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Many microphones are very susceptible to external handling noise, breath blasts, and moisture. There are some microphone accessories that are nearly essential in certain applications. I'll show you a few accessories that you'll find virtually in every studio. The primary reason to use pop filters or screens is to eliminate the wind blast when the vocalist sings Ps and Bs. It also can help with proper positioning, keeping the vocalist at the appropriate distance from the microphone, and preventing them from generating the proximity effect. These screens can be of limited value, however, when, in fact, positioning and vocal microphone technique are far more useful in reducing these pops, which is something that we'll go over later when we look at vocal mic placement.
Let's have a listen first without the pop screen. Listen to the bassy blasts that happen when the vocalist sings or speaks words with a lot of Ps and Bs. (music playing) With the pop screen in place, it makes a little difference, but not much. The air blasts are now eliminated. Not so much because of the pop screen, but more because the mic capsule is no longer placed in front of the singer's lips.
But it will work well for eliminating moisture on the microphone. (music playing) External pop screens are designed to be as acoustically transparent as possible, but they usually have a slight negative effect on the high frequency response of the mic. For instance, a Neumann U87 style Windscreen will knock the response of 15 kHz down by about two to three dB, which may or may not be heard depending upon the arrangement of the song.
This reduction in the highs can be pretty easily addressed later with EQ. Spitting on a valuable mic is a really big reason to use a pop screen though. Condensation coming from a vocalist's breath can cause a Condenser microphone to actually stop working for a short time, and the pop filter goes a long way to eliminate the problem. A lot of people fix pop filters to a goose neck device that attaches to boom stand that holds the mic. It's usually easier to mount the pop filter on a second boom as it makes positioning less frustrating and more exact.
Shock mounts are designed to prevent the microphone from picking up transmission noises that come through the mic stand, like footsteps or the rumble of traffic outside. Large diaphragm mics are usually a lot more susceptible to mechanical noise, than small diaphragm ones, which is why a shock mounts is usually provided in the package. One of the downside to shock mounts is that they loosely hold the mic in place. So, they are more difficult to position. One of the essential studio tools, pop screens do a great job of stopping moisture from getting on the microphone capsule, but they won't stop all of the singer's breath blasts.
Only proper mic placement will do that. Shock mounts reduce the sound of footsteps and outside rumble, but they are sometimes difficult to position, because of the way they are made.
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