Antlion ModMic 4.0 Review & Recording Samples

By Published November 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm
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Teamwork is vitally important in current leading games: Dota 2, Overwatch, Rocket League, League of Legends, Battlefield 1’s new squad system -- the industry has been trending toward team-heavy play for a few years now. Voice chat is the only real solution to communication in anything faster paced, and so we normally look toward headsets for an easy plug-and-play solution. Unfortunately, bad microphones plague even the most expensive headsets.

Headsets will often bundle together a mediocre quality mic and headphones and price it above what each would be worth individually. On top of that, for folks already in possession of higher quality standalone headphones, replacing them with a headset with worse sound quality isn’t that appealing. Clip-on and desk (see: Yeti, Snowball) mics are convenient for PC gamers who already have nice headphones (or for some other reason don’t want a headset), and can provide higher quality input. Not always -- but it’s not hard to beat the average headset.

Another unique option other than a clip-on or desktop mic is the Antlion ModMic. Antlion’s ModMic has a magnet on an adjustable mic which sticks to another base (which also has a magnet), and all of this is placed onto the side of the headphones using adhesive. This allows for users to attach a headset style/boom mic to the side of their already-good headphones. Currently, both the ModMic 4.0 Uni-directional and Omni-directional versions (with mute) both are $50 on Antlion’s site and $55 on Amazon. Overall, it achieves its goal well by allowing users to use their own headphones while also having a decent quality adjustable mic. In this review of Antlion’s ModMic 4.0, we’ll look at mic quality, usability, and build/sound quality.

ModMic Specs

The specs (as stated by Antlion) are:

  • Pattern: Uni-directional

  • Sensitivity: -38 ± 3 dB

  • Response: 100 Hz–10 kHz

  • SNR: >50+ dB

  • Impedance: 2.2 KΩ

  • Operating Voltage: 1 to 10V

  • Max current at 2.0V: 500 µA

  • Max input SPL: 110 dB

Sound Quality & Pickup

The Antlion ModMic 4.0 (uni-direction with mute version) has good audio quality, as demonstrated in our sample file below, although it does have its drawbacks. We never experienced any static, noticeably bad quality, or other issues, but voice input was noticeably flatter using the ModMic 4.0 than when using the Samson Meteor. On the other hand, the ModMic 4.0 does superbly at only picking up the voice of the user while not picking up ambient noises in the room, like the hum of system fans. You wouldn’t want to use the ModMic as a means to pick up input from multiple users in the room, but it’s also not really built for that. This is largely a solo user device, and it works well in that implementation.

The included foam pop filter helps immensely in preventing plosives from reaching annoying intensity, e.g. words with hard “P” sounds (like “pop” and “pizazz”).

Sample 1: Antlion ModMic 4.0 Voice Recording

Sample 2: Samson Meteor Desk Mic Voice Recording

Overall, the Antlion ModMic 4.0 Uni-directional has superior audio quality to the headsets we’ve tested recently, including the HyperX Cloud, Plantronics GameCom 788, Corsair VOID Wireless, and Logitech G633. Although the ModMic is a little flat sounding, it’s better on the whole in reducing static or white noise in the background and creating a more world-accurate version of the user’s voice (but again, a little flat). True to its unidirectional branding, any noises in front of the mic (IE in front of the user) aren’t easily picked up, which helps to reduce some noise from the mouse or keyboard clicks -- though nothing will stop MX Blues from coming through a mic.

Ease of Use

modmic-base

Above: The ModMic base as mounted to a pair of headphones.

Unlike some mics and headphones, the ModMic 4.0 doesn’t have any crazy software to go with it. There’s nothing to fiddle with other than Windows or Linux settings, and that’s a refreshing change: It’s just hardware.

Physically, the ModMic 4.0 is fairly easy to both install and use. Installation involves using (included) alcohol wipes to clean the side of the headphones, then sticking the base on using the adhesive. After being attached, the mic has a magnetic piece that is attracted to the base to securely attach the mic to the headphones. Taking it off is convenient, as a simple rotation of the mic separates the two magnets easily. Similarly, the mic itself can be easily adjusted (by bending the wire from the clasp to the boom) to be closer or farther from one’s mouth. The clasp on the mic can also be moved up and down the mic if simple bend-adjustment of the boom isn’t sufficient.

My largest issue with the ModMic is having another extra wire to deal with. My mic and headphone wires don’t go to the same place (since I use a DAC & amp), so they both have separate routing. This leads to a frequent tangling or simple mess of wires to deal with. Antlion includes cable clips to help with cable management, but these aren’t helpful for users that want to be able to easily remove the mic from their headphones. Overall, having another wire to deal with is simply annoying, but for users that won’t be removing the ModMic regularly, the cable ties will remove this as an issue almost entirely. If your plan is to routinely detach the mic for use of headphones on other devices, like MP3 players for travel, then it may be more hassle than it’s worth to deal with the extra wiring.

The in-line mute toggle is also mildly helpful, although it is currently $7, so the value of it is somewhat tenuous.

Build Quality

modmic-bendy

Above: Demonstration of mic "bendy-ness."

The build quality of the ModMic 4.0 is about what would reasonably be expected of it. The wire is decently strong, but I wouldn’t expect it to stand up to unreasonable abuse. Similarly, the mic itself is sturdy and holds its shape well. The build quality of the ModMic 4.0 is more than sufficient for a simple mic.

Conclusion

The Antlion ModMic 4.0 does well to achieve its goal of allowing users to use their own headphones while also having a high-quality headset style microphone. It is very adjustable (something needed for a mic meant for use on many different headphones) and doesn't have any clunky software or parts that require to be fiddled with. The primary downside to the ModMic is having an extra wire to manage constantly, but for those who don’t intend to remove the ModMic often, this is remedied by the included cable ties.

The ModMic 4.0 is our go-to option for those wanting to add a boom mic to their existing headphones. Even at its somewhat expensive price point of $50 on their website (or $43 without in-line mute), there really isn’t a comparative option. Something desk-mounted, like the Snowball or Yeti, would make for higher-quality audio but lose some of the ease-of-use features (like positioning and ambient noise reduction).

The ModMic 4.0 is also available on Amazon for $55 with Prime shipping. We suggest checking how much shipping is when ordering directly from Antlion because Amazon may be cheaper when accounting for postage.

Editorial: Michael “The Bear” Kerns

Michael Kerns

Michael Kerns first found us when GN's Editor-in-Chief was tirelessly answering questions on reddit pertaining to a new product launch, likely after the Editor had stayed up all night writing the news post. Michael offered a tired Editor reprieve, taking over the role of questions-answerer-extraordinaire when it was most needed. These days, Michael can be found pulling his mechanical keyboard collection apart and building Frankenstein's Monster-like monsters of keyboards. Michael wrote the vast majority of our mechanical keyboard dictionary and is an expert in keyboards.

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