Metal Pop Filter vs Cloth: Which Is Better?

metal pop filter vs cloth differences

Pop filters usually come in two varieties: metal pop filter vs cloth types. Which is better between the two?

If you are new to the recording world and in the process of setting up a home studio, you must have come across pop filters.

It’s a microphone accessory that weakens the popping sounds and plosives created from saying words with /b/, /p/, /t/, /f/, and /g/ sounds.

What it does is help improve your vocal recordings, filtering the noises you produce as you speak plosive sounds.

To help understand how it can make your setup better, let’s first talk about its importance.

Why Use a Pop Filter?

A pop filter acts as a shield while helping vocal artists solve two significant problems in recording.

Also, it provides a visible boundary so that the performer knows the correct distance from the microphone to create a better sound.

Microphone Overload

All microphones have a component with varying sensitivity levels to catch everything from the user.

The problem is that vocalists produce plosive sounds that can overwhelm the microphone, creating a popping or clipping sound that engineers cannot fix.

Pop filters effectively spread the plosive sounds coming from the consonants spoken by the performers.

Saliva Shower

It’s hard to control saliva from coming out of your mouth as you speak or sing; thus, the presence of pop filters.

Without this accessory, saliva showers can damage your microphone much sooner than you would’ve liked.

metal pop filter vs cloth

How To Set Up Pop Filters

Knowing how to set up a pop filter correctly adds to its effectiveness in deflecting unwanted plosives.

Most pop filters have clamps you can attach to a microphone stand.

Connected to it is the gooseneck, which is a flexible pipe-like support that you can adjust to your preference.

To set it up, position the pop filter within four to six inches from the microphone to shun the plosives from disrupting your recording.

Sometimes, you must also consider your microphone’s sensitivity levels and the performer’s voice when setting up the pop filter.

It will help to tilt the pop filter according to the microphone’s angle to make it more effective, especially for models with a smaller diameter.

Metal Pop Filter vs Cloth: What’s the Difference?

Since metal and cloth pop filters have the same purpose, let us discuss how they differ to see which variety is better.

How They Work

Though these pop filters share a common goal, they manage it using various methods.

Cloth pop filters usually use two thin layers of nylon mesh fabric material as barriers between you and the microphone.

They diffuse and curb your breath, slowing it down before reaching the microphone diaphragm.

In turn, the noise level from the plosive sounds you produce is reduced or eliminated. 

On the other hand, if you use metal pop filters properly, they will redirect your breath downward instead of resisting it, reducing the noise from the plosives.

The Sound They Produce

Both metal and cloth pop filters effectively minimize the noise from the plosives.

However, it’s pretty challenging to determine which one is better because of the minimal difference in the sound.

The more aggressive approach of metal pop filters in reducing plosives sometimes deflects other essential vocal sounds.

On the contrary, some say that the less aggressive manner of cloth pop filters creates more authentic and natural-sounding vocals.

Quality

Generally, cloth pop filters are more affordable than the metal variety, which has a mid-range price.

This price difference usually comes with contradicting qualities in its build, materials, and hardware.

There is no doubt about their effectiveness in filtering the plosive noises. However, one can’t help but notice its build quality details.

Among the things you have to check is gooseneck quality. 

It should have enough flexibility to place it correctly on the microphone stand and durability for holding and keeping the filter in place. 

The quality of the clamps connecting your pop filters to your microphone stand also varies. 

You can tighten a screw clamp around the microphone stand’s pole, securing it firmly in place.

On the other hand, the spring type drops tension when squeezed and snaps on the frame when released.

Generally, quality metal pop filters come with better clamp attachments, allowing you to secure them firmly on the microphone stand.

The hardware’s build quality can affect your pop filter’s life span and endurance. The most inexpensive ones start to slip and malfunction over time.

Visibility

Metal pop filters are more transparent than cloth models, making it easier for someone to read off of a lyric sheet when it comes to visibility.

When you use cloth pop filters, reading notes or lyrics is more challenging as you try to keep a particular microphone technique.

Metal pop filters don’t obstruct the view as much as denser cloth filters, providing you with a better experience.

Maintenance

Metal pop filters are easier to clean and maintain. They protect your microphone from your breath, the plosive sounds you create, and your saliva.

Eventually, there will be saliva build-up on your pop filter as you continually use it. When this happens, you can quickly rinse the metal models for cleaning.

In comparison, cloth pop filters are harder to clean, eventually requiring you to replace them instead.

What’s more, metal pop filters are sturdier and can better handle wear and tear, withstanding the test of time. 

Alternatively, cloth models tear easily if not handled properly, rendering them ineffective in filtering the plosives.

Pros and Cons of Both Filter Types

There are no perfect pop filters. Each type has distinct pros and cons you need to consider to determine which one is better.

Metal Pop Filter vs Cloth: Which Is Better? 1

Cloth Pop Filters

Cloth pop filters have two thin layers of material stretched around the frame’s border, creating a small air gap in between.

It’s one way of stopping the plosives from penetrating your microphone. 

This pop filter type is suitable for beginners mainly because of its comprehensive options and affordability.

Because of these reasons, cloth pop filters are widely used in the recording industry.

Sound engineers attest to the effectiveness of this filter type in reducing the plosives. However, they can’t remove the high frequencies from the vocals.

The problem is that the fabric’s delicate nature makes it tricky to clean and prone to damage.

Metal Pop Filter vs Cloth: Which Is Better? 2

Metal Pop Filters

The popularity of metal pop filters has increased in recent years.

They are made of thin perforated metal sheets, redirecting the plosives away from the microphone.

This metal-type filter is more durable and easier to clean and maintain. It’s also smaller, making it less distracting for the artist.

However, metal pop filters may develop a slightly audible whistling sound over time.

Also, it’s hard to restore them to their original shape once they bend.

Using Both Pop Filter Types Simultaneously

Some might ask if it’s possible to use both types of filters at once. There are performers and vocal artists who practice this technique.

Others even claim that their performances come out flawless and well-balanced than when they only utilize a single pop filter.

If you have doubts, do several vocal recording sessions using a single pop filter in your first take and add another one on your second try.

Compare the two recording results and decide which technique provides a better sound.

Typically, the metal pop filter is placed in front of the cloth type to protect it from saliva showers, extending its life span and preventing it from smelling.

Which Is Better?

Some new vocalists improvise pop filters due to a lack of budget.

With numerous affordable options today, it’s easy to choose between metal pop filter vs cloth.

Though both styles provide improved vocal recording results, we still recommend the metal pop filter variety.

They last longer and are easier to clean and maintain. What’s more, metal filters provide a more professional look than cloth types.

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