Windscreens vs. Pop Filters

Using Windscreens and Pop Filters When Recording Audio

Microphone Pop Filter.

If you record audio, chances are you'll occasionally need either a pop filter or a windscreen for use with your microphone. Both improve the quality of a recording.

Windscreens

Capturing audio at an outdoor location often requires a windscreen to reduce the noise from the wind. Most windscreens are bulbous attachments made of porous foam that fit securely over the microphone. While this reduces wind noise, there's a high frequency loss when you use a windscreen—how much depends on the quality of the foam.

Windscreens vary in quality. For high-wind events, you need better quality windscreens. Many condenser microphones come with windscreens already custom fit to them, but unless they are good quality, buy your own.

In extreme conditions outdoors, chances are your recording will benefit from a windsock. These large windscreens are made with a thin cloth stretched over a large open frame. The microphone is enclosed inside the frame, and the cloth protects the microphone from the wind, allowing clean recording in harsh conditions. Large, elaborate windscreens for live outdoor recording are expensive.

Pop Filters

When recording vocals indoors, you use a pop filter. Pop filters are made of a light, nearly transparent mesh that is placed over a wire or plastic frame and held in place in front of the microphone with a clamp that attaches to the microphone stand or boom. Thin layers of nylon or other fabric are often placed over the mesh.

Pop filters are useful in reducing plosives—those exaggerated P, T, G and S noises, among others, that sound like a singer or speaker is spitting on the microphone.  

Pop filters are inexpensive accessories, and buying a good one is worth the extra money. You may think a $10 pop filter sounds like a good deal, but spending $20 more gets you into a much better filter.

Avoid pop filters with spring-loaded clasps. Only buy pop filters that attach with a boom and microphone stand clamp.

Windscreens are not useful in reducing plosives because they come with a negligible high frequency loss, which is not desirable in a studio setting.