Whether you’re a vlogger, podcaster, or musician, you’ve likely encountered various types of microphones and filters. It can be a bit overwhelming spending time and money learning how to use them. If you have a condenser microphone and have noticed disruptive sounds in your recordings, will a pop filter fix the issue?
You need a pop filter for a condenser microphone because it reduces popping sounds known as plosives. They form when you speak sharp letters, such as ‘P,’ ‘T,’ or ‘S.’ Plosives reduce the audio quality of your recordings. A pop filter disperses the sound entering a condenser mic, removing plosives.
This post will cover whether or not you should get a pop filter for your condenser microphone, what you can do without one (including a DIY solution), and several benefits of pop filters.
Does Your Condenser Microphone Need a Pop Filter?
Using a condenser mic without a pop filter can result in plosives that sound intrusive, loud, and unpleasing. Recording for an audience requires professionalism, so there’s no reason not to get a pop filter for your setup. However, if you’re on the fence and aren’t sure if a pop filter is worth the investment, ask yourself the questions below.
- Are you recording in a studio or using it on a stage? Tanner Campbell from Medium mentions people on stages don’t use pop filters. If you’re singing or talking to a live audience, you might not need a pop filter. Note that most stage performances use dynamic mics, but popping sounds can be solved by distancing yourself from the mic.
- Does the microphone have a built-in pop filter? Most condenser mics have a pop filter inside, but they’re typically not strong enough to handle loud plosives. They work very well in perfect conditions, but that assumes you have a state-of-the-art recording studio and pro-level recording skills.
- Do you have an audience, or is it for personal use? You might not need a pop filter if you’re recording a personal journal. On the other hand, those recording podcasts, songs, audiobooks, and anything else for other people would benefit from using a pop filter for their condenser mic.
- Do you notice plosives or ticks in your recording sessions? Check your recording studio’s interface and review the clip. Are their sudden sharp upticks? Do you notice letters like P, T, and S causing large distortions and extended audio graphs? If so, a pop filter is likely the sole solution to these problems.
Here’s a helpful demonstration of the difference between using a pop filter and recording without one:
Benefits of Using Pop Filters
Pop filters are found in high-end recording studios, which is why many beginners try to get them as soon as possible. Their benefits include reduced plosives, ease of use, and customization. If you’re in the market for a pop filter or want to know why so many people love and rely on them daily, here are a few reasons:
Pop Filters Protect a Condenser Mic From Distortions
According to Voices, plosives occur when sharp letters affect the microphone’s diaphragm. These minor interruptions cause massive consequences for your recording software.
Most audio production equipment is tuned to pick up as much sound as possible, especially condenser mics. They’re designed for close recording, so a pop filter will limit the intrusive sounds.
Pop Filters are Inexpensive and Beginner-Friendly
You don’t have to break the bank to get a pop filter for your condenser mic. They’re likely one of the cheapest pieces of audio equipment you’ll come across, even if you’re looking for a high-end piece of equipment. Beginners will love how easy it is to attach and use these filters immediately.
Many Pop Filters Are Adjustable
Most pop filters are ‘one size fits all,’ meaning you don’t have to worry about getting the right dimensions. They often come with an adjustable neck that lets you angle the filter in numerous directions. Musician On a Mission suggests placing the pop filter between two to six inches away.
Check out how to make a condenser mic less sensitive.
What To Do if You Don’t Have a Pop Filter
If you don’t have a pop filter for your condenser mic, you’re not out of luck. There are plenty of ways to handle this problem, including making one at home or using a pre-built pop filter.
Here’s a five-step process to follow without a pop filter:
- Consider making a DIY pop filter. Form a wire coat hanger into a circle, cover it with a thin piece of nylon (WikiHow suggests pantyhose), and attach it to your condenser mic. You can use the excess wire from the coat hanger to tie it to the base of your microphone.
- Use a shock mount to limit noise caused by shaking tables, slamming doors, and more. Shock mounts don’t prevent popping sounds, but they can reduce plosives caused by the environmental issues mentioned above. This equipment is useful for those living with roommates or near apartment neighbors.
- Get a condenser mic with a high-end built-in pop filter. We briefly mentioned some condenser microphones have pop filters, but they’re not always the best solution. However, many pro-level recording companies sell condenser mics with impressive pop filters that get the job done.
- Keep your mouth about six to twelve inches away from your condenser microphone at all times. Voices show 6 to 12 inches is the best distance for condenser mics since it naturally reduces plosives by preventing diaphragm interruption.
- Try a low-budget pop filter. The LilaLiwa Microphone Pop Filter is an excellent example of an inexpensive pop filter that gets the job done. You can adjust the neck, use it with any microphone setup, and lock it with the twisting knob on the base. For less than the cost of a dinner, you can permanently upgrade your recording setup.
- 【Double Layer Pop Filter】- LILALIWA pop filter for microphones features double layers of nylon mesh, which can efficiently reduce plosives, wind interference and saliva spraying during recording or broadcasting, and help users get a clear and loud sound.
- 【Clearer Sound】- Banish the dreaded hissing and lisping sounds that come along with pronouncing the letter "S" and blocks those ugly "plosives" that follow the sounds of "B" and "P".
- 【Adjustable Gooseneck】- The pop mesh shield has a flexible 360° gooseneck clip stabilizing arm that can support its own weight and is strong enough to hold the microphone stand.
As you can see, you can do quite a bit to make, replace, or get a new pop filter for your condenser mic. The benefits are undeniable, which is why we highly recommend trying some or all of the steps mentioned above.
Can a Windscreen Replace Your Condenser Mic’s Pop Filter?
You might’ve seen some people using windscreens to replace their pop filter. Dylan Roth of Musician On a Mission claims windscreens protect your microphone against the wind, loud breathing, and similar problems, but not spoken plosives.
You can’t expect to have the same benefits of a pop filter when using a windscreen, which leads us to the next question: Can you use a windscreen with a pop filter? Yes! You can attach a windscreen to your condenser mic, place a pop filter in front of it, and enjoy crystal-clear audio recordings.
If you’re not getting enough clear audio, you can adjust your audio interface’s gain to pull more audio from the mic. Windscreens and pop filters typically don’t reduce much of the audio since they’re quite porous. Nevertheless, it’s a smart idea to test your setup and tune it properly before starting a live recording session.
Note: Unless you’re recording outside, have a heavy-breathing guest, or loud fans and air conditioner units, you don’t need a windscreen immediately at the start of your recording journey.
For more information, check out whether you need both a pop filter and windscreen.
Pop filters have become an irreplaceable staple in the audio recording industry. They might not be popular for on-stage performances, but anyone looking to reduce plosives would benefit from a pop filter. You can upgrade your mic to have a built-in pop filter or pair it with a shock mount to limit audio interruptions, too.
- Voices: Pop Filters – What is a pop filter and Do you need one?
- YouTube: Pop Filter vs. No Pop Filter Sound Test!
- Medium: Podcasters: You do not need a pop-filter or a shockmount. Here’s why.
- Musician On a Mission: What is a Pop Filter? (EVERY singer needs this!)
- Voices: Microphone Setups – How to properly use a microphone
- WikiHow: 3 Ways to Make a Pop Filter
Last update on 2021-06-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API