Great audio quality can be a great boost in the gaming experience, but the best quality headphones don't include microphones, which make them less suited for online gaming. Antlion's ModMic 4.0 aims to solve that problem.
When gaming online, one of the most helpful devices you can have is a microphone for communication. More and more, especially with competitive gaming only increasing in popularity, voice communication is becoming a necessary component of many teams. To make that happen, gamers essentially have two choices: use a desktop boom mic, or wear a headset with a built-in microphone.
Boom mics have been falling further and further into obscurity as more and more gamers opt to use headsets for their gaming needs. There are numerous headsets in various price ranges available, but few of them offer true high fidelity audio, which can be a problem for audiophiles. If high quality audio is a priority to you, even the most high-end gaming headset won't compare to a top quality pair of headphones.
This is where the Modmic 4.0 from Antlion comes in handy. It is an easy-to-attach microphone add-on for any pair of headphones, which lets you create your own gaming headset with your favorite headphones, or if you happen to have a headset already but the microphone is broken, the ModMic 4.0 is an easy way to keep using it.
ModMic 4.0 Up Close
Antlion ships the ModMic 4.0 in very simple packaging. The microphone has a reinforced soft case with a zipper around it to keep it secure when not in use. The company has capitalized on the fact that the case is reinforced, and rather than pack it up in a box, Antlion simply slips a cardboard sleeve around it and ships it like that.
The ModMic 4.0 is a fairly simple product. It is basically just a microphone with a pop filter on a flexible boom. The body of it is a flexible material that remains in the position you place it in, which lets you bend it to fit your face perfectly. The rear end of the ModMic 4.0 has a U-shaped bend in it which directs the cable downwards when the mic is in use.
To attach the ModMic to a pair of headphones, Jim Console, the founder of Antlion, came up with a simple yet clever mechanism: The microphone attaches using magnets. One magnet is attached to the microphone's body, and another one gets glued to the headset. The company calls the portion that gets attached to the headphones Base Clasps, and the mic comes packed with two. The base clasps are covered in double-sided 3M tape on one side, and on the other side is a magnet flanked by four triangular spikes.
The magnetic clasp comes pre-installed for use on the left ear, but it can be easily configured for use on the right. These triangular spikes have two purposes: They aid in stabilizing the microphone in a standard position, and unlike a single unique key that would have only one possible position, the consistent pattern allows the ModMic to be positioned in multiple ways. This makes it possible to have the mic in an upright position when not in use, or disconnect it all together. In practice, this works surprisingly well.
The magnetic nature makes it easy to completely remove the ModMic when it is not needed, and with additional base clasps, it can easily be used with multiple pairs of headphones if you have a collection of them, or you can find other things to attach a microphone to, like your desk, to use it as a desk-mounted boom mic.
Installing The ModMic
The first thing you need to do when you get the ModMic is decide which ear the mic will attach to, and which pair of headphones it will be used with. Not all surfaces will hold the mic, so be sure to verify that you have a suitable mounting surface. If the right ear is desired, the clasp has to be repositioned. There is a cap on one end of it that needs to be removed. (It is threaded like a screw, so don't just pry it off.) Under the cap, there is a slot that the microphone slips into. Flip the mic over, then reinstall the cap to lock the clasp into place.
Before gluing the base clasp to the headphones, it is important to attach the two magnets together so that the microphone position is taken into account when positioning the base clasp. Next, use the included alcohol swab to clean the desired area and with the mic still attached, glue the base clasp where it gives the best microphone position. I attached my ModMic to a pair of SteelSeries 7H's with a broken microphone, and the whole process took less than two minutes. Antlion suggested waiting a full hour before using it after gluing it on. I actually didn't get back to it until the next day.
Living With The ModMic
I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile, but I definitely have a good use for the ModMic. Recently, the microphone on my own headset starting giving me trouble, so this was the perfect opportunity to give Antlion's microphone a whirl.
One of the first things I noticed while using the mic is that it has an incredibly long cable, which can certainly come in handy in some cases, but I would have preferred to see a much shorter cord with an extension included. If you use front-mounted jacks, you'll have several feet of slack. This is fairly minor as complaints go; I would rather have a longer cable, than one that might be a tad too short, any day.
My other gripe with the ModMic 4.0 is, again, fairly minor: The magnet could be a bit stronger. I realize it needs to be fairly weak to allow for easy removal, but I found that the mic would fall off a bit too easily. It never came off while gaming, but it did while it was attached in the upright position. It also fell off on multiple occasions when I hung the headset on the edge of my desk. It would be nice to have an attachment that isn't defeated by a slight bump combined with the force of gravity when hung upside down.
Antlion claimed that the magnet is powerful and won't fall off, and I found this to be true even when shaking my head around to try and make it fall off; it hung on despite my shaking, but then I found it on the ground below my headphones on a few occasions when I returned to my desk. I believe the mic was bumped before the mic came off, and it should be noted that it only happened when the magnets were positioned parallel to the ground, which would never happen while wearing it.
Complaints aside, the ModMic 4.0 did exactly what it set out to do. It provided an easily attachable microphone that isn't permanently fastened. The quality of the sound that was recorded with it is somewhat subjective, and I do not consider myself an audiophile, but I was impressed by the quality of the test recording that I did to compare with another microphone. The sound felt much deeper and had a studio-like clarity to it.
Antlion sells the ModMic 4.0 in four different variations. There are omni- and uni-directional microphone options, and each one offers the choice to include an in-line mute switch. The versions with mute sell for $49.99, and if you choose the muteless iteration, you'll save yourself $7. They are available at ModMic.com.