AntLion ModMic Review

BluePanda - 2012-02-08 17:58:36 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: February 27, 2012
Price: $32.95

Introduction:

If you've ever had an amazing pair of headphones and could just never find a reasonably priced headset to game with, AntLion has solved your woes. The only product AntLion sells is the ModMic, a simple mic to add to any headphones you own. As long as you have a dime-sized location to place on the magnetic mount, you can now use your headphones as a gaming headset. Whether you play WoW, L4D, Borderlands, any MMO, or just want to call your mother on Skype – the ModMic is an easy, quick solution to fast communication. You no longer have to ditch your favorite headphones for some crappy stereo headset just because it has a mic. It's innovative, but how well does it work? Today we take a look at the AntLion ModMic.

 

Closer Look:

Not knowing this product was coming to my house for review, and having not heard of AntLion before, I honestly thought someone had mailed me a tube of ants. If any of you remember the mail order ant farm kits that you could send away for, you might have thought the same. It was simply a bubble package with "AntLion" labeled on it and a cardboard tube inside…you wouldn't really know what was there either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughs aside, I thought the cardboard tube was one of the more creative methods of shipping I've seen in a while. It keeps down the non-biodegradable plastic waste and recycles cardboard and other paper waste into a simple sturdy packing device (if you ignore the bubble pack it came in). The tube is printed with the AntLion logo and six quick steps to "installing" the ModMic. Unfolding the ends, the product is just coiled up inside. Shaking the contents out one end, you find an alcohol wipe, two 3M NeoClasp mounting pads (for use on two sets of headphones) and the mic itself.

 

 

Tossing the tiny toilet paper-like tube aside, we can take a look at this mic. It almost looks like something you would stick around your ear and plug into your phone back when the first hands-free devices came out. The mic itself is super bendy; you can see it will take about any form, even a semi-sine wave if you desire. It's easy to shape and it stays pretty much where you put it until you move it again; a rather nice feature for a mic to keep all those mouth breathers and their mic from "moving" closer after hours of game play. Up close, it's got a domed AntLion logo on the end and a bit of a sturdier cable coming right out of the connecting piece. It then flows into your standard headphone-sized cable with about the same flexibility. The first thing I noticed is the cable is super long (11.5 feet), enough to keep up with most longer-corded headphones.

 

 

Flipping it over and taking a look at the connection system, it's a simple notched magnetic setup. Using the ever popular neodymium magnets, it holds together well. It has rather discrete locations of placement which you might want to consider when putting it on your headset. You want to make sure you won't have to add an extra silly bend to accommodate bad placement on your end.

 

So I've got an old set of headphones, Phillips HP250 to be specific, that have pretty good sound. I love using them for movies or listening to music, but they really aren't optimized for playing games. Without a mic they've sort of found their place on the upper shelf of the closet. They are a bit old and show it through what's stuck on them; don't mind the collection of stickers from years past. Clearly ATI and NVIDIA have fought for their spot in my heart over time. You have to put all those stickers somewhere…and before the beer fridge, this was their home. I've decided to stick with standards and place the mic on the left side — so here's a couple shots to get yourself familiar with these "old" things.

 

 

After cleaning up the left side with the included alcohol cloth I stuck on the little nub. I recommend, as do the instructions, to place your headphones on and make sure the mic will reach from whatever point you plan on mounting it. I ended up placing it closer just to avoid it sitting on the little raised edge there. That's the only installation really that you have to do — a little cleaning and sticking on yet another sort of sticker. Pretty easy, if you ask me.

 

The mic is designed to go on either the left or right side of your headphones. However, depending on which side you choose, you might need to put one more step of effort in. The part of the mic where it connects to the magnet stuck on your headphones unscrews to allow you to flip the mic over. This makes sure your cables drop down and behind you rather than up and over. You'll know if you need to flip it over; if you put it on your headphones the cable will go up, rather than just down the side. No matter, it's a quick change, and not difficult at all. That's it... now you've got a mic on your favorite headphones!

 

 

Here's an "in action" shot of a fellow OCC member; you might know him as Waco. You can see it doesn't look that different from any ordinary headset on the market besides the added cable, which unfortunately is a bit annoying to deal with. There's no real "good" solution to this. If you think you are going to wrap it around your headphone cable, plan on using some zip ties and "permanently" fixing it this way. It comes unwound rather easy. The Velcro on the end is designed to coil up and stow away the excess cable. However, if you're like me, my headphones have an epically long cable, longer than the 11.5' mic cable, which creates an odd cable mess. The concept is still great. Some coil cable mods might be a nice way to wrap this up, but this seems to be the only real issue.

Specifications:

 

Jack:
3.5mm
Pattern Type:
Omnidirectional
Sensitivity:
-26 dB
Response:
30Hz – 17.5 kHz ±3 dB
SNR:
58+ dB
Impedance:
2.2 KΩ
Operating Voltage:
1 to 10V
Max Current at 2.0V:
500 µA
Max input SPL:
110 dB
Boom Length:
~ 5 inches
Clasp Height:
0.5 inches attached
Mic Weight:
4 grams
Total Weight:
20 grams
Cable Length:
11.5 feet

 

 

Features:

 

 

All information found at: http://www.modmic.com/

Testing:

Testing this ModMic, being the only one of its kind on the market, left if with little to compare it to. However, the important part of it being a mic was what was tested. I used it for my usual gaming to talk to friends while playing Borderlands and L4D2 in the past week. I also tested it out while Skyping a good friend of mine in Atlanta. Since it's not really a headset, I had no need to tell you how good my headphones sound (and with as old as they are, you probably wouldn't find a pair anyway, even though they sound GREAT!). So below, I've commented a bit on the clarity of the mic compared to my usual Turtle Beach headset I use for gaming.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Mic:

 

Summary:

I really cannot justify sticking numbers in comparing this stick-on microphone to another microphone from a headset. Not only would they be somewhat meaningless, but overall the two compared near identical. The clarity of the mic was the same, the ease of use was the same…it just worked like any other mic you would have around. The only real difference between my Turtle Beach headset and the stick-on AntLion ModMic was the fact that the ModMic didn't have a foam filter of the mic itself. This lead to a little more noise pickup from my mechanical keyboard and breathing. In general, it sounded better than most standard microphones people use on the Internet today. It just picked a little of the extra noises, high frequencies, and key clacking. You could always mod your ModMic and add your own foam from another mic as well. Overall, I was genuinely impressed with the mic — all I wished it had included was a foam filter to keep ambient noises at bay.

Conclusion:

In the end, I was definitely surprised by this simple little addition to my headphones. It was nice to be able to use my favorite headphones for a change while playing games. They finally have their old place back on my desk where they used to sit, rather than in the closet just because I couldn't talk in-game with them before. After thinking about the price a bit, although I still see it as a con, it really sounds a lot better than most headsets you can get for that price. Plus, you get to use the likely more expensive headphones you already have. It really depends on what you already have. If you don't have favorite headphones and you don't care about sound quality for your friends on the other end, or on your end for that matter, then a cheaper headset is right for you. However, if you like your headphones because they sound great, but just need a mic, this mic beats out a lot of costly headsets. If you want to pick your headphones based on sound quality (because we all know many "gaming headsets" lack real fidelity), but still want to talk with your friends, then this ModMic is the way to go!

It truly is a pretty neat find. I won't think about ant farms and tubes of ants the next time I see the AntLion logo. The only true downside to this simple heaphone modification was the cord and what to do with it. Like I mentioned before, the cable is just awkward to deal with. It's long, which is nice because you don't have to sit on top of your computer case to use them, but you also have some cable to deal with. The Velcro wrap is odd and just adds a cable weight hanging from your head while you play. My best solution was to just let all the cables hang and deal with the tangles later. For a more permanent solution, maybe some zip ties or some kind of case cable management system could be used, but as a removable system, you'll probably just have to deal with either added weight or tangles…but this is still an awesome mic option overall.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: