Easy to install, easy to put away.
If you’ve ever tried to carry on a conversation via your PC, Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network while gaming, you know the results can be, shall we say, uneven. And this isn’t a problem that’s limited to the cheap headsets included in console purchases. Even an otherwise good set can skimp on mic quality, or in some cases, not even include one.
Rather than scrap the whole setup and try something new, Antlion Audio has an alternative: replace (or add) the microphone. Priced at US$50, the ModMic 4.0 Omni-directional microphone is designed to easily attach to any existing headset. Now to see how well it works.
Please note that for the purposes of this review, we were provided Antlion Audio’s USB Adapter (US$10) and Y Adapter (US$12) for connecting to additional devices. The actual base unit features a standard 3.5mm jack.
A small pamphlet is included with setup instructions, walking you through the basics of how to properly position the microphone and prep it for the included adhesive to stick. It takes a little fine tuning to get the initial fit, but the unit itself is flexible and will easily adjust to your ideal position provided you didn’t completely botch the attachment portion.
Once the adhesive is on, the microphone itself can be quickly removed from the headset as the tiny nub is the only part semi-permanently attached. Everything else is done magnetically, creating a very firm seal when in use and then tucked away into the carrying case when you’re finished. The cord is quite long, and management can be a little cumbersome, though small clips are included so you can attach them to the cord running from your headset into the controller.
After mounting the ModMic to our HyperX Cloud II headset, we connected through both the PS4 and XB1 to chat with online buddies. The results were very positive, as we’d essentially toggle back and forth between the ModMic and the detachable mic that came with the headset. To a man, they indicated the clarity of the former was significantly better.
To get an even clearer picture, we also fired up our Elgato Game Capture HD60, connected to our laptop and did some extended recording sessions while playing DOOM, Oxenfree and Uncharted 4. Now while these videos were for, uh, internal use only (we’re still ironing out the kinks before we start uploading videos to YouTube), the difference between the two was immediately noticeable.
Voice levels remained steady and the clarity was consistent and static free, allowing you to easily hear what was being said in different types of in-game scenarios. Now, we’ve always considered the Cloud headsets to have a pretty good microphone, but what we’re talking about here is one company that builds headphones adding a mic versus a company that builds them for this specific purpose.
Lest we do nothing but praise the ModMic, there are a couple of performance issues to note. One, the Omni-directional did pick up some ambient sound — barking dog, conversations, a timer going off — so if you’re looking for a cleaner “Let’s play” or something similar you might be better off with the unidirectional model (which we did not test). There also seemed to be some sort of feedback when flicking the mute on/off, but perhaps it was something else. Either way, it was minor.
Given that our collection of headsets was made with gaming in mind — only our ASTRO A38s didn’t come with an available mic — the ModMic 4.0 Omni-directional microphone is more of a luxury item for anyone just looking to chat despite its superior performance.
Where the ModMic would truly be ideal is for those audiophiles that use non-gaming sets and want to communicate with friends or those looking to up the quality of their videos. In either case, ModMic would be a great buy.