Antlion Audio’s ModMic 5 add-on microphone reviewed

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.

Comments closed
    • Freon
    • 2 years ago

    I added one of these to my Sennheiser HD598SE headphones recently, I’ve been very happy with the setup. In shorter term since I started playing PUBG online a lot I picked up a cheapo $30 headset, but the quality was severely lacking and I also didn’t want to buy yet another expensive headphone set when I have the Sennheisers and a decent amp for them already.

    $70 is a bit stiff, but it seems like high quality gear and the whole kit is comprehensive.

    • EzioAs
    • 2 years ago

    It does sound pretty good but I can clearly hear the difference between the ModMic and Rode mic. The ModMic might not be for me because I rarely use my headphones and prefer speakers overall but I’m guessing that if I were to buy a decent headphone in the future, this mic might be put into consideration. It’s a bit too expensive for the overall package though. I’m actually considering going the mic with stand route instead of on headsets. Thinking of getting the Blue Yeti mic but that’s in a different price segment though the overall package and quality is reasonable, I guess.

    I’m loving your peripheral reviews Nathan. Keep up the good work.

      • Gyromancer
      • 2 years ago

      The ModMic 4 is $50 at full price if you want a bit of a price cut. It doesn’t have all the features of the ModMic 5, and I haven’t tested the microphone, so I can’t personally vouch for the mic quality. However, from the audio samples I’ve heard, it sounds great. I agree it isn’t as good as a full on professional studio mic like my Rode Podcaster, but that sucker is $200, which is a totally different price segment, like you say. I’d also say it can be worth signing up for massdrop. They’ll often have great deals on many products, including ModMics. As aspect pointed out, the ModMic 5 will probably go down to $45 on there. If you want a good desktop microphone for half the price of the Yeti, I recommend the Blue Snowball. I’ve heard great things about it from people I trust, as well as quality recordings.

      Thanks! I’m happy I can test out all these products and write reviews for you all to read on TR.

        • EzioAs
        • 2 years ago

        Thanks for introducing the Snowball, unfortunately I’ve heard some sound samples on the them and they don’t sound quite as good as the Yetis. I’ll probably get a used Yeti seeing as new ones are a bit too much for what I would pay for my intended usage.

        Also heard some samples from the AT2020. They sounds [i<]really[/i<] good. Too bad the original version needs some other stuff (I'm no expert at this) to work with PC. The USB version is even more expensive than the Blue Yeti. I'm not sure about signing up for massdrop. If the deals are US only, then I'm certainly not getting any value from it :/

      • Freon
      • 2 years ago

      If you turn on the standard Windows-feature echo cancellation and noise cancellation stuff on in the Recording Devices, Properties, your game/speaker sound will not be picked up by Discord or whatever communication software you use. It does noise cancellation on what comes through the speakers. Using the uni-direction mode on the modmic will probably help even more.

      I play with my 5.1 speakers because it’s a bit easier for me to hear in PUBG for instance. With Discord set to auto-broadcast it is not picking up even the loud gun noises.

    • Stochastic
    • 2 years ago

    I just got the ModMic 5 about a week ago. I do think the $70 MSRP is way too high, but I use a microphone enough and care about audio quality enough that I bit the bullet and got it anyway. No longer do I have to hunch into my desktop mic.

    I think this makes most sense to buy for someone with a nice set of headphones that they would like to pair this up with. I use a pair of Fidelio X2’s plugged into an Emotiva DAC. If I didn’t care about audio as much, I would probably just get a $100 gaming headset and call it a day.

    • Firestarter
    • 2 years ago

    I’m happy with my modmic but I still think it’s too expensive for what it is

    • synthtel2
    • 2 years ago

    I bought the previous version thanks to a recommendation from someone on here (I forget who, sorry – but thanks!). The previous version was only $50, but left you to select omni/unidirectional at the time of purchase rather than including both. I picked omnidirectional, and have no regrets. With well-tuned voice activation, my keyboard (MX Browns) and other background noise don’t cause any problems, and the audio quality really is amazing. The quality is more cuts above the average cheapo headset mic than it is below professional production gear.

    Mounting is a bit weird, but that’s my headphones’ fault, not the mic’s. I use Grados with the externally-facing grilles removed to stop most of the 2 kHz resonance, so there’s really nowhere to mount the mic in the way Antlion intended. What I did was straighten out the flexible mic body and hook it over the ear, between the headphone body and earpad. At least with the earpads that come on Grado’s low-end models, this works pretty well. The cable clips don’t, though – Grado uses very thick cables.

    It looks, unfortunately, like they’re only still selling the unidirectional version of the old MM4. That’s a shame, because IMHO that’s not a particularly well-spent $20 to get both mics in the same package, as others here are saying.

    • Chairman_Now
    • 2 years ago

    Hmm, seems like a lot of money for an inferior solution.

    I got a pair of headphones that had a removable cord w/ inline mic:

    [url<]https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E89ASQK/ref=psdc_12097479011_t3_B005CNR7B0[/url<] Then added this... [url<]https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LRDZLIE/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1[/url<] Perfection. Good sound, good mic. FYI, the headphones show up cheaper on Woot pretty regularly, and the mic is often cheaper at the mfg site.

      • moriz
      • 2 years ago

      unfortunately, your solution doesn’t work for headphones in general; only for specific ones that uses that kind of removable cabling. the modmic is more of a generic solution for all headphones.

      that mic also doesn’t rotate, nor can it be locked in place.

      and while the modmic 5 is expensive at $70, earlier versions are cheaper and are much more in line with other clip-on boom mics. i think the only thing you lose is the double microphones.

    • finally
    • 2 years ago

    Really? Cable clips?! I could have glued by beige compaq desktop mic from 1984 ono my head just the same.

    Why wouldn’t the mic have a headphone jack?

    What you have there isn’t a “mod” mic. It’s a piece of tape.

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t think the point of a microphone is the cable solution; The point of a microphone is the microphone.

      Cable clips or cable sleeve are the two options for cable management, both of which cost under $1 and neither of which have any influence on the sound quality of the microphone.

        • finally
        • 2 years ago

        we’re not comparing mic vs no mic. we’re comparing headset mic vs desktop mic.

        This device is nothing more than a desktop mic, (separately jacked), with a piece of tape instead of a stand.

        I could have always taken my desktop mic, and taped it to whatever I wanted — my monitor, my head, my chest-hair. This thing is just garbage.

        and if you think that clips, sleeves, and anything that makes the whole setup hideous, and stiff doesn’t matter? Well then, I have this itchy sweater for you to wear.

        …and then the tape will let go, the clip will fly across the room, the sleeve will get full of debris. Oh, it won’t be the device’s fault. no sir. The cat walks by ten times a day.

          • moriz
          • 2 years ago

          a desktop mic is typically twice the size and weighs 4x as much as the modmic, so no, the modmic isn’t anything like a desktop mic.

          also, you can attach the modmic to your chest hair too if you wish. not sure why you’d want to, but if that’s your fetish, go right ahead. the magnetic clip also allows the mic to detach from the base, so it’s definitely easier to hide your fetish in public.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 2 years ago

    Generally speaking, most gaming headsets suck for audio. This fixes that by adding a mic to just about any headphone you would want. Pretty slick. $70 may be a lot, but it’s a small addon compared to some quality cans.

    • tanker27
    • 2 years ago

    $70 bucks is a pretty hard pill to swallow. Considering my favorite mic, the Zalman Zm-Mic1, is 6 bucks on Amazon!

    [url<]https://www.amazon.com/Zalman-Zm-Mic1-Sensitivity-Headphone-Microphone/dp/B00029MTMQ[/url<]

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      Is it your favourite because it’s cheap and small, or your favourite because it provides excellent uni-directional pickup?

      I had to switch to a noise-cancelling beamform microphone simply because the clip-ons that you’re linking to picked up everything, including people in other rooms of my flat.

        • tanker27
        • 2 years ago

        All three.

        Weird, having to small children in the house no one has ever complained to me that the mic is picking up any other noise. In fact when played back to myself through headphones it provides great unidirectional pickup.

        I’ve heard and read the gamut of complaints about the Zalman but personally never had any issue with it. /shrug. I guess YMMV?

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      Wow, I had the headset in those images. Think I sold it at the 2nd or 3rd BBQ.

      • Convert
      • 2 years ago

      This. I use this same setup, clipped it to my sennheiser’s. I did have to make the clip opening a bit smaller for it to stay put. I heated up the clip with a lighter then squeezed it a bit. I’ve had the setup for many years and it’s still going strong. You really can’t go wrong with the Zalman.

      It does a great job at only picking up my voice, no one hears any background noise. Maybe the only downside is that I’ve had people tell me I’m quiet because I accidentally flipped the cord behind my back so the MIC is not in the best position.

      • aspect
      • 2 years ago

      Wait for it to appear on massdrop. It goes down to $45.

      • jodiuh
      • 2 years ago

      I had the first mod mic and it replaced that zalman. There’s no comparison. The zalman picks up EVERYTHING and sounds very tinny.

    • tanker27
    • 2 years ago

    Double post, oops

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