The short answer to what does a pop filter do is that it stops plosive consonants from ruining your vocal recordings. In this blog post, we will discuss what a pop filter is and how to use it in the studio.
What Is A Pop Filter?
A pop filter is a type of screen that is placed in front of the microphone. It is designed to stop the sound of plosive consonants from ruining your vocal recordings. Plosives are caused by air pressure from the mouth, which can create unwanted noise in your recordings or “pops”.
Consonants like “p” or “t” for example create a burst of air. Laughing also can overload a mic as there is more air pressure when we laugh.
What Does A Pop Filter Do?
The pop filter helps to reduce plosive noise by diffusing the forced air through the screen. The consonant is still audible but the air pressure is less to reduce the pressure on the diaphragm of the mic.
A side benefit to the pop filter is that it protects the mic from our spit. Saliva from our mouths can wreak havoc on microphones over time. Anything we can do to protect our mics is good, especially when we don’t have the budget to replace mics.
The last thing that a pop filter does is to create a marker for the distance that you want the singer to be from your mic. Most pop filters come with a gooseneck attached so that you can place them wherever you like.
How To Use A Pop Filter In The Studio
You can use a pop filter in the studio when recording vocals, or any other sound that could potentially create plosives. It is a good idea to use a pop filter on most condenser mics, as they are more sensitive to this type of noise. However, if you are using a dynamic mic it may not be necessary. Dynamic mics are less sensitive and often have pop filters built-in.
There are a few different ways to use a pop filter in the studio. One way is to have the pop filter attached to something beside the mic stand, like in the photo below.
You can also attach the pop filter to the microphone, as shown in this photo:
Another option is to mount the pop filter on a boom arm, like this:
The key is to make sure that the pop filter is always between your mouth and the microphone. This will help to reduce unwanted noise and improve your vocal recordings.
Use the pop filter to determine the distance that a singer is from the microphone. You want to keep the singer between 4 to 8 inches from the mic. Any more than that and you will have to increase the gain of the mic. Increasing the gain of the mic can introduce more room noise into your recording and if your room is not perfect this noise will be unwanted.
Do I Really Need A Pop Filter?
Short answer…Yes. If you are using a condenser mic in your studio then you should use a pop filter. Even if you’re not recording vocals, a pop filter can help to reduce noise and improve the overall quality of your recordings.
Remember the benefits: it reduces plosives, stops spit from ruining your mic, and creates a distance marker for your singers. All those reasons add up to a pop filter being a great addition to your studio.
Some Great Pop Filter Options
There are many options out there for pop filters. Here are a few that I like and have chosen for myself.
sE Electronics – Pro Metal Pop Filter
The sE Electronics – Pro Metal Pop Filter is a great pop filter for those of you who want something durable. The metal mesh is designed to stop any spit or other particles from ruining your mic. It’s also adjustable so that you can get it in the right spot for optimal performance.
The screen is covered in a metal mesh that has a somewhat curved form to redirect low-frequency air blasts to the side of the screen. This method does not reduce high frequencies (as cloth screens can) and leaves the vocal performance untouched, minus any disruptive low frequency “pops.”
Gator Cases GM-POP FILTER
The GM-POP FILTER is a double-layered filter that clamps onto most common mic shafts and booms with an adjustable C-clamp. Gator’s 6″ nylon screen reduces wind noise and plosives considerably.
This is a great option for getting into a reasonably priced pop filter that is going to last.
Much like the GM-POP Filter, the Auphonix MPF-1 has a dual-layer mesh filter for reducing plosives and loud bursts of air. The filter has a solid gooseneck so it can be placed anywhere you like. It also has a c-clamp for easy installation on any mic stand.
This is a much better price option for the budget-conscious producer.
So what does a pop filter do? It’s pretty simple. A pop filter is used to reduce the amount of plosives and wind noise that can enter into a microphone. This is especially important in the studio, where you want to achieve the cleanest signal possible.
Pop filters are generally inexpensive but they can save you a lot of post-production work trying to remove those unwanted sounds. If you want to know more about what equipment is necessary for starting your home studio, check out our article on the essential equipment for home studios.