Hardware Review: Antlion Audio ModMic 5

It’s a problem most gamers face at some point: you’ve got a great set of headphones that fit you perfectly and offer comfort like no others, or maybe you spent a good chunk of money on a top-end set which gives you clarity like you’ve never heard before. But when it comes to playing online they’re redundant, due to the slightly inconvenient fact that there’s no microphone so all of your amazing tactical ideas and mother-based insults fall on deaf ears. The solution? Either buy a decent gaming headset with a mic built in (which means you lose out on your favourite headphones and spend lots more money) or buy a separate microphone that you need to position in the right place to be heard clearly. Neither option is ideal, and that’s exactly where the ModMic 5 comes into play; a very cool microphone system which connects to your existing headphones of choice and adds a microphone using a convenient and pretty impressive variety of ways.

I tested this out on the PS4 using a set of headphones that I’d usually plug straight into the PS4’s controller. They’re getting on a bit, but have softened to the side of my head nicely over time and are one of the few sets of headphones I’ve used that don’t squeeze so hard that it makes me feel like they’re trying to change the shape of my head. There’s no microphone included, so it’s the exact setup that the ModMic is aimed at. When setting up the ModMic you’ll need to decide on which side you want the microphone, and where you need it to sit so that the microphone itself isn’t right in front of your mouth. If you’ve ever heard distorted voices and excess breathing coming at you while you play Rainbow Six you’ll know that having the microphone next to your mouth is far better than being right in front – the ModMic helps with this by being fairly tricky to bend, but don’t worry about it not picking your voice up, we’ll come to that in a moment.

The microphone clips onto your existing headphones. Not a photo of my head by the way.

The reason you need to decide where it goes is down to the method of attaching it. There’s a strong and toothed magnet which allows the microphone to be taken on and off at will, but you’ll need to attach the magnetic base to the headphones somewhere using the 3M sticky pad supplied. If you’re precious about how your headphones look then you should probably turn away now before you start melting, but if you’re usually sat on your own while playing I can’t see how it’d be a problem. It’s a fairly small piece to stick on, and it’s incredibly easy to take the microphone on and off or change the angle if needed without needing to take them off and look at what you’re doing.

So you’ve turned your favourite headphones into a gaming headset. Hooray? Not yet. For console gaming you’ll need an extra Y-adaptor, which plugs into your controller and offers both a microphone and headphones socket. This comes with an extra price tag – currently around £14 delivered from Scan – which is a bit of a bugger when the ModMic 5 itself will set you back £65. That’s the big potential sticking point with this whole idea really, but if it’s a choice of this or an £80 headset which might not be comfortable or offer the quality you can get this way then this is definitely a useful option to have. Certainly a possible spanner in the works though.

Clip on, clip off. Also not my head.

The good news to counterbalance this though is that the quality of the sound picked up and delivered by the ModMic is very impressive. You have two options, either omni-directional which picks up sound from all around you or uni-directional which focuses its attention from just one place. If you’ve got a bit of a noisier environment, for example a fan heater or slightly loud computer or console next to you, then the uni-directional microphone is a great option, wiping out most background noise and only picking up things that are coming from you as opposed to anywhere else. The sound quality isn’t quite as good in that mode, but the elimination of other sounds makes up for it. The omni-directional mode is great though, picking up a very clear and rich sound which assuming the other players you’re with have decent headphones will give a very accurate representation of your voice. Even with the mic at a slight distance from your mouth (which is handy for not picking up blasts of breath from a “p” sound for example) you’ll be easily heard by others – it’s not excessively sensitive, but does its job admirably.

And so the big question you need to ask yourself when deciding if you need a ModMic 5 is whether you love your standard, non-microphoned headphones enough to warrant spending the best part of £80 to “upgrade” them to a full gaming headset. It’s worth remembering that the quality of the microphone is excellent, better than you’d get from most gaming headsets around the same price, and most sub-£100 gaming headsets tend to make some allowances somewhere in terms of the quality of the components, sound or microphone. As such if you’ve already spent a fair bit on your current pair and love how they sound and how they feel, then you’d be crazy to get rid of them for something a fraction of the price when the ModMic 5 could do exactly what you need.

If you need it, and can warrant the price, then you should leap at this. It’s a great product, and fills a vital gap in the market that will mean your head can stay comfortable for a little while longer.

And in case you want to check it out for yourself, head to the Antlion website – you’ll find links to various places to buy it too. Which is nice.

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