When recording any kind of vocal performance in the studio environment (voiceover, singing, etc.), it's industry standard practice to employ a pop filter between the microphone and the talent.
A pop filter is a perforated barrier that, ideally, dissipates plosive energy (air gusts) from a speaker's mouth while allowing sound waves to pass through it transparently. Blocking plosives will protect the microphone diaphragm from overloading when the speaker make the sounds “b, p, t, d, k, g,” without affecting the tonal character of the speaker's voice.
So what are the best pop filters on the market today? Here are my top 3 recommendations:
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Top 3 Microphone Pop Filter Recommendations:
- Nady MPF-6: The Nady MPF-6 is a top recommendation and a top-selling pop filter for good reason. This inexpensive pop filter performs way above its price range in the flexibility of its positioning and in reducing plosive energy before it gets to the microphone.
- Auphonix MPF-1: The Auphonix MPF-1 is another top seller and top recommendation. This pop filter features a dual mesh screen to effectively disperse plosive energy before it ever gets to the microphone. Dual meshes have the potential to reduce the high-end of a voice, but the Auphonix MPF-1 sounds very clean and clear. It's also very affordable.
- Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL: The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL is a high-quality and high-priced metal mesh pop filter. The perforations in the 6″ diameter metal screen redirect air downward and away from the mic capsule to effectively eliminate the chance of plosives hitting the mic. This is a superior filter to the nylon mesh screen of the two other options, which simply disperse the plosive energy haphazardly.
Let's get into each of these microphone pop filters individually. First, though, let's take a look at the criteria that make for a great pop filter.
What Makes A Great Microphone Pop Filter
- Sound wave permeability: Choose a pop filter that will allow audible frequencies to pass from the vocalist to the microphone. Be careful of pop filters that have filtering effects, particularly in the commonly dissipated higher-frequencies.
- Plosive dissipation: Select a mic pop filter that will effectively dissipate plosive energy from a vocalist's mouth before it reaches the mic diaphragm. After all, this is the purpose of pop filters.
- Adjustability and stability: Pick a pop filter that is easily be positioned at varying distances from the microphone and that will maintain its position throughout a recording session.
- Durability: Choose a microphone pop filter than is built to last.
With these 4 main criteria in mind, let's revisit each of my recommended pop filters.
The Nady MPF-6
The Nady MPF-6 is a very popular pop filter for all sorts of voice work and it's the least expensive pop filter on this list.
Features of the Nady MPF-6 include a 6″ diameter pop shield with a double mesh screen; a long stable and flexible gooseneck; and a highly-effective mic stand/boom clamp that clamps up to 1″. This pop filter is highly effective for nearly any situation and gets my top recommendation.
One common issue with the Nady MPF-6 and any other nylon mesh pop filters is hygiene. The thin nylon mesh of the MPF-6 makes the pop filter difficult to hand wash and so I'd recommend periodically spraying with with a disinfectant.
Let's now run through the specifics of the Nady MPF-6, discussing what makes it such a great pop filter.
Sound Wave Permeability Of The Nady MPF-6
It's common for pop filters to naturally attenuate high-frequency sound waves. The short wavelengths of these waves make it difficult for them to move air through the filter material.
Although this is indeed the case with the Nady MPF-6's double nylon mesh screen, the high-frequency attenuation is fortunately minor. It would take a trained pair of ears to hear the difference in high-end between the MPF-6 and no pop filter at all. However, most people notice plosives in a mic signal or recording whether they know them as “plosives” or not.
So it's a balancing game. The Nady MPF-6 is effective at allowing audible sound waves through while dissipating plosive energy, which brings us to our next point.
Plosive Dissipation Of The Nady MPF-6
The double mesh screen of the Nady MPF-6 provides two back-to-back layers of plosive dissipating material.
The plosive energy hits the first mesh layer of the MPF-6 and is broken up, passing through to the other side with less strength and in more directions. A second layer of mesh repeats this process, effectively eliminating the strong plosive energy before it passes through the pop filter.
In the case of very strong plosives, the Nady MPF-6 may not be able to totally dissipate the energy. If this is the situation, try distancing the pop filter from the microphone slightly. This will give the weakened plosive energy more time and distance to fizzle out before hitting the microphone.
Adjustability And Stability Of The Nady MPF-6
The Nady MPF-6 features a strong and flexible 13″ gooseneck with a strong stand clamp at one end and the pop filter at the other end attached by a swivel mount.
The clamp effectively holds the MPF-6 to any practical mic stand with a diameter up to 1″. This will hold the base of the pop filter securely in place.
The gooseneck of the MPF-6 is 5/16” in diameter, 13″ in length, and, like the clamp, is made of durable metal. This gooseneck proves very sturdy and stable while remaining flexible and adjustable to positioning the pop filter in just the right place.
The swivel mount connecting the gooseneck to the circular pop filter itself is awesome. It allows for 360° spinning rotation and adjustability at the wrist joint.
Durability Of The Nady MPF-6
All in all the Nady MPF-6 is a fairly durable microphone pop filter.
Its plastic pop filter frame sounds great (less vibratory than metal frames) but is easier to break or snap. For this reason, it's important to store the MPF-6 safely when it's not in use.
Nylon mesh is inherently not durable. Caution must be taken to not rip the double mesh of the Nady MPF-6, which would render the pop filter ineffective. Care must also be taken to maintain a good level of hygiene with the mesh screens. Since it's difficult to hand wash these thin layers, a disinfectant spray is likely your best bet.
So the frame and mesh are the weak links in the durability aspects of the Nady MPF-6. The gooseneck and mount are solid in design and are likely to outlive the other components of this “budget” pop filter.
The Auphonix MPF-1
The Auphonix MPF-1 is another excellent choice for an inexpensive double mesh microphone pop filter. It features a durable and pliable gooseneck and a 6″ double mesh screen that sounds incredibly transparent, allowing for quality pop filter protection without a noticeable attenuation of high frequencies.
On top of that, the Auphonix MPF-1 comes with a 1-year 100% money-back guarantee!
Let's talk more about the Auphonix MPF-1 and what makes it such a great product.
Sound Wave Permeability Of The Auphonix MPF-1
Like any barrier between a sound source and a microphone, the MPF-1 pop filter will physically alter the sound quality at the source relative to the mic. The MPF-1, however, does not overly colour the sound like many other pop filters on the market.
Its double mesh screen is beautifully transparent, causing nearly unnoticeable changes in the sound that passes through it. The MPF-1 effectively eliminates plosives while maintaining the integrity of the sound.
Plosive Dissipation Of The Auphonix MPF-1
The double layer mesh screen of the Auphonix MPF-1 is very effective at plosive dissipation. Single layer screens often allow just enough plosive energy penetration to overload their mic diaphragms. By adding a second layer, the dissipations are further dissipated and diminished before reaching the microphone capsule.
The filter itself is 6″ in diameter, making it a practical choice for any microphone.
That's not to say that plosives cannot penetrate the MPF-1. This is a common issue when this pop filter is too close to the microphone capsule. If you're getting plosives in your mic signal, try distancing the Auphonix MPF-1 slightly further from the microphone and/or try moving a bit further from the microphone.
Adjustability And Stability Of The Auphonix MPF-1
Unlike cheaper models, the Auphonix MPF-1's clamp and gooseneck fully support the filter's weight.
The clamp will securely attach the pop filter to a mic stand. The flexible metal gooseneck extends about 1′ and will stay in position once set.
Durability Of The Auphonix MPF-1
The metal clamp and gooseneck of the MPF-1 are built to last.
As with anything made of thin polyester mesh, care must be taken not to rip the fabric. The frame of the MPF-1's pop filter itself is made of hard plastic, but should also be handled with an appropriate amount of care if the MPF-1 is to last a long time.
When it comes to cleaning the MPF-1, a disinfectant spray is probably the best way to go. It is very challenging to hand wash these kinds of mesh pop filter, though it can be done.
The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
If you look at the other “best pop filter” articles on the web, chances are you'll find the Stedman Corp. Proscreen XL near the top.
It features an excellent 6″ diameter perforated metal screen with a rubber rim that redirects plosive airflow downward and away from the microphone while allowing all audible frequencies to pass through it transparently.
The Proscreen XL also features a high-strength metal alloy clamp designed to last forever under normal studio conditions. The clamping knob is built with a soft nylon tip to better protect any connected mic stand from unnecessary scratches.
The Proscreen XL's flexible gooseneck is sturdy and stable, providing set-and-forget functionality. It is covered with a protective heavy duty vinyl shrink material
Let's get into the factors that make the Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL such an excellent microphone pop filter.
The Stedman Proscreen XL is an advanced patented pop filter design that offers a large 6 inch diameter screen with an ultra-fine rubber surround that does not interfere with vocal recording sound quality. Setup is easier with its extended clamp and a 13 inch heavy duty adjustable gooseneck. The Proscreen pop filter is far more effective than fabric filters. Instead of simply diffusing bursts, the Proscreen redirects airflow downward away from the microphone capsule. Even close vocal work will not allow popping “P’s” or “B’s” to reach the microphone. The large openings in the metal screen allow vocal sound to pass through to the microphone unobstructed and uncolored, preserving critical recorded detail.
The Proscreen XL is a professional high quality pop filter that will provide excellent burst prevention for music vocal tracks and voice over recording applications.
The patented Proscreen filter material and the high strength metal alloy clamp are both finished with a durable powder coating that will last a lifetime of recording sessions.The gooseneck is covered with a heavy duty vinyl shrink material keeping the flexible gooseneck protected and offering lower noise while adjustments are made. Stedman Proscreen’s feature a high quality clamping knob with a soft Nylon tip to protect valuable studio equipment from scratches.
- Length: 26.5 inches
- Width: 6.125 inches
- Weight: 10 oz
- Clamp range: .39 inches to .925 inches
Sound Wave Permeability Of The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
The sound wave permeability of the Stedman Corp. Prosceen XL is excellent. Large perforations in the metal screen allow all audible frequencies to pass through without issue.
Placing the Proscreen XL between a vocalist and a microphone will not affect the tonal characteristic of the voice. This accuracy makes the Proscreen XL stand out among many other pop filters, especially those with nylon mesh.
Plosive Dissipation Of The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
Th Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL does a superb job at eliminating plosive energy in the microphone capsule.
However, rather than dissipating the plosive energy as it passes through the screen, the Proscreen XL effectively redirects this energy downward and away from the mic as it passes through the screen's perforated holes.
Adjustability And Stability Of The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
Stability starts with the clamp of a pop filter. The Proscreen has a high-quality extended mic stand clamp will securely hold the pop filter in place.
The 13″ heavy duty adjustable gooseneck yields excellent pop filter maneuverability. Simply set-it-and-forget it. Once the filter portion of the Proscreen XL is set in place, it will stay in place throughout the recording session.
Durability Of The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL
The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL is fairly durable. The gooseneck and clamp are certainly top-notch not in terms of durability.
The issue is with the rubber-edged perforated metal screen. This thin screen has practically no framing support and so care must be taken to not bend the pop filter, as these bends typically end up as permanent creases in the filter.
With that being said, the Proscreen XL will last a long time if taken care of and its quality is well worth its fragility.
A big bonus of this pop filter is that if it was to be damaged, it is covered by a Lifetime Warranty.
So that's my take on the best microphone pop filters on the market today. I'd suggest using a pop filter any time you're recording vocals, regardless of budget or aesthetic. Once again, my top 3 recommended mic pop filters are:
- Nady MPF-6: Top “budget” pop filter.
- Auphonix MPF-1: Top mid-range pop filter.
- Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL: Best high-end pop filter.
For all the My New Microphone mic/gear recommendations, please check out my page Recommended Microphones And Accessories.