Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

To Pop or Not? Are Pop Filters Necessary?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

January 10, 2011

Comments (49)

A black pop filter beside a silver microphone.Nearly every photograph I've seen of a voice over talent at the mic during a studio session has been accompanied by a pop filter.

Recently, I heard someone say that a pop filter was not necessary if you could position yourself in such a way to speak across and or over the microphone and not directly into it.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts in response to today's VOX Daily.

Pop Filters

Pop filters are very handy. They help to minimize plosives like Ps and Bs and can cut down on sibilance (the hissing noise that can come from overly apparent S sounds). Using a pop filter cuts out issues on both the high end and the low end making for easier editing of the recording.

In my opinion, the pop filter is a beautiful thing and does have its place. Pop filters are used by voice talent and singers alike to help achieve the best possible performance.

At a workshop I attended recently, it was advised that voice talent speak across the microphone or over it as opposed to speaking on axis with closer proximity to the microphone using a pop filter.

What Do You Think?

Do you feel that pop filters are necessary, or, are you accustomed to a different technique that for you works just as well?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Vik Thomas

Related Topics: acting, home recording studio, Microphones, microphones, pop filter, Pop filters, technique, voice overs


Comments


    Yes, YES! Though, as with everything, it depends on your voice and how close you generally work. Any plosive is a post-prod chore, and even the very low pitched, entirely inaudible puffs may create a click if an edit is subsequently placed in the middle. That might happen in a studio far, far away!
    The filter also protects the mike from physical rubbish that escapes the mouth, without impeding the wanted variety. I'm still happy with my home made filter... courtesy of a circular hole in one of my wife's tights. Howard (Devon, UK)

    Posted by:

      Hi Stephanie,

      Good subject for discussion, thank you. I use a pop filter in my studio and it does make a world of difference reducing plosives (P's & B's) and helping make the editing process more efficient. I also work to move slightly off-axis specifically with words beginning with P or B and quickly return to my mic's sweet spot.

      The trouble I find with speaking across the mic or completely from an angle is it changes the sound of my read slightly, sometimes more than slightly. Every mic has a certain spot that complements your voice, generally from directly in front and a certain distance back from the mic. Because that richness comes from being on-axis, the pop filter is important.

      Good stuff this Vox Daily...thanks for putting it out there.

      Ken

      Posted by:
      • Ken Budka
      • January 11, 2011 9:05 AM

        I think they are very important, unless the person using the mic is very good at not "p-ing in the microphone," as we like to say!

        Posted by:
        • Eric L.
        • January 11, 2011 10:50 AM

          Pop filters are handy. But if you don't have time or money, you can put a heavy sock over your mic, and get the same effect. And if you have some echo in your recording area and can't afford a recording booth, try this: Get a largish box and glue egg cartons through-out. The sound will be deadened nicely.

          Posted by:
          • Rich Fallis
          • January 11, 2011 10:57 AM

            Apples and Oranges Steph.

            It varies per person, application and model of mic.

            Bob

            Posted by:
            • Bob Derro
            • January 11, 2011 11:28 AM

              I see no reason not to use a pop filter. Any sound lost through the pop filter would usually be de-essed or EQ'd out anyway (quite high frequency sounds). I'm not convinced by the speaking across the diaphragm idea, I would say that any cardioid or uni-directional mic would pick up more room to voice noise doing it that way.

              Just my humble opinion.

              Posted by:

                Hi, All !!

                I use a Blue Snowball and have no problem with 'pops' (or plosives).

                The microphone has three (3) settings, two of which are cardioid (full and partial) with the third setting as 'omnidirectional'.

                Setting 1 (partial cardioid) seems to eliminate 'pops', even 'straight on'.

                RK Brown Jr

                Posted by:
                • RK Brown Jr.
                • January 11, 2011 1:48 PM

                  I don't like the way they choke the frequency range (the cover type) of the mic, but I accept them as necessary. I use the mounted, free-standing type to get the benefits of the full frequency range of the mic while still averting most of the pop.

                  Posted by:
                  • John Ardelean
                  • January 11, 2011 1:57 PM

                    I do both! I use a pop filter and speak across the mic with most reads, especially with plosives unless I'm doing more of an intimate sound.

                    Posted by:

                      For me it depends on the mic AND the room I am in. Mostly the room though. I think the voice type also plays a role in how much of a change to the sound you want...is lost.

                      Posted by:

                        Seems like I have never been able to get away with not using a pop filter...I always enunciate more than I should because of my singing training and teaching...its just a habit...so I have to be aware of this more when voice acting.

                        Posted by:
                        • Debra L Anderson
                        • January 11, 2011 2:02 PM

                          Use both. I have never been told not to use a pop filter....and I'm not a big popper anyway. Has to be a high quality one, though. The cheapies do muffle a little bit.

                          Posted by:

                            I'm with Heather, I do both. In fact I talk right at the top of my pop filter.

                            Posted by:

                              I agree with Mike, there are certain mics I use in certain rooms where I can use a pop filter and talk directly into the mic w/o worrying about plosives. As far as pop filters, I LOVE my metal one, hate the mesh one...

                              Posted by:

                                On a related note, I have been using this dual pop filter and it works well for me. I use it for promo work where I am right up on the mic...probably not great for thinner voices.

                                http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=19048821...3080&nma=true&rt=nc&si=Pd5ZEwe%252F8PFWv97Rui%252FYbBiO63Y%253D

                                Posted by:

                                  If the mic is more than six inches away and the diaphragm is at eye level there should be no need for a pop filter. For close micing, they are essential, even when correct technique is applied. The metal ones are no good and create resonances.

                                  Posted by:

                                    ‎...I also use both. ...and usually talk off the rim.

                                    Posted by:

                                      The pop filter has 2 purposes: 1) to diffuse plosives and 2) to protect you mic from spit which will rust your microphone.

                                      BTW, I prefer a mesh filter...for me the metal filter adds sibilance as air blows through it.

                                      Posted by:

                                        I've always felt they only help, don't hurt. It seems to me that talking across a mic can change the sound.

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Doug Jeffery
                                        • January 11, 2011 2:19 PM

                                          Well, sure, you can work the mic so as not to need one... except if you get a little animated and want to move your head! To me, the very slight high-frequency loss (not in the same range as sibilance, btw) of a nylon mesh pop filter is worth it, in order to save the occasional irreplaceable take.

                                          Foam filters are usually a no-no; not only do they dull the sound, but the foam dries out over time, and tiny particles flake off and get into the mic, onto the diaphragm. Bad. The Sennheiser 416 is an exception because its metal mesh is finer than most, and protects the mic from such things.

                                          No one has perfect mic technique all the time. Use a pop filter.

                                          Posted by:

                                            Use them regularly to control plosives. Rather prevent plosives than try to fix later...

                                            Posted by:
                                            • Randy Lundgren
                                            • January 11, 2011 2:33 PM

                                              I agree with David & Doug and talking across the mic does change the sound...

                                              Posted by:

                                                I don't use a filter. If you smile during your plosives, you'll never pop.

                                                Posted by:

                                                  Yes they are most helpful. Pop filters mic socks all of the above are extremely important

                                                  Posted by:

                                                    In every off site studio I've been in, they use a pop filter and for my voice, they want me to position "across" the filter....that's how I do it in my studio as well.

                                                    Posted by:

                                                      With my Manley I use the pop filter but on other mics I have been able to work without one but saying that it really depends what I have to record style wise.

                                                      Posted by:
                                                      • Bob Christy
                                                      • January 11, 2011 4:04 PM

                                                        No filter for me...except for my coffee filter but that's for coffee...and not a mic.

                                                        Posted by:

                                                          I've tried using a pop filter, but, I use byfocals to read and pop filter obscures my view of the scripts. I prefer to use a mike sock; seems to provide same benefits but doesn't block my view of the copy.

                                                          Has anyone else tried this? Results? Thx BN

                                                          Posted by:
                                                          • Bill Nevitt
                                                          • January 11, 2011 9:05 PM

                                                            Of course! Too many people peak and it just uses up time and energy re-recording everything.

                                                            Posted by:
                                                            • Elyk Aer
                                                            • January 11, 2011 9:30 PM

                                                              I have a mic sock and a pop filter because I need to.

                                                              Posted by:

                                                                I think it's a preference thing. Some people don't need them, but most find them to be VERY helpful.

                                                                Posted by:
                                                                • Jan Anderson
                                                                • January 11, 2011 9:32 PM

                                                                  I like having a pop filter for live on-air work, but for editing, there's usually a pop-filter option. So I find the pop screen a situational thing.

                                                                  Posted by:

                                                                    Good pop filters are sonically transparent and saves a take that would have been perfect except for the pop...plus if you love your microphones you save that sensitive cartridge from hurricane force (seriously) wind gust that exist in that short distance from your lips to that mike element...anyone owning a ribbon mike should definitely use one.

                                                                    Posted by:
                                                                    • Gary Brefini
                                                                    • January 12, 2011 12:40 AM

                                                                      Must have !! They keep my beard hairs from getting stuck in the little holes :) and save a lot of editing.

                                                                      Posted by:
                                                                      • Fred Corcoran
                                                                      • January 12, 2011 12:46 AM

                                                                        I use one, and removed the old windshield from my mike. However, I did still detect a pop or two, though not as bad as they once were, and have added the windshield back. I was worried that the combination of the two might reduce quality, but – without doing some kind of spectral analysys, which I can't do – it's hard to notice any diminution. I don't have a wife with or without tights, so had to buy one! Five and a half quid. It didn't break the bank.

                                                                        Posted by:
                                                                        • Andrew John
                                                                        • January 12, 2011 6:03 AM

                                                                          Pop filters also prevent moisture from the mouth- either spittle or the breath- from entering the microphone and degrading the components, and eventually the sound of the mic.

                                                                          Posted by:
                                                                          • Douglas Voice
                                                                          • January 12, 2011 11:35 AM

                                                                            Sometimes a pop will get through, awkwardly in the middle of a word - for example apple. Rather than re-record, I wonder if other people do this: select just the pop in your editor, apply low pass filter, maybe from 200 downwards dependent on your voice pitch at that instant. Because the tonal dip is so brief, the chances are you won't notice it.

                                                                            Posted by:

                                                                              Dear me! Distracted. Re the 2.25 pm post: I did of course mean HIGH-PASS filter used in editor to take out an individual pop. Sorry!

                                                                              Posted by:

                                                                                With a snowball mic inside a Sumo box lined with sound proofing, and off to the side, I don't have popping issues so don't need a screen. It's a decidedly low-tech set up, but I've gotten bookings, and the quality seems great.

                                                                                Posted by:
                                                                                • Jack de Golia
                                                                                • January 13, 2011 12:01 PM

                                                                                  For me, a pop filter is definitely necessary, because I really pop my p's!

                                                                                  Posted by:

                                                                                    Using a pop filter is a matter of proximity and the type of mike used. If some one speaks from 3 feet away from a condenser mike, certainly a pop filter is nothing more than an acoustically transparent piece of of unnecessary apparatus. If, however, you have a mike hugger, you will need a pop filter no matter what direction the voice comes from.

                                                                                    A lower gain dynamic mike requires one to be closer to the mike. The mike will also perform it's function better without a pop filter if the speaker's voice and breath pass over the mike as apposed to a direct frontal attack.

                                                                                    There is no one correct answer. The effectiveness of a pop filter is completely dependent on the mike-user's personal style and the design of the mike.

                                                                                    Posted by:

                                                                                      Hello All-
                                                                                      I'm new to Voices.com, though I've been in broadcasting half my life. So, hello everyone!
                                                                                      I prefer the pop filter. I suggest trying it with and without on your own mic and see what you think. I've tried various techniques with and without. The double mesh filter I use solves the problem of pops and hisses.

                                                                                      Posted by:

                                                                                        I think if you're like me, & have problems with Ps, Fs, Ts, & Ds overloading the mic pop screens are a must.
                                                                                        Not to sound weird, but I've got big lips & I can't speak naturally
                                                                                        without popping the mic.

                                                                                        Posted by:
                                                                                        • Isaak Whitt
                                                                                        • January 17, 2011 4:50 PM

                                                                                          As a recording engineer and producer I can tell you that pop filters are invaluable. They can also, unfortunately, deaden a little of your high end. I recommend a metal, louvered pop filter. They cost a bit (about $50) but a. they do not cut out the hi end, b. they're louvered so the air is actually forced downward, c. they'll will last forever (nylon pop filters are easy to break) and d. are very easy to wash (nylon pop filters are notorious for being stinky.)

                                                                                          PLEASE do not put a sock over your mic, as was suggested. It won't work well. Also, don't bother stapling egg cartons to your walls. You're better off to put up drapes or temporarily hang a blanket. Ideally, get some Owens Corning 703 rigid fiberglass, put them in acoustically neutral sleeves and hang a few up at the mirror points from where you work. It'll be night and day.

                                                                                          Posted by:
                                                                                          • Jason Torres
                                                                                          • January 18, 2011 10:36 AM

                                                                                            I use a pop filter for a variety of reasons.

                                                                                            First, regardless of how good my technique may be, a stray plosive is occasionally launched toward the microphone. This invariably happens on that one perfect take and, naturally, the better the take, the greater the magnitude of the plosive and the greater the precision with which it will strike the microphone. So I think it's an important safety measure. It also allows me to speak on-axis, instead of across the mic, which I like better. It also helps me maintain a good, consistent distance from the mic.

                                                                                            A pop filter also prevents moisture, Nacho Cheese Dorito dust and whatnot from leaving my lips and taking up residence in my expensive microphone, which I treat better than some members of my own family. So even if you don't use it as a pop stopper, you might think about using it to save wear and tear on your microphone.

                                                                                            I use a Music Accessories Split Screen Pop Filter and it's amazing. I can blow through it into the palm of my hand a couple of inches away and not feel the slightest breeze. It's great.

                                                                                            Posted by:

                                                                                              I am glad that people are mentioning what type of filter works
                                                                                              best for them. I have a huge RODE filter, and found that it did
                                                                                              cut a significant amount of the high frequencies, and the bass
                                                                                              almost seemed amplified then James Alburger suggested that
                                                                                              I get rid of the filter and just speak across the mic. I have been
                                                                                              doing that lately, and usually it is fine, but I think I will try a
                                                                                              mesh filter and see if that gives me the best of both worlds.
                                                                                              Thanks for the imput!

                                                                                              Posted by:

                                                                                                Hi, It's a given, I always use a filter because it protects the mic. It's all per situation as to the fixes for plosives, and my fixes have no noticeable side effects. I use a pro metal curved mesh shield-works like a charm. Depending on how close or expressive, plosives can still be a problem so I either go off axis, smile, or here's one I taught myself, during a passage of problem pops, simply place an index finger in front of the middle of the lips as if to say shhhhh - this cuts the plosive nicely. Experiment.

                                                                                                Posted by:

                                                                                                  Frankly, I wonder why there's so much yea-or-nay discussion about it. Everyone seems focused on the "sound" when it has an almost indiscernible effect. The main thing is what your hot breath and misty spittle do to your mic. When your breath cools, it condenses. The invisible, misty spittle collects. Together they will ruin your mic eventually. The bigger question is: Why wouldn't you use one? C'mon...come up with just one reason? Anyone? Nuf said.

                                                                                                  Posted by:
                                                                                                  • JAY LLOYD
                                                                                                  • March 8, 2011 7:15 PM

                                                                                                    Old school radio talent learned mic techniques to manage pops, blasts, and sibilance through years with the mic open.

                                                                                                    That was then and this is now: the benefits of a pop or blast filter far out-distance the liabilities.

                                                                                                    Posted by:
                                                                                                    • steve hammill
                                                                                                    • January 4, 2012 10:58 AM

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