Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes something new. This time, the item in question is the Stedman Proscreen 101 ($59). After recording literally thousands of vocal sessions with the ubiquitous black nylon-covered pop screens, I was not anticipating much improvement as I prepared to use Stedman’s new entry to the arena.
The differences between standard nylon pop filters and the Proscreen 101 are immediately apparent upon opening the box. Instead of the usual nylon-mesh approach, the Proscreen uses a 4.6-inch, wafer-like metal screen.
A closer look at the front of the metal screen reveals a downward slant to the wire threads. The steep angle diverts potentially destructive wind downward and away from the microphone’s diaphragm. The openings of the mesh are large enough to allow nonproblematic vocal performances to pass through unobstructed.
It is important to note that the side of the pop screen with the Stedman logo must face the vocalist; otherwise, the unwanted, ballistic wind will be directed up into the microphone. To be effective, the Proscreen should not be placed closer than two inches to the microphone, which allows enough room for large bursts of air to pass safely under the mic diaphragm.
I used the Proscreen on a number of vocal takes, using both Neumann U87 and AKG 414 microphones. I clamped the Proscreen 101 right onto the mic stand using the supplied 13-inch gooseneck (the Proscreen Model 100 ($49) has a standard 5/8-inch mic clip for mounting on a separate mic stand instead of a gooseneck). I also set up a standard two-ply 6-inch pop filter for comparison. Tracks were recorded with no pop screen as well.
The tracks cut with no pop filter sounded best, but were predictably saddled with occasional take-ruining pops or smears of wind. There was a subtle, yet discernable veiling of the sound on the tracks cut with the standard pop filter. There was a noticeable improvement in clarity on the tracks cut with the Proscreen. It seemed to allow more of the desirable vocal to pass directly to the microphone unencumbered.
Sure, I’d prefer not having to use a pop filter at all, but for most vocal sessions, that just isn’t realistic. The Stedman Proscreen comes the closest to the “best of both worlds” that I have heard: no pops and no veiling. Any improvement at the recording stage is worth its weight in gold down the line. It is good to see a successful new slant on the often taken-for-granted pop screen.
And how’s this for cool: Between sessions, dip the Proscreen in mild detergent and water, let dry and it’s good as new. No more complaints about the previous singer’s garlic, smoke, beer etc. Now all you have to worry about is pitch, timing, cadence, emotion, enunciation ·
Contact: Stedman at 800-629-5960; 616-629-5930; www.stedmancorp.com.