US boffins Antlion Audio have been busy creating headphone mic solutions since 2011. The ModMic 5 allows you to attach the included mic onto any set of headphones. Recently Antlion Audio released a ModMic 5 with an included XLR power converter. This package is available from $89.95. You can also get the ModMic 5 and power converter individually for $69.95 and $24.95 respectively.
Voice communication is increasingly importantly for gamers, as well as for social and professional applications. Many people will already have a favourite set of headphones, but unfortunately not every set of headphones comes with a good mic. This is where the ModMic 5 comes in, allowing you to create a headset from any set of cans.
The boom mic is attached to the earpiece with an adhesive pad, and the modular cable system allows you to easily choose between two cable lengths. The XLR power converter is designed to allow you to use the device with 48V XLR devices, such as mixing desks or audio interfaces. It has a male XLR-3 connector and a female 3.5mm TS connector.
Possibilities with XLR power converter
I’m a big fan of the inclusion of the XLR power converter. All my computer audio goes in and out of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface. It’s designed for pro mics and headphones rather than headsets. So any time I want to game with a mic, it’s a huge hassle trying to get it to work with Windows. I usually end up declining invitations to join games that require voice chat because it’s such a hassle. Now that I’ve got the ModMic 5 with the XLR converter, the mic can be easily run into my Scarlett 2i4 and things are gloriously simple.
The ModMic 5 is a smart design that’s well thought-out. That said, it does involve a bit of tinkering to get it up and running. You have to stick the ModMic 5 dock onto your headphones, choose which cable length you want, attach the integrated mute control at a point of your choosing and then finally send it into your computer. The ModMic 5 adds a second cable to your headphones, so you may also want to use the included cable wrap to bring the cables together. It takes a bit of time to work out exactly what goes where, but 95% of the people using this are probably gamers… so I’d say the target market will be tech savvy enough to sort it out without much trouble.
Two microphone mode options
There’s two microphone modes: Unidirectional and omnidirectional. These are selected via a switch just above the microphone. Unidirectional will cut out much more ambient noise, although the audio starts to sound pretty tinny (listen to the demo video to see what I mean). Omnidirectional is much fuller sounding, although it’s not as practical to use in a noisy environment.
There’s a foam pop filter included to manage sibilance. It can only do so much though, so you’ll have to make sure you don’t place the ModMic 5 too close to your mouth. To the side and an inch or two away is about right. It’s still loud enough to hold up once you move it away.
Audio quality and sibilance
The audio quality is definitely good enough for gaming, conferences and phone calls. If you want pro quality audio to get seriously stuck into podcasting or something, it wouldn’t quite cut it. It may be a $69.95 mic, but a lot of that expense is due to the accessories required to mod a set of headphones.
The boom is stiff but easy to bend into place, and it stays there once you’ve set it. The boom is attached with magnets, so you can take it off your headphones when not in use, which is a very useful feature.
The ModMic 5 & XLR Power Converter verdict
Antlion Audio have produced a great package here with the ModMic 5 and XLR power converter. $89.95 may seem like a lot, but once you’ve factored in the many accessories and how streamlined the design is, you can appreciate that the money is being well spent. A cheaper design would simply not be able to produce the same level of build quality and user-friendly results. In terms of downsides, I’d say the mic sounds decent but not great. The set-up required before you can get up and running may also turn some buyers off.
Dual electret capsules: omni- and uni-directional
Selector switch on microphone housing
XLR Power Converter: Input Voltage: 48v Phantom, Output Voltage: 5v Plugin Power, Noise: -104 dB, Dynamic Range: -115 dB
Jack: 3.5mm plated TRS for use with PCs
Head unit: Microphone boom + 20mm of cable to male TRS 3.5mm tip, Single-conductor coaxially shielded
Cable: 2.5mm diameter rubberized TPE jacket, kevlar reinforced, coaxially shielded, One 1m dual-conductor coaxially shielded, One 2m dual-conductor coaxially shielded