A pop filter or pop shield is an anti-pop noise protection filter for microphones, typically used in a recording studio. It serves to reduce or eliminate 'popping' sounds caused by the mechanical impact of fast moving air on the microphone during recorded speech and singing. It can also protect against the accumulation of saliva on the microphone element. Salts in human saliva are corrosive and thus use of a pop filter may prolong the life of the microphone.
A typical pop filter is composed of one or more layers of acoustically semi-transparent material such as woven nylon stretched over a circular frame, and often includes a clamp and a flexible mounting bracket. Metal pop filters use a fine mesh metal screen in place of the nylon. An improvised pop shield, functionally identical to the professional units, can be made with material from tights or stockings stretched over a kitchen sieve, embroidery hoop or a loop of wire such as a bent coat hanger. It is important that the pop shield is not attached directly to the microphone as vibrations will be transmitted from the shield to the mic.
Popping sounds occur particularly in the pronunciation of aspirated plosives (such as the first 'p' in the English word "popping"). Hissing sounds or sibilance frequently result from the pronunciation of fricatives such as the 'sh' in the English word "seashells". Pop filters are designed to attenuate the energy of plosives, which otherwise might exceed the design input capacity of the microphone, leading to clipping.
A pop filter differs from a microphone windscreen. Pop filters are generally used in a studio environment, while windscreens are typically used outdoors. Windscreens are also used by vocalists on stage to reduce plosives and saliva, though they may not be as acoustically transparent as a studio pop filter.
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