What an opportunity this is, to review a brand new product just released from EPOS. Introducing the all-new B20 Streaming Microphone for Gamers with an RRP of £179/$199, the question on my mind and yours is simple, is it any good? Shall we find out?
Just a quick one here, not heard of EPOS? here is a brief overview that has been taken from their site;
EPOS delivers high-end audio solutions designed for enterprise and gaming. Based on pioneering audio technology, we strive to unleash human potential by perfecting audio experiences and delivering innovative design and performance with all of our audio solutions.
First off as always, we love to do the unboxing.
From the very start, EPOS has chosen to use Dark Photography which refers to photos with dark colours and tones. On the front of the box, you can see the Microphone itself and the brand. On one of the sides, there are a number of key features in different languages which say the following;
- Studio broadcast-quality microphone,
- High-Quality build with a sleek design,
- Designed for gamers and live-streamers
Compatible with PC, MAC, and PS4
Moving to the back
Crafted to Last, Designed to Excite
- Crystal clear sound
- Hassle-free experience
- High-Quality materials
Above are some of the features EPOS mention on the back along with a brief description;
Created for those who insist on excellence from the audio devices, we craft solutions with high-quality materials that are built to last: providing the perfect balance between excellent audio and design. The real magic happens when users experience the purity of sound, the clarity of speech, and the difference it makes to anything they set out to achieve.
That’s the outside side covered now the inside packaging and damn there is more than enough packaging in here to protect your new microphone just look at the picture below. OK, maybe the picture does not do it much justice but trust me it is well packed away, and there is no way it is going to get damaged.
Unboxing done and dusted let us move forward and set this microphone up.
It’s rather simple, USB Type C attaches to the microphone the other end attaches to your PC. Your PC will automatically recognise it and install the drivers for you. But before we do that I would recommend you download, install and update the EPOS Gaming Suite which can be downloaded here. Make sure you update to version 1.60 or above this will allow the software to recognise the new B20 Microphone, otherwise you will have no software to play with.
Now plug your new microphone in, and here comes the ‘What the Hell Moment’, well it was for me. The B20 Streaming Microphone automatically gets detected however, it will only get detected in the EPOS Gaming Suite as long as both your microphone and speakers are set to that device. So what does this mean, well if you use a USB Headset or Wireless USB Headset you can forget about them to a degree.
To get all the features that come with the EPOS Gaming Suite you can only use a wired 3.5mm headset attached directly to the B20 microphone underneath. It is not a huge problem as many headsets come with a 3.5mm connection.
Now I have reached out to EPOS to comment on this and I got some feedback, ‘The Mic can be used without the gaming suite in the case where the user needs to have a wireless or USB headset’. This of course removes all the improvements the software offers up.
I am personally hoping that an update comes around that allows the EPOS Gaming Suite to allow multiple device compatibility, meaning that we can select a different playback device and still have the microphone detection in the gaming suite, why? its sucks for some of us that have a preferred headset that is not a 3.5mm connected device.
So what does the software offer?
Well first off you can update the firmware, this was obvious and EPOS are most likely to do this.
Then we have all the microphone fun, which includes the voice enhancer which allows you to change how your voice sounds, from off, warm, clear, or custom, I like to use warm.
Then we have some features that you might not be that aware of, know what they do or why they would be used.
Gain– Microphone gain increases the amplitude of a microphone signal. Gain boosts signal strength from mic level to line level so the microphone signal is compatible with professional audio equipment. Credit – http://mynewmicrophone.com/
Side Tone – Sidetone is a feature that allows you to hear your own voice in the headset as you speak into the microphone. Credit www.poly.com
Noise Gate – The basic function of a noise gate is to eliminate sounds below a given threshold – Credit Wiki
Noise-cancelling- Noise-cancelling microphones are built to pick up your voice while ignoring the background noise. – Credit www.jabra.com
High Pass Filter – A high–pass filter effectively cuts out the frequency response of a mic below a certain set point, allowing only the frequencies above this point to “pass” through as the audio signal. High–pass filters remove unwanted and excess low-end energy that otherwise degrades the audio signal. – Credit http://mynewmicrophone.com/
You can also listen to your microphone and see how it sound and performs through the software, mute and find out the polar pattern you are using which include the following
- Cardioid – Will capture everything in front and block everything else
- Omnidirectional – Will pick up sound with equal gain from all sides or directions of the microphone
- Bi-Directional – Will capture everything in front and Behind and block to a degree the sides.
- Stereo – Use two separate capsules to record two tracks of audio. These capsules are typically in a fixed arrangement, facing to the left and right of the mic position, giving you a more natural-sounding recording that mirrors how our ears hear sounds to our left and right – Credit http://www.rode.com/
Now for the tests
The Majority of the tests are done only with Cardioid with one Stereo
Cardioid 60% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to clear no other enhancements
Cardioid 60% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to warm no other enhancements
Cardioid 60% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to warm, High Pass Filter Turned on no other enhancements
Cardioid 100% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to warm, High Pass Filter Turned on no other enhancements
Stereo 100% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to warm
Cardioid 100% Volume, 70% Gain, voice set to warm, Noise Noise-cancelling 50% and 100%
Which one do you prefer? the extra enhancements really do offer some improvements over the base unit without any software, yet, it does perform well out of the box without any software as well.
Design? Did I forget?
No, I did not, the B20 Microphone is sleek, elegant, minimalistic when it comes to buttons and knobs which only consist of mute, volume, gain, and pattern choice. Of course, there is the EPOS logo on the top and the EPOS name on the side. Even comes with its own stand, it’s ok, but I would highly recommend purchasing a microphone arm and pop filter may be. But be aware the cable from your headset will or might hit the microphone causing feedback, due to the headset needing to be put through the mic to get any sound.
The overall sound quality when using the software is great and with the use of a noise gate and noise cancelling you can really improve the performance of the microphone. Overall the microphone is clear and damn good to use, even if it might take a little time setting it up perfectly.
There might be better microphones on the market but for now based on the ones I have used this is the best, even with the way EPOS has chosen to set it up to work with only a 3.5mm connection. Now I do not have soundproofing in my room, no sound absorption of any kind just a general gaming room any gamer would have. There was also one recording I made above that I expected the mic to pick up the car going past, but it did not, and at that time I had no noise cancelling in operation.
As with any headset, mice, keyboard, microphone always test if you can, as you never know what it will be like or how it will perform, but I hope the recordings I have made will help you with this one if you choose to purchase.
You can purchase the B20 Microphone directly from EPOS here.
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