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What is a windshield for and do I need one?

What is a windshield for and do I need one?
A customer of ours recently asked if it would be OK if they just cut up a kitchen sponge to use as a windshield and then went on to ask what they actually did and if he really needed one. This inspired us to write a little blog post just to clarify the situation.

So, windshields, muffs or windscreens are often assumed to be those little black, or coloured, foam heads that slip over a microphone and whilst this is one form of a windshield it is not the only form. Essentially all windshields are design to protect your microphone from unwanted noise or damage and the level of noise rejection, or damage control, will determine which type of windshield is best for you.

Generally, microphones that are used on inside sound systems don't need a windshield because there should be no wind! However, a windshield could still help if the person using the microphone is a little breathy or the microphone is being hit with plosives from the persons speech. Don't get us wrong, if there is an issue with plosives, that's the little blasts of air that come with the pronunciation of P's and B's, then you really should be using a pop filter but a little extra attenuation and protection from a windshield would help especially when the use of a pop filter simply isn't practical.

If you have decided that wind, or other unwanted air, is affecting the audio then you need to move on to which solution is best for you. Some hand held microphones have a basic built in windshield, under the metal grille, but you can still add additional windshields if required. The density of foam is an important consideration for you; the denser the foam the more noise rejection will be achieved but this will affect the microphones ability to pick up higher frequencies. A less dense, more porous, foam will provide much better acoustic transparency but will also result in the potential for more of that unwanted noise to creep in. If you're concerned about losing that high frequency content then it may be worth considering a fur based windshield instead. These are more transparent for audio passing through but still do a great job at getting rid of those wind and air noises. 

If you do need to record outside then further consideration needs to be made to the potential weather conditions that you'll be working in. In very light wind you could be fine with a foam or fur windshield but higher winds may need you to invest in a Dougal or Blimp. These are essentially cages that suspend your microphone in the centre giving an area of calm air around the microphone. The outershell is then covered in a wind absorbing foam or fur. These are by far the most professional setup and will provide the best audio capture for you but you really do need to consider the application and budget before making a commitment. 

Don't forget about the potential damage element too. Microphone capsules are very sensitive and working in high wind environments without suitable protection will put your microphone at risk. This should be considered when you're making a purchase; does your £500 microphone really deserve that £3 windshield off eBay or should you really be buying a device that will protect your investment?

So to summarise:

Working indoors rarely needs a windshield.
Consider a pop filter to get rid of plosives.
Foam windshields will help block very light winds and breathiness.
Fur based windshields will help block light winds and keep higher frequencies in the mix.
Dougals or Blimps will provide the best level of protection and noise rejection.
Created On  27 Jan 2020 17:35  -  Permalink

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