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Author Topic: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown  (Read 5586 times)

klaus

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Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« on: July 19, 2017, 04:56:48 pm »

Here is my experience with pop screens and their physical, rather than emotional, effect on the vocal sound entering and exiting*:

First, I agree with Bob Ohlson's comments on another forum: if you can avoid a physical barrier between a vocalist and a sensitive condenser microphone, avoid it. Physics dictates that every barrier to an acoustic wave comes with audible side effects. But sometimes there is no choice and the sacrifice has to be made. How much of a detriment to either sound or pop protection?

Here are the choices and trade-offs:

Steadman-type corrugated single metal screen with holes
    Advantage: good transparency. Problems: spit protection is minimal, and (my main beef) the metal plate resonates and rings. Try to ping it with your knuckle and you will notice it. I found the distinct frequency of the resonance objectionable for recording fidelity: the resonance frequency will accentuate certain notes.

Hakan and similar open-cell foam screens
    Advantage: acceptable level of pop protection with minimal, but still audible high end and transient loss. Problem: comb-filtering with audible peaks. My speculation: as the holes in the foam are largely identical in diameter, resonances from standing waves are multiplied and amplified

Pauli and similar dense, double-layer nylon mesh screens
    Advantage: near optimal pop protection. Problem: audible muffling of highs and loss of transients, plus resonances in two areas, due to standing waves: the mesh layers are parallel, and the mounting ring, though perforated, has an endless number of parallel surfaces formed by the flat, hard frame. Its resonance frequency is determined by its diameter

Cheap double-layer nylon screens, home-made or bought
    Advantage: good transparency when the stocking material is not too dense; worse, same or   
    better pop protection as all the others, but at low cost. Problems: some comb filtering,
    depending on mesh weave and ring diameter, and audible loss of high frequencies   
    (see c.)

I have not included here any of the circular or semi-circular pop shields that mount on or next to the mic, like the famous Abbey Road in-house U48 contraptions, or Brauner’s handmade custom pop-cylinders. There are too many to list, but the same principles of physics apply as with any pop screen: a compromise ranging from good transparency to good pop-protection, but never both in one device.

For my work I keep coming back to a wooden, rather thin, 6” crochet ring bought at Sears for 99˘, covered with two layers of black pantyhose material (talk about emotional attachment!), and mounted on an old plastic mic mount. It’s quite transparent, and offers reasonable pop-protection at a ridiculously low price.

*I find it most helpful to test any screen directly with mouth-to-ear, rather than through listening via lossy recording and playback:
put your ear where a mic would be, as the vocalist speaks or sings into the screen. Ears are an astonishingly reliable test instrument!
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

DanDan

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2019, 08:01:26 pm »

I have been a tad obsessed with this over the years. I too have built some, with more layers.
I think any double layered design should have pressure escape holes in the hoop.
All this has become redundant for me since I adopted the Rycote one which attaches to their Universal Studio Mount.
DD
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klaus

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2019, 08:18:03 pm »

Please upload a photo of the Rycote you mentioned. Always eager to expand horizons.
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Klaus Heyne
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DanDan

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 10:59:17 am »

Glad to. The whole device is plastic, no ringing. Soft rubber pads grip the mic. The foam is very open with varied size bubbles in it. Two discs supplied, washable.  Curved to deflect like those old Abbey Road ones. 
I suppose it is hardly surprising that Rycote would do a good pop and suspension, but I really cannot think of anything to improve on this design.
DD
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Derek Reese Music

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #4 on: Today at 11:56:27 am »

Hello everyone, i am brand spanking new and a huge fan of Klaus, just wanted to say hello :-)

Ive recently been looking at the blast pad but its expensive.
I currently use a stedman proscreen xl pop filter.
I personally have not noticed a difference in sound, in terms of it changing the sound of my vocals.
Has anyone tried the blast pad ?

http://petesplaceaudio.com/blast-pad-mic-pop-screen
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klaus

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #5 on: Today at 02:16:32 pm »

Any metal pop filters-basically zigzagged sheets of sheet metal with holes drilled into them to let sound through, are insufficient spit protection for condenser mic capsules. Every time I see spit contamination on diaphragms, but the client insists that a pop screen was always used, it turned out to be one of these metal sheet filters.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Derek Reese Music

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #6 on: Today at 07:15:05 pm »

This looks very interesting, i saw this being used in a vintage king video during a microphone shootout.
But it looks pretty thick ?
http://www.transaudiogroup.com/products/hakan/hakan-p110-pop-killer/
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klaus

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #7 on: Today at 07:24:24 pm »

Tested it and wanted to like it (the distributor is a good friend and was instrumental in launching the KHE mic).
But the foam has a flaw: comb filtering. How could this be? I scratched my head for days. Until I came up with the answer: many of the holes in the foam have exactly the same diameter and passage footprint. You multiply a specific acoustic obstacle by a thousand, you get a resonance frequency.

Why must we constantly try to reinvent the wheel, just to make a buck? Come up with a better compromise between transparency and spit protection a dual-layer stocking screen for $20 provides, and I will use it.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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Derek Reese Music

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Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
« Reply #8 on: Today at 07:26:38 pm »

Hmmm, well i am now curious to try a dual layer stocking then :-)
The same could be said about playing an electric guitar, guitar, choice of strings, pick, cord and so on.
Each element contributes to the overall sound :-)
Do you mean a home made one or is there a particular dual layer you favor ?
Also Bob Olhsson's comment said-
"Make a popping sound with your mouth and move your hand around to find exactly where no blast of air can be felt."
THAT'S the place to put the mike and forget about pop screens!
But if i place the mic say slightly above the air blasts then i am getting more of a nasal sound from my nose, if i lower it then its in the throat area ?
either of those positions are not directly picking up your voice.
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