We’ve all experienced vocal pops more than once in our music production career,
nothing can be more frustrating.
during recording pop sounds generally come from plosive sounds,
these sounds are almost like explosions because they occur as a result of a burst of air that is generated from your lips,
the burst of air then hits the capsule of the microphone.
this then creates what sounds like a pop sound, when it is played back.
and it is as a result of a low frequency energy that hits your microphone, usually from the use of words with sounds that the letters P and B.
therefore let’s look at what we can do to get rid of vocal pops.
Precautions Before Recording
Use Low Frequency Roll off
The best way to get rid of vocal pops is not to record any in the first place,
this is one of the best ways to handle this problem, rather than dealing with it after it is recorded.
one of the ways to get rid of vocal pops is by using a low-frequency roll off switch/highpass filter.
A low frequency roll off switch cuts out the lower frequencies usually 80Hz and/or 100Hz and below.
these frequencies are often the same ones associated with ambient room noise, low rumbles and plosives.
the low frequency switch will not get rid of the plosive sounds altogether or completely,
but will help you attenuate them by filtering out low-frequency content.
this step is particularly useful to people that have microphones that have this feature.
but if you’re a beginner and are thinking of ways to get rid of the loud pop sounds you keep hearing your vocal recordings,
then you should go ahead and get yourself a microphone with a Low-Frequency/High pass filter.
there are alot of options that you can pick from, so make you get a good Condenser microphone with the feature.
you can check out Audio Technica Microphones, most of their microphones come pre-installed with this feature.
Record distant from the mic
Another great way to deal with plosive sounds before they even get into your DAW is by recording from a distance.
this is great way to deal with any pop sounds and any distortion that may come from the performer being too close to the microphone.
most singers especially ones that haven’t had vast experience in the recording arena,
generally tend to think they should at least be close to the microphone in order for it to capture their voice in full and in great depth,
but that is not the truth,
Condenser microphones are designed for recording and this makes them sensitive enough to be able to capture a vocal even if the performer is not close to the microphone.
plus these microphones tend to ignore alot of other noises and focus solely on the performance,
that’s why they are referred to as “Quite mics”
with this in mind, it is therefore your duty as the producer to make sure you have the singer,
record the right way which is at a reasonable distance from the microphone (which is not too far and not too close approx. 7 to 10 inches away from the mic).
this technique is a great way to avoid plosive sounds and the proximity effect which would in turn cause distortion which is just as bad as having plosive sounds with in your recordings.
Use a proper mic
This should have probably been the first item on this list because it is one of the most important elements to getting the right quality recording that I’m hoping you’re going for.
the very first thing in any recording establishment is to get the right equipment,
this is a measure to prevent any hiccups that would otherwise disturb the workflow.
therefore getting the right microphone is so essential to your recording process before you even start to think about other gear,
the right microphone combined with the right usage can help you prevent any unnecessary recording problems that you could encounter.
as we earlier discussed,
its always a great move to deal with plosive sounds before they even enter the DAW and become a problem,
one way to ensure that is by using the right microphone to record with.
a cardoid Condenser microphone is what you’ll typically want here because it built for recording and it will help you achieve a better quality of sound.
in essence it’s best to go for a good omni directional microphone,
these microphones are designed to pick up sound from all sides of the mic,
meaning that a performer can record at any side of the microphone and it will be able to capture it,
this is a great deal because typically you’ll want a microphone that is able to capture sound in any direction,
because the technology that comes with omni directional microphones makes it the right way to deal with problems like plosive and pop sounds.
but remember that an omnidirectional microphone is not an all in one cure for pops,
its simply tends to not exhibit the proximity effect that you would otherwise get from a directional microphone.
Use a pop filter
By design, pop filters reduce plosive sounds and clicks that you would otherwise get when you’re carrying out your recording improperly,
it is one of the ways in which vocal pops can be handled to ensure that non of them get into the recording.
there are a wide range of pop filters available on the market,
you can start by looking out for those that are online to get a basic sense of what they offer and their unique capabilities,
this can then help you make a well thought out decision when going for the right pop filter to help you avoid or curb vocal pops.
but you have to make sure you use the pop filter THE RIGHT WAY,
because let’s face it,
even with the right and best equipment in the world, it would be hard to get quality if the person utilizing the equipment is using it the wrong way.
since there are a wide variety of pop filters,
my general recommendation is to get the add on that you buy separately because they are designed to handle heavy plosive sounds,
rather than using the simple ones that come with some microphones,
the metal mesh pop filters tend to work really well and they are durable.
after you buy the right pop filter you can then position it and find the sweet spot,
you don’t want your pop filter near your microphone because pop filters won’t magically make your pops from plosive sounds disappear into thin air,
pop filters will just help you divert the pops and then make your vocal sound cleaner,
so place your filter at a distance from the microphone,
its always a good thing to test various areas within your recording booth that you can extend your filter to.
once you find a spot that makes the plosive sounds diminished you can then set your filter there and begin to take notice as you carry on your recording work and see if you’ll need to adjust it further.
When the vocal pops have already been recorded
Here are a couple of ways to do this
Utilize a high pass filter
Once you’ve established that there are pops In your vocals, you can use a high pass filter.
this will generally work best if the pops aren’t too severe,
you can reduce and possibly eliminate the pops by using a sharp high pass filter on your vocal track,
and what you would initially do is use a good filter to get rid of some low end frequencies because generally plosive sounds will be much lower.
once you get your high pass filter ready, you can then use it on the parts that have the pop sounds,
then play the vocal back and forth and adjust the filter as necessary.
Use fade In
Another technique you can employ to combat a pop is to fade it in,
the worst pops usually occur at the beginning of a plosive sound, and then continues to persist.
therefore you can zero in on the pop and split the vocal so can focus solely on the pop,
doing this will atleast give you some room to work with ,
using the fade in technique can help you determine just how much of the pop you intend to keep and how much of it you intend to get rid of.
cutting and separating the pop is a great technique because it will help you tailor your fade in shape,
how ever you hear it fit.
it maybe time consuming but it will atleast give you better results.
it could be difficult to use a high pass filter if the vocal pops are too severe,
for example in a situation where the entire vocal has pops.
in a situation like this applying a high pass filter may thin out the entire vocal, thereby making the record sound unnatural.
that’s why separating the pops and dealing with them one by one will serve you best.
This will work best if the pop is in the middle of the vocal and not at the beginning,
in such a situation you typically have two options,
you can use the method we’ve previously discussed that involves zeroing in on the pop and then fading it in or applying a high pass filter.
this process would be invalid in a situation where applying a fade or filter makes the vocal lose its natural timber.
therefore the second option that you’ll then have is to split the plosives into their own unique clips and then reduce the gain.
this may work in some cases but most of the time,
the problem associated with this is that there may be detectable abrupt level changes, which you can solve by adding a cross-fade.
some daws will do this automatically and they even let you specify the automatic crossfade time.
cross fading is basically a technique that creates a smooth transition from one sound to another (in this case from one audio clip to another).
This means that the first clip can fade out while the other one fades in therefore creating a smooth blend of the clips together.
in most cases a pop will have low frequency energy that will need you to apply a fair amount of a high pass filter mixed with some moderate gain, both of which will require some work to get the parameters right.
this basically covers everything we are in a position to do when it comes to dealing with plosives, and as you can obviously gather,
it is much harder to deal with plosives once they have been recorded,
therefore my advise is to get the recording right, the very first time because this will save you a whole lot of headache.
you also have the option re-recording a bad vocal,
which would mean doing the steps recommended in this post to make sure the vocal performer is well aware of the right recording techniques,
plus adjusting your pop filter as necessary as possible and finally by using the right microphone.
dealing with a bad vocal requires a great deal of time and focus to be able to get it to how you want it to sound, therefore do the recording right.
I hope you found this article helpful,
please do leave a comment, as it may help us to serve you better.