Are Metal Pop Filters Better Than Nylon Mesh Screens; 5 Minute Read
A long time ago as a young recording artist when I didn’t want to spend much on good quality equipment, I used to often wonder if investing in a metal pop filter would be worth it as it basically does the same job as a nylon pop filter.
So, are metal pop filters better?
Metal pop filters are better than nylon pop filters in terms of durability, sound quality, and longevity. Metal pop filters effectively redirect the air created by a vocalist’s plosives away from the microphone. They cost more but are easier to maintain, last longer, and look professional.
Although metal pop filters are an effective tool for minimizing plosives, we must investigate further and see how they compare to their nylon counterparts overall.
Table of Contents
Why Are Metal Pop Filters Better Than Nylon Mesh Screens
Later in this article, I have compared metal and nylon pop filters in detail in terms of their functionality, usability, quality, ease of maintenance, and price.
But, if you’re in a hurry, below is a list of the pros and cons of both types of pop filters.
Metal Pop Filter Pros & Cons
- Designed with wider holes, which has less effect on high frequencies
- Tend to be smaller, meaning it will be less obstructive
- Easy to clean and dry
- Does not rip like woven nylon
- The metal sheet is thin and can be easily bent if you are not careful
- Hard to fix once bent
- Over time, metallic filters can develop a slight whistling sound
- Sometimes induces phase issues
- A bit more expensive than nylon pop filters
Nylon Pop Filter Pro & Cons
- Clean passing of sound waves
- Easily replaceable or repairable
- Great for beginners
- Audio can be hindered, meaning high frequencies are often removed
- Nylon is delicate and can be easily damaged
- Harder to clean and maintain than metal pop filters.
Why Do You Need a Pop Filter?
A pop filter serves 2 purposes. Its main purpose is to eliminate ‘popping’ noises when you sing or speak into the microphone and it keeps the saliva from the vocalist’s mouth off the microphone.
When we say words that have ‘plosives’, for example, words like ‘people’ & ‘pain’ which has a ‘p’ in the word, the sudden air pressure would cause the microphone to overload.
These plosives are generally produced when a person sings or talks whenever the letters t, k, p, d, g, or b are used.
The same goes when someone laughs into the microphone. The air pressure would simply cause the microphone to pop.
Popping sounds can be heightened if you have your mouth too close to the microphone when recording.
The plosive sounds interact with the microphone’s diaphragm, producing an output signal.
A plosive hitting the diaphragm causes a massive pressure difference between the front and back of the diaphragm as the blast of air passes by.
So pop filters are placed in front of the microphone to help eliminate this fast-moving air. Pop filters are usually attached to the microphone stand itself so you’ll need a microphone stand too.
The second purpose of a pop filter is to prevent the saliva from vocalists from going into the microphone.
The salts from our saliva have corrosive content and so a pop filter definitely helps prolong the life of the microphone. Although it isn’t much, it can save your microphone from smelling bad or breaking down.
Why are Plosives Harsher in Condenser Mics?
Plosives are especially harsh in condenser mics. That’s because of the proximity effect. The proximity effect is where the low end of a voice gets louder and louder the closer the singer gets to the mic.
Since a plosive is mostly low-end energy, this gets amplified even more in condenser mics. That means that using a pop filter with a condenser microphone is basically a necessity.
Now that we know why we need a pop filter, let’s find out the difference between metal and a nylon pop filter.
5 Reasons Why Metal Pop Filters are Better Than Nylon Pop Filters
Here I have compared metal and nylon pop filters in terms of some key characteristics such as:
- How do they minimize plosives?
- How effective each one is?
- Which one is superior in terms of quality?
- Visibility, ease of use & maintenance.
1. A metal pop filter stops plosives differently than a nylon mesh filter.
Both metal and nylon pop filters are meant to do the same thing, i.e. – work to eliminate the popping sound associated with gusts of air from the human voice and other sources.
However, they accomplish this goal using different methods.
A metal pop filter redirects the air away from the microphone diaphragm whereas a nylon pop filter diffuses the air to slow it down before it reaches the microphone.
The below images will make this concept much clearer.
And here’s how the nylon pop filter diffuses air.
The nylon pop filter uses two thin layers of nylon (to slow down the gust of air) which acts as a barrier between the person speaking and the microphone.
A metal pop filter only uses a single layer of perforated metal with angled grilled holes that redirect air away from the mic to minimize plosives.
The holes in the perforated metal allow a large range of frequencies to pass through and dissipate plosive energies effectively.
2. Metal pop filters minimize more plosives than nylon mesh screens.
Due to the dense and sturdy nature of metal, the gust of air produced by the plosives slows down considerably before it is redirected in another direction away from the microphone’s diaphragm.
This particular nature of metal can be a drawback too as it may also redirect the other vocal sounds too and not just the plosives.
Unlike a metal pop filter, a nylon pop filter diffuses the air instead of deflecting it. The nylon mesh screen slows down the air and then diffuses it, which inevitably lets a few plosives get through the screen.
Some recording artists who swear by the nylon pop filters say that nylon ones produce a more realistic, natural vocal recording. But compared to metal pop filters, nylon pop filters generally let more plosives through the mesh.
3. Metal pop filters are superior in quality compared to nylon mesh screens.
As I already mentioned before, both types of metal pop filters are very effective at minimizing plosives and for a beginner, either type will do the job. The main difference that you will notice when comparing metal and nylon pop filters is not in their ability to reduce plosives, but in their durability and build quality.
Needless to say, the metal pop filters are made up of perforated metal alloys and they’re typically a tougher build, so they last longer than their mesh counterparts.
Moreover, the material is solid enough to hold its shape as a circular pop filter and doesn’t need an outer frame.
Also, the metal pop filters come with sturdier attachments such as clamps and gooseneck. You may have seen that some metal pop filters use a screw-clamp that you can tighten around the microphone stand itself which is very effective in keeping the pop filter firmly in place.
Some metal pop filters also use a spring-clamp, which can be squeezed and released once it’s clamped onto the microphone stand.
If the clamp is not sturdy enough, your pop filter might move or even shake when you’re recording. This will not only let the plosives get through but if the pop filter comes in contact with the mic, you may hear some strange and completely unnecessary sounds in your recording.
The gooseneck is another component of a pop filter that ensures that the pop filter stays in place between the vocalist and the microphone.
So it’s highly imperative that the gooseneck that comes with your pop filter is flexible enough to be placed correctly.
Also, make sure that the gooseneck is strong enough to hold the filter in place.
Almost all cheaper pop filters come with cheap and flimsy goosenecks which make it difficult to properly place your pop filter in front of the mic.
On the other hand, expensive good quality metal pop filters come with much sturdier, good-quality goosenecks that are flexible and stable enough to hold the pop filter in place.
4. Metal pop filters are more transparent than nylon pop filters.
In terms of visibility, the metal pop filters are better than the nylon mesh screens.
If the person speaking into the microphone will be reading off of a script or sheet music, a metal pop filter will make things much easier.
The vocalists generally need to read from a song’s script or a musical notation when recording. A metal pop filter makes it easy for the vocalist to see through it and read the lyrics or musical notations while recording.
On the other hand, nylon mesh pop filters are dense and difficult to see through as they have two mesh screens.
So the nylon pop filters can severely obstruct the view and make it very difficult for the vocalist to see through them and read lyrics or musical notes.
5. Metal pop filters are easier to maintain.
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this article, the metal pop filters don’t just stop plosives, they also protect the microphone from the speaker’s saliva.
Over time the saliva gets accumulated on the pop filter which may cause odor and an unpleasant experience for the artists while recording.
A metal pop filter can be easily washed to get rid of all the spit that has built up over time. Nylon pop filters, on the other hand, are much more difficult to clean. After a while, you may just want to replace your nylon pop filter instead of cleaning it.
Metal pop filters are also much more durable and resilient to damage or wear and tear with use over time.
Nylon mesh filters on the other hand are easily damaged and may not last that long as they can not be repaired once the mesh screen is torn. The only alternative would be to buy a new one.
Which Pop Filter Should You Buy?
On average, a metal filter will run around $50, depending on the brand you buy.
So which should you buy? To be honest, whichever is in your budget.
The metal filter will last you longer, and you won’t risk breaking it while washing it.
Manufacturers sometimes utilize multiple metal screens in their pop filters. These screens often have differing hole sizes for better results.
The Stedman Proscreen XL is a professional advanced pop filter for all vocal applications. It’s made from an exclusive patented material that eliminates pops far more effectively than fabric filters.
Also, it allows unobstructed passage of high frequencies helping to maintain the important detail in vocal recordings.
If you are working on a budget, I would recommend using this Auphonix Pop Filter Screen to get started. It is very inexpensive and has tons of reviews on Amazon.
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