The Best Free De-esser Plugins for Amazing Vocals

The Best Free De-esser Plugins for Amazing Vocals The Best Free De-esser Plugins for Amazing Vocals

It might seem ironic that we spend tons of money on gear like microphones and interfaces, only to be confronted by the fact that there are amazing free plugins out there that can sweeten our recorded vocal tracks and get them ready for release.

We all know that de-esser plugins are necessary for getting rid of sibilant sounds in modern vocals, though the true question is,

Are free de-esser plugins just as good as paid de-esser plugins?

Today, we're going to explore some of our favorite free de-esser plugins for high-quality vocal mixes.

Free Vs. Paid De-Esser Plugins

There are many high-end paid de-esser plugins on the market, though many new producers and engineers are skeptical about blowing their money on them.

If that sounds like you, we don't blame you.

While free de-essers won't likely have all of the latest and greatest features, such as real-time waveform display or gorgeous GUIs, they can all get the job done in what matters most — getting rid of harsh sibilance.

Let's dive in and check out these free de-esser plugins.

1. Digital Fish Phones - Spitfish

Digital Fish Phones - Spitfish
  • Mono and stereo modes
  • Adjustable "tune" setting for choosing distinct frequencies
  • Soft mode
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS

The Spitfish de-esser from Digital Fish Phones is great for both mono and stereo vocal tracks. Though it may not look like much, it's a wonderfully dynamic plugin that can filter away unpleasant sibilant sounds similar to most vintage analog de-essers.

We love how easy the plugin is to use as well, as there are only a few adjustable settings on the interface. These settings include sensation, depth, and tune. The "tune" setting is nice, as it allows you to attack three different frequencies, making this little free de-esser a bit more versatile than you'd expect.

Once you've selected the right frequency range, simply dial back the depth knob until you have the perfect amount of de-essing for your vocal track. If you begin to notice that your vocal sounds too lispy or that the de-esser is cutting out too many high frequencies, you can use the plugin's 'soft' mode.

The soft mode switch on the Spitfish de-esser uses a smooth detection curve and modifies the internal time constants, perfect for maintaining a natural and musical sound. We really love the fact that this free de-esser deals with stereo audio as well, allowing you to use it on groups of vocals or high-frequency stereo tracks, such as overheads or doubled electric guitars.


  • A surprising amount of features for a free deesser plugin
  • Soft curve sounds great for natural vocals
  • Works in mono and stereo


  • The Depth control can be a bit touchy

2. Tonmann De-Esser

Tonmann De-Esser
  • Mono and stereo modes with true independent stereo operation
  • Wideband and lowpass reduction modes
  • "What You Remove" option for listening
  • Compatible with Windows

The Tonmann De-esser is a very easy-to-use high-frequency dynamic processor that can tame sibilant sounds after heavy compression, making it an ideal free de-esser plugin for modern pop vocals. You can use this plugin heavy-handedly and not have to worry about unwanted artifacts, thanks to its meticulous internal design.

Similar to the Spitfish de-esser, this free de-esser VST plugin works in mono and stereo modes. It also comes with two different reduction modes, including low-pass and wideband. However, you can also alter the center frequency control and the bandwidth to give you a bit more control over the sound of the plugin.

Surprisingly enough, not all free de-esser plugins come with a listen mode that allows you to hear what you're affecting. With the "What You Remove" option, you can hear the frequencies that the de-esser is taming, which is great for ensuring you're attenuating the proper high frequencies.

In case you wanted a bit more visual feedback, the two meters on the right side can be super helpful!


  • Lacks unwanted artifacts, even with heavy de-essing
  • The listen option is super helpful
  • Adjustable center frequency


  • Only available as a 32-bit plugin for Windows

3. Antress Modern De-Esser

Antress Modern De-Esser
  • Works between 3kHz and 9kHz
  • Rackmount-style GUI
  • Output gain between -15 dB and +15 dB
  • Compatible with Windows

The Antress Modern De-Esser has a unique rackmount-style design that sets it apart from the rest. On the rackmount, you'll find controls for threshold, gain reduction, width, ratio, and release. You can control a fairly wide frequency range between 3kHz and 9.9 kHz , dialing in anywhere from -15 to +15 dB of gain.

One thing we really love about Antress Modern De-Esser is that it has a GUI that mimics hardware gear, which is something you don't often see, especially with free de-esser plugins. As you might expect, it works true to form, getting rid of unwanted sibilant sounds in a pinch.

For whatever reason, this plugin has become extremely popular in the hip-hop community. We guess it may be the convincing GUI or the unique simplicity. While you won't find any fancy metering options or listening modes, this de-esser VST plugin delivers quick and painless sibilance attenuation when you need it most.


  • Decent amount of controls
  • Convincing rackmount-style design
  • Very easy to use


  • Doesn't work for high frequencies above 10kHz

4. Dead Duck Free Effects

Dead Duck Free Effects
  • Comes in a bundle with 26 other effects
  • Colorful and modern interface
  • Listen mode
  • Compatible with Windows

The Dead Duck Free Effects plugin isn't just a de-esser, which is one thing that makes it a true stand-out from the rest. In fact, this plugin includes a number of unique effects, such as compression, chorusing, delay, EQ, bit crushing, auto-pan, auto filter, tremolo, phaser, reverb, and so much more. You really have to check out the developer website to see what this thing is capable of.

If you're just getting started as a music producer, it's a wonderful, all-around tool that operates like a production Swiss army knife.

Of course, for this article, we'll stick to talking about the Dead Duck De-Esser. For starters, the interface is attractive yet simple. You'll find a number of helpful controls, including input gain, amount, threshold, a low-frequency knob, a high-frequency knob, attack, and release. Essentially, if you know you're way around a de-esser, then this de-esser plugin will feel very familiar.

Depending on your preferences, you can dial this de-esser in very subtly or take it to the extreme. In many ways, it's as much of a tone-shaping tool as it is a de-esser.


  • Simple yet attractive GUI
  • Handy listen function
  • Tons of tone-shaping parameters


  • Exclusive to Windows systems

5. Sleepy-Time DSP Lisp De-Esser

Sleepy-Time DSP Lisp De-Esser
  • A unique automatic sibilance detection algorithm
  • Mono, stereo, and mid-side modes
  • Built-in phase cancellation for reduced noise
  • Compatible with Windows

When we think about classic de-esser plugins, the Lisp De-Esser is one of the first that comes to mind. This level-independent sibilance processor comes with plenty of unique controls, including sensitivity, attack, release, reduction amount, sibilant range, stereo mode, and processing mode.

While the interface on the Lisp De-Esser is certainly in a bygone era, it doesn't take away from how well the de-esser tames unwanted frequencies in the human voice. For starters, the automatic sibilance detection algorithm built into the plugin makes cleaning up your vocal tracks so much easier than working with a standard de-esser plugin.

Not only is it great for reducing harsh "ss" sounds, but it is also wonderful for getting rid of lower "ch," and "teh" sounds as well, thanks to its ability to track pitch and amplitude with ease. All you have to do is adjust the amount of gain reduction you want and let the plugin do its work!

What sets Lisp apart from your traditional de-esser is the fact that it uses phase cancellation in tandem with fast frequency detection. Not only does it reduce the amount of unwanted noise you get (especially with heavy de-essing), but it also makes for a more natural sound.

In our opinion, if you're looking for a de-esser that sounds extremely natural and musical sound on the human voice, then this is the best free de-esser out there. However, if you need something with a bit more strength, you might look at other de-esser VST plugins.


  • The automatic sibilance detection algorithm makes finding the right frequencies easy
  • Ultra transparent results
  • Works for all levels of sibilance


  • Very outdated GUI

6. Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR Nova

Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR Nova
  • Parallel dynamic EQ
  • Full dynamics and EQ section included
  • Intuitive equal loudness functions
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS

The TDR Nova free de-esser plugin is quite unique in that it's a parallel dynamic equalizer plugin. At first glance, it looks like your standard parametric equalizer plugin. However, with additional capabilities like multi-band compression and a full dynamics section, it operates more like a dynamic EQ or a de-esser.

You get a number of high-end functionalities with this plugin, including dynamic equalization, parametric equalization, frequency-selective compression, wideband compression, and multi-band compression. This plugin makes it easy to target ultra-specific frequency bands where sibilance is out of control and use compression to reduce the level of those harsh frequencies.

With the added ability to compress frequencies outside of the natural sibilance range, it's much more versatile than other modern de-esser plugins. If you notice boominess in the low-mids or harshness in the upper-mids, you can tame it all while taking care of sibilance.

Beyond all of that, the interface is clean and modern. To our eyes, it looks like a serious paid de-esser plugin.


  • Far more functionality than most free de-esser VST plugins
  • Sleek and modern GUI
  • Full dynamics section for total control beyond standard de-essing


  • Must upgrade to the paid version for many features

7. Techivation T-De-Esser

Techivation T-De-Esser
  • Simple GUI
  • Selectable frequency range controls
  • Sharpness and Intensity controls
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS

Compared to many free de-esser VST plugins on this list, the Techivation T-De-Esser has a stunning GUI. While there are only a few knobs and buttons to worry about with this GUI, each of them significantly impacts the sound. We love simplicity, especially when it comes to plugins that are meant for single use.

Luckily, Techivation made sure to only put the necessary controls on the interface of the T-De-Esser so as to not overwhelm users. With a simple interface, the results that you get with the T-De-Esser are efficient and effective. And, as we know, a lot of great mixing is about moving fast. The ability to increase your audio project workflow should be a priority when using any plugin.

It's a surprisingly transparent plugin that is great for salvaging poor recordings or getting rid of over-the-top high frequencies that can poke out in mixes.

Thanks to its mono mode and stereo mode, you can use it on everything from vocal tracks to synths to overheads and beyond. If you're looking for an ultra-simple, ultra-transparent modern de-esser plugin, then the T-De-Esser by Techivation is the best free de-esser on the market.


  • Incredibly simple GUI for an efficient workflow
  • Very pure and natural sound
  • Great for other instruments as well


  • Lack of adjustable parameters might not cut it for some users

8. Viper ITB VeeDeeS

Viper ITB VeeDeeS
  • Attenuate frequencies above 3kHz
  • Built-in attack and release time parameters
  • Handy VU meter for level readings
  • Compatible with Windows

The Viper ITB VeeDeeS might just be the best free de-esser plugin for those seeking complete simplicity. It might not do much outside of the realm of getting rid of nasty sibilance in vocal performance, though, sometimes, that's all you need.

It works surprisingly well on all kinds of sibilance, especially when you're working with heavily-EQ'd vocals with tons of high frequencies. While it looks a lot like one of your standard classic analog de-essers, it is much more transparent.

There are only a few simple knobs on the interface that you'll need to tweak to dial in the right amount of gain reduction, though when used properly, you can reduce the sibilance in your vocal without impacting the rest of the performance. That right there is the mark of a good de-esser.

Of course, it could also be the simple fact that the VeeDeeS plugin only takes care of frequencies above 3kHz on the frequency spectrum, leaving any other frequencies below that untouched, though we digress.

Overall, it's great for maintaining the best parts of the human voice while getting rid of nasty tones or elevating poor recording quality. It's not a life-altering plugin by any means, though it can get the job done quickly and painlessly.


  • Simple and intuitive operation
  • Cool analog-style GUI
  • You have the ability to tailor attack and release times to your vocal track


  • Not very many controls

9. Airwindows De-Ess

Airwindows De-Ess
  • Three controls, including Intensity, Max DeEss, and Frequency
  • Unique slider controls
  • Compatible with Windows and the latest Mac OS

It's so easy to underestimate the power of plugins when they have outdated interfaces. However, the beauty of that is that you might end up being one of the few producers who utilize this secret weapon , having all of your producer friends ask you how you get such crispy vocals without unwanted sibilance.

There is no going about this plugin without acknowledging the pure lack of pizzazz in the GUI. It's a simple box with a few sliders that act as your main controls, including frequency control, intensity, and max de-ess. The beauty of this de-esser, however, is that it can get rid of harsh sibilance in your vocal recordings while maintaining an ultra-clear and transparent sound, which can't be said for just any average VST plugin.

Of course, if you're working on sibilance and parallel and you need to crank the gain reduction of certain frequencies to completely get rid of "ss" sounds, you can do that too!


  • Simple and effective GUI
  • Transparent sibilane reduction
  • Very easy on CPU


  • The lack of controls and outdated GUI might turn some people off

10. Analog Obsession Loades

Analog Obsession Loades
  • Threshold, Release, and Mix Knobs
  • Soft button for more transparent de-essing
  • High-end VU meters for watching levels
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac

Loades De-Esser from Analog Obsession is one of the smoothest free de-essers out there today, allowing you to reduce sibilance in vocals with ease while giving them an overall warmer sound. In a way, it's more of a simple high-frequency tamer, perfect for controlling high-end vocals, cymbals, and much more.

We love the fact that the developers included a Mix knob, allowing you to heavily de-ess and pull back the Wet knob to get heavy de-essing in parallel. Like some of the other de-essers on this list, this one also comes with a handy Soft knob that helps make the overall de-essing a bit more transparent.

If you're looking for a high-quality de-esser that can deliver that warm, analog sound we all know and love, we highly recommend checking out Analog Obsession Loades.


  • Warm, analog sound
  • Mix knob works great for mixing in parallel
  • Sleek and clean interface


  • Lacks band control for honing in on specific frequencies

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of great free de-esser VST plugin options on the market today, all of which are more than capable of taming higher frequencies. No matter whether you're trying to tame sibilance in an airy vocal track or trying to get rid of that sizzly abrasive cymbal sound, these de-essers work really well!

Of course, if these free plugins don't have the vast array of features to handle your expert music production, make sure to take a look at our best de-esser plugin list, which goes into detail about some of the best paid-for de-esser plugins on the market today.

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