Unfortunately, poorly recorded vocals and instruments are all too commonplace, given today’s do-it yourself production mentality. Poor microphone choice and placement, over-compression, and room noise can wreak havoc on the quality of a recording. The job of cleaning up after a bad recording can be very tedious.
Enter the SuprEsser from Sonnox: a plug-in aimed at making the modern day mix engineer’s janitorial duties, an easier one.
The SuprEsser is a native only plug-in, that comes in RTAS, AU, and VST formats and is available for both the Mac and PC. It comes in three flavors, each adding a higher degree of resolution but at the cost of higher latency. Anywhere from 500 to an astounding 12,000 samples of delay! Soooo, unless you like doing lots of math, this plug-in should be reserved for use only on systems capable of ADC (automatic delay compensation).
WHAT IT IS/WHAT IT DOES
In a nutshell, the SuprEsser is a very sophisticated frequency specific compressor, which allows the user to target only those areas of the audio spectrum where a problem is occurring. This means it can be used as a de-esser, de-popper, or when used in wide band mode, as a more traditional, all-purpose compressor.
In a word, awesome! Although the GUI has a lot going on and may seem confusing at first, in reality it is actually very easy and intuitive to use (there’s even an “easy“ view which simplifies the interface, leaving only the most basic and useful features visible).
The target frequency, threshold and amount of compression are represented both numerically, and visually on an FFT display, making the process of identifying and eliminating unwanted artifacts both quick and simple. Unlike your average de-esser, you will also find controls for attack and release as well as an auto function, which allows the amount of gain reduction to remain consistent regardless of the input level.
As if that weren’t enough you can also choose from two types of “listen” modes. One, called “inside” which is the standard mode found on most de-essers as well as an “outside” mode which allows you to hear which frequencies are NOT being affected by the processing.
SuprEsser IN USE
I was able to test drive the SuprEsser on both Pro Tools native and TDM systems as well as Logic Pro running on my laptop. As a straightforward de-esser, this one ranks among the best I have used. Dialing in just the right amount of compression was quick and easy and there was no dulling of the sound that one normally finds with this type of processor. Plosives, or pops, as they are also called, were also handled with ease.
One of the cooler uses that I have found for a de-esser is for removing unwanted hi hat leakage from snares and toms. I find it sounds much more natural than trying to using a noise gate, which tends to cut off the attack of the drum.
The SuprEsser excelled in this application as well. Being able to vary the attack and release of the compressor and not just the frequency and threshold meant I was able to remove just the right amount of hi-hat without overly affecting the sound of the snare.
Another cool feature found on the SuprEsser is the ability to mix the amount of wet and dry signals being sent to the output. This is similar to parallel compression, allowing you to apply drastic amount of gain reduction to a signal and then blending to taste.
The only drawback I could find with this plugin was the aforementioned processing delay. Other than that, the SuprEsser is a veritable Swiss army knife of compression and a welcome addition to my plugin folder.
For more information and to purchase the Sonnox SuprEsser, visit: http://www.sonnoxplugins.com/supresser.
Jason Goldstein is a NYC-based Grammy-winning mix engineer who’s worked with Beyonce, Jay-Z, The Roots, Ludacris, Jill Scott, R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige and more. For more on Goldstein and to get in touch, visit http://www.jasongoldsteinmixer.com.