If you’re recording vocals, you’ll want to invest in a pop filter to avoid capturing harsh plosives in your recording.
But do you really need a pop filter? Let’s explore what plosive sounds are to determine if pop filters are really so important. Afterwards, we’ll explore some of the best pop filters for singing!
What are plosive sounds?
You’ll hear plosive sounds when you say words with the letters B and P in them. Therefore plosive sounds are popping sounds that occur naturally. As an example, say “back in black” or “bop and pop” while holding a lit candle near your mouth and you’ll notice the flame flicker.
And you’ll notice you will only heighten the sound of plosives by having your mouth too close to a microphone while recording too. Like every other sound, plosives interact with the diaphragm of your microphone and send output to your receiving DAW. Because popping sounds are a result of fast-moving air, this makes the microphone diaphragm work harder than it usually would.
No matter how extreme, recording plosives with no pop filter will lead to spikes in your audio. Additionally, extreme plosive sounds will also lead to clipping… so not good at all.
What does a pop filter do for a microphone?
A pop shield is a physical barrier that sits between your mouth and the microphone head. And by occupying this space a pop filter filters out the air that plosives send to your microphone. As a result, pop filters decrease the impact of plosive sounds that your microphone – and your recording – captures.
Furthermore, a pop filter actually cuts out issues on both the high and low end of the captured sound wave. Consequently, you can mix your vocals into your track easier. Not to mention apply edits much faster too!
Don’t forget to investigate the difference between recording both with and without a pop filter below.
How to use a pop filter
To get the best sound with your microphone and pop filter, a distance of at least 10 cm/4 inches between your mic and filter will see you through. Angling the pop filter slightly away from the microphone can also help you avoid unwanted sound reflections that can bounce between the mic head and pop screen too.
Not doing so may lead to comb filtering which will give your recording a tinny sound. You’ll notice it, especially in your sibilant sounds!
Advantages of using a pop filter
- Pop filters minimise issues both in the high and low ends (easy editing)
- Can minimise sibilance sounds in addition to plosives
- Reduces the speed of air plosive sounds cause, meaning the microphone diaphragm doesn’t need to work as hard
- Stops spittle from reaching your microphone
Things to consider when buying a mic pop filter
The size of your microphone should determine the size of your pop filter.
Look for a diameter that suits your microphone size. Additionally, if you move around a lot while recording you may want to accommodate for that too via a bigger pop filter size.
Larger pop filters usually sound more transparent than smaller ones too. This is due to how the ring holding the screen can introduce reflections. Therefore a bigger pop filter may make for easier recording too unless you want to put your audio engineering skills to the test! In line with what we were discussing earlier, keeping a smaller pop filter further away from the mic head will prevent these sound reflections!
There are a number of pop filter shapes available. However, flat pop filters are usually cheaper, but you’ll need to speak directly to the centre of the filter. On the other hand, curved pop filters, provide more range and allow you to move around more – they work from any angle.
Finally, the mount of your pop filter is worth thinking about too. The most common mount is a gooseneck mount which screws into the filter frame and the clamp. Gooseneck mounts are very flexible, but you’ll want to ensure the gooseneck is long enough for the filter to stretch across the microphone head.
There are two types of material you’ll find, and these are nylon mesh pop filters and metallic mesh pop filters.
Nylon mesh pop filters are usually the go-to choice for beginners. This is due to a number of reasons which include their inexpensive price; they’re great for minimising plosives that the microphone captures; the fact they’re the standard in the music and entertainment industries.
However, nylon mesh filters can hinder your audio and remove clarity from your high frequencies in addition to being easily breakable.
With that said, metal pop filters are usually more compact and are far more durable. Metal mesh filters also have wider holes which allow for slightly more clarity in the high frequencies.
Despite their durability, the metal sheet can be easily bent due to its thin construction. Furthermore, metal filters can develop a slight whistling sound over time.
Best pop filters for recording vocals
Now it’s time to talk about some of the best pop filters for home recording with a microphone, don’t you think?
Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
- Screen diameter: 6” (15cm)
- Neck length: 26.5” (67.3cm)
- Weight: 10 oz.
First, we have the Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL. It features a unique metal material patented by Proscreen XL, and has angled filter holes that redirect the energy down. As a result, it moves the air away from the microphone instead of blocking the plosives.
Due to its unique approach to filtering plosives, the Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL is one of the best-selling pop filters there are. In fact, few pop filters in the cheap pop filter market sell like this one. So we think it’s one of the best pop filters for recording vocals.
On-Stage ASFSS6GB Dual-Screen
- Screen diameter: 6” (15cm)
- Neck length: 11.5″ (29.21cm)
- Weight: 10.4 oz.
Two nylon mesh screens block plosive sounds. The first screen blocks blasts of air, while the gap between the two meshes disperses remaining air pressure. Then the blast is easily contained by the time it reaches the second mesh.
However, it’s known that dual-screen pop filters can block intricate details in the high frequencies. Despite this fact, the ASFSS6GB does not suffer from this problem – just check out its reviews!
Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter
- Screen diameter: 6.1″(15.5cm)
- Neck length: 14.8″ (37.5cm)
- Weight: 6.4 oz.
Earamble’s pop filter is one of the best-selling pop filters there are. Its gooseneck doesn’t move around, and it’s certainly affordable and durable.
It has a double-layered nylon mesh screen, and doesn’t dull or remove any high-frequency content.