One relatively inexpensive piece of gear that can have a lot of impact on your recordings is the good old pop filter. For most, this is a fabric mesh screen to place in front of a vocal mic in order to prevent plosives - those horrible pops created by "P" and "B" sounds when a burst of air comes out of the singer's mouth - and you learned how to build your own last issue. Stedman has come up with a new twist on the pop filter though, creating a metal screen that has a louver- type pattern which allows sound to go to the mic but diverts air away from the mic element. While tracking vocals on a recent session we decided to give it a test. On hand were a single layer pop filter with a heavier fabric, a double layer filter with a lighter mesh fabric and the Stedman. We tracked a verse that featured lots of "P"s on three different tracks with the three filters up. The Stedman won hands down. It allowed clearer highs to come through and cut the plosives as much as the heaviest fabric. The two-layer filter was next best but cut the highs a little bit and allowed more pops to come through. The single layer cut the pops but was audibly murky. Maybe there's some situations where you need to trim off the high-end of a vocalist, but in general I found the Stedman pop filter to be far superior to the traditional mesh variety, and I plan to go buy a few this week. (

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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