With the increasing viability of Share Controller, arguably one of Mixer's most underrated features that allows you to simultaneously have control of a game along with one of your viewers when streaming directly from an Xbox One, I began to look into how best to commentate whilst streaming in this manner. However, I soon realised there's one main issue that might hold streamers back from using this feature, specifically, the lack of support for USB microphones and headsets that aren't equipped to work directly with the Xbox One console family.
The only way I found to get any kind of sound through to both the stream and the party involved using an in-line mic I usually use off-stream. However, as much as that particular mic might be fine for casual conversation, it is not viable for commentary and continuing dialogue with viewers or party members. Take, for example, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a game that I previously covered in a review. The game can go from just ambience and footsteps to a full-scale battle in a matter of seconds, so it's important that throughout all of that, the streamer can be heard without having to yell too much, unless needed of course.
Until, that is, I remembered about the Modmic line of products from Antlion Audio. I'd heard of these for a number of years, but hadn't really thought I'd need one except in relatively rare circumstances.
Manufacturing both a variant that wires into controllers and a USB model, as well as a wireless version (not covered in this review), the Modmic is a very popular recommendation for those wanting to transform their high-end headphones into gaming peripherals for a comparatively small investment.
The real question is though, just how easy is one of these to set up without sight and what's the sound quality like in practice?
To clarify, I did have sighted assistance through the unboxing and attachment process to make sure I was doing everything correctly as described in the manuals for both products which can be found on the linked page on the Antlion website. I'll give my thoughts on how viable I think it might be to complete the latter of these two processes at the end of this review.
Now, let's just see how good the Modmic really is in both USB and analogue form.
The main and actually only item in the box is the carry case, which is a little difficult to easily remove. If you place a finger and thumbnail either side of the case, gently gripping the zip area, you should be able to pull it free.
Inside the carry case you'll find everything you need, all tied in place with elastic straps that are part of the case's framework. On one side is the mic, with the cable snaking from it to the other pocket of the case. In this pocket, you'll also find the warranty and installation leaflet, covering what's in the case and how to attach the mic, as well as the small plastic bag containing the extra clamps (including a second base clasp), cable clips and cleaning wipe.
"Second base clasp?", you may be thinking, "Where's the first?" The first, as it turns out, is actually attached to the mic already, along with the top and adhesive pads, in preparation for sticking to the first set of headphones you want to use with it.
Wiping the surface was pretty straightforward and sticking the adhesive pad onto the surface proved to be relatively no trouble as well. Given I realistically only had one shot at getting the placement right, I did get sighted assistance with this process.
After leaving the adhesive to cure for an hour from sticking the base clasp down, it was time to test the mic out.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the mic and headphones needed to be inserted into specific sockets, which is a problem given that neither of the sockets actually are able to be differentiated without sight. Fortunately though, I had sighted assistance to mark up the Y-adaptor and left the Modmic Uni plugged into it whilst testing the unit with the Xbox One.
Whilst using it during a Share Controller stream as I'd intended, the Modmic worked extremely well, with various individuals complimenting me on the quality. I was also impressed when watching back and comparing it to the previous effort with the aforementioned in-line microphone. It's pretty much night and day difference in terms of quality and volume which exactly what I'd hoped for when looking into this product.
One of two relatively small issues I had whilst testing was the process of putting away and taking the Modmic out of the case, given that I don't want to use it all the time. There is no neat way to store the wiring other than roughly coiling it up, tying it with the cable tie in a manner similar to the way in which it arrived and trying to fit it back in as best you can. This would, I think, likely increase the chances of Modmics having cable issues much sooner than I or anyone else would like. I resorted to just leaving it on top of the case in a drawer in the hope that it won't get damaged.
The second issue didn't relate to the Modmic, but the Y-adaptor, in that the headphone output didn't actually give a clear stereo signal. This was confirmed not to be the fault of the controller after I tried it on both an Elite and standard controller. This meant that I couldn't use the Modmic and a headset running straight through the Y-adaptor, having to instead substitute the headset signal with the equivalent of a capture card monitoring output.
If you want the option of using USB or 3.5mm connectivity in one microphone, this small extra accessory is definitely worth the purchase.
Though it doesn't say this anywhere in the Modmic manuals, you can use the same clamp for both the USB and the Uni. However, for my reviewing test, I used the clamps that came with each respective mic for consistency.
Unfortunately, when attaching the USB variant to a different G935 headset, the mic wasn't in line with my mouth as the analogue variant had been. As a result, I felt I had to bend the mic or try and move it to get a better sound. This allowed me to test out the process of taking the mic out of the clamp, which is surprisingly easy even though your mic may have a few small marks from repeatedly doing this.
After re-adhering the base to a slightly different part of the headset so it was at least close to the position of the analogue variant, I began testing the mic with my PC.
The magnets that hold the base and top clamps together are strong enough that, though they may move slightly when touched, the mic has not separated from the headset unless removed with a fair amount of force during my testing. I've been using the Uni for Share Controller streams for several weeks and am very impressed with the ease of use and quality.
The sound quality of the Modmic, something that I've seen talked about for many years, is definitely a selling point as, whilst it might not be quite to the standard of desktop mics, it's certainly a whole level above the stereotype of headset mics in general. Being able to get solid recording quality if you just want to quickly make a video or stream a game is very useful in a day and age where accessibility updates can happen at a moment's notice and the Modmic facilitates such ventures.
If you want a mic that's easy to set up, sounds great and you can use with an existing headset, high-end or otherwise, the Modmic might just be what you're looking for.
I certainly look forward to seeing just how useful these mics become as I continue to stream and work with audio as part of my accessibility consultancy.
If you're interested in learning more about the Modmic and its variants, you can check them out at: www.AntlionAudio.com
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