EPOS is attacking the gaming peripheral market in a big way. We’ve just taken a look at their awesome H3 gaming headset, and were super impressed with how simple that was. Now it’s time for the EPOS B20, which is their microphone offering aimed at streamers. It’s a small form factor USB condenser microphone that’s rich with features, and it looks absolutely stunning.
With its price tag coming in at £179 here in the UK, it’s easy to see that EPOS is chasing after the current top dogs Blue, with their Blue Yeti X. Though a little cheaper than the EPOS B20, it’s nowhere near as sleek looking. EPOS has really got that edge above the USB condenser mic competition.
Before I get into the microphone itself, I just wanted to quickly say that the unboxing experience of the EPOS B20 is absolutely fantastic, and EPOS really feel like they’ve thought about the overall experience of their products. Inside the microphone, itself is really protected with lots of foam padding, and the packaging inside is kept to a minimum with one small box for the cable and instruction manual. Pull the microphone out and you’ll see the base plate so you can use this microphone on a desktop.
Now, let’s talk about design. The EPOS B20 is cylindrical in shape with a flat top and bottom. It’s a gunmetal grey in colour and made from plastic, which keeps the weight down if you’re using it on a boom arm, though I would have liked to have seen this made from a more substantial material, maybe aluminium. The arm that’s hard connected to the microphone itself is articulating and on the bottom is a screw hole for the baseplate or boom arm. I had mine connected to both the base and my Rode PSA1 boom arm and it worked well. You get a pretty chunky screw in the box if you wanted to connect it to the stand, and you can tighten it with your fingers so no need for a screwdriver. The microphone is branded with a nice big EPOS logo down the side and has a small ‘E’ logo on top.
Down the front is a mute button which feels very nice when clicked, and there’s an LED light that’s quite dim but readable which shows red when the microphone is muted. You’ve also got the volume knob underneath this which can constantly spin in its socket. Around the back you’ve got a knob for microphone gain, and another knob for microphone pattern, of which there are four different pick-up types. From left to right you’ve got stereo, omnidirectional which is full 360-degree sound, cardioid which is front pickup only and bi-directional which is a front and back pickup, perfect for interview situations. Throughout my testing of course I stuck to cardioid, as it’s just me playing games and talking into the microphone.
On the bottom, you can find a USB Type-C connection! Thank you EPOS! And a headphone jack. Now the headphone jack is important because it means you can monitor your audio in real-time through the microphone itself, so there’s no messing around with delays like you find if you monitor your audio through Windows itself. Super offputting. But EPOS offer a workaround here, and it works great. I was easily able to monitor my voice to my game sounds and get a decent mix of the two.
So, how does it sound then, as I know you’re all dying to know! Well, pretty decent actually. The EPOS B20 can be partnered with their native software, called the EPOS Gaming Suite, and this software allows you to finely tune your audio with an included equaliser, change the gain without touching the microphone itself, and also offers a noise gate in case your microphone is anywhere near your computer. My machine sits on my desk, and I have nine fans in there. Yes, maybe it’s overkill, but it’s an O11 Dynamic Mini, what did you expect! But, the noise gate worked well and kept that annoying hissy hum muted, until I started talking again of course. The B20 is extremely sensitive, so if you’re rocking a fan in your room, aircon, or any kind of background noise, be prepared to be tinkering a bit to completely eliminate it. But, once it’s done and you’re happy with your settings, everything is golden. Be prepared to sound your best, let me tell you.
Things to look out for though, being completely honest with you, is if you’ve got the microphone on your desk. If you’re like me rocking a mechanical keyboard, chances are that sound is going to travel. It’s minimal, but it’s noticeable. You’re going to want to use it in its cardioid mode as its drop off rate is wicked. Once you’ve got explosions going off around you though in a game, it can be drowned out. In this scenario, I would always recommend some kind of boom arm. They’re not expensive, but a basic one from eBay or Amazon will heighten your audio quality. Secondly, plosives. While they’re nowhere near as bad as some condenser microphones, they’re still noticeable if you’re speaking directly into the microphone. This is where technology comes into play, or maybe some kind of pop filter. Again, they’re nice and cheap online, so pick one up if you’re heavy on your Ps and Bs. And lastly, elbows on the table. The EPOS B20 does a pretty decent job of keeping that kind of thing to a minimum, so no real interruption there. The drop off rate of the B20 in its cardioid pickup pattern is fantastic for such a small condenser microphone.
There is so much here to like about the EPOS B20, and EPOS do everything exceptionally well here. Sure, it’s a little pricey, and Blue Yeti as I said at the start has just pipped them when it comes to price. But there’s no denying that the B20 will make your setup look so much better. It’s not quite there for professional recording, as there are much better dynamic microphones out there for this price. But if you’re going to be sticking to streaming, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something this good, in tech and aesthetics. There are no frills, no garish RGB gamery stuff. It’s a solid, sleek and professional looking microphone. For more information, head over to the EPOS website.