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R/E/P => Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab => Topic started by: klaus on July 19, 2017, 04:56:48 pm

Title: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus 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 (I can often tell with capsule contamination when a Steadman was used).
    My main beef: the metal plate resonates and rings. Ping it with your knuckle and you will notice it. I found the distinct frequency of the resonance 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   
   

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” embroidery hoop / crochet ring bought for 99Ę, 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 revealing and reliable test instrument!
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan 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
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on December 12, 2019, 08:18:03 pm
Please upload a photo of the Rycote you mentioned. Always eager to expand horizons.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan 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
(http://)
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on January 18, 2020, 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
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 18, 2020, 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.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on January 18, 2020, 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/
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 18, 2020, 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.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on January 18, 2020, 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.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 19, 2020, 12:02:24 am
Home-made: Two-dollar embroidery hoop / crochet ring (https://www.michaels.com/loops-and-threads-wooden-embroidery-hoop/10124154.html) with free, from willing donor dual-layer pantyhose is just as good as the stuff you buy at Guitar Center.

Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Jim Williams on January 19, 2020, 12:10:23 pm
My wife keeps me stocked with used pantyhose here. One way I found to evaluate these pooper stoppers is to put a pair right over your ears and listen to your best playback gear. Usually you will detect the filter effects that way.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 19, 2020, 03:38:33 pm
Brilliant. That's exactly how I evaluate pop filters as well, and a perfect method to detect comb and all other kinds of filtering, and the degree of opaqueness pop filters will introduce.
Funny how people don't believe in free or cheap. Especially when they don't trust their ears, they choose expensive ones, every time.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: RadarDoug2 on January 19, 2020, 03:47:25 pm
Come on Klaus, cheap Chinese mikes dont sound as good as expensive Neumanns! So sometimes expensive is best.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 19, 2020, 06:12:10 pm
Pop sceens!
Mics? Reverse psychology.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: ratite on January 21, 2020, 07:52:44 am
Klaus,I think you mean an embroidery hoop. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embroidery_hoop
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 21, 2020, 01:27:23 pm
Semantic deviation duly noted, previous posts amended and example provided: https://www.michaels.com/loops-and-threads-wooden-embroidery-hoop/10124154.html
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on January 22, 2020, 03:32:27 am
This is great, now would you use two of these or put two layers of pantyhose?
What type of pantyhose sheer or opaque ?
And after stretching the hose around the ring how would you nearly fasten it ?
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on January 22, 2020, 02:17:26 pm
It is of ultimate importance to only use black pantyhose material, due to its superior right-brain stimulative capacity*, while maintaining the same level of transparency and spit blocking other colors would provide.

The crochet ring/hoop/embroidery thing consists of an inner and outer hoop. The inner hoop claps whatever material is wrapped over it against the outer hoop. One layer of pantyhose wrapped over the inner ring ends up being two layers, once clamped in place.
Not rocket science by any means, just look at one of these and it will become apparent how it works.

*It can easily be proved that black nylon stocking material produces more platinum-selling records than all other colors combined!
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on February 07, 2020, 10:41:19 am
Good morning, I am about to attempt making my own pop filter with the wooden ring you mentioned.
So I will put two layers on the ring, but how are you attaching the mic clip so I can mount it on my mic stand ?
Maybe a clip with teeth that also has threads on the opposite end to mount to a stand ?
After you kindly revived my capsule Iím not taking any chances with spit lol
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on February 07, 2020, 02:19:04 pm
What I did:
Repurposed the lower section of an old plastic mic clip, the part of the swivel that contains the female threads for the mic stand mount which also contains the hinge mechanism onto which I mounted the crochet hoop.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on February 07, 2020, 02:55:24 pm
Sounds like what i did :-)
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on February 07, 2020, 04:25:43 pm
i used the upper portion of the stocking as it fell slightly thicker than the leg area which was very light in thickness.
I will do some testing :-)
Thank you Klaus.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on February 07, 2020, 06:30:31 pm
Looks professional, and is still the best compromise between total spit protection and total acoustic transparency (I am repeating myself, I know).
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on February 08, 2020, 07:16:34 am
I did a quick vocal with my DIY pop filter and without and I could not hear an audible difference:-)
Very happy.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: afterlifestudios on March 16, 2020, 11:24:25 am
Slightly off topic, but in these tense times (Coronavirus)  I am more concerned than normal about disinfecting pop filters.  Can anyone recommend a good method?  Or are they now disposable??!!   
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on March 16, 2020, 12:42:27 pm
Not off topic at all, and great question.
A soapy warm-water solution is the same cleaning method I would recommend even without any viral load on the screens. Soak, slosh the screen though the bath water a few times, let sit, shosh again, then rinse and dry in front of a heater or wood stove.

There is an excellent summary why soap actually kills viruses better than most other disinfectant agents:

https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/sanitizing-coronavirus/

It's all revealed in the first 5 minutes.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: afterlifestudios on March 16, 2020, 03:39:52 pm
Thank you!
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: tuchel on March 21, 2020, 08:07:29 pm
I like the JZ Pop Filter - $119 list. It's very good, as is. I added a sheer hose covering and that's when I stopped looking for pop filters. No pops, and if there's a loss in high frequency it's not there, or I don't hear it or I like it.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on March 21, 2020, 10:00:16 pm
What I often do when I check out the acoustic transparency fo an unknown pop filter:
I listen with one ear to some complex audio waves, whether talk or music, or whatever, but preferably with a decent amount of high frequencies.
Then I hold the pop filter over that ear and compare. If the level of reduction in transparency with the filter is ok, I am good.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: BluegrassDan on June 14, 2020, 01:58:11 am
Sitting here listening to my own vocal samples compared critically with and without a Stedman pop filter. I can confirm that something just sounds wrong with the Stedman. I thought I was overloading the mic amp or preamp. A sort of high frequency crunch and subtle ugly compression.

Simply pulling the Stedman away made everything sound normal. Putting the pop filter back in position, the distortion returned.

There is some sort of resonance of the filter itself, acoustic comb filtering, or maybe a combination of both, that screws with the sound waves.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Eddie Eagle on June 15, 2020, 10:23:02 am
As a daily user of a pop filter, I made sure I followed Klaus advice on the color Black. I've been using the VAC 6 inch PopScreen for many years. Quite adjustable to accommodate your acoustic environment it works well. This pic shows ways to configure it.
A quik tip technique for singing or narrating is to smile and purse your lips on plosives. It's a part of a vocal talents arsenal of training for performance
http://www.popfilter.com/photos/adjust-comparison.jpg
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on June 26, 2020, 01:40:53 am
Initially the home made pop filter i made was great but after tracking vocals this evening i realized that the stocking didn't help my plosives ? tonight i was singing a little closer than i usually would and that could be the reason. But the s's and p words were very much over bearing.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on June 26, 2020, 02:49:52 am
Try the filter as the distancing device.
Rather than putting the popper stopper close to the mic (which inevitably makes you want to lean in, because the bass proximity effect is so enticing!), put it 6" from the front of the mic, and get close to that. A double layer of pantyhose at that distance from the mic should in most cases do the job.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Eddie Eagle on June 27, 2020, 10:44:37 am
+1 on the 6" distance. I typically am 6-12" or 1-2 fists away when working.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan on June 27, 2020, 05:28:08 pm
A bit of distance is good for clarity and it makes the level changes less dramatic if the singer is moving, i.e. alive.

Ideally one would have the mic a bit overhead and 2-3 feet from the singer, old school. No need for a pop shield.  But that requires a large neutral vocal room.

Here's something from my Book of Opposites: Increased distance shifts the spectrum of the pop downwards.
A foot or so away you get earthquakes, while at an inch or two it is only a pffft. 
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: gtoledo3 on June 28, 2020, 12:11:45 am
Maybe that just lets the bass wavelength develop more?

This suggestion can be delicate even if you are producing because you donít want to lead an artist to a place that undermines confidence or gets them in their head... but if a singer makes a smile with their mouth on plosives, it can tend to bring them down quite a bit.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan on June 28, 2020, 12:37:00 pm
I can guess from the sound of it what happens when a singer is right in the pop shield. There is no chance to develop a serious LF wavefront. Instead we get the sound of compressed air hissing through foam, or mesh, or fibre. Pfffft. Some singers have included it into their trademark singing style. e.g. Glen Hansard, SM58.

I guess once the air flow gets to the other side of a pop shield it gradually regroups and with more and more distance reunites as an actual high pressure front.
The effect is quite dramatic, even with a 58.

I often demonstrate this to young singers at gigs. Eating the mic or almost so, is fairly harmless. But pull back and gradually extraordinary low subs kick in.  I have heard of the smile thing before, nice one, although none of my singers is happy........

I read somewhere that the Beatles were taught to 'flash' an open palm between mouth and mic if troublesome P's or Ss occurred. Karate singing!
Also a pencil taped to the front of the mic is supposed to break up the pop, perhaps like the bulb shaped bow of a large ship.

In old pics of U47s we see clip-on small metal mesh pop shields. I susect these were engineered to work well. If so, it seems a shame they have been abandoned.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Derek Samuel Reese on June 30, 2020, 03:36:48 pm
Try the filter as the distancing device.
Rather than putting the popper stopper close to the mic (which inevitably makes you want to lean in, because the bass proximity effect is so enticing!), put it 6" from the front of the mic, and get close to that. A double layer of pantyhose at that distance from the mic should in most cases do the job.

You said the right word Klaus, enticing lol.

I’ve been wondering when it’s ok to sing really close to the mic ?
Yes you get that beautiful warm proximity effect, but it almost becomes too much to sing an entire song that close.
But the moment I back up I lose that warmth, but it’s certainly easier to eq, I almost don’t even use eq on my vocal when singing 6 inches away :-)
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Kai on July 01, 2020, 03:24:40 pm
In my experience 3 inches is the most critical distance for generating the pop effect.
This even means the filter should not be at that distance in front of the microphone.

Interestingly a second filter at a distance does not double the pop damping.

With headphones on, in front of the mic, it's easy to interactively test what works best.

My most effective shield is a modified, circular holes perforated, metal sheet from SE, with gooseneck and clamp to mount on the stand.
The mod doubles the metal sheets with an angle inbetween, to reduce comb filtering, using a slightly different kind of metal sheet for the 2nd.

The most neutral is thin nylon pantyhose, stretched over a 6mm wire ring.
Cheap enough to use new ones, the foot part is best to use, if you buy those without enforcement at the toe part.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on July 01, 2020, 03:35:15 pm
Quote
My most effective shield is a modified, circular holes perforated, metal sheet from SE

Make sure the metal does not resonate when pinged.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: Kai on July 01, 2020, 04:14:04 pm
Make sure the metal does not resonate when pinged.
It doesn't, the acrylic paint seems to damp enough, and I clamped a little rubber piece inbetween the two sheets.

The double metal sheet filter isn't totally neutral.
There is a little coloration in the treble, but no comb filtering.
I only use it for long speech recordings (hi gain) when there is no time to remove all pops that made their way through.

Removing some singular pops in song productions isn't complicated with my soft (Magix Sequoia), the object-based processing makes high-passing little cuts very easy.
Therefore I use the nylon for those.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan on July 06, 2020, 01:46:46 pm
I had a Stedman for a while. Metal perforated with angled holes to divert the blast. Not bad but it did ring until I added a rubber damping hoop.
I am pretty sure there is nothing as good as the Rycote.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on July 06, 2020, 01:56:54 pm
Quote
I am pretty sure there is nothing as good as the Rycote.
As you personally used the Rycote (the only scenario that would justify posting about it here), can you tell us what you like?
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan on July 07, 2020, 03:26:24 pm
The 'scenario' is that I have lived with many many different types of screens over the years. If there were one aspect to my work which sticks out it would be Vocals.
To the extent of being widely used as Reference. Generally I was always disappointed when pops appeared. I like to be free to add LF. But susceptibility to pops is typically accompanied by disturbance from fricatives and dentals also. I made many, including a 4 layer of popsocks on embroidery hoops. etc. etc.
My preference ended up being the Neumann Foam plus a Ticket PopperStopper, small hoop/mesh thing, surround not perforated.  All individual types I tried performed poorly enough that I have always had to use two, sometimes three.
To now:- Since I started the Rycote I cannot remember any Pop.
It is super convenient in use. It attaches to their shock mount, which itself works well and is gentle on the mics. No stand, no gooseneck, nothing blocking view of the lyrics.
I am not sure if Foam would describe the actual screen, more of a tortuous plastic mesh IMO.
It presents a rounded surface to the wavefront, perhaps like the bulbous bow of a tanker. I reckon much better than a flat in any case.
This and the  surround prevent it from bending with the blast. Flat meshes visibly move and pass the Pop onward.
Also, they are washable.

BUT....  I just ran a quick few tests and the HF disturbance from all the  different designs which I still have is a tad disturbing.
(Back to the standby that seems to still work best...KH): The least disturbing is a large diameter wooden hoop with two layers of mesh, by Neumann.
I will try some Popping later.

I use small foam screens on SDC to stop the earthquake when an acoustic instrument player breathes into one.  Also in live work in case someone blows into them to check if they are working!  I use Canford UK ones.  This thread reminded me to check them all for ageing.
Yes, with some rubbing, small amounts of dust appeared on a paper sheet, so all gone.
I intend buying some B&K foams to replace them.
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: klaus on July 08, 2020, 02:09:26 am
Those damn fricatives and dentals!
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: DanDan on July 09, 2020, 02:54:34 pm
Tell me about it!  So hard to get them out of the carpet....
Title: Re: Pop Filters: Which Work? Which Suck? The Lowdown
Post by: MSR74 on August 16, 2020, 07:38:43 pm
I recently purchased a Pop Audio Studio Edition.
The gooseneck is great, stays in place and is very mobile. There's a choice of a metal, cloth or foam filter that twists onto the gooseneck. It's also well thought out and made. I find its design clever and very user friendly.

It's not exactly inexpensive at around $100 USD, but it gives me three options and works to my satisfaction.