Learn more about what is a pop filter and how you can use it to improve your voice over recordings.
What is a pop filter?
A pop filter is a mesh screen or nylon filter device that clips onto a microphone or attaches to the flexible frame between a microphone and a voice actor’s mouth. It’s also known as a pop shield or pop screen in the voice over industry because it eliminates unwanted popping sounds in voice recordings caused by plosive consonants like “p,” “b,” and “t.” Generally, voice actors and narrators mount these devices on their microphones because it ensures cleaner and more professional audio recordings.
So, if you’re pursuing a career in voice acting or narration, taking a little time to consider what is a pop filter will help you build the best recording environment. You can then use a microphone pop filter when recording narrative scripts, dialog, and even songs to keep your projects free from plosive distortion. (Description and examples below!)
A pop filter works to filter out plosive and popping sounds through its fine mesh or nylon screen, allowing sound to pass through while reducing or eliminating popping sounds caused by fast-moving air hitting the microphone. A microphone pop filter forms a physical barrier between the voice actor and the microphone by intercepting and dispersing the airflow and capturing the full impact of plosives. This results in cleaner and more professional-sounding recordings. A pop filter also helps to even out the frequency response, ensuring a more balanced audio signal without any exaggerated low-frequency spikes caused by plosives.
What are plosives?
Think of plosives like the sound of balloons popping in close succession. As a popping balloon creates a burst of certain consonant sounds, creates a sudden rush of air that hits the microphone diaphragm, causing disruptive popping sounds in the recording. Here’s a breakdown of those sounds.
D – debt, dish, doll
G – gone, goal, ghost
T – tired, talk, tell
K – kind, kong, kid
P – pet, pull, purse
B – ball, bet, bully
Most plosive sounds are a result of bilabial consonants like the letters P and B. When a speaker’s top and bottom lips meet, the airflow path closes, forming a vocally explosive popping sound.
Plosives sometimes slip into recordings because the speaker stands too close to the microphone capsule. Compared to everyday speech, this close proximity makes bilabial consonants in recordings more prominent. Although a pop filter isn’t a must, it does ensure that the recording space is optimal to produce clear sound recordings.
What makes the best pop filter
The best pop filter offers two main advantages:
Optimal distance between the speaker and the microphone, and
Minimal microphone corrosion because of reduced moisture from speaking (saliva) that lands on the microphone.
These are usually inexpensive and available in multiple shapes, sizes, and materials to protect audio recordings from distorted plosives. Some pop filters have a circle or semicircle shape angled over the microphone grille, while others feature a more wraparound rectangular style with complete microphone coverage. A microphone pop filter is also available in three different material options.
A foam windscreen covers the microphone completely and fastens to a speaker’s clothing
A metal mesh pop filter is a more expensive metal screen that reduces plosives while allowing a wider range of frequencies to reach the microphone.
A nylon mesh pop filter is inexpensive woven nylon extended around a circular frame to reduce higher frequencies.
Create smooth audio recordings with help from experts!
Yes, as a professional voice over artist, you’ll rarely be further away than a few inches from your microphone. So, using a microphone pop filter creates the best distance between yourself and the microphone capsule. When choosing your microphone pop filter, consider your project needs and budget. While high-quality pop filters offer additional features like adjustable goosenecks for precise positioning or multiple layers for enhanced filtering, affordable pop filters can also minimize plosive sounds.
The importance of microphone pop filters in voice over recordings
As a professional voice actor, audio quality is crucial. And pristine audio quality can make your voice recording stand out during the audition process. Now, microphone pop filters in voice over recordings minimize plosive sounds, reduce distortion and maintain consistent audio levels. They also enhance speech clarity, ensuring clear and intelligible delivery. Additionally, pop filters minimize unwanted mouth noises, such as lip smacks and breath sounds, resulting in a cleaner recording. They also provide a protective barrier, preventing potential damage to the microphone’s delicate diaphragm.
So, once you’ve consulted a microphone guide to finding the right one for your voice, you can look into which pop filter best matches your choice of microphone. Setting up home recording studios is also a lot more affordable than it used to be, which makes finding the right microphone pop filter less costly, too!
A pop filter is a screen-like device placed before a microphone to reduce or eliminate plosive consonant sounds like “p,” “b,” and “t,” which produce bursts of air, causing unwanted distortion in the recording.
A pop filter reduces plosive sounds, not background noise like music or talking. It prevents plosives air bursts from reaching the microphone diaphragm.
"Nothing beats a good pop-filter and no voice actor should record without one! The mesh can prevent plosives from reaching the mic capsule by effectively dispersing your breath. Pros recommend double-layered pop filters since they work better than single-mesh or a punched-metal one."