5 Best Pop Filters: Sonic Screens for Microphones
By Mason Hoberg
Hard consonant sounds are the bane of a vocalist’s existence. An outrageous number of vocal tracks have been ruined by the signature pop of a P, C or T sound. Don’t let this be you! It’s so easy to avoid, and in the long run it really will not cost you much money at all.
That’s right folks, today we’re talking about pop filters. This article will give you all the information that you need to choose the best pop filter for your microphone, as well as give you five great recommendations to aid you in your search!
- Why Do I Need A Pop Filter?
- How To Use A Pop Filter
- Top Five Pop Filters
Why Do I Need A Pop Filter?
Simply put, a pop filter disperses air and sound across a wider surface area. Hard consonant sounds direct a lot of volume and air forward, which can overdrive your recording device leading to an unpleasant pop. That’s why if you ever see a video of someone recording a vocal track in a studio they always have those circular see-through discs between their mouth and the microphone. Pop filters are also widely used by content creators - podcasters, YouTube producers, Twitch streamers, and anyone else who speaks into a microphone for extended periods of time and needs to tame those harsh plosives.
However, pop filters are not a cure-all. You still need to use proper technique when you sing. Pop filters help, they do not always completely solve your problems. They’re a valuable asset, but if you’ve had difficulty with hard sounds or popping noises it’s likely that there’s a problem with your speaking or singing technique.
Pop filters also help keep spit off of microphones, which I’m sure most recording engineers appreciate. Like most bodily fluids, spit is pretty rough on most musical equipment. It can lead to mold growth or even corrode microphones.
How To Use A Pop Filter
Pop filters are really simple. You just adjust the tension mechanism so that it fits snugly on your microphone stand, then you simply place the circular portion of the pop filter between your vocalist’s mouth and the microphone. It’s generally advised to leave two or three inches of space between the pop filter and the microphone, but it’s best to work out your technique based off of trial and error with your recording rig. There’s a bit of variance with how different methods will react with pop filters, so you really can’t be sure until you try. A good shortcut is browsing some forums and blogs dedicated to recording as they’ll give you some universal tips that’ll help you get the most out of your equipment. Pop filters are really simple pieces of gear. In fact, some of the highest rated pop filters on the market come in as a very high value at around $20.
The only thing we would really recommend is that you consider getting a pop filter with an adjustable arm as opposed to a fixed position model. Pop filters with flexible arms are handy because you can swing them around depending on the position your singing from and the dimensions of the mic.
Top Five Pop Filters
Neewer NW B-3 6 inch Studio Microphone Mic Round Shape Wind Pop Filter
Neewer was founded in 2010, and since its inception has focused on providing customers with a high-quality, affordable option for a wide variety of different needs. The company actually focuses more on photography, but they do have a few non-photography focused products. A notable example of which would be the subject of today’s review.
Neewer is unique in that it focuses on listening to their consumers. The company’s ethos is focused on filling the needs and concerns of their customers, and they focus their R&D and pricing on this model. This is incredibly beneficial to the consumer, because it makes the company one of the few who truly try to ensure that their customers are satisfied with their product for its own sake; as opposed to others who are purely chasing profit.
Given the company’s dedication to pleasing their customers, it would stand to reason that the Neewer pop filter is a great option for any musician. But the thing is: how does it stand up to its competition.
The hard thing about reviewing a pop filter is that it’s such a cheap and easily made product. You can literally make one out of a clothes hanger and pair of old pantyhose, so it’s not like a guitar where we can break down the features and how they compare to the competition. So considering this, pop filters are more of a matter of cost and materials than anything.
As a side note, for those of you who aren’t completely sure what a pop filter does it’s actually pretty simple. Essentially it helps to reduce the natural volume peaks of harsh consonants. For example, say the word “pop”. You notice how the “p” seams much louder and more clear than the following sound? Well, this phenomenon can cause a sharp peak when recording. This can lead to unpleasant distortion or a non-musical peak in volume. This is why pop filters are so widely utilized. They help to normalize the volume difference between sharp consonant sounds and softer ones. They do this by dispersing the air before it gets to your recording device, so pop filters do this without negatively impacting other aspects of your sound.
The two most important features of a pop filter are a flexible gooseneck and a tightening mechanism which allows a variable level of grip on a surface. The gooseneck allows the pop filter to be strategically positioned to allow the singer to sing comfortably, and the adjustable tightening mechanism allows the pop filter to work with a variety of different surfaces.
Lastly, in regards to this pop filter in particular it is double layered. What this means is that there’s two layers of material to disperse air, which increases the total amount of air that’s dispersed. This feature is a nice inclusion, because it helps to reduce musical peaks to a much higher degree than that of a single layered model.
This pop filter utilizes a durable mesh. While pop filters are a pretty durable piece of equipment overall this is a nice thing to have, as it means that the pop filter is likely going to last for as long as you want to use it (so long as you don’t treat it with unnecessary roughness). The pop filter’s tightening mechanism is incredibly secure, which helps to reduce the chance of distracting slips or a long set-up process.
Lastly, for the price these pop filters are a very good value. This filter is roughly the price of a cup of coffee, so why would you hesitate to buy these at this price? It’s something that everyone recording audio needs to have, and these pop filters are definitely going to do as well as any others.
Even given the fact that you have a lot of different pop filter options available to you, you definitely can’t go wrong with these. They will perform just as well as any other model, and they’re a great value too!
Nady MPF-6 Clamp On Microphone Pop Filter
There are too few companies today who truly focus on innovation. One of the more notable exceptions, Nady has been providing both innovative and affordable pieces of equipment for musicians the world over. They actually developed the world’s first professional head mic, the first wireless guitar amplification systems, and the world’s first wireless system that retailed for under $200.
Nady is also a company for musicians by musicians. This gives the company a real life perspective that many companies just can’t match. There’s no equivalent to actually gigging and playing when you are looking to design equipment for musicians, which gives Nady products a solid leg up on the competition. As proof, Nady has even been recognized by both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as well as by the Emmy commission for their outstanding technical achievements.
Among the company’s many achievements, they’ve also produced a killer pop filter. The question is: How does it stack up to the competition.
Almost all pop filters are essentially the same in regards to materials and design, which is why they’re all so cheap. Generally what you pay for when you buy a nicer pop filter is a higher-quality product made from more durable materials.
The two most important features in a pop filter are a flexible goose neck and a adjustable clamp. The flexible goose neck allows more flexibility in how you position the pop filter, which in turn allows your singer more options in how they approach the mic. An added bonus with this pop filter is the swivel head, which allows the mesh screen to be angled. This just increases the overall flexibility of the pop filter. The microphone stand is important because it allows you to clamp on to your microphone, so it’s also important that it has a wide enough range of motion to be able to clamp onto different stands. The mechanism also needs to be sturdy enough to not slip off at inopportune times, an occurrence which can be incredibly disruptive to the recording process.
The windscreen itself is also made from a durable mesh, which while pop filters generally don’t see a lot of abuse it is a nice inclusion none the less. The extra durability just adds to your peace of mind when you purchase this pop filter. The windscreen is also double layered, which helps to increase air dispersion from sharp consonant sounds.
The general consensus of the pop filter is that it fulfills its intended purpose as well as could be expected. One con is that the clamp assembly feels a bit heavy, which while that may not be ideal it does speak to the durability of the materials involved. Another con that is that the goose neck is a bit too flexible, though this is more of a petty concern than anything because you are able to still position the pop filter without having to worry about it moving while it’s in use.
The product also has a good price to quality ratio. The pop filter itself is well made and sturdy. You’re not likely to need another for several years, if ever. There are cheaper pop filters available, though the case could be made that they’re not as rugged as this one. So if you intend to use this pop filter consistently it would be a worthy investment, especially if you’re recording a variety of different singers (other musicians can tend to be a bit rough on equipment that they don’t own).
The Nady pop filter is just as well made as any other pop filter on the market and is great for everyday use.
Auphonix 6-inch Pop Filter
The worst part about pop filters is that they aren’t really a well-respected piece of equipment. Like gig bags they’re something that just about every company sticks their name on, with many not actually considering whether or not they’re delivering the best quality product they can to their customers.
While they may not be very complicated pieces of equipment, if someone is buying something from you you should have enough respect to for them that you give them as much quality as you can for their dollar. You should invest in making sure that you’re using high-quality materials that will hold up to the rigors of consistent use, and you shouldn’t put your name on a product that you’re not proud of.
Thankfully, there’s Auphonix. They’re actually one of the few companies that produce pop filters exclusively, which explains why they’re pop filters are significantly better than the vast majority of their competition. No exception to the trend, the Auphonis 6-inch pop filter provides a great value to any musician.
If you’re serious about making music with a professional level of sound quality you’re going to want every piece of equipment you can get your hands on that’ll give you a leg up. Pop filters work to reduce “splosions”, which are sharp bursts of air that follow harsher consonant sounds. Pop filters work to disperse the air, so that your consonant sounds don’t lead to unpleasant audio artifacts.
This pop filter features a double layer of mesh, which helps to almost completely eliminate the occurrence of splosions. A double mesh design is also inherently more durable than a single layer design, which will no doubt help to increase your peace of mind when using the product.
The pop filter also comes with a flexible gooseneck which allows you to maneuver the pop filter into the best possible position. Your singer is sure to appreciate this, as it allows him or her to sing in the most comfortable position possible. The gooseneck is also designed to fully support the weight of the mesh screen, which helps to make sure that positioning the pop filter is a breeze.
The Auphonix also comes with an adjustable tightening mechanism, which makes attaching the filter to a mic screen a snap. The mechanism itself is also capable of securing to the mic stand very tightly, which will help to reduce the likelihood of distracting slippage.
Some express disappointment that the pop filter won’t attach to flat surfaces, though that’s just how the product is designed as opposed to a flaw.
The Auphonix pop filter also does pack in a lot of quality for its price. It comes with a 12 month money back guarantee, so if you’re on the fence about the product you can return it if you’re not pleased with the design. Auphonix also bundles an Ebook chock full of recording tips and techniques if you purchase the pop filter. This is especially helpful if you’re just starting out, because the Ebook may contain information that you’re not already aware of.
The only con that we can see with the product is that it’s a bit more expensive than other pop filters available. However, considering the fact that it’s not a very significant price difference, the included Ebook, and the features of the design we would still consider it a worthy purchase.
If you’re looking for a great pop filter you definitely can’t go wrong with buying one that’s made by one of the few companies who actually specialize in the product. It may be a bit more expensive than some of its competition, but its durability and the included Ebook goes a long way towards making up for it.
Mudder Recording Studio Microphone Windscreen Pop Filter
The worst part about being involved with music is that there are so many different products available. Finding the best buy for your situation is like trying to find a needle in a needle stack. There are so many great products available at a variety of different products, and it’s never clear which one is objectively the best.
The harsh reality of the situation is that there is no perfect answer for everyone’s needs. Some of you may be perfectly content with a bottom of the bin pop filter, while some of you may require a pop filter made for everyday use.
While we can’t say that it’s going to be the best option for you, we can tell you that the Mudder Recording Studio Microphone Windscreen Pop Filter has a host of great features, and it’s pretty affordable all things consider. To learn more about this product, and to figure out whether or not it’s going to be a good fit for you, read the sections below! If you’re just doing a quick comparison between this pop filter and another one on our list, check out the “In Conclusion” section for a quick summary of the pop filter.
The most notable feature of this pop filter is that it’s obviously curved. This design is intended to provide more coverage for studio microphones, which record sound from a wider range. This is incredibly important when using sensitive mics, as the more standard circle design may not provide a wide enough range of protection.
One thing to consider with this pop filter is that you’re going to need to check its dimensions against that of the mic you intend to use it on, because it would be pretty unfortunate to purchase it only to find out that it’s not going to work with your mic.
The Mudder pop filter also features a double mesh design. The great thing about this design is that it’s both more durable than a single mesh design and it helps to reduce the veracity of splosions (the increased volume that occurs when a singer utilizes harsh consonant sounds).
Something to note about this pop filter is that it does utilize plastic for the construction of its body. This isn’t really a pro or a con, it’s just something to be aware of. It’s going to be less durable that it would be if it was made out of metal, but it’s also going to be significantly lighter. So if you’re hard on your equipment this may not be the best choice in the world. Same thing holds true if you find yourself consistently having to set up and tear down your equipment. However, if you generally leave your equipment where it is you’re likely not going to have any issues.
One of the most important things to keep in mind about this pop filter is that it does have a weaker splosive filtering when compared to a more standard design. However, it does also have more coverage overall. So it well work will if you back off the mic and turn up the gain, though this may not work with cheaper microphones that don’t handle extra gain well. It will function well in the right situation, but to truly get the most out of it you’re likely going to have to invest in a mic that can handle having the gain pushed up.
The Mudder Recording Studio Microphone Windscreen Pop Filter does offer a lot of utility to musicians provided that they’re in a situation where they can take advantage of it. You’ll have to turn up the gain to reduce the occurrence of splosives, so if you’re using a lower quality mic you may not be able to turn up the gain high enough to get a good sound without introducing splosives into your sound.
Sterling Audio STPF2 Professional Mesh Pop Filter
Sterling Audio is a well-respected name in the audio engineering sphere, having built a reputation for consistently delivering quality products. The company has established itself as one of the premier manufacturers of equipment in its chosen niche, selling everything from microphones to pop filters.
The most important thing about this pop filter is that it has a double mesh screen. A double mesh screen helps to increase the amount of splosive reduction. In case you’re coming from offsite just to read this review, splosives are a phenomenon that occurs when you use a harsher consonant sound while vocalizing. These harsh consonants come with an increase in both volume and airflow, which can cause track ruining artifacts. Essentially, they are very bad and can cause huge amounts of frustration if you don’t have a pop filter.
Another important feature of a pop filter is a gooseneck. A gooseneck is a flexible arm for the pop filter that allows for more flexibility when positioning the pop filter. This may not seem like a big deal, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of frustration a non-cooperative neck can during the recording process. This is why it’s essentially an industry standard feature at this point, because without the gooseneck there would be significantly more elbow grease and time involved in properly setting up a pop filter.
Lastly, you need to make sure that the mechanism that attaches the pop filter to the mic stand is able to attach tightly enough that it won’t slip off mid-recording. Thankfully, most pop filters don’t struggle too much in this area; the Sterling Audio STPF2 Professional Pop Filter is no exception to this general trend.
An interesting feature of the pop filter is that the packaging is very easy to open, which while this isn’t going to make any difference on the recording process it is a nice inclusion none the less.
As far as the price is concerned, the Sterling Audio pop filter is a tad bit expensive compared to other products available. However, it’s not a significant price difference and Sterling Audio STPF2 Professional Pop Filter is made from high quality materials and is definitely capable of holding up the rigors of everyday use.
While this pop filter may be a bit more expensive than some of its competition, it is a quality piece of equipment. It’s also not so expensive that the price is unreasonable considering the materials utilized. While it’s a relatively small feature, the hassle-free packaging is a nice touch. No one likes having to break out a set of hedge clippers to open that hard plastic shell packaging, so having hassle-free packaging is a worthy inclusion.
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