If you’ve ever seen a photo of someone next to a microphone in a recording studio, then chances are that you’ve seen a pop filter appear in one of the photos. But you may be wondering, what does a pop filter do? What do they do, and are they really so necessary?
In this article, we’ll explain what a pop filter is, what they do, and whether or not they are actually necessary for the recording process!
What Is A Pop Filter?
Typically found in recording studios, a pop filter, which can sometimes be known as a pop screen or a pop shield, is a form of noise protection filter for microphones.
The usual nylon mesh pop filters will be constructed from either a singular, or sometimes multiple layers, of an acoustically semi-transparent material, usually made from a woven nylon, which is then placed into a circular frame.
Alternatively, there are metal pop filters, which use a form of meshed wire.
The pop filter is then attached to the microphone through a mounting bracket or a clamp. But it is important to note that a pop filter should never be directly attached to the microphone, as the vibrations will still be transferred through the microphone.
Sometimes, improvised pop filters can be made from items that can typically be found in most people’s houses, including things like stockings or tights over a sieve, or even an embroidery hoop.
What Does A Pop Filter Do?
You’ll often hear anybody who regularly uses a microphone in a recording studio say how handy pop filters can be against any popping sound, so if they’re so useful, what is it exactly that they do?
By using microphone pop filters, you’re able to cut out issues on both the low and high ends, which makes the editing process of a recording much easier than it would usually be, which leads to everything sounding better, whether that be an audition, a demo, and ultimately, finished work.
Some people, whether that be musicians, voice actors, or anyone recording vocals, absolutely swear by using microphone pop filters, and some would even go as far as to say that they would never record without using one!
Ultimately though, whether you use one or not is down to you and your personal preference.
Advantages Of Using Pop Filters
There are quite a few advantages to using a pop filter, some of which we’ve listed below, so that you can get a better understanding as to why they’re so commonplace in most recording studios!
- Pop filters are excellent for use when recording indoors.
- By using a pop filter, it helps to cut the issues that can occur on the low and high ends, making editing out unwanted frequencies or sound much easier than it would be without one.
- They can help to prevent the mechanical impact that popping sounds can have, which occurs when air moves fast over the microphone.
- A pop filter is also great at minimizing the noise the sound made from plosives, such as Bs and Ps, and is also good at helping to reduce the amount of sibilance heard too, which is the slight hissing noise made when you pronounce an S.
- Another fantastic feature of a pop filter is that it helps to prevent any moisture from getting onto your mic from speaking! This means that your equipment will be preserved and last longer.
As you can see then, there is absolutely no wonder why using a pop filter is something that gets prioritized by everyone involved in the recording process. For those speaking into the mic, it helps to cut back on the harshness of the plosives and sibilance.
For those editing the audio, it makes cutting out the unwanted sounds easier. And for the people who own the microphones, it means that their equipment is going to last longer too!
Things To Consider When Purchasing A Pop Filter
If it’s your first time purchasing a pop filter, then here’s a handy list of things to look out for when you’re browsing the many options available to you.
The size pop filter you choose is ultimately determined by how big your microphone is, you should aim to look for one that is a diameter that is suitable both for your microphone, and for the style of recording you plan on using it for.
As an example, if you’re someone who tends to shift themselves a lot or moves around quite frequently when recording, then your best option would be to purchase a microphone with a larger diameter.
Pop filters are available in many different shapes. A flat filter is generally more cost effective, which is great if you’re on a budget. However, this shape of pop filter will mean that you have to speak into the center of the microphone.
Alternatively, a curved filter will provide you with a great range of movement and range whilst recording, and will mean that you’re able to record from almost any angle you want to.
The mount that your pop filter comes with is another aspect that’s worth considering. Traditionally, a pop filter would feature a gooseneck mount, which would then be able to be screwed into the filter frame and clamp.
It’s vital that you check that the gooseneck mount is long enough for you to be able to attach the filter in front of the microphone properly before recording.
Are Metal Pop Filters Good?
Metal pop filters are often considered to be the best type of pop filter available, as they offer superior sound quality and durability.
A metal pop filter is less likely to break and will last longer, but it may not provide the same level of sound quality as those with a finer mesh screen.
A pop filter with a fine mesh metal screen is the best option for those looking for the best sound quality.
However, they can be more expensive than other types of pop filters, so it is important to choose one that meets your needs and budget.
Microphone Pop Filter Alternatives
If you don’t have a pop filter at hand, and need to try and mimic the effect, these should be able to help!
- Try to speak off axis to the microphone as opposed to directly next to it.
- Smile when speaking to reduce explosiveness and popping sounds.
- A pencil or pen in front of your lips helps to break the air.
To summarise, a pop filter is a popular piece of recording equipment for a reason, and is a must have for anyone who regularly records!