Creating a home studio is an exciting task.
But it also requires a lot of market research and preparation, especially if you are working with a limited budget.
You have to find the best possible equipment for the amount of money you can spend.
And you have to make sure that everything fits together nicely, and works in relative harmony.
One of the most critical lessons a tight budget teaches you is that every little bit helps.
If you managed to find used XLR cables for cheap, the money you saved from not having to buy new wires could go towards buying a better microphone or a more high-end pair of monitors.
Similarly, if you can DIY something for less it’s the market price (without compromising the quality), you can save some precious bucks.
One of the things that you can easily make at home is a Pop Filter.
What Exactly Is a Pop Filter?
A pop filter is simply a layer placed between your mouth and the microphone while you are recording.
As the name suggests, it filters out the ‘pop’ sounds. These sounds occur when you are speaking or singing, and unwanted air from your mouth hits the microphone.
But if there is a pop filter between your mouth and the microphone, this effect is diminished or eliminated.
Physically, a pop filter is a thin membrane, taut inside a circular frame. It comes in other shapes as well, but the most prevalent shape is circular.
You might have seen it attached to a microphone stand. It’s large enough to cover the whole microphone and is usually somewhere between 6 to 10 inches in diameter.
Why Should You Need One?
As stated above, you need a pop filter to eliminate the ‘popping’ sounds in the microphone.
When you are speaking (or singing) in a microphone, the exhaled air can cause unwanted sounds.
This phenomenon is especially apparent when you are using words that start with the letter ‘P,’ ‘B’ and sometimes, ‘F.’
When you utter such a word, the sharp air burst leaving your mouth hits the microphone and produces a popping sound. A pop filter protects against that.
Whether you are singing or recording crossovers, you need crystal clear sound quality.
The bulk of this falls to the microphone itself, but ‘popping’ is a phenomenon that even the high-end microphones are not immune to.
Higher quality microphones are sometimes even more susceptible to this because they are sensitive and pick up even the slightest variations in the air.
Thus, a pop filter is imperative because it absorbs the mechanical impact of the air that you are exhaling, and your microphone catches only the sound you want it to.
Another benefit of a pop filter is that it also traps any saliva that might be leaving your mouth, prolonging the life of your microphone.
How to Make Your Own Pop Filter
Fortunately, despite their necessity, pop filters aren’t very complicated in design.
They are simple enough that you will find a lot of people working with a DIY pop filter instead of a professionally made one.
It isn’t just because a DIY pop filter is cheaper to make, but because in terms of quality, a homemade pop filter is usually on par with those available in the market.
There are a few conventional DIY pop filter designs; almost all of them cost less than half of what a commercially available one would cost.
For this article, we will be discussing two of the simplest methods.
Wire Hanger Method
For a wire hanger based DIY pop filter, you will need the following:
- A wire hanger – Make sure the wire is thin and flexible enough to be easily bent.
- Nylon stockings (pantyhose) or socks – Make sure the socks aren’t woolen, or something similarly thick.
- Pliers and scissors – Cutting pliers and a pair of the normal ones for bending the wire. (Some pliers have both of these features).
- Rubber band or tape.
Step by Step Guide
- You have to straighten your wire hanger. You can either unwrap the wire beneath the hook of the hanger to get the whole length, or you can cut the hook away using cutting pliers and straighten the rest of the wire.
- Use a circular pot or a pipe (anywhere between 4 and 6 inches in diameter) to wrap one side of the wire in a circular shape. You will need a bit more than one and a half foot (about 19”) of wire for a 6-inch diameter circle, so choose your wire hanger’s size accordingly. It needs to be long enough so that you have enough wire left after the ring to reach your microphone stand. Also, when you make the circle, leave a little tail hanging from the end where you start the loop so that you can clamp it around the wire to prevent it from hanging free.
- Pull the pantyhose over the loop entirely. It should be taut, but not so much that it tears. Cut the stocking that is hanging loose beneath the circular part of your wire. Leave about two inches of free stocking hanging. Tie it tight using a rubber band. The concept is that the hose doesn’t slacken over time. Your pop filter is ready.
- Now bend the straight part of your wire from two places. Make one bend beneath the pop filter (About 75 degrees). The second bend will be three to five inches from the other end of the wire. The angle of the bend will depend upon where you will tie it on your microphone stand.
You can tie it using rubber bands, tape, or even a hose clamp. Your DIY pop filter should cover the microphone completely. The distance between the pop filter to the microphone should be around two and three inches.
It is perhaps the cheapest DIY pop filter method available. And the quality can be excellent, given that the stocking is properly taut over the ring.
How you attach the filter to your microphone stand can vary depending upon the stand, but with a long wire hanger, you can cover a variety of situations.
Embroidery Hoop Method
It’s even easier to make a DIY pop filter using an embroidery hoop. You will need:
- An embroidery hoop – The size will depend upon your requirement, but usually, a 6-inch frame would do just fine. It doesn’t matter if it’s plastic or wood.
- Stockings (pantyhose) or socks.
- A stiff electrical cable (like a Romex wire) – between 2 to 4 feet. It will be used to prop up your filter against your microphone, so the length you will need will depend a lot upon your microphone stand.
- Zip tie and hose clamp – Sizes according to the cable.
- A pair of scissors.
Step by Step Guide
An embroidery hoop (or embroidery frame) is a fantastic way to make a DIY pop filter.
The reason simply being that you can control how tight the filter fabric (stocking) is using the hoop, unlike other methods where the tightness depends upon the stocking itself.
- Cut the stockings open. This way, you will have a long piece of stretchable nylon fabric. Lay it lengthwise and fold it upon itself.
- Separate the inner hoop from the outer one by loosening the torque screw and bolt on the outer hoop. Don’t loosen it up too much. When set, it should hold the fabric without allowing much slack.
- Now, stretch the doubled-up fabric and place it on the inner layer. If you can borrow another pair of hands, make them put the outer hoop over the inner hoop and fabric, so you don’t lose any tightness. If not, press down the long end of the stocking-cut-fabric with something substantial, so it doesn’t come loose. Stretch the other end with one hand and press the outer loop using your other hand. Tighten the torque screw.
- Now you should have the fabric nice and tight on your embroidery hoop. One side of it will be immaculate and even, with the fabric uniformly absorbed by the hoops. The other side will have the rest of the fabric hanging loose. Cut it away using scissors. Your pop filter is now ready.
- Flip the pop filter to the backside (where you cut away the fabric). Place the wire over the middle of the torque screw cavity (vertically). Extend it a bit, reaching near the middle of the hoop. Then tie it hard using the cable tie (horizontally). Bend the extended wire over itself, sandwiching the cable tie in the middle.
- Bend the wire beneath the filter to angle it correctly in front of the microphone. Bend the other end in a way that it can be easily tied to the microphone stand using the hose clamp.
The most common problem with a pop filter is the tearing of the fabric/net/mesh of the pop filter.
In commercially available pop filters, you can do nothing else but replace the whole pop filter if that happens.
But with a DIY pop filter, you can easily replace the stocking/fabric. You can clean it up more frequently without the fear of tearing it up.Last updated on: