Help For A Noisy Sibilant “S”

Help For A Noisy Sibilant “S”

Many people have problems with an overly sibilant “S” that hisses or whistles in a distracting manner. A hissing “s” can be especially troublesome for voiceover artists when a sensitive microphone picks up every nuance of your speech. Sibilance that may barely be noticeable in casual conversation can become a real issue in the recording studio.

Minimizing sibilance takes a two-step approach. The first step happens in the recording studio. The second step involves some easy exercises you can do at home. Doing these exercises on a regular basis will strengthen the muscles that produce the letter “s” and minimize the problem

Here’s my prescription for minimizing a noisy S:


Sibillance is such a common problem that there is actually a piece of studio equipment that minimizes it. It’s called a D-Esser. A D-Esser is helpful for light to moderate sibilance, but its not a miracle device or substitute for good voice control .


An experienced recording engineer will know how to position the microphone to minimize sibilance. Generally speaking the closer you are to the mic, the more noticeable your sibilance.


Gaps in the teeth or ill-fitting dentures, bridges or braces can contribute to a whistling “S”. Sometimes a few minor adjustments or some cosmetic dentistry to minimize the gaps can improve the situation.


An imperfectly shaped mouth or tongue can affect the sound of your “s,”and because few of us are perfectly shaped anyway, it’s likely you will have to learn to make some adjustments to compensate for the shape of your particular mouth. Just as you need a work-out program to keep your body in shape, many successful voice actors follow a work-out program for their speech muscles


Strengthen the tongue by working the “S” and “T” sound together. Repeat these word pairs slowly.
Stage/space Stable/spade Staff/spat Stagger/span Stair/spill


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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit

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