Nearly every picture of an artist in a studio room features a pop filter. Make no mistake, it is not a coincidence, a pop filter is just that important. We listen to music every day and appreciate the clear voice of our favorite artists but little did we know that a pop filter had a huge part to play in the clarity within their voice.
So let’s answer –
What exactly are the benefits of a pop filter?
A pop filter is great at eliminating undesirable noise and frequencies. It is also effective at removing hissing or crackling sounds emanating from the mechanical interference of rapidly running air on the microphone. They also help to reduce plosives like Ps and Bs when recording.
Later on in this article, you will learn in detail the benefits of a pop filter, how to position it, when to use it, and if having one is truly worth the hype.
Introduction to a Pop Filter
A pop filter, also known as a pop guard or spit screen is typically used to defend a microphone from saliva, rapidly running air, and plosives. In simple terms, it is what gives clarity to vocal recordings. Without a pop filter, it’ll be difficult to make a recording without interference.
Just like how you can’t talk about light without mentioning electricity, you can’t talk about a pop guard without speaking of ‘Plosives’. Plosives are pop sounds mostly heard in the letter ‘P’ and ‘B’, and they cannot be avoided unless you stay away from the mic or don’t say the words associated with them. A typical illustration of plosives in action would be speaking directly to a lit candle. Plosive noises are what make the fire flicker.
The crackling or hissing sounds are usually intense when you’re singing or recording too close to the microphone. Using a pop guard or filter to act as a boundary between these sounds and your microphone will protect your voice and give you a clear sound.
When is the best time to use a Pop Filter?
Whenever you are recording a song or a speech, you are better of doing it with a pop guard or filter. It is highly recommended that you employ a pop guard if you’re using a microphone for any form of recording, just to be on the safer side.
No doubt, editing unwanted sounds after recording is an option, however, prevention by using a pop guard in the first place is still the best way to go.
How To Correctly Set Up a Pop Filter?
The appropriate way to set up a pop filter is to place it three fingers away from the mic, and the user’s mouth should also be three fingers away from the pop guard. Ensure the pop filter surpasses the front end of the mic capsule from the user’s mouth.
Laying it in this manner will ensure the pop filter block out all the plosives between the user’s mouth and the microphone diaphragm. It doesn’t matter where the user is standing, as long as the pop filter is properly placed and the microphone is sensitive. However, if it isn’t sensitive, the user should stay a bit closer to the pop filter so the mic catches the voice properly during the recording.
For a more detailed demonstration, watch the video below!
What are the benefits of a Pop Filter?
The fact that it prevents unwanted sounds emanating from plosives from getting to your microphone and messing up your recording is the biggest benefit you’ll ever derive from a pop filter. However, we intend to look into other astounding merits of owning a pop filter.
Here they are:
- a pop guard improves the clarity of one’s voice and saves you the trouble of editing after recording.
- Using a pop guard prevents moisture like sweat from getting on the mic.
- They remove crackling sounds induced by the mechanical interference of rapidly running air on the microphone
- Prevents corrosion: You might not know this but the salts in your saliva are corrosive, and by protecting the microphone from piling up on saliva, the pop filter is also improving the longevity of the microphone
Does a Pop Filter Reduce Background Noise?
Indeed, a pop filter does reduce background noise but it doesn’t apply to all types of background noises. There are different types of noise and a pop guard can’t handle every single one of them as it isn’t the only noise protector available. A typical example of another protector is a windscreen.
A pop guard and windscreen share certain similarities in that both devices are used to restrict different kinds of noises that can damage a recording. However, windscreens are specifically used outdoors and on stage to restrict noise emanating from breeze and breath. Pop guards on the other hand are mainly used indoors and in a studio to restrict plosive sounds.
Is a Pop filter worth it?
No doubt, a pop guard has many benefits and while you may think of many reasons not to own one, the merits of having one by far outweigh the demerits. So yes, it’s worth it. However, if push comes to shove, you can still make a good recording without a pop guard and at zero cost.
You might not know this but vocal dynamic microphones already have a pop guard installed within them and have no need for another pop guard. So, all you have to do is purchase the right microphone in the first place. Moreover, there are methods you can sing or make speeches with a microphone in a studio without employing a pop guard, not even the one in a microphone.
All you have to do is improvise, you can simply adjust your microphone via its stand and position it in a way where it’s not facing your mouth directly. Lean it backward and let it seem like you’re talking to the air or simply turn the mic upside down. It is very unlikely you get plosives into the mic if you aren’t speaking directly into it. So if you’re a risk-taker and you want to make a good audiotape at zero cost and without employing the use of any plosive-blocking-tool, this is your only play.
Also, some talented artists do not use a pop guard and instead choose to watch their P’s and B’s while recording. However, this is hard to pull off and does not make life easy for the artist and his crew. Hence, why life and audio production are easier with a pop guard than without it.
How to make a Personal Pop filter?
First, you’ll need to procure a coat hanger, pliers, clamps, and nylon tights. Then tilt your coat hanger till you form a circle and spread a pair of transparent leggings over it. The coat hanger will represent the frame while the leggings will represent the pop filter material.
Let’s have another look at the procedure, this time with more detail:
- Form a circle by tilting the coat hanger and pulling down the triangular part. Your result should be square-shaped but you must keep tilting till you get a circular shape. Use the pliers when it becomes too difficult.
- Spread your pair of leggings over the circular-shaped hanger. Ensure it’s right and looks like a drum. Then use tape to hold down the remaining slack of leggings around the hook.
- Now that you’re done. Position your filter to be only a few inches between your mic, and your mouth. The filter has to be in the middle of your mouth and the mic. If need be, clamp down the filter to its stand.
- That’s it, you’re done. Sing, speak and shout all you want facing the filter. Just make sure you’re standing inches away from it.
Like a walk in the park, you have yourself a personal pop guard. Yes, it’s a bit stressful, but at least you get to save money this way.
Also, consider checking this video:
So many people don’t seem to appreciate it enough but the ease, convenience, and simplicity that stems from using a pop guard have been a blessing to sound engineers and music producers alike. And when you think about it you’ll see that It’s no surprise the media and music industry are rapidly improving. Pop guards have taken producing tracks and speeches to a whole new level by prioritizing audio clarity above all else.
And while some people may have their doubts about the benefits of a pop guard, there is no doubt that the world today is better off with a pop guard than it used to be without it.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.