Antlion Audio ModMic 5 Review
A problem has always existed in the PC space and that problem is what do I do if I want to use my favourite Headphones and not a Headset, but still need a microphone. Regular headphones don’t have a microphone and a Headset does, so what to do!? Well luckily there’s been a answer for some time; that answer is use a ModMic and to be fair we have and it works. In fact Antlion Audio (the company behind the ModMic) has been making these add on microphones for Headphones for some time and now it’s in its fifth generation.
Today we’ll be taking a look at their latest microphone, this is the Antlion Audio ModMic 5. The ModMic 5 is still an add-on microphone for headphones, so not much has changed there. What is new though is that the microphone can be switched between noise cancelling (uni-directional) and studio (omni-directional) operating modes. The ModMic 5 now also comes with a more modular cabling system and even includes a cable wrap. There’s a new modular mute switch and various other aspects and materials have been improved too.
Packaging has also been improved over the ModMic 4 with the ModMic 5 now packaged in its own bespoke packaging. The front of the box shows a large image of the ModMic, the modular in-line mute module as well as the modular cabling. The front of the box also highlights the dual microphone, modular cable system, magnetic clasps and the fact that it’s compatible with all headphones.
The back of the box provides blurb on the ModMic 5 as well as lists what’s in the box. In addition to this Antlion Audio highlights the Innovative Magnetic System, Mute Switch Module and the Cable Management Clip & Wrap. At the bottom we can also see the ModMic’s compatibility and the fact that you can now switch between microphone modes.
There’s not much in the box though other than the familiar Antlion Audio wallet, that’s no doubt hiding the ModMic 5 and its associated accessories and there’s also the new cable sleeving.
Within that rather nice Antlion wallet we actually find rather a lot. Nicely packaged within we find the ModMic 5 and the mute module tucked into the top of the wallet. While in the base we find the additional modular cables, the claps and the instruction guide.
At the time of writing the Antlion Audio ModMic 5 is available from Overclockers UK for approximately £65 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Antlion
First impressions of the Antlion ModMic 5 are along the same lines as before when we looked at the ModMic 4, that’s because at first glance it would appear that not much has changed. But actually pretty much everything has changed, just subtly and this new ModMic is all the better for it…
First let’s look at the new microphone. The old ModMic 4 was available in two versions; omni-directional and uni-directional. A omni-directional microphone will pick up sounds coming from all around while a uni-directional microphone will pick up sound from a more specific direction, ideally your mouth. The new ModMic 5 has both with a switch at the end that allows you to select between the two. Note, this switch should also be facing towards you for the best pickup.
The ModMic 5 is now connected to a short 20cm cable allowing it to now be easily removed and stowed. This in turn connects to either of the supplied extension cables.
Antlion Audio provide two extension cables with the new ModMic 5 one 1m extension and another 2m extension. Due to the modular nature of the cables both cables can be connected together making a 3m extension should you need one.
New for the ModMic 5 is the microphone mute adapter, which is both optional and modular in nature. This can be placed anywhere along the cable(s) although is logically used in conjunction with both extension cables; sitting at the end of the 1m cable that in turn is connected to the microphone itself. As you can see everything in the ModMic 5 is equipped with a standard 3.5mm jack plug, giving the ModMic 5 true modularity and extensibility.
Installation of the Antlion ModMic 5 is the same as it was for the ModMic 4. For installation purposes I choose to use my Sennheiser RS 170 Wireless headphones as the foundation for our test, especially as they offer up a nice flat surface for the mount to adhere to.
The first task was to clean the area with the supplied alcohol wipe provided. As there’s more than one mount I was surprised to not find more than one wipe (again)! With that done and left to dry (5 mins) the mount was first connected to the boom to ensure correct orientation of the microphone. In fact it also makes sense to try it on first to get the orientation spot on. With that done the mount was pressed into position and left for an hour to ensure a good fit.
As you can see the end result looks pretty darn good and even looks like part of the headphones. As these headphones are wireless I didn’t use the supplied clips or the sleeving that allows you to clip the microphone’s cable to the headphones cable and cover it up. By loosening the screw at the end of the mount the boom can be moved forward and back, although to me it’s a little short so I left it at the maximum length. The boom is of the pipe-cleaner variety and can be bent into any position and even stays there! The magnet that holds the boom to the mount is extremely strong and works very well indeed.
Let’s first just touch on a couple of aspects that are important. Most Microphone’s in regular Headsets work and work relatively well. But, these are cheap alternatives to the microphone(s) that make up the ModMic 5. But then again the ModMic 5 costs as much as a standalone Headset. We’ve already established what the ModMic’s primary goal is, and that is to turn Headphones into a Headset and it does this without fault. But what we need to look at hear (haha) is the properties of the Microphone(s) itself, can I hear a difference and if I can hear a difference, is it better?
Thankfully Antlion Audio has made this task easy as the microphone(s) aboard the ModMic 5 easily outshine all that I’ve tested, well apart from the ModMic 4 maybe 😉 As someone who spends most (well, all really) of his time playing Games I primarily used the ModMic to talk to my friends over VOIP. Therefore I used the unidirectional microphone all of the time, as I don’t really need (want) my friends hearing what’s going on in the house around me. 😮 To this end the unidirectional microphone aboard the ModMic 5 performed flawlessly with numerous comments about it’s clarity, lack of noise and the fact that it actually sounded like me.
Switching across to the omni-directional microphone did indeed allow the ModMic to pick up other sounds around me as well as the ambient noise, although the downside of this was there was some additional reverb/echo added to the overall sound signature. But to be fair my office (in the house) is actually quite small. One other thing I noticed was that when using the switch aboard the ModMic 5 to swap microphones there was a notable pop, which was a little uncomfortable for the person(s) listening. The microphone mute switch aboard the modular mute module also exhibited the same. But the former is likely to be set and left, while the latter is not used that often and is no different to many a microphone mute switch found on a regular Headset.
My opinion of the ModMic hasn’t changed and that’s no bad thing. The Antlion Audio ModMic 5 is now better than ever and it was already very good. If you are looking to add a microphone to a pair of headphones the ModMic 5 is the best solution, but that solution is unfortunately going to cost you…
Antlion has not only upped their game with the ModMic 5 itself, the packaging has seen a make over too. Thankfully the Antlion wallet is the same and provides a great place to keep the Microphone itself and its all new modular cables and accessories.
It was hard to imagine how Antlion Audio could have improved the ModMic 4, but by listening to their community they’ve succeeded in making the ModMic an all round better product, even if the price has had to go up. The ModMic now sports dual microphones, one uni-directional for the likes of VOIP and a omni-directional for content creation and studio recording etc. The whole system is also now far more modular that before with three cables (one attached to the mic) and an additional microphone mute module.
Installation of the ModMic 5 to my chosen headset couldn’t have really been much easier. Simply clean the area where you wish to place the mount with the supplied alcohol wipe and attach once dry. BUT: It’s important to ensure the microphone is orientated correctly before you position it, as the microphone boom is angled at four specific positions only, due to its interlocking teeth.
Once installed and setup the ModMic 5 proved easy to use and I liked the strength of the magnet that holds is securely in position, I also like the fact that the microphone can now be easily removed and stored due to its short cable.
If you’re used to a regular Gaming Headset’s microphone then you’re sure as hell going to be impressed with this one. Clarity is excellent and noise reduction very good, without the tell tale signs of distortion and hiss. It’s always a good sign when you’re told that you sound more like you than normal… 😉
So it would appear that Antlion have pulled off the impossible; they’ve made the already impressive ModMic better and in fact more user friendly too. It’s hard to criticize the ModMic 5 in any way to be honest, and this is especially true as AntLion have no real competition in this sector. In fact there’s an argument that Antlion own this sector. If this is the sort of device you’re looking for then the ModMic 5 is the answer, but there’s one aspect that you might not want to hear and that’s the price…
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Many thanks to Antlion for providing this sample for review