Headset microphones are popular and useful devices. Like any other piece of audio equipment, the quality varies depending on how much you're willing to pay.
The most common complaints about headset mics are to do with sound quality and comfort. Again, this will depend on the make and model you're using. But it may have been these two factors that initially led Antlion Audio to develop their ModMic range, and the latest model in that range is the Antlion ModMic 5.
The ModMic gives you the ability to turn your favourite pair of over-ear headphones into a quality headset mic. So how does it work?
The ModMic itself is a microphone on a flexible ‘boom' neck.
In order to connect it to your headphones you need to attach one of the little magnetic clasps to the outside of your preferred headphone ‘ear'. These stick on with a strong adhesive found on the flat side of the clasp.
Once you've connected the clasp, you can attach and remove the microphone with ease. The clasp is small and unobtrusive, too, so it's barely noticeable when the mic isn't in use.
All that remains for you to do to get up and running is to feed the mic's 3.5mm plug into your computer or recorder. But there are a few other features worth going over first.
The cable on the mic is actually very short, but there's a good reason for that. Inside the box you'll also find two male-to-female 3.5mm/TRS cables, one is a metre long, and the other is two metres long.
This gives you a bit of flexibility over the length of cable you want to use each time you record.
Another handy feature here is the inclusion of a 3.5mm/TRS male-to-female mute button, which you can add into your cable chain. This could come in handy if you're recording Skype interviews and want to mute yourself while your guest is talking.
Antlion provide two metres of easily fitted shielded cable wrap (along with ten cable clips) to help you protect your mic's cables from damage during use.
The mic and all its components comes in a handy durable carrying case, too, which makes it a useful setup for when you're on the go. It also means you can easily keep everything together in one place without the risk of losing a key piece.
On the neck of the microphone, there's a button which allows you to switch between two different polar patterns: omnidirectional, and uni-directional (cardioid).
For a quick guide on what polar patterns are and how they work, click here. However, the short of it is that Antlion only advise using the uni-directional setting if you're recording in a noisier environment and want the mic to isolate some of that sound around you and focus on your voice.
With any 3.5mm microphone, you're at the mercy of your computer's soundcard, so you may pick up a bit of static in your recording that way. If this is the case, Antlion also sell USB adapters that can reduce a lot of this white noise while also boosting the signal.
The Antlion Audio USB Adapter is sold separately (for $9.95).
If you're a Mac user you'll need one of these to use the ModMic, because the Mac doesn't have two 3.5mm ports on it.
Another adapter – the Antlion Y Adapter – is available for connecting the ModMic to consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One. This adapter will also work with your smartphone, and is available for $11.95.
This sound sample was recorded in semi-sound-dampened conditions into a Zoom H4 recorder. No cleaning or post-processing has been applied to the audio.
The Antlion ModMic 5 is currently available new on Amazon for $55, and Amazon UK for £55.
The Antlion ModMic 5 is a great piece of kit overall, and with all its extra features it's undoubtedly an improvement on the ModMic 4 .
I don't think there'll be a huge number of podcasters looking to make it their main podcasting mic, though – there isn't a massive argument for buying one over a USB microphone such as the Samson Q2U if you're just starting out.
To be fair, though, I wouldn't expect podcasters to be Antlion's main target audience here. The ModMic seems ultimately geared at gamers and folks who want to record audio whilst watching or playing something. For these people, it feels like an excellent choice.
And, as the title of this review suggests, if you want to turn your current headphones into a headset mic, then look no further than the Antlion ModMic 5.