A pop filter, sometimes called a shield, is a microphone accessory that reduces the unpleasant “popping” sound when you say words with p, b, and t sounds. It’s also good for cutting down on plosives like sibilance and fricatives. Pop filters are usually made of foam or fabric stretched over a frame. They are typically placed between your mouth and the microphone to minimize wind effects or reduce background noise too!
In this post, we will explore the benefits of using a pop filter for voice recordings.
Why Do Popping Sounds Occur?
Pop sounds can be heard in many words, including ‘P and B.’ When you speak out loud, the sound of your voice will also create these popping noises. A pop shield has a dual function. It stops popping sounds from being recorded, but it also acts as a barrier to protect the microphone.
Recording anything too close to a microphone will result in uncontrollable noise, and this is true when recording vocals.
Adding windscreens or pop filters prevent your mouth from disrupting the way the mic captures sound waves. With little effort, you can keep your voice clean while still getting plenty of volume from your recordings. You might want to check out this post on 9 ways to get rid of microphone background noise.
The Problem with Plosives
A plosive sound is a pop or blast sound caused by the rapid release of air from the mouth. The plosive is created when your vocal cords close suddenly and produce such pressure that there’s nowhere for it to go except out into the atmosphere through our mouths, lips, teeth and tongue. Plosives are a very common problem in studio recordings, and it is best to avoid them as much as possible before recording. One way to avoid plosives and other unwanted noises is through the use of pop filters and proper microphone placement. By choosing the right mic placement, pop filters, and pop screen you can avoid the problem of plosive sounds. The proximity effect is what happens when the pop filter and pop screen are combined – it makes the sound of your voice more direct as you are able to get closer to the mic.
Types of Filters
Metal pop filters are the most common pop filter used in the world of audio recording. These filters are made out of metal and have a screen that is often stretched over a frame, which can be either round or square shaped. The pop filter itself sits right on top of the microphone diaphragm (a circular plate located inside your microphone). For recording vocals, you will want to have the pop filter about 16 inches in front of your mouth.
A metal pop filter was introduced in the 1970s, and from then became more common. For many years, a cloth protection over the microphone (a wind screen) was used to cut out sibilance from consonants such as “S”, “T” and “P”. Vocal pop filters and windscreens are both there to reduce plosives in both speech and singing. Although a metal filter is relatively cheap, it can still break easily.
These types of filters usually use a nylon-type material stretched across a ring. The intention is to diffuse the air away from the microphone. This prevents the windblast from striking the microphone, making the plosives reduce or stop the air from hitting it. These filters are usually circular disks and are made of nylon . Nylon pop filters also have a tendency to remove the pop sound that is caused by plosives.
Microphone pop filters are used in recording studios and on stages for vocalists. They sit directly in front of the microphone and absorb any wind blasts or breath that is directed at it.
When recording a voiceover for a project, you need to use the correct equipment. Foam windscreens protect your mic from all of that noise around them and are key in creating deep rich recordings. You can buy generic foam filters or they make specific ones just for certain microphones depending on what type of sound is needed. It’s important not only where you position yourself but how close it should be as well- about six inches away (15cm) will do the trick for blocking plosive sounds!
Can I Make My Own Shield?
Condenser microphones generally require the use of a pop filter. Most vocal dynamic microphones have these built into their cone, so you don’t need one if you’re using that type for recording your voice. (Check out my other post on pop filters for dynamic microphones?)If not and want some extra clarity on recordings when it comes time to do edits later, there are many ways to make filters cheaply like making a nylon mesh pop filter with an old sewing circle or worn out pantyhose! I have also seen them made using an old metal coat hanger, as they are easily bent to the shape you want, and then you can cover with pantyhose.
It’s not quite so easy to make one with a metal mesh, but if you have some suitable material lying around at home, why not have a go. Just makes sure the edges are rounded off, so you don’t cut yourself.
It can however be a challenge trying to attach DIY pop screens to a mic stand. You will need some kind of adjustable clamp to make sure it is secure.
Can you use a mic shield and a windscreen together?
The more material you place between the sound source and a microphone, the higher chance there is that your voice will be altered. For high frequency sounds like human voices, any physical barrier in-between can dull their clarity of sound. Often this impacts people’s performances negatively because they’re not able to perform with full force due to muffled vocals or feedback from instruments being cut off entirely when it should have been heard clearly.
To avoid these scenarios you’ll want to use as little protection for microphones as possible while still maintaining good quality audio but never do so at the risk of damaging expensive equipment! The best solution if necessary would be popping on some foam around your mic before placing it on top of an air mesh filter which works well both for keeping unwanted noise out