Metal Mesh Microphone Pop Filter
By Phil O'Keefe
Plosives. Popping "P's, T's, K's and B's." Stop consonants. Oral stops. Wind bursts. Whatever you call them, they are one of the most common issues that can cause track-ruining problems when recording vocals. Want an example of the power of plosives? Hold the palm of your hand a couple of inches in front of your mouth and say the words "big cold tasty purple popsicles" - do you feel those big blasts of air hitting your hand? Those are caused by plosives, and at close range, your vocal microphone's diaphragm will experience similar blasts of wind, and they will result in audible booming blasts of noise on your recordings that can definitely distract the listener. While there are a few different techniques that engineers use to address this issue, one of the most common and effective ways is to put a pop filter between the vocalist and the microphone when recording. One such product is made by Stedman, and we'll be taking a closer look at their Proscreen 101 in this review.
What You Need To Know
- The Stedman Proscreen 101 utilizes a metal mesh screen that measures 4.6" in diameter. The mesh is more open than the mesh of most nylon fabric-screened pop filters and is designed in such a way as to allow sound to pass through it freely, but that causes any wind that hits it to be directed downwards and away from the microphone.
- The mesh screen is attached to a heavy-duty 13" gooseneck arm. This arm is easily bent to allow you to position the filter exactly where you need it in front of the microphone's diaphragm. The arm is solid enough that it won't sag or get floppy and fall out of position, even after years of use.
- The overall length is about 20", and the unit weighs 5.8 ounces, so it isn't adding significantly to the weight on the microphone stand's boom arm. Vibration through the Proscreen, the stand's boom arm, and then to the microphone is pretty much a non-issue, but if you're worried, you can use one stand for the mic, and a second, independent boom stand for the Proscreen.
- There is a small clamp at the end of the gooseneck arm for attaching it to a mic stand. In most cases, you can attach it to the same stand that you're using to hold the vocal microphone and the gooseneck is long enough to allow for proper positioning, even when using large sized microphones. The size of the clamp's opening can be adjusted with the attached plastic adjustment knob anywhere from .5" to .8", so it will fit most standard mic stand poles and boom arms.
- Since it can be easily washed, the metal screen is far more hygienic than foam or fabric windscreens and pop filters. In between takes with different vocalists, you can even wipe it down with a cloth that's been sprayed with a bit of Lysol disinfectant, and at the end of the day you can wash it in the sink with soap and water.
- When placed extremely close to the microphone, the filter is much less effective since there is insufficient distance for the air blasts to be re-directed away from the microphone diaphragm. Ideally the Stedman Proscreen 101 should be placed at least 2" away from the microphone for best results.
- The outer edges of the screen, while rounded off, can get a bit sharp in places, so you should take care in how you grab the screen, and try not to grab it by the outside edges.
I absolutely love the Stedman Proscreen 101. It's rugged and durable, and chances are it will last a lifetime. Since it can be easily cleaned and disinfected, you don't get the funky stench buildup (and germs) that often plague foam and fabric screens after they've been used for a while and subjected to spittle from the singer's mouth. Equally important, when it's used at least 2" away from the mic, the Stedman Proscreen is far more effective than most foam or fabric pop filters at reducing or eliminating wind blasts from vocal plosives, and it doesn't suffer from the slight high frequency attenuation that comes along with those other pop filter designs. Short of a great singer and an appropriate microphone and preamp, it's the number one accessory I want to have around when tracking singers. Frankly, I don't want to record vocals without one.
Musician's Friend's Stedman Proscreen 101 online catalog page ($59.00 MSRP, $39.99 "street")
Stedman's Proscreen 101 web page
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.