The basic function of a pop filter is to disrupt or divert the air made by the P or B sound hitting the microphone.
There are a few different types of pop filters that work in different ways however they all are designed to dampen the impact of the excessive air flow that is caused when the voice pops. Some are designed with a fabric that resembles a nylon stocking to diffuse or reduce the air flow while allowing the pronounced sound to get through to the mic.
Some achieve this affect by having more than one layer of such fabric. Some metallic pop filters are designed to change the direction of the abrupt air flow and divert the wind created away from the microphone. To understand more about how a pop filter works we need to look at the physics of a microphone.
Have a close look at some of the most ordered pop filters on Amazon.com and how they differ. Orders over $25 may qualify for free delivery in the US.
1. Nady MPF-6 6-Inch Clamp On Microphone Pop Filter
2. Musician’s Gear Pop Filter, 6″ Great Low Price
3. OMNITRONICS EPF-15A Mic Pop Filter by CAD
4. Blue Microphones The Pop Universal Pop Filter
5. Nady SSPF-4 Mic Pop Filter with Shock Mount
6. Musician´s Gear Double Pop Filter, 6″
7. Gator Cases 6″ 2 Layers, split level “pop” filter
8. Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL – Black
9. Stedman PS101
The Shure Popper Stopper Pop Filter
The PS-6 Popper Stopper pop filter is a tried and tested industry favorite for eliminating voice plosives. The filter itself is a 6-inch nylon filter and has a four-layered screen fitted. The gooseneck is 14 inches long which sits on a 4-inch base clamp.
The clamp itself is universal and will easily fit on most booms, microphone stands and desk stands, by simply screwing into place. It does its job admirably in eliminating both breathing and plosive sounds.
The goose-neck itself is quite flexible, and given its ample length, it can be fitted to the mic stand in two distinct ways. It can be fitted to reach up from under the mic, or it can be fitted with the pop filter hanging over the mic.
This second configuration, it avoids clumsy hands for artists that are used to holding onto the mic stand.
All round the PS-06 Popper stopper is a solid performer. It has a professional look and feel which is handy for use in video productions such as video podcasts.
The company has been about for years and offers good support on all its products and their staff are quick to respond on their websites. Again, I have reservations recommending a nylon pop filter that will be used by various performers as in a studio setting.
For home recordings, podcasts and voice-overs, the Popper Stopper is more than you will need.
The PS-6 Popper Stopper, like almost all nylon pop filters, is better suited to situations where only one person will be using the filter.
Being a nylon filter, hygiene becomes an issue when it is to be used by various people. Of course, it can be easily washed with warm water in between sessions, but this will wear it down. With frequent use and daily washing routine its studio life can be less than one year.
In studio type settings where multiple people will be using the same mic, it may be best to look at a metal mesh pop filter. With all this, if the filter is to be used by the same person and is washed weekly, the filters life can be extended to a few years.
VO: 1-A-PF Metal Mesh Pop Filter
Part of the Harlan Hogan Signature Series, this pop filter is ideally suited to the VO:1-A condenser microphone popularly used in voice overs. The clamp is a precise fit for the 1-A and its size should be noted before purchase for use with different microphones.
Unlike other pop filters that are designed to be attached to the microphone stand, this one clamps onto the microphone handle or body. The VO:1-A microphone has a diameter of 1.85 inches or approximately 47mm.
The Vo: A-1 Microphone
The VO: 1-A Harlan Hogan Signature Series Microphone itself is based on the MXL 2006 series where you can check out its output on the owner’s manual. Being a cardioid condenser microphone a pop shield or foam windshield is an essential extra and that’s why this filter was designed. The filter is also suitable for the MXL 2006 series microphone which shares the same dimensions.
Other metal mesh or nylon pop filters that attach themselves onto the boom or mic stand can also be used. Make sure to check the length and flexibility of the gooseneck for a desirable fit.
If the VO: 1-A-PF Metal Mesh Pop Filter is ideal in video production as its stylish looks invoke memories of the Abbey Road Studio recordings with The Beatles. It has a classy polished metal finish which you would expect in such a professional tool.
Durability and ease of cleaning are standard features for any metal filter.
Microphones and the voice.
Microphones work by picking up sound vibrations. All microphones have an element in them or a membrane that responds to sound vibrations. It then converts these vibrations into an electrical signal be it analogue or digital. We all know the sound that a microphone makes when we deliberately blow air into it or tap it with our finger.
When we use our voice to create a sound we send vibrations towards the microphone in the form of air. The microphone picks up other vibrations as well such as:
- background noise,
- noises made we bump the microphone or the microphone stand,
- breathing and hissing noises we make when speaking or singing.
How does a microphone pick up a pop sound?
A lot of air is needed pronounce the letters P or B, we basically build up air pressure behind our pressed lips and eventually release this pressure when we open our lips.
The built-up air pressure is then released in the direction of the microphone in the form of abrupt wind which is known as a Pop sound or a plosive. If you put your hands a couple of inches away in front of your mouth and sing the words Penelope Pitstop, you will notice the wind created by your voice hitting your hand. Try it. Then try something like in times of distress where you should notice hardly any air at all.
I have come across a great video which demonstrates a pop sound when a speaker speaks directly into the microphone.
Metal Pop Filters
Most people agree that the metal ones are easy to clean and are much longer lasting. The metal lovers also point out that the nylon ones can get smelly and their parts can get flimsy over time.
When it comes to sound the metal pop filter fans believe more higher frequencies of their voice get through and the sound is more natural. On the other side, we have the nylon lovers.
Nylon Pop Filters
A lot of people swear by nylon. Some prefer to make their own using a wire coat-hanger and some nylon tights. A quick search on YouTube and you even see some home-made ones that look professional made from embroidery clasps and stockings.
Nylon lovers say how easy they are to rinse and if you need to dry them quickly you can always get the hair dryer out. When it comes to sound, you will people that use spoken word or sing sweetly are more comfortable with nylons. There are a lot of advocates of double layered nylons as well.
Although the jury is still out on which one to choose, it seems to come down to personal preference. One thing is for sure. If you buy a metal filter you don’t run the risk of getting a run in your hose.
Metal Pop Filters Pros and Cons
Metal filters are often touted as being able to retain the higher frequency sounds this implies that they can be lost with a nylon filter. Many vocalists find the metal ones more natural sounding, in that they don’t muffle the sound. Some talk about the nylon ones removing the color of the voice, like singing behind a curtain, it tends to lessen the higher frequencies.
- Easy to clean
- Claimed to be more natural sounding and less muffled.
- Retain high frequency voice gain,
- durable so will get lots of life out of it and although higher initial spend they will cost less in the long run.
- Some clasps for booms or mike poles are difficult to apply. Check before you order.
By far, the most popular model that I found on the forums is the Stedman PS-101 Proscreen Filter which uses a metal mesh. Curiously this model is better priced than their Stedman Proscreen XL made of a patented material.
Nylon Pop Filters Pros and Cons
Nylons are usually cheap and wash easy. A big advantage they have over meta filters is that they increase the life of the microphone by protecting it from Singers spit.
- Usually the cheaper of the two although some nylons can run over $50 dollars.
- Usually have more universal clasps or clamps for boom poles or mic stands,
- Will protect the microphone from spit. Some mics are very sensitive to moisture.
- Cheaper ones can have cheap materials which are more likely to need replacement which can be costly in the long run. Many have trouble with the goosenecks over time.
- Can develop a smell over time even after a good wash.
- More likely to be damaged when stored away or attacked my pets or children.