Although they are very similar, microphone windscreens and pop filters are actually two different things.
A microphone windscreen is often used for shotgun microphones and is a foam cover that expands to fit over a microphone. This stops the wind from interfering with the recording.
A pop filter is a mesh layer that goes in front of a microphone (Click for microphone product recommendation) to reduce popping noise. This noise is made by fast moving air passing through the microphone during a vocal recording. An added bonus is that it can fight against a build-up of saliva from damaging the microphone components. Salt in humans saliva can reduce the lifespan of a microphone due to it being corrosive.
|This is a windscreen on an Audio Technica ATR2100 USB Microphone.||This is a pop filter on a Rode NT USB Microphone. Do you notice the difference?|
Should I Use a Microphone Windscreen or a Pop Filter?
It depends on what you are going to be using it for.
Microphone windscreens are ideal for outdoor recordings or somewhere the wind currents are going to be interfering with your recordings. For example, if you were recording a film while outdoors, a microphone windscreen will be the ideal solution.
Pop filters are ideal for in the studio recordings and should be used for vocals, podcasts, radios etc. You can even buy double screen pop filters if you’re really poppy!
Why Do We Use Microphone Windscreens?
Although microphone windscreens and pop filters can be used interchangeably. Microphone windscreens are primarily used to stop the wind currents from interfering with our recordings. Microphone windscreens are foam covers that fit tightly over the body of a microphone. Some dynamic microphones have internal windscreens in the grill of the microphone to protect the device, although these microphones can benefit from additional over the top microphone windscreens to protect against sound pressure.
The main purpose of a microphone windscreen is to absorb or to diffuse any air that’s coming out of your mouth before it has the time to hit the microphone’s diaphragm.
A microphone windscreen can damper higher frequencies, more than a microphone pop filter, so keep that in mind when using a microphone windscreen!
How Effective are Microphone Windscreens?
Microphone windscreens are very effective when used in the right situation. Although there’s a couple of things to keep in mind.
Microphone windscreens need to be replaced every now and then!
Foam microphone windscreens do wear out over time due to the foam breaking down and due to the junk that can build up inside them. A dirty microphone windscreen or if the foam is breaking down will affect the overall recording quality.
How Often Should I Replace My Microphone Windscreen?
It depends on how often you use it. You should replace microphone windscreens when the foam is starting to break down, or if the windscreen is dirty. You can tell when it is dirty because they rather gunk over time.
A dirty windscreen can affect the recording quality and can block out some of the high ends, so make sure you check and replace them frequently!
The Different Types of Microphone Windscreens
Windscreens come in all different types of shapes and sizes. The two most common windscreens are the foam windscreens and the deadcat windscreens.
The deadcat windscreen is also known as a blimp or wind muff and typically looks like a deadcat. That is how its name was originated from.
The deadcat type of microphone windscreen is great for blocking out outdoor wind currents. They do this by creating a dead air space around the microphone and therefore prevents the wind currents from entering the microphone. This prevents a lot more wind currents compared to a standard foam shield.
What is a Microphone Pop Filter?
Microphone pop filters or pop shield is a layer(s) of mesh that is used to serve as a noise protection filter. It is used to prevent, reduce and eliminate popping noises that can happen from the fast-moving air while you speak into a microphone.
Microphone Pop Filters work by either diffusing or reflecting the sounds.
Diffusing works by absorbing or spreading out the air to give a clearer sound. Reflections work by redirecting the air away from the microphone capsule.
They are typically used in home recording studios and are great for recording vocals as it gives a much clearer and accurate recording.
Why Do We Use Pop Filters? Do Pop Filters make a difference?
Pop filters are used to eliminate popping noises that can happen when you speak or sing into a microphone due to the fast-moving air.
Here’s a video showing the differences of using a pop filter and not using a pop filter. This will also demonstrate to you how a pop filter works.
The Different Types of Pop Filters
Pop filters can be made from nylon, plastic or metal and come in a variety of different types of shapes and sizes.
Here are a few different types of pop filters that you can use to stop popping noises from interfering with your recording:
Regular Mounted Pop Filters:
These are the standard, regular pop filters that mount or clip onto your microphone stand.
Metal Mesh Pop Filter:
These metal mesh pop filters are renowned for being high quality compared to the regular mounted pop filters and are widely used in professional recording studios. Metal mesh pop filters allowed for a high frequency to pass through.
These pop guards are perfect for condenser microphones. They work by sliding onto your microphone on the side and will do a great job. They are quick to fit onto your microphone and very easy to use.