If you have an Audio Technica AT2020 condenser microphone, then you may have wondered whether it really needs a pop filter.
And yes, you do need a pop filter for your AT2020, especially if you are using the mic for live streaming, recording Youtube videos, podcasting, or outdoor videos.
In this article, we find out what a microphone pop filter is, what you need it for, and when you should use one.
We’ll also take a look at two different AT2020 pop filter options that you can use for your microphone, and alternatives if you don’t have a pop filter.
What Is A Pop Filter?
A microphone pop filter is a small piece that sits between your microphone and your mouth. It protects the mic from so-called plosives.
These plosives happen when you speak words with the letters B or P into the microphone. They can overpower the diaphragm and create an almost static noise (see also ‘How To Fix Mic Static‘) for a few milliseconds.
The best way to visualize the purpose of a pop microphone filter is when you compare it to a faucet screen.
When you hold your hands under the faucet without a screen, then the water falls onto your hands at speed without any filter.
This is even worse when you aim a hose pipe at your hand and the water hits your hand full force.
The screen on your faucet makes the water feel much softer.
Exactly the same happens with sound coming out of your mouth. If you do not use a pop filter, the sound hits the microphone and distorts the sound.
But with a pop filter between your microphone and your mouth, the sound is softened and the sound quality improves.
This is especially important when you need excellent sound quality, such as during studio recordings.
Advantages Of A Pop Filter
There are many advantages of using a pop filter, including:
1. Reducing popping sounds: A pop filter helps to reduce popping sounds caused by the mechanical impact of fast-moving air on the microphone diaphragm. This is especially important when recording vocals, as pops can be very distracting and ruin an otherwise good take.
2. Protecting your microphone: A pop filter also helps to protect your microphone from damage caused by the impact of fast-moving air. This is because the filter absorbs some of the energy from the impact, which would otherwise be transferred to the microphone.
3. Improving sound quality: In addition to reducing pops and protecting your microphone, a pop filter can also help to improve the overall sound quality of your recordings. This is because it helps to create a more controlled environment around the microphone, which leads to less background noise and a more focused sound.
4. Easy to use: Pop filters are very easy to use and can be attached to any microphone without any special adapters or mounts. They are also relatively inexpensive, so they are a great option for budget-conscious recording enthusiasts.
5. Compact and portable: Pop filters are very compact and can easily be transported from one location to another. This makes them ideal for recording on the go or in small spaces.
6. Versatile: Pop filters can be used for a variety of applications, including vocals, instruments, and even gaming.
Pop Filter Options For Your AT2020 Microphone
As a rule of thumb, there are two good types of pop filters that work very well with the AT2020.
External Pop Filters
External pop filters are essentially external screens that you put between your mouth and the microphone.
Foam Windscreen Filters
One of the easiest pop filter options for plosives on your AT2020 is a slip-on foam windscreen.
This is one of the easiest options to attach to your microphone, and you don’t need to adjust it.
Another big advantage of microphone foam covers is that they look a lot nicer when you are doing live streaming or video podcasts.
The large disc of an external pop filter means your face is often covered, no matter how you position it. Plus, it is a big distraction for the presenter.
External pop filters do not just look unsightly but they can also feel uncomfortable for the presenter, especially when you are doing longer recordings.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to get a foam windscreen for your microphone. Just pop it on and you are ready to go.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Pop Filter
When choosing a pop filter, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. The type of microphone you are using: Some microphones are more sensitive than others and may require a different type of pop filter. For example, a condenser microphone is more sensitive than a dynamic microphone and will require a lighter, more diffuse pop filter. (Also see, “Best Condenser Mic“)
2. The size of the filter: Pop filters come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to choose one that is appropriate for your microphone. If the filter is too small, it won’t do a good job of diffusing the sound; if it’s too large, it will block out too much sound and affect the quality of your recordings.
3. The material of the filter: Pop filters are typically made of nylon, polyester, or metal. Each type of material has its own advantages and disadvantages.
4. The price: Pop filters range in price from a few dollars to over $100. In general, the more expensive models will offer better sound quality and durability. However, there are some great budget-friendly options available if you’re on a tight budget.
5. The warranty: Some pop filters come with a warranty, while others do not. If you’re planning on using your pop filter regularly, it’s worth considering one that comes with a warranty in case it needs to be replaced due to wear and tear.
What Can You Use Instead Of A Pop Filter For Your Audio Technica AT2020?
Pop filters aren’t always cheap and you may be in a rush for a quicker solution. There are a few options to improve audio quality by minimizing plosives with your AT2020.
Adjust The Microphone
One way to avoid plosives is by moving the microphone away from the front of your mouth during vocal recording. Position the mic to the side and then angle it towards you.
This means that most of the air coming from your mouth will be projected away from the microphone’s diaphragm.
Make Your Own DIY Pop Filter
If you have a little bit more time, then you can also make a pop filter for your microphone yourself.
Just bend a metal coat hanger into the shape of a circle and stretch some nylon pantyhose over the coat hanger.
This may be a simple solution but these two materials make a surprisingly good pop filter.
How To Effectively Position A Pop Filter
In order to get the most out of your mic’s pop filter, you will need to position it in the right way.
As a rule of thumb, place the pop filter one hand length away from the microphone
The pop filter (see also ‘Homemade Pop Filter‘) should cover the front of the microphone and protect it from the airflow coming from the speaker’s mouth.
This way, the pop filter can filter out any plosives between the microphone diaphragm and the speaker’s mouth.
There is no hard and fast rule where the performer should sit as this can vary depending on the voice work.
As long as the pop filter is correctly placed between the microphone capsule and the performer’s mouth, the performer’s position doesn’t matter.
When Should You Use A Pop Filter?
Pop filters are typically used in recording studios when microphones capture speech and vocals.
It’s very common to use a pop filter (see also our review of the Blue Yeti pop filter) in front of any type of microphone and for any type of voice work.
This is essential to prevent any plosives from appearing in the recorded sound.
Any of these unintentional sounds have to be cut out at a later stage, so a pop filter can reduce the audio editing time significantly.
Saying this, opinions on pop filters vary. Some people believe that all microphones should have a pop filter, while others only recommend them for specific microphones.
Generally, pop filters are used where there is a greater risk of wind or gust. This is not just from the performer’s mouth but also for instruments.
Instruments such as drums or horns produce a surprising amount of wind, and some sound engineers think that a pop filter helps to create a better sound in these situations.
For gusts and wind in the air, such as near the coast or in high places, it’s better to use windscreens rather than pop filters as they cover the full microphone capsule.
Related Equipment You Need With Your Audio Technica AT2020 Pop Filter
If you’re planning on recording vocals or recording with musical instruments, there are a few other pieces of equipment you’ll need in addition to your pop filter:
1. Microphone: Of course, you’ll need a microphone to record your audio. If you don’t already have one, we recommend the Audio-Technica AT2020. It’s an affordable option that offers great sound quality (Also see, “What Is The Best Dynamic Microphone For Vocals“).
2. Microphone stand: You’ll need a stand to hold your microphone in place while you’re recording. There are a variety of different types of mic stands available, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate for your needs. (Also see, “Best Podcast Mic Stands“)
3. Shock mount: A shock mount is a device that attaches to your microphone stand and helps reduce the amount of handling noise that is transferred to your microphone. This is especially important if you’re recording in a less-than-ideal environment.
4. Audio interface: If you’re planning on recording directly to your computer, you’ll need an audio interface. This will allow you to connect your microphone to your computer so you can record digitally.
5. Recording software: You’ll also need some sort of recording software to actually capture your audio. There are a variety of different options available, both free and paid. Be sure to choose one that is compatible with your audio interface. (Also see, “Best Podcast Recording Software“)
6. Headphones: Headphones are essential for monitoring your recordings while you’re in the process of making them. This way, you can hear any mistakes and make adjustments as needed.
7. Boom arm: If you’re using a microphone stand, you may also want to consider a boom arm. This will allow you to position your microphone closer to your mouth, which can be helpful in reducing background noise. (Also see, “Best Microphone Boom Arm“)
It’s a good idea to have an AT2020 pop filter for your condenser mic to get the best sound quality from your microphone.
There is a range of different pop filters available but we found foam windscreen filters the most practical solution.