There are many microphone accessories that can help you improve your sound quality, but two of the most popular are pop filters and windscreens. The purpose of a pop filter is to reduce plosives (sounds like P) by absorbing them before they reach the microphone diaphragm. Windscreens work similarly, but for sounds like W or S. These two products have different features and functions depending on where you’re using them; we’ll explore each below and the difference between them.
Pop Filter for getting rid of popping sounds
The pop filter looks like a big lollypop, it is round in shape, usually about 5 inches in diameter, and attaches to a microphone stand with its flexible clamp. Its mesh can be made out of metal or woven nylon stretched over the frame. It works pretty well when breaking air blast from your mouth that would reach the mic and cause a prominent pop during strong plosives, or high hissing sounds caused by sibilances. The pop filter will also have a foam front on it that can be removed for cleaning. The foam material works by absorbing some of the air blasts as it hits and will help dampen the sound and reduce pop sounds.
One way to use the pop filter is by placing it at least two inches away from your mouth (or three if you are singing).
Mic windscreen is usually made of foam or synthetic fur. Both variants cover the entire microphone and perfectly protect it from all sides. Synthetic fur is a bit better for outside use, especially for windy conditions, while the foam version is used more frequently for inside. Mostly because of its design, honestly, the fur windscreen looks a bit weird. While the foam covers are aesthetically pleasing in comparison to models with fur, they are not as effective in some cases.
Wind noise can be a real pain when doing outdoor recording. When you have a wind blowing on a microphone, it will pick up the wind noise and you’ll end up with that sound in your recording. The foam filters are much more effective when used outside because they cover the microphone from all sides whereas fur models often have gaps that allow some of the wind to get through them.
That’s why you will use the windscreen (foam pop filter, foam windscreen) for outdoor use. Why? So just imagine a big lollipop in front of your microphone while recording someone (or something).
Also, the pop filter can protect against unwanted noise on one side only, while the windscreen protects the microphone entirely. In windy conditions, a foam windscreen will certainly be a better choice for your recordings. Of course, it is not necessary to use the windscreen only outside. You can use it in the studio as well.
In the Recording Studio
There is no professional recording studio or even a home studio where you will not be able to see a pop filter attached to a microphone stand. Unwanted noises such as pop noises as well as those “s” in higher frequencies will be minimized while you’re recording vocals with it.
Condenser microphones are well known for their sensitivity and clarity. Therefore, a pop filter is a mandatory part of the equipment when recording vocals. Pop filters, known as pop screens, can also serve as a kind of limiter, with the help of which you will always speak/sing into your microphone from the same distance, which is extremely useful for post-production.
Whichever of these two products you have and use, you will not go wrong. If you decide to use both at the same time, why not? As long as it gets the job done, go for it.