Review: Pop Audio’s Pop Filter Studio Edition
• Sturdy design
• Variety of filter options
• Easily to adjust and set-up
• None, it's more expensive than the average filter but you get what you pay for
The humble pop filter is not something many musicians give much thought to, but it’s a crucial part of getting the right sound during vocal tracking. Pop Audio have set out to shake up the standard design with their Studio Edition filter. The package includes three separate pop filters: Metal, foam and fabric. They can be quickly and easily swapped and placed on the single adjustable boom arm. The Studio Edition will set you back £55, while the fabric filter-only Classic costs £40. So are these designs worth the extra outlay? They very well could be, as we’ll discuss in greater detail below.
You can hear the pop filter in action in the streaming tracks above. The first track features the metal pop filter paired with a vocalist, in addition to instrumental backing. The second track features vocals only, with the metal filter being featured in the first repeat, the foam filter being featured on the second repeat (starting at 21 seconds) and the fabric filter heard on the last repeat (starting at 42 seconds). No need to tell me I’m not the next Bob Rock – the instrumental parts are not yet fully recorded and all the vocal tracks were recorded in a quick session. No effects or de-essers were placed on any of the vocal tracks.
Durable and adjustable design
So, who is this product for? Well for one, people who need durable and adjustable studio gear. The $10 eBay pop filters most musicians use will stop staying in the same position after a while and can eventually just fall apart on you. This won’t be a problem for Pop Filter Studio Edition. The boom arm is built like a tank and when you put in a certain position, you better believe it stays there. Gone are the days of endlessly adjusting a filter that keeps on wanting to slip out of place.
The other big advantage of the Studio Edition is the interchangeable filters. The fabric filter is a common dual-layer design that most people would have come across before. The metal filter is a robust design that’s suited for mobile recording. The foam filter is described as:
“the ultimate solution for the most critical recording situations.”
Pop Audio filter opens up recording options
Each filter changes the character of the vocal recording. I tried all three out in the same session and I was surprised by how big of a difference they made. The metal filter presented more of the raw character of the vocal and removed less sibilance than the other two. This is presumably because of the larger holes in this design. The foam filter presented the smoothest results and removed the most sibilance out of all the filters. The fabric filter was fairly similar although it retained a little more of the raw vocal character than the foam filter. The fabric filter was my favourite as it presented a nice balance of characteristics: Not too in-your-face, but also retaining the presence of the take.
Studio Edition useful for busy engineers
If you record a variety of vocalists in different styles, the Studio Edition could be a useful addition to your arsenal. The different filters could be used to complement the characteristics you want to bring out in each vocalist. If you’re just recording yourself or one band though, the single filter Classic design would likely be all you need. That is unless you need a durable filter for work on the road, in which case you’d definitely benefit from the metal filter. I should mention that even the metal filter has a plastic outer ring. It’s pretty study though, so unless you drop a 4×12 cab on it, the filter should survive most sessions.
Pop Audio sell the filters individually, but the foam and metal filters cost £15 each. Therefore if you want two filters you may as well just get all three in the Studio Edition package, as the end price will be the same.
Is the enhanced pop filter worth the cost?
So, should you bin the regular cheapie pop filter and move up to the Pop Audio Studio Edition? Well, if you can afford it, there several advantages to the Pop Audio design. Both the Classic and Studio packages feature sturdy designs that are easy to set-up and adjust. The Studio Edition also has the versatility of interchangeable filters. There’s really no downsides I can think of beyond the fact it’s more expensive than a regular pop filter, and hey, you get what you pay for.