Modmic 5: Hardware review

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Review unit provided by the manufacturer

Until Microsoft eventually relented and started producing Xbox One controllers without the obnoxious proprietary socket, buying a single headset that was immediately compatible with all of your gaming machines was basically impossible. On top of that, literally everybody has at least three podcasts (this may be a slight exaggeration) and YouTubing and streaming for a bloated ego, money, or both is more popular than ever. Getting something suitable for all of the above in a single purchase is tricky and, usually, rather expensive.

Antlion’s Modmic 5 wants to help with that.

This is a standalone mic and, at seventy quid or so, isn’t cheap. It also doesn’t include a Y adapter which is essential for using with consoles, or the USB adapter you’ll need for a Mac (although the review kit includes both). This is a product that needs to work hard to earn your money therefore, and the main angle Antlion have taken is ‘versatility’. This is a mic you can mod (to an extent). See what they did with the name there?

It all comes packaged in a rather luxurious case.

Firstly, if you’re confused about this talk of using a standalone mic with a console, don’t be. The idea is that the Modmic 5 can turn any set of headphones into a gaming/chat headset. The package includes two base clasps. Have a little fiddle around with the optimum position for the mic, attach the clasp, push the mic into said clasp, and bam – instant gaming headset (so long as you have or buy a Y adapter, for consoles). Great if you have a favourite standalone pair of headphones, or if you have a headset with split cables that has an unsatisfactory or broken mic.

Of course, the whole concept can fall down instantly if the clasp doesn’t adhere to your headphones properly, or if the mic isn’t secure within the clasp. Fortunately, there’s absolutely no problem with either (although you’re given fair warning that the clasp’s adhesive doesn’t like rubber). The instructions sternly dictate that you should clean and dry the surface with the included alcohol pad (two clasps, just one pad, oddly) before applying the clasp, and allow the adhesive up to an hour to do its job on certain surfaces. To simulate the way that most people will do it, though – and also because I have the patience of a six year old – I whacked the clasp straight on with no prep, slotted the mic straight in, and started using it.

The surface I applied the clasp to was flat, smooth, and metallic. The adhesive instantly clung to the surface with all the enthusiasm of man-baby Donald Trump behind the wheel of a big boy truck. This thing wasn’t going anywhere. The base of the mic itself attaches to the clasp through the mysterious natural force of magnetism and that, too, wasn’t going to move around unless I wanted it to. I did find that when I unceremoniously dumped the mic/headphone combo into a drawer full of other stuff, the clasp had come loose when I took it back out after rummaging around the next day. The adhesive was more than happy to do its job again, though, and I’ve removed and replaced it several times; with no issues during use.

Both one metre and two metre cables are included. It’s great to have the choice, but as cable length also depends on the headphones it seems a little odd. You do at least get a generous ten cable clips, so you can soothe the obsessive side of your nature by meticulously keeping your cables in check every single time you use them no matter which length you go for. Also included – and entirely optional – is a mute switch module. You might be wondering if a detachable mute switch actually works properly; I know I was. Well, it does. I can’t imagine many situations where you’d want to drop the option of muting your voice if it was there but, hey, you can if you want to.

More than a minor consideration when thinking about buying a mic is sound quality. Unlike the Modmic 4, the Modmic 5 is a 2-in-1 unidirectional and omnidirectional mic. Switching between the two modes is as easy as flicking a switch on the main mic unit itself. Omni does a great job of picking up sound from the surrounding area (though you do of course sacrifice all noise filtering). Uni will mostly just pick up your voice, though you’ll still need to find a quiet spot away from pesky humans if you’re doing any sort of recording. In terms of white noise/crackle, which the letter accompanying the review kit attributes to “dirty power” (if you ever need to find yourself a porn star name…), there’s nothing to automatically avoid that if you have existing issues with other mics. The USB adapter is intended to dampen this, though this is of course Not Included.

The uni/omni switch you’ve heard so much about

As for the actual quality of your voice before any filters, editing etc, it’s decent enough; clear, uninterrupted, smooth. It’s not the pin-sharp perfection you might expect from the price tag, but more than good enough for game chat, Skype, podcasts (especially given the sound quality in many you might come across), etc. I had it working great on my PC, Xbox One, and PS4. On a personal note, I do some freelance work doing video reviews for CeX, and was happy enough with the quality to use the audio I recorded as a test in the final video (which I can’t link to, as it hasn’t been published at time of writing). Also, I’ve for some reason had issues with multiple headsets with the Xbox One, unable to find one that offers consistent mic quality. The Modmic however was quite happy to inflict my voice upon other people with no interruptions or dips in volume/quality.

Should you put the cash down for a Modmic 5? If all you want is something that will let you chat to teammates and listen to teenagers beatbox and play music down the mic, then there are many cheaper options that probably suit you better. If the unique features (use of standalone headphones, removable and adjustable standalone mic, entirely optional mute, both omnidirectional and unidirectional modes) attract you and the price tag doesn’t send you running for the hills, then you can be assured of a quality well-made product.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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