Antlion Audio's ModMic 5 add-on microphone reviewed


Poor mic quality, begone
— 9:00 AM on July 10, 2017

The gaming headset market is stuffed to the brim with headsets boasting all sorts of varying styles and features. Regardless of their other features, the majority of gaming headsets I've tested suffer in the same area: the microphone. That makes little sense when the primary reason for purchasing a gaming headset over a standard pair of headphones is having a built-in microphone. Unfortunately, the usually poor quality of headset microphones leaves people in a bit of a bind if they want the convenience of communicating clearly over voice chat or video without the hassle of using a desktop microphone. Other gamers might want to add a mic to high-quality headphones that aren't available as headsets to begin with.

Thankfully, there are solutions to these dilemmas. Antlion Audio offers one of the more popular solutions: the ModMic. The ModMic attaches onto headsets or headphones, equipping them with a high quality mic. The ModMic is not only a handy solution for people whose headsets have poor microphones, but can also effectively turn any pair of headphones into a gaming headset. Today we're going to be taking a look at the ModMic 5, the latest generation of the ModMic.

A carrying case and a cable sheath come nestled inside the box. Both of these items are nice extras that can help protect, store, and manage everything included in the ModMic kit, though it's quite difficult to put cables into the cable sleeve.

The main components are stored inside the case: the microphone itself, a modular mute switch, two differently-sized cables, cable clips, two adhesive bases, three extra adhesive pads, and a wipe. I decided to attach the ModMic to my Fatal1ty FXM 200 headset. This pair of cans has a great audio profile for gaming, but I've always thought it could use a better microphone.

The modification process is quite simple. The included wipe can be used to prep the mount point on the headset or headphones being used, but I didn't notice the wipe until later. I just stuck the adhesive base to the side of the left earcup, and it worked fine. With the base in place, the microphone snaps on easily thanks to the strong magnets in both the base and mic attach point. The attach point can be loosened in order to adjust how far the microphone sticks out from the headset. The arm is bendable to allow for optimal positioning of the mic, as well, but it's also quite stiff so as to prevent the mic from flopping around or being bent on accident.

Thankfully for me, the headset I chose has a microphone port on its earcup, so I simply plugged the short cable extending from the microphone into that 3.5 mm jack. I then plugged the headset cable into a splitter going into my PC, and I was in business. However, most headsets and headphones don't have built-in mic ports, so for the sake of proper testing, I pulled out the one-meter cable and the cable clips and went to work setting up the full ModMic kit.

When I was finished, I had effectively a single cable thanks to the cable clips. At first, I was worried the clips wouldn't keep hold of the flat headset cable, but the clips are curved in such a way to accommodate all different sizes and varieties of cables. Not once during my time using the ModMic did either of the cables come loose from a single clip. The ten included clips were plenty to keep the two cables together, making the included cable sleeve functionally unnecessary for me. That's good, since threading cables through the sleeve was difficult when I tried it.

Overall, I'm incredibly pleased with the ModMic setup. The magnets connecting the mic to the headset are the perfect strength to prevent the mic from falling or being knocked off, but allow the mic to be easily removed when needed. The base that sticks to the headset or headphones has four teeth that make sure the mic snaps into and stays in the proper position during use. The teeth are also spaced in such a way that the mic can be flipped up while not being used, similar to many gaming headset microphones. The final convenience of the magnetic base system is that the kit comes with two bases, so you could have two different headsets or headphones that you attach the microphone to depending on what you're doing.

The mic in ModMic

The ModMic actually has two different microphones inside: an omni-directional mic and a uni-directional mic. Right next to the puffy pop filter is a switch that allows you to pick which mic you'd like to use. The omni-directional mic picks up a larger and more full-sounding range, but that sound can include some background noise. The uni-directional mic is restricted to the sounds coming from the direction of your mouth, but that can result in slightly less rich or full-sounding audio. If your computer fans are fairly loud or you use a mechanical keyboard, you'll probably want to use the uni-directional mic.

Double microphones add to the modularity of the ModMic 5, but that wouldn't matter if the microphones weren't any good. I can happily report that the microphones aren't a letdown at all. They're quite the opposite, in fact. Once I had the ModMic set up, I jumped into Fistful of Frags with a buddy of mine, and he praised the microphone quality. Afterwards, I opened up Audacity and tested both microphones with a large variety of voice inflections and background noise.

The microphone quality blew me away. I'm used to such high-quality sound being recorded on large, studio microphones, not little headset microphones. I can definitely see people using the ModMic 5 for streaming, podcasts, and video so they don't have to deal with clunky studio mics. The only issue I can see for streaming is the small amount of mechanical keyboard noise the mics pick up. The uni-directional mic does a better job excluding keyboard noise than the omni-directional mic, but a tiny bit of keyboard sound can still come through if you really go at it on a loud mechanical keyboard. YouTube voiceovers or podcasts, on the other hand, usually don't involve keyboard use, and any imperfections in the audio can be fixed or edited out. If you're just using the ModMic for voice chat, it's got you covered.

Antlion Audio also sent over its USB adapter (a $10 extra) for me to try to help avoid any static caused by dirty power from the standard mic jack. Sure enough, plugging the ModMic directly into my computer did result in a bit of static, and the adapter did a great job removing almost all noticeable static. The audio samples of the ModMic 5 below were all recorded with the USB adapter. I compared the ModMic 5 to two different headset microphones, one of which is the microphone of the headset I have the ModMic attached to, and my Rode Podcaster. I also recorded audio samples of the two ModMic microphones while typing on a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches.

Conclusions

Antlion Audio's ModMic 5 is meant to provide gamers with a convenient, high quality attachable microphone, and it does exactly that. The ModMic 5 is one of the rare products I've used that leaves me with practically nothing negative to say about it. Antlion's included cable sleeve is a bit difficult to use, but the company's included clip system otherwise makes up for that difficulty.

Antlion Audio ModMic 5
July 2017

The ModMic 5 has a fantastic modular mounting system that allows users to choose from various parts to set up the kit how they like it. The magnetic connectors work wonderfully and the cables clips do a great job keeping wiring from getting messy. Most importantly, the main ModMic module features a pair of high-quality microphones that I found great for voice chat, video, and streaming. If you want a high-quality microphone that doesn't take up a ton of desk space, the ModMic delivers.

The entire ModMic kit screams quality, though quality isn't cheap. The ModMic 5 will run you $70 at full price, which may not fit into everyone's budget. If you need a high-quality microphone to pair with most any set of headphones or to replace the mediocre microphone that comes standard with many headsets, I think the ModMic 5 is just what you're looking for—and it's an easy TR Editor's Choice.

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Tags: Multimedia