A great wireless mic for any headset.
If you need a headset for online gaming, there are plenty to choose from. But if you already have a pair of audiophile headphones that you love, you know how hard it is for most gaming headsets to match up in terms of sound quality, especially for music. That’s where the Antlion ModMic Wireless comes in: it’s a small, magnetic boom microphone that attaches to any pair of headphones.
This isn’t Antlion’s first foray into modular microphones—the wired ModMic 5 is still available for $70 on Amazon, as is the older and cheaper ModMic 4 (Review) for those who want a budget option. But while those versions require you to plug the ModMic into a 3.5mm jack on your PC—which can be annoying, since you’ll end up with two cables coming out of your headphones—the $120 ModMic Wireless (See it on Amazon) uses a USB receiver to keep your setup a little cleaner. As a result, it works with PCs, Macs, and the PlayStation 4, but not Xbox—for that, you’ll need one of the 3.5mm wired options.
AntLion ModMic Wireless – Design and Features
The ModMic Wireless attaches to your headphones using a strong magnet and a base that sticks onto your headphones using 3M adhesive. This allows you to remove the microphone whenever you want and set it aside—or hook it onto another set of headphones, since it comes with an extra adhesive base.
The ModMic’s base itself is much larger than previous ModMics, since it has to fit a wireless transmitter inside, so it isn’t going to be quite as sleek as some more integrated headset microphones (like Razer’s retractable ones). But overall I still found it unobtrusive, and the adjustable boom arm helped me find just the right placement for the microphone—near the corner of my mouth about 1-2 inches away, according to Antlion’s helpful instructions.
The button on the side allows you to mute the mic with a simple tap, or turn the microphone off to save battery with a long-press. The button is textured, so it’s really easy to find by touch, and both the microphone and its receiver have lights to indicate when the device is on and when it’s muted. The Micro USB charging port is situated on the bottom of the base, so if you start running out of juice, you can plug it in while you’re using it (as long as you have a long enough USB cable).
The ModMic Wireless also has a switch near the mic itself that toggles between a directional mode (which minimizes background noise) and an omnidirectional mode (which has better quality but will pick up ambient sounds). Antlion is using the AptX Low Latency codec for fast, high quality wireless transmission, and the ModMic records using a 16-bit, 48KHz sample rate which is good, but also pretty typical on midrange/higher end microphones.
Also, Antlion says it is tracking down a small Windows bug that causes the default bitrate to be set incorrectly on certain systems. I didn’t notice this in my testing, but if you have this microphone, or are thinking about it, you just need to head to the Recording tab of Windows’ Sound settings, select the ModMic, click Properties, and check the Advanced tab to select your desired bitrate.
AntLion ModMic Wireless – Setup and Recording
Attaching the microphone to your headphones is simple, as long as you follow Antlion’s included instructions: connect the adhesive base to the microphone, find the ideal spot on your headphones, and stick the whole thing on, holding it in place for 60 seconds. Then leave it there for at least an hour—if not overnight—to cure before trying to detach the mic. (The magnet is strong enough that you might pull the base clasp off if you don’t follow the instructions and let it cure first.)
I attached the ModMic to my beloved AKG Q701 headphones, and it stuck on quite well, even though the headphone’s shape didn’t provide a perfectly flat or spacious area for it. I’m pretty confident that you’d be able to affix this to most headphones out there—you’ll just need to think about proper placement first.
Once attached, the ModMic is rather easy to use, especially for a wireless product.
Once attached, the ModMic is rather easy to use, especially for a wireless product. I had no annoyances pairing the microphone to its USB receiver, since the two came paired to one another out of the box, and I didn’t have to install any software. Just plug in the USB receiver, Windows will grab the necessary drivers automatically, and you can press the button on the ModMic to turn it on and start recording (or chatting). I just plugged the receiver into one of my front USB ports, but Antlion also includes a USB extension cable and a sticky cable clip so you can plug it into the back of your PC while still being able to see the indicator lights for Power and Mute.
I recorded a few test clips in Audacity using the ModMic in both its directional and omnidirectional mode, as well as other microphones I had lying around to compare. The ModMic fell pretty squarely in the middle of the pack, sounding better than most integrated headset microphones (which can often sound a bit hollow), but sounding a tad more “flat” than dedicated USB microphones like the $40 Blue Snowball iCE.
However, the ModMic still had its advantages. In particular, it was much better at minimizing noise from my clacky mechanical keyboard than the Snowball, especially when the ModMic was put in directional mode. That means your teammates will hear you better when you’re trying to dodge enemy fire in the middle of talking. So even though directional mode didn’t sound quite as good, it’s still a better choice for gaming—which is the ModMic’s intended use case anyway.
Being able to mute the mic by tapping the button on the side is also convenient
Being able to mute the mic by tapping the button on the side is also convenient when you want to silence your voice in-game, since you don’t have to fiddle with a USB amp somewhere on your desk—though since you can’t see the button, it may take a few tries before its location is seared into your muscle memory.
The ModMic’s omnidirectional mode did provide a small boost in vocal quality, but also let in more background noise. Since even the omnidirectional mode isn’t really what I’d call “podcasting” quality, I’m not sure when I’d really want to use it. If you’re gaming or casually streaming, the ModMic in directional mode is fantastic; if you’re looking to do more serious recording, I recommend getting a cheaper, higher-quality wired microphone instead.
The ModMic Wireless’ only real flaw is its price—getting rid of extra wires is hugely convenient, but $120 might be a tough sell for some. Thankfully, ModMic has cheaper wired options if you’re on a budget, leaving the wireless version for those with extra cash to throw around—which probably includes a fair amount of people buying audiophile-grade headphones anyway.
The AntLion ModMic Wireless has an MSRP of $119.99, and that’s generally the price you’ll find it for online.