening to those albums via vinyl and went with the digital version instead. 

About two years back my Sumiko EVO-III cantilever busted for some reason. My friend who owns a hi-fi shop recommended Hana. I picked up the EH. It was great, but still had sibilance issues on the same records, although slightly less. Then the pandemic happened. I decided to give my EH to friend of mine and picked up the MH. Told myself a while back I would never spend more than $500 on a cartridge, but I figured I'd give it a try. I sent my turntable to my friend (he's been setting up cartridges and turntables for decades) and installed the MH. Got my turntable back and my sibilance issues were 99% gone. 

I'm not well versed in all the technical aspects of this hobby so I'm not 100% sure why the MH cured my problems. I know it's a different tip and cantilever than my past cartridges. I honestly don't really care why it worked. Just happy it did. 

Anyway, this has been my experience. I'm not saying a $1200 cartridge will work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me and my system*.

As another note, Perfect Vinyl Forever has what they call the Archival 3.0 cleaning service. That's made a huge difference in sound quality issues I've had on new and old vinyl alike. 

*Pro-Ject "The Classic", Moon ACE, Vandersteen VLR CTs, REL T9, Audioquest (AQ) Niagara 1200, AQ Monsoon AC cables, AQ Meteor speaker cables. 

One should not have sibilance with any good quality phono set up properly unless of course it is on the recording which can be a thing.  
FWIW I have none. Zero nada sibilance with the Denon dl103r in my rig. Been that way for years. Historically the most common cause For sibilance I’ve found over the years is a worn stylus followed by a bad setup resulting in poor tracking.
Sorry to resurrect this thread, but tonight I am reminded of a particularly difficult album to track...without sibilance.

Norah Jones, "Not Too Late"

From the very first song, there is a lot of 'sss' to navigate.  This could be attributed to a 'hot' recording, but if you can get a phono cartridge dialed-in, it can sound wonderful.  For me, it required a combination of high-quality, low-mass cantilever/stylus, along with very exact cartridge alignment (including VTA and azimuth) in order to get a satisfactory result with this album.
jdjohn, sibilance and miss tracking distortion are two separate problems.
Even the best, perfectly maintained systems can have recording induced sibilance. Miss tracking distortion certainly sounds terrible and can be do to bad styli and cartridges but it is not sibilance even though it makes you squint just as bad. The easiest response to sibilance is just to turn the volume down a little. This will not get rid of miss tracking.