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The Controversial Truth About Pop Filters and Placement

I saw you said everyone should use a pop filter on their mic. That’s bad advice, dude. Ive been behind the mic for years. They take out all the highs. If you can’t work the mic without popping P’s, you shouldn’t be a voice artist. Just my 2 cents.

 

Doug,


I appreciate you reaching out. But I’ll be blunt: your position on this isn’t even worth two cents. Avoiding pop filters is not the flex you think it is. I’ve been over this plenty of times, but once more won’t hurt, I guess.


First, most pop filters have little impact on the sound. Used properly, the impact is so minimal, it’s extremely difficult to measure, even in a very controlled setting. I’ve taken the time and effort to do those controlled measurements. Quality pop filters, and even quality foam windscreens, are so transparent, there is no measurable impact below 17kHz. If you’re over the age of 30, you can’t hear above that range anyway. Even if you could, you’d find, at most, less than 0.5dB of attenuation. Very literally, moving your head 1-2 millimeters in any direction will have more of an impact on the sound. Unless you’re a statue, you’ll move more than that during a :10 second read.


Of course, it’s possible to misuse a pop filter, and some very low quality products will cause problems. Both misuse and poor products are easy to avoid.


Next, I assume you’ve spent very little time in a professional studio setting. Radio stations don’t count, because they’re designed for content, not sound quality or performance. In an actual pro studio setting, pop filters are used a lot — much more often than not. There’s no reason to risk a performance over an uncontrolled plosive.


Third, the best position for the mic doesn’t require plosive mitigation. In fact, it’s barely a consideration, and the position that allows for the best tonal quality, is often not the same as the one that reduces plosive sounds. Getting the angle and proximity in the best position for the performance is far more important.


Pop filters protect the mic from moisture. You spit when you speak. The dispersion is not always linear or predictable. I’d much rather my saliva fly into a $50 pop filter, than a $1,500 microphone. 


If you’re focused on plosives, you’re not focused on acting. Being able to work entirely without a pop filter is, at best, a parlor trick. The only reason people don’t use pop filters, is because some dinosaur gave them bad information, and they clung to it. Time to move into this century, and use the tools at your disposal.


Emmett 

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