Gaming headphones tend to live and die based on features over sound quality. Even in terms of what people are looking for, it’s usually a product that checks the three, price, features and quality, boxes, and typically in that order. Like most all in one product, there are very few gaming headsets that do everything as well as multiple dedicated devices, with many people insisting that is the way to go. While most people probably don’t want to invest in a traditional mic, though they can do wonders for capturing voice, Antlion Audio is attempting to simplify the process by making a small mic that looks similar to what you’d find on a traditional gaming headset. The form factor is attractive but if it enough to justify upgrading an existing product with ModMic USB or is it a niche item designed to make existing headsets function better for gaming?
To be perfectly honest, Antlion Audio’s ModMic USB is one, if not the most, straightforward packages we’ve seen across all of our tech reviews. The front has a picture of the product with the key elements in the frame, with the sides showing the company logo and the back giving three features, one of which is a USB connection. Having looked at a lot of these products over the years, I actually appreciate the really modest approach, even if it makes for a hard sell in a retail setting. There aren’t the usual claims of wondrous features or over the top benefits, it’s just a note saying there is a patented clasp system, two settings, a mic and it works on the following devices via USB.
Even more surprising is the presentation and thought that went into ModMic USB. Waiting inside was not the usual plastic holder for the product and accessories, but rather, a small hardshell case. Upon opening, there was the ModMic USB on one side held in place with an elastic band, with the other side having both a band and a small net that held the accessories in place. I am unsure about the practical value of a carrying case for such a product, though I am sure there are some that will appreciate it, it does make an impactful first impression.
One stand out feature is the thought that went into the bag of accessories. In addition to a single prep wipe and some cable clasps, there are two base clasps, which connect the ModMic USB to a headset, along with two extra adhesive dots. This basically means you can use this mic on two different headsets at a time, with a maximum of four different ones out of the box. For a normal person, that is more than enough for years of use.
Installation is a simple process made easier by the manual. All you need to do is find a flat spot to place the adhesive and place it in a spot that largely mimics where it would be on a gaming headset. The manual is largely just an explanation of placement and how to maximize potential, making it easy to get it right the first time. While all of this makes for a wonderful initial set up, it’s pointless of the product itself isn’t impressive.
Despite the rather modest claims, ModMic USB is legitimately impressive. Just comparing voice recordings from this, traditional microphones, and a few gaming headsets, it beat out most gaming headsets and fell just under traditional microphones. Enough where I could easily view this as a substitute, even similarly priced microphones should outperform it. Similar to those mics, there are two different modes, a uni-directional and omnidirectional one. Omni gives a clearer sound at the cost of increased background noise, with uni, the one more commonly used by gaming headsets will cancel out more noise at the cost of clarity.
While my own internal tests were impressive, at least for the size, it also got a lot of positive feedback from other players. One of my friends, who always assists me with testing out microphones, jokes that I sound slightly different every week and was surprised by the clarity of ModMic USB on PlayStation 4. She noted I was much louder than usual and far more clear, indicating it was second only to when I use my QuadCasts. Perhaps one of the greatest praises was when I swapped to a different headset mid-conversation. It required a bit of time to adjust her settings to actually understand me and the difference in performance between this and the Astro A50 was quite noticeable.
All this being said, there are some shortcomings with ModMic USB. With the included cable being roughly 2 meters (6.6 feet), it will work fine on a computer, but not the most practical for anyone considering this for PlayStation 4. There it makes more sense to consider ModMic Wireless, something we did not personally test, otherwise, you might need a cable extension or two. It’s also fairly difficult to see which mode you’re in, given the two icons look very similar and the pop filter, by default, covers some of it.
ModMic USB Review – Verdict
There is no denying this is an interesting product that manages to do all it claims to. The mic itself is super simple to install, use, and enjoy, with the benefits being immediately apparent. Not only does it do a good job of this, but the difference in quality is also noticeable and apparent, with some people noticing immediately. The cord and connection type might be a dealbreaker for certain situations, but Antlion Audio makes different versions designed to overcome those shortcomings. So, if you want to get better audio without setting into a microphone, there really isn’t anything better than ModMic USB.
[Editor’s Note: ModMic USB was provided to us for review purposes.]