Pop shields, pop filters, pop guards, and so on and so forth… What are they? What do they do? Do I need one? Do condenser mics need pop filters?
What Is A Pop Filter?
Pop filters, also known as pop shields are designed to protect your microphone from “pops” and other plosives. They usually connect to the arm holding your microphone, leaving a few centimeters distance between the mic, pop filter, and your mouth.
This small space absorbs the popping sound waves before they hit your microphone, protecting it from damage.
Plosives are sounds that are produced when air is forced through a small opening, such as the mouth when saying words like “PAY” or “BITE.” These types of sounds can create excess noise and even damage your microphone.
Do I Need A Pop Filter?
If you're using a dynamic microphone, you may not need a pop filter. Dynamic microphones are less susceptible to pops and other plosives than condenser microphones.
However, it's always better to be safe than sorry, so if you're not sure whether or not you need one, do yourself a favor and just get one. If not for your microphone's sake, do it for the people listening to your vocals! I am sure you know how unpleasant that sound is to listen to…
Do Condenser Mics need Pop Filters?
Condenser microphones are extremely sensitive to plosives and other pop sounds. Therefore, condenser mics will typically require a pop filter or shield at all times.
If you do not use a pop filter with one of these microphones, your recordings will sound very harsh and unpleasant to listen to. This cannot simply be edited out, not effectively anyway.
The sensitivity of condenser mics is the reason why they are used for studio and podcast recordings instead of live performances like dynamic microphones are.
They are more sensitive than other types of microphones, which is why do condenser mics need pop filters at all times, during any recording.
Do I Need A Pop Guard Or Pop Shield?
Pop guards, pop filters, and pop shields are all the same thing. Just different terminology.
You may find that some are made of different materials and are in different shapes, but essentially, they do the same job and that is to protect your microphone from pops and other plosives.
Which Pop Shield Is Best For A Condenser Mic?
As mentioned before, they all do the same job, so any one you buy will do the trick! When I first started recording and had no money, my brother and I made out own pop shield!
It did the job, mind you, we couldn't bring people to our make-shift studio and start charging them!
DIY: How To Make Your Own Pop Shield
If you are on a shoestring budget like I was, and just about managed to buy yourself a cheap mic (check our buying guide if you are still deciding and want to make sure you get a quality budget mic condenser), maybe you don't have much money left over and need to cut costs in other areas to get your home studio up and running.
In that case, you can make your own!
What you need:
- a metal coat hanger
- a pair of old tights (hole-free)!
- You need to bend the coat hanger into a circular frame, coiling it around itself at the bottom while leaving enough wire to attach to your mic stand.
- Pop the old tights over the frame and stretch them over so its firm and not flimsy.
- Tie it to keep it in place once it is tight.
- You then need to attach your new pop shield to your mic stand arm and you're ready!
It will do the job, but it won't look very professional… but who cares – it works!
What Pop Filter Should I Buy For My Condenser?
Here are some different options. Decide what is best for your setup and whether you need just the shield on its own or the whole kit:
Do I Need A Mic Pop Cover Or Windshield?
Click image to view.
A mic windshield is slightly different from a pop shield.
While they do the same job – protect your microphone from wind and other ambient noise – they are more specifically designed to do so.
Windshields come in different shapes and sizes, but they sit on top of your microphone. And, while not always necessary, they can be used in conjunction with a pop shield.
If you are recording outside, or in a windy environment, then it is highly recommended to use a windshield.