Repair Your Problem Plosive

Sometimes even using a good windscreen won’t eliminate all pops –or you might have opted to keep a take for musical reasons, in spite of a plosive problem.

Try the following three techniques along with, or instead of, a wind screen:

1) Moving the Microphone. Move the microphone slightly above or below your mouth. This will get the air moving past the diaphragm instead of moving directly at it. There might be a slight sound difference, which could be either detrimental or beneficial, but this is typically a good way to avoid pops.

2) Angling the Microphone. Point the microphone at an angle to your voice. This position, like the previous suggestion, allows the air to move past the capsule instead of at it.

3. Close to the Microphone. Move your microphone really close (closer than two inches). The movement of air doesn’t reach its peak energy until it’s gone more than an inch or so from your mouth, so you might be able to position the microphone at a point before the air achieves maximum flow, therefore avoiding pops. Positioning yourself close to the microphone works best on moving-coil microphones. Condenser microphones suffer from close proximity to the singer because moisture from the vocalist has an adverse effect on the sound and operational status of the microphone.

Sometimes, if you’ve tracked the vocals with bass or drums turned up artificially high in the monitor mix, a plosive problem can go unnoticed until mixdown, when you begin isolating parts.

It might be possible to go back into the studio to repair the track, but you might not get the same sound or emotional impact that you got on the original take.

One simple solution is equalization.

The pop that happens as a result of the strong plosive is heavy in bass frequencies, usually below 100 Hz. If you’re quick with the EQ controls, you can often turn down the lows at the precise word or part of a word where the problem exists.

This technique is very effective and especially useful when you only have one or two problem spots to focus on.

-Bill Gibson