Pop Filter Placement Neumann

I am sure there are a lot of you wondering about the best pop filter placement to get great results from this simple tool. I have already talked about the importance of using a pop filter  and why it may be the biggest bang for your buck in the studio.

But in order for anything to be effective, it needs to be used in the correct way.

I have one simple rule for using pop filters, and I call it The One Fist Rule. It is a very fast and easy process for getting a great first take.

Have you figured it out yet?

Pop Filter Placement

That’s right, if you can fit your closed fist, from thumb to pinky, between your microphone and your pop filter, you will get the best results for your voice or vocal work.

Now, this may require some slight adjustment depending on the style of read or vocal, but that is where I always start with pop filter placement.

If you have been putting your pop filter right up against your microphone you are probably going to have some problems with my One Fist Rule.

You’re going to find that you don’t think you sound as deep as you are used to. And that’s because of a phenomenon called proximity effect.

Proximity effect is just as it sounds, the effect your voice has on a mic if it is in too close proximity to the microphone’s capsule.

The result you will get is an unnatural low-frequency signal, which you may think makes you sound more rich and warm.

But in reality, it makes you sound in a way that you don’t really sound and it adds a lot of unnecessary low end to your track. There may be certain applications where that is desirable, especially in music, but much less so in spoken word.

Watch this short “actions speak louder than words” video.


Pop Filter Placement-Here’s What’s Happening

As I’ve mentioned before in Why Use a Pop Filter?, as sound and air pass through the filter, the material absorbs some airflow and disperses it across the filter itself as well as on the other side.

Without that additional space in between the pop filter and the mic, you run a much higher risk of plosives still getting through.

Let me ask you this.

Would you rather be standing right in front of a shotgun blast or further away from it?

If you have the muzzle of a shotgun right up against your face you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to get the full force of that blast.

Every single pellet is going to make contact.

But if you were a good distance away, those pellets would start to disperse and spread out as the travel distance increased. You may only have to deal with 20% of those pellets.

Well, we are talking about the same principle here but obviously on a much smaller scale.

Try the One Fist Rule for proper pop filter placement on your next project and you will find that you have much more control over the recording, and your voice-over or vocal will sit better in the mix and sound much more natural.

And if you like to get right up on the filter you will have a much better chance of taming those plosives if it’s farther away from the mic.

Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a message with your results and tell me if it is helping you get better recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

This article has 6 Comments

  1. Jim! This site is fantastic. I had no idea you were helping voice talents set up their studios. Oh, if only I had known! So the timing is good. I’m about to buy a new computer (PC, I just can’t climb the Mac hill). What is the optimum for VO? I’d appreciate any ideas you have.

    xoxo

    Bill

    1. Hey Bill! How are things going?

      So you need a new computer? Of course, I recommend Mac because they are made for the arts of recording and editing both audio and video. You can get a used Mac for a fraction of the price of a new one. The Mac Pro is the best purchase you can make, but the iMac is also a great computer because it is basically your monitor with the computer in it, so it takes up no additional space than a monitor and they are quiet. If you are looking to be portable to record anywhere, a laptop would be the best choice.

      But you say you want to stay on the Windows platform. And I know you are used to using Windows-based audio programs.

      There are a lot of manufacturers making windows computers. An All-In-One is the replacement for the desktop, it is just like an iMac, but 15 years late :). Anyway, some of the best manufacturers are Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, ASUS and LG. Look for something with a large hard drive because, as you know, audio takes up a lot of space. Better still, purchase an additional portable drive just for your audio files and to run your sessions from so that the computer’s drive doesn’t have to deal with it and can operate more efficiently. And again, you may want to opt for a laptop, they certainly have enough power these days for audio production.

      But I must say, laptops tend to have to put up with a lot of abuse and may not last as long as you want.

      From there it is just a matter of which program you prefer working with.

      Let me know how it goes.

  2. Wow Jim,

    I just have have say that your video on “pop filters” blew me away and for a minute I thought you might have been talking about ME!

    I am voice talent that has a tendency to project and use all my lung capacity to do a hard sell commercial (yea, I’m old school radio).

    As a talent and being able to “watch and hear” what you were doing was very impressive. I have never heard what I might have sounded like until your illustration. I have always mugged into the pop filter thinking I need to capture the big part of my voice when in fact I wasn’t letting it breath and be natural.

    I’ve been doing this a long time and I just learned something today. Very simple and elementary but probably more important than anything else.

    Thanks for pointing this out to me.

    Great site. I will be back to learn more.

    1. Thanks Steve,

      That is exactly the reason I am doing this. I know that there are many voice talent that may be used to working from home and sometimes you can get caught up in a certain way of doing things. Getting another opinion from an engineer can be a real eye opener.

      Thanks for your comments and all your support! We are all in this together.

      Jim

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