To make a DIY pop filter you will need an embroidery hoop, a wire coat hanger or a coffee container lid to make the frame. You will also need a pantyhose or similar fabric to make the filter cloth. And finally a wire hanger and a wine cork to fit it a standard microphone clip.
WHAT DOES A POP FILTER DO
Pop filters are physical filtering devices used in recording studios to help reduce noises known as plosives and sibilance from hitting the microphone when recording singing or speech.
Plosives are produced when the sound pressure level is dramatically increased, this happens mostly when pronouncing the letter P and B. Sibilance is produced by the letter S.
DIY POP FILTER – THE 4 CLASSIC METHODS
Luckily there are many ways to make a pop filter using nothing but household items. You may have to select one of these methods depending on the home supplies available to you, and while they vary in complexity and cosmetic looks, they all get the job done.
THE EMBROIDERY LOOP METHOD
You will need:
Embroidery hoop, pantyhose, scissors, glue gun, pliers , wine cork and a wire hanger.
1.- Start by obtaining an embroidery hoop.
Embroidery hoops are used to stretch out a portion of fabric to work on it. This is a fairly easy item to find if you live with a woman in the same household. Ask your mom, aunt or wife.
2.- Separate both rings.
Release pressure on the outer ring joint to release the inner ring. The tightening mechanism may come in the form of a screw or a spring.
3.- Cut the pantyhose and insert the inner ring.
Using a pair of scissors cut the feet end of the pantyhose and insert the inner ring in it. Like a bag
4.- Tie the end just like a balloon.
Make sure to tighten the fabric around the ring and make a balloon style knot.
5.- Lock both rings back together.
Insert the inner ring. Make sure the knot lines up with the tightening joint.
6.- Remove the knot.
Use a pair of scissors or a box cutter to remove the knot.
7.- Cut and shape the wire hanger into a half a hook with the help of pliers.
Always take the necessary cautions when working with tools. After a couple of tries you will quickly develop your own wire cutting technique.
8.- Place wine cork on the lower end of the wire.
Pass the wire through the tightening mechanism on your embroidery loop and secure with hot glue.
9.- Secure the wire to the tightening joint.
Using a hot gun secure the wire to the frame. The wine cork will fit any microphone clip.
THE COFFEE CONTAINER METHOD
You will need:
Coffee container, pantyhose, box cutter, scissors, glue gun, pliers, wine cork and a wire hanger.
1.- Obtain a plastic coffee container similar to this one.
In my experience the best coffee container for this project is Folgers. I have made many pop filters using this classic container, but a wide variety of brands and products will also work.
2.- Remove the center of the lid.
Cut out a hole in the lid with the help of a box cutter. Make sure to work on a flat surface to avoid injuries. Take your time when using sharp tools.
3.- Cut the container rim.
Using a box cutter remove the rim from the container. The idea is to have two rings that lock together in place.
4.- Cut the pantyhose and insert the inner ring.
Using a pair of scissors cut the feet end of the pantyose and insert the inner ring in it. Like a bag.
5.-Tie the end just like a balloon.
Make sure to tighten the fabric around the ring and make a solid knot.
6- Cut and shape the wire hanger into a half a hook with the help of pliers.
7.- Place a wine cork on the lower end of the hook.
8.- Glue the wire to the frame.
Using a hot gun secure the wire to the filter frame. The wine cork will fit in any microphone clip.
THE WIRE HANGER METHOD
You will need:
Wire hanger, pantyhose, pliers and a wine cork.
1.- Find a wire coat hanger.
2.- Shape the hanger into a circle.
3.- Cut the feet end of the pantyhose.
4.- Insert the hanger in the pantyhose.
5.- Make a knot to secure the end.
6.- Place a wine cork on the hook.
7.- The cork will fit in any microphone stand.
THE SOCK METHOD
Can I use a sock as a pop filter?
No, using a sock as a pop filter will eliminate other frequencies in addition to the plosives and sibilance you are trying to remove. This will result in a muffled sound and a lifeless vocal recording. If you must do this try using a nylon pantyhose.
POP FILTER ALTERNATIVES
Windscreens are also used as a filtering devices for microphones. They are made of foam and serve the same purpose as a pop filter. The frequency response tends to be a little different on the high end so make sure to listen back to your recordings and A/B test.
If everything else fails and your pop filter needs are not time sensitive, then acquiring a pop filter might be a good option for you. It might even be cheaper than going out and buying the needed supplies if you don’t already have them. There are many great options available online.
Recording vocals without a pop filter is something that will always come back to haunt you. At first it might sound appealing saving time and money. It is very easy to think it can be fixed during the mix, but plosives and sibilance can really destroy a track. Fixing them in post production will most likely compromise the quality of your recording.
Using a pop filter and sending clean vocal recordings will make your sound engineer very happy and this way focus more on taking your mix to the next level, in other words, doing some actual mixing instead of damage control.