Product Evaluation: Screens Silence Snap, Crackle and Pop

Brian Gunn of Popless Voice Screens says he saw the need for a better version of the wire-hanger-and-pantyhose-type pop filter while working in the pro audio field in the 1980s.
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The Popless Voice Screen comes in three sizes, includes mounting hardware and doesn't block copy.

(click thumbnail)VAC-re20
Brian Gunn of Popless Voice Screens says he saw the need for a better version of the wire-hanger-and-pantyhose-type pop filter while working in the pro audio field in the 1980s. He began testing acoustic materials for the right combination of sonic transparency and pop filtering capability. The acoustic material he found was stretched over an embroidery hoop and coupled to a gooseneck and mic stand clamp. The gooseneck and clamp enabled the system to be attached to the same mic stand as the mic, and positioned in front of the mic.
PRODUCT CAPSULETHUMBS UP:

Lightweight

Unobtrusive

Replaceable parts

THUMBS DOWN:

May take minor finagling to mount on some mic mounts

Keep the talent from actually eating the microphone

PRICE: $57-$67

CONTACT: Popless Voice Screens in New York at (800) 252-1503 or visit www.popfilter.com
Gunn had been reading my mind. On my workbench - from at least three years ago - is a three-inch, wooden embroidery hoop I used to concoct the "smaller is better" pop filter. I called it "The Peter Piper Pop Filter." I never had time to develop the attaching hardware. But now I don't have to because Gunn has done that for me, and he's done it better.

The Popless Voice Screen comes in three models: 3.5-inch (VAC-s3.5), 6-inch (VAC-s6) and VAC-re20, and range from $35 to $57. Replacement screens cost $16. The 3.5-inch version interests me most. Why? Because smaller is better for voiceover and radio work. A six-inch pop screen takes up too much space and gets in the way of the copy.

Each model comes with mounting hardware and two screens. On the VAC-s3.5 and VAC-6s, the mounting hardware is designed to fit most U 87-type spider suspension mounts, but you may have to be a bit creative in where you decide to clamp on to the suspension mount. Fortunately, Gunn has provided enough hardware to make that happen.

The VAC-re20 model is specifically designed for the RE20/27 309/A suspension mount. A lightweight plastic arm attaches to the suspension mount and holds the screens perfectly in front of the headgrille. That means less hardware weighing down the boom arm.

The design has something else going for it. You can put up to three screens in the mounting bracket to further increase the resistance to popping.

Screen spacing also is important. The screens on the Popless hoops can be arranged to be 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch apart, depending on how many you use and which way you insert them, which also gives you some room to experiment.

For example, two screens one inch apart and one inch from the mic may work better than three screens 1/4 inch apart and 1/2 inch from the mic. Position the backside of any mesh pop filter closer than an inch to the mic and its effectiveness diminishes.

The fact that the rims of the screen are as thin as they are also helps to make these assemblies more acoustically transparent. In previous experiments with embroidery rings and other plastic ring pop filters, I could hear some sort of minor coloring from the pop filters that had thicker plastic rings.

I see a future in which foam balls - and all the crud that ends up living in the foam - begin to disappear. It's a healthier future. Although I didn't try it, I suspect you could dip the screens in Listerine periodically and shake them dry to decontaminate them.

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