Pop Filter: What Is It And Why Do You Need One!

Pop Filter: What Is It And Why Do You Need One!
Recording your own vocals on a song you’ve produced can be extremely rewarding and fun!

This is because being able to represent yourself through vocal elements that YOU created will give you a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Not to mention you’ll have endless creative possibilities  when using a microphone to add to your production! You can make smooth vocal lines, pre-drop phrases, and even mouth-made sound effects, just to name a few.

In order to do this, you first need to make sure you’re set up to get the best possible sound quality on your vocals. This way you’ll be able to capture the emotion that was intended at the recording.

You can do this by ensuring you  have the right vocal recording equipment! Because unfortunately, your iPhone’s memo recorder won’t suffice!

A powerful condenser mic is the very first piece of equipment you’ll need for quality vocals.

An audio interface is also very necessary, so you can plug your microphone in and connect it to your production system.

However, one piece of equipment that is incredibly helpful but commonly overlooked by beginner songwriters and producers is...

The Pop filter

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You may be wondering what a pop filter is. Well, to understand what this filter is, we must first understand what a vocal pop is.

Have you ever heard or created your own recording that has loud popping and snapping noises? It’s the kind that completely ruin the quality of the recording and listening experience.

This is what’s known as vocal pop.

These noises can be subtle, but sometimes, they are so blatantly obvious that you wonder why  they even released the recording in the first place.

This is what a pop filter was meant to fix. In short, a pop filter is designed to eliminate vocal pop.

But why does the vocal pop  occurs when you use a traditional microphone in the first place? Let’s take a look..

Why Does a Vocal Pop Occur?

A vocal pop is what occurs when emphasizing strong ‘B’ or ‘P’ words.

This is sometimes referred to as a “plosive” sound.

It is essentially a thump or pop that occurs when forceful sounds are emitted into the microphone.

The obvious result of these plosive sounds are an annoying rattling, popping, or thumping effect that can ruin the experience for any listener.

If you are interested in understanding how this effect happens, try this little experiment.

The Candle Experiment

Light a candle and start saying B or P words in the direction of the flame. You’ll notice the candle flame will flicker in response to the plosive sounds that you’re emitting.

In contrast, try making an “Ah” sound with your mouth and notice how the candle flame will hardly flicker, if at all.

The biggest difference between the plosive sounds and “Ah” sounds is the way the air is traveling from your mouth.

With plosive sounds, air is being emitted outwards at a much higher and forceful speed, than if you were to do a softer more sustained “Ah” sound.

When recording the same sounds and reproducing them on your microphone, you’ll notice a similar pattern.

Plosive sounds create an unpleasant sonic disturbance.

While softer lighter sounds such as, “Ah” will have no issues being heard clearly and won’t disrupt the nature of the recording.

Additionally, the occurrence of plosive sounds creates what is known as, the Proximity Effect.

Proximity Effect & Damage To Your Microphone

cymatics-pop filter-microphone

The proximity effect, which occurs in nearly all microphones, is an increase in bass or low frequency response when a sound source is close.

When the plosive sound is emitted, the low frequency sound it creates translates onto the microphone as a low rumbling “thump.” This means that in some situations, the closer the microphone, the more vocal pop you will hear.

In addition to producing an incredibly unprofessional sound, vocal pop can be very harmful to your microphone.

If your mouth is too close to the microphone when recording, and a vocal pop occurs, it can saturate the microphone's output transformer (if present), or overload the mic preamp.

Human saliva can also affect the life of your favorite microphone. The salts in human saliva are corrosive and will either break down or rust the metal on your microphone.

It's important to remember that not all microphones have the same reaction to the proximity effect or plosive sounds. Because of this, some microphoness may be more prone to vocal pop than others.

    • Condenser:  Typically used in a studio, these are known for being extremely sensitive to popping due to their light diaphragm. It’s very important for studios to equip their condenser microphones with pop filters to achieve the highest quality sound output.

cymatics-pop filter-condenser mic

    • Dynamic: These are typically intended for live performances because of their large and durable diaphragm. Although they are tougher than Condenser Microphones, they still require a pop filter for the best possible sound.

cymatics-pop filter-dynamic mic

Now that you have a basic understanding of why a pop filter is necessary, let’s move on to a deeper explanation to find out exactly how it works.

What Is A Pop Filter?

cymatics-pop filter

At this point, you should have an idea as to why you need a pop filter.

A lot of people tend to overlook the use of a pop filter and will constantly clean, fix, or replace their microphones. Sustaining the life of your microphone is important to save the quality of your recordings.

The science behind a pop filter is fairly simple. When a sound, such as a vocal, is emitted into the filter, it acts as a buffer.

When air hits the mesh screen, it breaks the sound up so that the sound particles are not moving in the same direction.

In many ways it’s a lot like a strainer for the air and soundwaves.

The pop filter is typically made of one or more layers of woven nylon that is specifically made to be acoustically semi-transparent.

This means it allows only specific sounds, such as high and midrange frequencies, while bassier and muddier sounds are stopped short or dispersed. While helping the overall sound quality of the recording, it doesn’t completely get rid of bassier vocal tones.

Pop filters come in different shapes and sizes. The way different pop filters break up sound particles varies depending on the shape and material.

Let’s have a look on how these variations affect how a pop filter will perform:


cymatics-pop filter-metallic


    • Allows more high frequencies to pass through

    • Generally smaller

    • Doesn’t rip

    • Easy to clean


    • Can bend easily (hard to bend back to its original position)

    • Can sometimes generate a slight hissing or whistling noise


cymatics-pop filter-nylon


    • Inexpensive

    • Easily replaceable

    • The industry standard


    • Harder to clean

    • Not as durable

Foam Windshield

cymatics-pop filter-windshield

Although it can be used as a means of blocking frequencies and preserving the life of a microphone, the foam windshield is simply not as effective as a pop filter.

Foam is typically used on dynamic mics, as the foam is lightweight and doesn’t require extra extensions or placement away from the mic.

The foam windshield’s main purpose is to block wind, plosive sounds, and other things that may disturb the quality of the sound.

Foam windshields are typically only used for live performances or when recording outdoors.

Some Foam Pop Filters do exist, however. They are just far less popular than their metallic and nylon counterparts.


    • Only need one layer

    • Almost completely acoustically transparent

    • Easy to clean

    • Great for live performances or recording outside


    • More delicate

    • Absorbs high frequencies which can cause sound dull

    • Not as effective for blocking plosive sounds and popping

To Recap:

As far as Condenser mics go, metal seems to be the top pick amongst industry gear heads, as it is durable, easy to clean, and generally has the highest production quality.

Foam is the obvious go-to for Dynamic microphones, because its low profile fits perfectly over the dynamic mic head.

Additionally, it’s easier to use and manage when performing live on stage.

For beginners and bedroom producers, we recommend an inexpensive, nylon filter. The low price point won’t break your budget, and will still be extremely effective in improving your vocal recording sessions.

Just always make sure you are protecting your microphone from excessive noise, moisture, and other elements, so you may preserve its life for as long as possible.

So now that you’ve got a pretty good idea as to what a pop filter is and why you’ll need one when recording vocals, let's take a look at some of the best on the market!

The 5 Best Pop Filters!

1. Musician's Gear Double Pop Filter 6 in. (18.95 USD)

cymatics-pop filter-musicians gear

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)

Even at its low price point, this pop filter offers a professional level split screen sound pop blocker.

The first screen diffuses plosive sounds, and the second screen disperses air while also removing any leftover plosive sounds.

This pop filter is the best one in its price range and is a great choice for any budget, regardless of experience levels.


    • Screen diameter: 6 in.

    • Gooseneck length: 11.5 in.

    • C-Clamp will fit most standard mic stand shafts and booms

2. Sterling Audio STPF2 Professional Mesh Pop Filter (21.99 USD)

cymatics-pop filter-sterling

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)

This filter is another flexible, yet sturdy, pop filter at a very affordable price. It’s awesome for anyone at any level of their music journey.

This one is also double-layer nylon to best eliminate plosive sounds.

The sterling Audio STPF2 is an affordable Mesh pop filter that gets the job done.


    • Transparent double-layer nylon mesh construction

    • Gooseneck: 13in (33 cm)

    • Extra large mounting bracket

3. K&M Pop Killer Double Layer Pop Filter Black (24.99 USD)

cymatics-pop filter-k&m
(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)

This is yet another inexpensive but extremely effective pop filter.

With two nylon screens and a round filter frame, this pop filter is definitely one of the best we’ve ever seen.


    • Double nylon screen

    • Frame: 5.1 inch (13 cm)

    • Standard, bendable gooseneck

4. Royer PS-101 Metal Pop Filter Black (59.00 USD)

cymatics-pop filter-royer

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)

The Royer PS-101 is a top pick for vocalists looking to continually improve the quality of their recordings.

You’ll notice this pop filter differs from the others with its Metallic Mesh material.

The metallic mesh filter allows more high frequency sounds to pass through and is extremely resilient to wear and tear.


    • Single metallic mesh screen

    • Screen Diameter: 4.6in. (11.7cm)

    • Gooseneck length: 13in. (33cm)

5. Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter (69.00 USD)

cymatics-pop filter-stedman

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)

The Stedman Proscreen XL is a highly advanced pop filter made from an exclusively patented material.

It eliminates pops and plosive sounds far more effectively than any other fabric based filters.

Even the most extreme and dynamic vocal work will not allow plosive sounds to affect the microphone with the use of this filter.

If you’re looking for a serious upgrade on your pop filter definitely check out this exclusive product.


    • Single metallic mesh screen

    • Screen Diameter: 6in

    • Gooseneck Length: 26.5in


Hopefully by now, you have an in-depth understanding as to why a pop filter is absolutely necessary when recording vocals.

Without the protection against sonic or physical disturbances, a microphone’s life may be cut short.

Why constantly keep purchasing expensive new microphones when you can simply add a pop filter to your arsenal? It will increase the quality of your recordings while also extending the life of your favorite microphone.

Let’s do a short recap just to refresh your memory on some key topics we discussed.

What is a pop filter?

    • A buffer to eliminate unwanted noises such as plosive “B” and “P” sounds.

    • Comes in nylon, or metallic mesh.

Why do you need a pop filter?

    • To protect your microphone from plosive sounds, proximity effect, and human saliva damage.

    • It will increase the quality of your recordings by getting rid of ‘P’ and ‘B’ popping/ thumping sounds.

Without a pop filter your vocal tracks will continue to suffer and never ascend above amateur quality and will take your vocals to the next level.

Which pop filters are you using?

What's your preferred type of pop filter for your microphone setup?

Let us know in the comments!

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