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Whether you are hoping to record a podcast or some original songs, there are a few things to look into before buying the right pop filter for you. The last thing you want to do is waste money on a cheap pop filter that falls apart.
Are expensive pop filters really better? It depends on the purpose and quality the individual is trying to achieve. An inexpensive pop filter will serve its purpose for most beginners, but more expensive filters will shield bursting sounds (“p’s” and “b’s” sound) more effectively. Other notable benefits are sturdier clamps, increased versatility, and stronger ‘goosenecks’.
For example, recording a YouTube video for your little brother’s Minecraft game might not require a $50+ pop filter, but a podcaster with over 250k subscribers is a different story. You’ll want to consider your budget, size of the microphone, the material of the pop filter, and what your recording requires.
The big debate, which is better for you? If you ask 10 people, you may get 10 different answers. Before we dive deeper, let’s cover the basics.
What is the Purpose of a Pop Filter?
Have you ever listened to a recording and heard the sharp sounds of air hitting the microphone whenever the speaker says words with “p”, “b”, “f” or “s” sounds? When speaking to someone normally, these sounds don’t draw much attention to themselves. But when speaking into a microphone these sounds often cause popping noises that can be really sharp.
This is why the pop filter was invented. Pop filters help literally filter out these “pop” sounds. They provide a barrier between the speaker and the microphone that absorbs, or filters, the pop sound. This makes the recording much easier to listen to.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Pop Filter
There are plenty of options when it comes to pop filters. You can make your own, purchase a good quality but the reasonably priced option, or you can invest in a more high-end one.
Whatever you end up deciding on, you should first consider the following factors:
- Material for filter
- End result
- And lastly, your budget
Regardless of the type of filter you go with, the placement of the filter (how close it is to the microphone) will depend on how much energy is being used. For example, are you going to be speaking quietly or raising your voice forcefully? The more forceful the more space you will need.
For the most part, you have two options for material (whether you make it or buy it).
- Nylon Mesh
- Metallic Mesh
The nylon mesh is usually cheaper and great for beginners. It does a great job filtering out the popping sounds, but it can also remove higher frequencies affecting the overall audio of the recording. It can also be damaged quite easily.
The metallic mesh is usually more expensive, but it is also sturdier. It also doesn’t affect higher frequencies as much as nylon, but over time the metallic filter can develop a whistling sound.
I would recommend trying both and deciding which one you prefer.
It’s important to know that pop filters do not remove background noise, they are specifically designed to eliminate popping noises from “plosive” sounds. With that said, they can still affect the overall sound of your recording, so it is important to consider how you want the end result to sound.
With nylon mesh pop filters being able to affect the high frequencies in your audio, it is worth giving both a try and discover which sound you prefer. For some audio recordings, like maybe a podcast, those high-frequency sounds may not be necessary. But you may want them to be untouched if you are recording music.
Pop filters used to be really expensive, but due to demand and competition, you can now find some quality filters at cheaper prices. Some argue that there is no need to make your own since there are so many affordable options.
In the end, if you have a tight budget you will still have a lot of options. There really is no need to exceed your budget to get an expensive filter. In fact, this may be one area of recording gear that you can save money, so you can splurge on something else where the investment may be more worth the money.
Cheap Pop Filter Options
If you are just starting your recording journey, I always recommend saving your money and going with a quality cheaper option. You may find it is sufficient enough to never have to upgrade. Or as time goes on, you may want to upgrade, but the nice thing is you will have time and experience on your side when making that investment.
If you would rather purchase a decently priced pop filter, here are three I found that come highly recommended:
- Nady MPF-6 – this filter is made with quality materials and is super cheap.
- Auphonix MPF-1 – this filter is a little more money, but still reasonably priced and has a double mesh.
- Aoeko Metal Filter – if you want an affordable metal option rather than the two material mesh versions above this is a great option and very affordable too.
These three aren’t the only affordable options, there are so many other quality ones available as well, so keep that in mind if they don’t work for you.
Expensive Pop Filter Options
It can be hard to justify purchasing an expensive pop filter when you have so many great, more affordable options available. But if you are one of those people who do want the best money can buy than this next option if for you:
- Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL – If you really want to guarantee all those plosives are cut out then spending a bit more on the Stedman Proscreen is worth considering, you also get a sturdier piece of kit that will likely last for many years without getting damaged.
- Pauly Ton Pauly Superscreen – this filter has a few great reviews on different websites and many of them seem to think it is totally worth the price tag. It may not be the best option for the average person recording from home, but if you are ever in the market for an upgrade you may want to consider this one.
These are perfect for people who are trying to achieve a professional sounding audio recording. Trying to aspire to be the next American Idol? Perhaps, you are a successful podcaster with hundreds of thousands of listeners – these are scenarios where going the extra mile will pay off.
It’s easy to assume that you need to go out and buy or make a pop filter in order to record quality recordings, but that is simply not true.
One simple and free thing you can do is position the microphone slightly off to the side, so you are not talking or singing directly into it. This allows your voice in the recording to remain bright while also avoiding the popping sounds that are so unpleasant.
Another technique that might work and costs you nothing is to smile while speaking. Smiling makes your voice sound more cheerful as well as lessens the popping sound created when saying “p” and “b” sounds. It’s worth mentioning that this technique may not be the most effective.
And the last thing you can do is use something you already have, like a pen or pencil, to break the air before reaching the microphone. Just hold the pencil in front of your mouth to create a barrier. It’s free and easy!
You can even make a pop filter using an old sock or pair of tights as shown in this video:
While these options may not cost you anything, they may not provide the best results. Try them out and if they don’t work for you, you still have a few other options!
In the end, it turns out you don’t need an expensive pop filter to record great quality recordings. If it is in your budget and meets your needs, you may want to splurge. But not having the budget for one doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of your recordings.
I recommend trying a few different ones out so you can decide which one best delivers the sound you are looking for.