Hands-on

Published on May 23rd, 2017 | by RedishBlue

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Review – ModMic 5

Having a nice pair of headphones (or 4) and the using a pair of cheap or even expensive gaming headphones is rather similar to owning a 1080Ti and using an old 290X instead . Now, the normal solution to this problem is to buy something like a Blue Snowball and if you want to get even fancier, pick up a mic boom as well. This isn’t cheap and most of the time it isn’t that convenient either. The ModMic 5 is an elegant solution to this rather common problem, but can also be a good starting point for someone just getting into PC gaming. A good pair of headphones can be found for rather cheap these days thanks to models like the Samson SR850.

The Modmic isn’t a first generation product anymore, and that is very clear from the second you open the box. It seems like everything has been thought of, and even comes with an extra magnet so you can create two different headsets in addition to extra stickers, in case you want to move one of the magnets to a different pair of headphones. Included in the convenient carrying case are 8 cable ties that will clip the ModMic wire to the wire from your headphones. These help reduce clutter, and prevents the cables from becoming a tangled mess. There are also multiple lengths of cable included, which allow you to adapt to whatever cabling situation you find yourself in. The shorter cable is almost the exact same length as my HD 6XX cable, which works out perfectly as it terminates in a Schiit Magni amp that sits at the back edge of my desk. Here is where I have pinned the female end of the longer cable so I can easily plug and unplug the ModMic.

Setup is as simple as plugging in any other mic, needing only the mic port included with the vast majority of motherboards and gaming laptops these days. The time it took for me to go from closed box to plugged in and usable was well under 5 minutes. No additional drivers are required, so you can take the ModMic to any computer you might end up using with the confidence that it will work like any other gaming headset. That is really all there is to say about setup – it’s so easy no further explanation is needed.

As for the sound, one funny thing about this product is that you will rarely, if ever, hear yourself through it. It was designed with not only the customer in mind, but those they interact with online as well. I find myself in a variety of different VOIP programs with Discord, Mumble, and Ventrilo being the most common. Now, the sad fact is that almost all VOIP programs use some pretty heavy compression, so the real question is does the audio quality really matter that much for the average user? A small percentage of folks may be looking to use this product as a primary mic to stream or podcast, but I would argue that most people in those situations would be using a standalone microphone setup. The other mics I had around to test against the ModMic are a rather cheap Logitech G230 and a higher end Audio Technica microphone. I have included a brief test using Audacity below to show the difference between the three.

To test the modmic against the two other microphones, I decided that using a song would be a good approach. I set up all three mics in the same place sandwiched between my two BX5A studio monitors and played a piano piece by Mozart. I recorded what the mics picked up in Audacity and then cut the three samples together. I then rendered out the minute long clip as 16 bit WAV to hopefully ensure minimal quality loss. The order of mics in this clip is ModMic 5 > Logitech G230 > Audio Technica ATR2500-USB. Have a listen below before I spoil the results.


The difference between the ModMic and G230 is night and day when you compare the low end, and is still very noticeable at most other frequencies. The G230 sounds completely hollow when compared to both mics and I honestly didn’t think that there would be such a clear difference. The ModMic is much closer to the large and expensive condenser mic from Audio Technica, which is very impressive considering its size. The ModMic is such an amazing product because it is able to blend the form factor of a classic gaming headset with the wonderful audio qualities found in a much larger and expensive microphone. Having the ModMic perform so similarly to the ATR2500 makes it that much easier to recommend this product in a wider range of settings, not just as a gaming accessory.

After having spent a few years thinking that a ModMic was a good idea for me (but still buying gaming headsets) I have to say that I regret my decision. As someone who cares about audio quality enough to have a collection of headphones that reaches well over $1000, I am almost ashamed at the amount of time I have spent using a crappy gaming headset. To anyone looking at getting their own headset, I would suggest a ModMic and cheap pair of open-back headphones over pretty much any gaming headset. By separating the mic and headphones, it allows you to upgrade one or the other independently, depending on your preference. Maybe you get more into music and grab a pair of higher end headphones, the ModMic easily adapts to your new cans. Maybe a new ModMic comes out that is far superior, again an easy upgrade. Worst case scenario is having one of the products break, but only needing to replace half of the equation makes it a much cheaper problem. The ModMic has become a product that I will recommend in almost any situation and would highly suggest to anyone who is looking for a new headset or standalone mic.

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redishblue

Sean

Late to the PC gaming party but quickly making up for lost time. His first and only love is the beautiful game of Tribes: Ascend - games like DotA, CS:GO, and Overwatch try to fill the gap, but still leave him feeling a bit empty. A hardware fanatic who will stop at nothing to find the perfect gaming setup and most importantly Phil Kessel's #1 fan.


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