The Best Free De Esser Plugin: Our Top 5 Picks

In this article, we will look at free de esser plugins that home studio producers can use to achieve great results in their vocal recordings. A free de esser plugin doesn't have to mean a bad one.

But what is a de esser? What does a de esser do? The de esser is a type of compressor that is used to remove the harsh sounds in vocal recordings that occur when we sound out “s”, “shh”, and “ch” sounds. A de esser is designed to only remove the sound of sibilant consonants in human speech and is used in audio mixing for this purpose. De-Esser plugins help to control sibilance in vocals allowing them to sit upfront in the mix without these harsh artifacts taking over.

When the frequency range is selected the plugin ducks the signal at the selected frequency range as the input comes in.

There are many free de esser plugins on the market and we want to look at the top 5.

We will explore these plugins by looking at their features, pros, cons, and if they have any limitations for use.

SpitFish De-Esser

pic credit -

Our first free de esser plugin on our list is the SpitFish DeEsser. This DeEsser can be found at and comes in a bundle of three plugins. This great because you also get a channel compressor and an expander/noise gate. 

This de esser plugin is set up in a very intuitive way. It is really simple to tune in to the right frequency range and set the depth and sensitivity. The default setting is mono but can be changed to stereo with the button in the top right. 

This plugin does exactly what it says and not much more. Although you can use it for other instruments like hi-hats and other high-frequency instruments. 


  1. It sounds really clean
  2. The plugin interface is simple and easy to use. 
  3. It is accurate 
  4. It doesn’t use a lot of CPU so can be used on multiple tracks


  1. Not available for Mac OS
  2. If mixing on headphones, you cannot mix in mono or the sound will get really weird. 

Download the SpitFish DeEsser

Tonmann De-Esser

pic credit

The second free de esser plugin on our list is the Tonmann DeEsser. This plugin is easy to use and has a clean interface.

It’s great for vocals, acoustic guitars or other instruments which can suffer from high levels of sibilance. The plugin is also designed to be used on stereo tracks in order to balance the two channels independently without creating phase issues. It can be used in mono if that is what you need as well. 

It has an adjustable detection threshold to retain a vocal’s “shimmery” sound character. This free de esser plugin has a look ahead function that predicts the peaks. This is a very nice feature in a free plugin. 


  1. Easy to use
  2. Adjustable release time for more control over the sound
  3. Look Ahead feature predicts peaks
  4. Sounds great


  1. Only available in 32-bit VST
  2. Not available for Mac OS

Download the Tonmann DeEsser

Modern De-Esser

pic credit

The third free de esser plugin that we are going to talk about on our list is the Modern De-Esser. This free plugin comes in a massive bundle of free effects plugins made by Antress. All of these plugins are set up to look like rack-mounted effects. 

The Modern De-Esser is very simple and has the controls you need like frequency control (3000-9999hz). The threshold, ratio, release, and width controls give you the ability to hone into those frequencies you want to remove while keeping the crispness of the vocal. It also has output control so you can make sure you are not clipping. 

There are rumours of this whole bundle of effects going pro so you might want to download them while they are FREE!


  1. Easy to use
  2. Has a nice rack-mounted look
  3. Threshold, ratio, width, and release give you a lot of control
  4. Sounds vintage


  1. Not available for Mac OS
  2. Only available in 32-bit VST
  3. Might go “pro” and stop being free

Download the Modern De-Esser

Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP

pic credit

The fourth free de esser plugin in our list is Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP. Instead of the traditional threshold/frequency-based techniques used in most de essing systems, Lisp employs a type of compressor that uses the Sleepy-Time Records transient detection algorithm and it removes harsh sounding vocals while maintaining source material integrity by using methods for phase cancellation.

The idea with this plugin is that you just set the reduction amount and let the algorithm do the work. If you want more fine-tuning, you can control the attack and release, as well as, the sensitivity and the frequency range. 

What this plugin has that the others don’t is the ability to process the audio in full stereo or to do mid/side processing. This gives a lot more flexibility in fine-tuning that vocal. 

This free de esser plugin does an amazing job of reducing the sibilance while sounding super good. It doesn’t colour the sound a lot. It just does its job and gets out of the way. 


  1. The automatic sibilance detection algorithm
  2. The plugin has low CPU usage
  3. Easy interface
  4. More control than all the others
  5. Stereo and Mid/Side processing


  1. Not available for Mac OS
  2. Does not process in mono
  3. No output gain

Download Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP

Your DAW’s built-in De-esser

The last free de esser plugin in our list is the one that comes stock in our DAW. Depending on what DAW you use, will determine what de esser is available. The key here is that all of them have a stock version of a de esser. 

Honestly, most engineers can make great mixes without needing to download any additional plugins.

It is definitely a good idea to try out your DAW’s stock de esser plugin. You may be able to achieve everything you want with it and skip the whole third party plugin thing. 

Here at Home Studio Labs we primarily use FL Studio as our DAW of choice. Inside of FL Studio is a plugin called Maximus. This plugin has 2 presets for de-essing. Maximus is a multiband compressor so in these presets it has focus on the mid frequency. The great part is you tune the frequency whatever you want. 

This plugin has the same controls as others with control over threshold, ratio, width, attack, and release. Really, everything is here to take care of your de essing. 


  1. Nothing to download and install
  2. Integrates perfectly with your DAW
  3. Has all the controls you need
  4. Is optimized for CPU load


  1. Depending on the DAW it may not sound as good as 3rd party plugins
  2. May be less inuitive
  3. Not a dedicated DeEsser plugin

Final Thoughts and Recommendation

Free de esser plugins are the perfect, cost-effective solution for audio engineers with limited resources. These free tools can be used to fix all kinds of vocal problems like sibilance and harshness, making them a valuable addition to your mixing arsenal.

I personally recommend using your DAW stock plugins first. Get to know them and see if they do what you want. If you end up liking it, then there is no reason to look elsewhere. 

The 3rd party free de esser plugin that I have chosen is Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP. I think it has the best interface and it is powerful. Not to mention, it sounds great. 

Getting great vocals is a vital part of being able to mix songs properly. Hopefully this article has helped you make a good decision about the right De-esser plugin for you. 

Related Articles

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Leave a Comment