Hardware Review: Antlion ModMic Wireless

Some time ago we reviewed one of the earlier ModMic microphones, letting you use your favourite pair of standard everyday headphones and turn them into a fully fledged, high quality gaming headset. The big bonus, as well as the obvious benefit of being able to use your favourite headphones while communicating online, was the quality of the sound. The ModMic produced incredibly good sound capturing, but there was one put-off for some: the cables.

But who needs cables?

Well, not Antlion obviously. The ModMic Wireless is here, and it’s every bit as amazing as any previous ModMic, with the added win of not having any cables to worry about. What could be better? At around the £100 mark, this isn’t a cheap bit of kit, and you might be wondering why you’d choose to add this to your favourite headphones instead of splashing out that money on a half-decent gaming headset. Well, your answer is right there – it’d be half-decent, and the Antlion guys aren’t interested in half-decent.

One thing worth keeping in mind is that most gaming headsets, certainly up to a point, focus heavily on the quality of the actual headphone part itself, with the microphone being dropped on without a massive amount of thought or consideration. Everything you see in terms of promotional stuff for headsets tends to focus on how good the sound coming out of your console or PC is, what an amazing range you’ll get and how some magical virtual surround sound tricks your ears into thinking you’re sat in the middle of a cinema. And all that is great, after all you want your games to immerse you and sound every bit as amazing as you can get them sounding, but if you’re going to be communicating with friends, teammates or some squeaky kid who should’ve been in bed three hours ago, the microphone shouldn’t be an afterthought.

The solution, for those of you who haven’t put 2 and 2 together yet, is to combine two different bits of hardware to form one über-headset, made up of your favourite set of headphones (which could either be some great cans you’ve bought solely to listen to music or games through, or a gaming headset with detachable mic) and a separate microphone. This way you get the sound that you know you love into your ears, but others listening to you can also benefit from some voice audio that makes them wonder if you’re actually sat next to them.

The wired ModMic did this to a bewilderingly brilliant degree, and the wireless version is absolutely no different. Setup is a breeze; out of the box the headset and USB receiver pairs immediately and gives a range which is more than enough for anyone. I fired up Audacity and walked round the house talking to myself, and it was only at the very extreme corners that the audio started to cut out. And throughout the whole journey my voice remained crisp, clear and thanks to the two options of omni- or uni-directional listening, things like opening squeaky doors and walking on hard floors were pretty much silenced – a definite bonus if you tend to chat to people while others are in the room, or in an otherwise non-silent surrounding. I also roped in a couple of real-world friends to chat to me during a game for a while, and they reported very positive things about how my voice was reproduced, without that slightly shallow sound you so often get with standard headsets. One commented that it’s as close to actually talking to someone in the same room as you could imagine – they were extremely impressed.

While I was waiting for my review unit to arrive, I wondered how obvious it would be if I’d muted the headset. The mic is really easy to operate – it’s all on a single button in terms of turning it on, off or muting it, but that button is on the side of your head where it’s quite tricky to see without giving yourself a nasty eye injury. That’s easy as it turns out – the USB receiver has three LEDs which match the colour on the microphone itself, so while it’s blue you’re good to talk away. If you mute it, the light turns yellow on both the microphone and receiver, so as long as you can see it you’ll easily tell if you’re being heard or not. Very handy.

The only downside I can see to this, is how the microphone attaches to your headphones. A small metal magnetic clip needs to be attached to one of the sides of your headphones, and obviously it needs to stick pretty tight. You can get it off, but you wouldn’t want to be taking it on and off every time you left the house. As such, your amazing headphones now have a small, circular metal thing on the side which might draw a few odd looks if you’re spotted out and about. How much you care about that is up to you really, but it goes without saying that if you’re not the kind to wear them out anyway, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.

The simple fact is that despite this addition to your existing kit, this is easily one of the best, if not the best way to communicate and record your voice. Whether you’re barking instructions to someone in Call of Duty, recording a podcast, screaming for a cutting through ball on FIFA, or questioning someone’s parentage on GTA 5, the Antlion ModMic Wireless is be far the best value way to do it. I’ve now ditched the microphone on one of my HyperX headsets and attached this instead, and I’ve got absolutely no regrets in doing so. Need a mic? Get one of these. It’s a no-brainer.

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