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What Is A Microphone Pop Filter?

What Is A Microphone Pop Filter?

A pop filter refers to a screen that serves as protection for microphones.

It’s the shield that helps lessen or totally eliminate the ‘popping’ sounds made when air moves at a fast pace through the microphone and causes a disruptive, unflattering noise.

A must have item for any home or professional studio and is contributing factor to the difference between professional and amateur recorded vocals.

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P’s & T’s

These ‘popping’ sounds crop up the most when pronouncing aspirated plosives like the ‘p’ in ‘problem’ and the ‘t’ in ‘time’. Pop filters have been designed to fix this so that the sudden loudness of the plosive does not interfere with the input capacity of the microphone.

In practical terms, the pop filter material limits the sound made by the plosive so that it does not reach the diaphragm of the microphone when recording vocals in the studio.

S’s (esses)

Although microphone pop filters diminish popping sounds, they are not so successful with regards to sibilant sounds. Sibilant sounds refer to sudden sharp bursts of air, usually accompanied by a faint frequency, heard while pronouncing letters such as; “s”, “z”, “c” and “sh”.

The way to combat this is called ‘de-essing’ which needs an explanation all of its own.


Why is a pop filter important?

 

  • Serves as a sieve. As earlier stated in this article, pop filters sieve out those disruptive plosive sounds that may spoil the vocal or voice recording and so consequently, your song.
  • Keeps moisture off the microphone. Acting like a sort of shield for the microphone, it helps to keep moisture off it and thus helps prevent mechanical faults with the microphone.
  • Protects against natural salt. Saliva contains salt and has the characteristic of being corrosive. In the course of hitting a pitch or a note you inadvertently release saliva, which thanks to the pop filter, does not reach the microphone, which increases its durability.

 


The standard pop filter that is made of layers of stretching acoustically semi-transparent materials like woven nylon over a frame and it usually comes with a clam and a flexible mounting bracket.

The metal pop filter is another type, which has a fine mesh metal screen in place of the woven nylon.

A microphone pop filter is not the same as a microphone windscreen. Microphone windscreens are typically used for outdoor recordings and on stage whilst microphone pop filters are used in recording studios. Regardless, pop filters are more acoustically transparent than windscreens.


DIY?

 

Very common in home studios and beginner mix engineer’s arsenal are DIY pop filters made out of all sorts of arrangements.

You can make one by stretching material from tights or stockings over a kitchen sieve or a loop of wire and positioning it accordingly.

One method is to simply cover the entire microphone diaphragm with a thick football sock, eliminating any possible plosives.

Pop shields should not be fixed directly to the microphone because if done so, the vibrations will be transmitted from the shield to the microphone and massively interrupt the vocal take.


Availability

 

Very easily available from most online marketplaces however if you are looking for a more specialist pop filter, we recommend this highly thought of manufacturers, who have been commended in the industry for their style, expanded functionality and reliability.

A pop filter refers to a screen that serves as protection for microphones.

It’s the shield that helps lessen or totally eliminate the ‘popping’ sounds made when air moves at a fast pace through the microphone and causes a disruptive, unflattering noise.

A must have item for any home or professional studio and is contributing factor to the difference between professional and amateur recorded vocals.

This article is focused on the two main types of microphone used for performing – the dynamic microphone and the condenser microphone. Here is a quick look at each microphone as well as their differences.

Dynamic microphones

When most people say or think of “microphones”, it is usually the dynamic style microphones that are being referred to. Often big and bulky, dynamic microphones are designed in the traditional design with a hardball shape on top which is usually made of a metal mesh.

The interior design of a dynamic mic features a spring-like part that enables it to handle high frequency sounds. Every microphone has what is called a polar pattern. This refers to the way the sound is captured and crucially which direction it is recording from. The cardioid polar pattern of the dynamic microphone makes it ideal for solo performances and individual instrument recordings.

A traditional dynamic microphone uses a cardioid polar pattern – this enables it to filter any background noise from the actual voice of the speaker (or performer) thus resulting in a sound recording with more clarity.

Condenser microphones

Compared to the dynamic microphone, condenser microphones have a higher sensitivity to sound. This is due to its omnidirectional polar pattern, a condenser microphone would pick up every sound around the recording area which makes these mics perfect for bands or artists that prefer to record their music as a live collective.

Sounds projected when using a condenser microphone are less distorted and have more natural dynamics.

The differences

Compared to dynamic microphones, the condenser microphones are a more complex option and often tend to cost a little more than dynamic microphones. Unlike dynamic microphones, which are quite durable and long lasting, a condenser microphone is adversely affected by extreme temperature and humidity level, which cause them to either fail temporarily or become distorted.

Condenser microphones often have higher recording sensitivity thus being more suited to a smoother and more natural instrument like vocals, piano or an acoustic guitar.

Final thoughts

Both the condenser and dynamic microphones are essential tools for sound recording. Deciding which mic is most suitable for your recording is dependent on not just the sound source or sound reinforcement system but also on the physical setting where the mic is placed

A dynamic mic is more suitable for environments like clubs or for places requiring outdoor sound. A condenser mic, on the other hand, is best for a more controlled environment like a concert hall or theatre.

Most producers and artists who want the highest level of sound quality prefer a condenser microphone due to its response to natural acoustic instruments, which are played with human feeling through dynamic shifts in volume.

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