I’m a new streamer on the scene after streaming on Twitch for about 6 months. Thus far I have been using my trusty ModMic, but I’m at the point where I’ve considered an upgrades for my microphone. So when given the opportunity to try EPOS’s new B20 microphone, I did not pass up the chance.
The mic is advertised as a streaming microphone, and the aesthetics reflect that. It’s slick and smooth. For streamers who use webcams, it looks the part. It’s packaged in a fancy magnetic box alongside a small stand and a USB to USB-C cable. As a plug-in and play USB microphone, it bypasses the need for a separate sound card.
The B20 microphone features an on-mic mute button, which lights up white or red to show you it’s current status. It has an adjustable gain dial, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a volume control. The volume and gain dials do not have markers and can turn indefinitely, meaning you need to adjust these by ear with no way of knowing if it’s set correctly. The jack allows you to plug in a headset and use your microphone as a sound device while hearing your mic input with zero latency. This is useful for people who need to monitor their audio levels in real time. I found I could not use it as the constant background noise was distracting regardless of the pickup pattern I had the mic set to.
Speaking of pickup patterns, the B20 has four distinct ones for multiple scenarios which can be changed on the mic by turning a dial. There’s Stereo, which records audio at a wide angle for natural sounding audio at the cost of more background noise. You can set it to Bidirectional, which records front and back, and is perfect for podcasting or recording with a person sat opposite you. There’s also Omnidirectional, which records audio from every direction, useful for when you’re in a room full of friends and need to record everyone.
The last, and arguably most important, is Cardioid, which is designed for one person speaking into the microphone, and will be the setting you use in most cases. This one picks up sound from only the front while dampening sound elsewhere. I’ve found distance is key on this setting. You can find clear and natural sounding audio but your mouth needs to be close to the microphone with the gain adjusted accordingly. This is important for streaming – I tried using this microphone on Cardioid on stream with the included mic stand on my desk. The mic stand is adjustable in the sense you can tilt the microphone once attached to get the perfect angle.
Using the mic like this for streaming was a terrible idea though. With the gain adjusted to pick up my voice from that distance (which would have been about 30cm) it picked up everything: my keyboard strokes, my mouse clicks, the fans of my PC, and even myself moving in the chair. all while my audio sounded distant. I ended up switching back to my old cheap one which was mounted to my headset. This problem would be solved with a mic arm since you could position it in front of your face, but that isn’t an option for those like me without anything to clamp it onto. So if you’re looking for a microphone to stream with, you should consider a mic arm.
For recording where I can stack a pile of books to face level and place the B20 on these, it produces clear and natural sounding audio right out of the box. This is great for making pre-recorded videos.
EPOS provides downloadable software in the form of the EPOS Gaming Suite, which allows you to manually tweak the input of your microphone such as adjusting the gain, adding noise-gates and using reverb controls. There are a few pre-set voice enhancers which can tweak the output. This includes giving your voice a warmer or colder sound, but I found the default best. You can make your own custom profiles for switching on the fly.
This all comes with a major caveat though. If you want to use even the most simple of these controls in the EPOS Gaming Suite, your B20 needs to be set as the current and default sound device. Not mic – sound device. This means that you would need to be listening to your audio with your headphones plugged into your mic. This is insanely frustrating for someone like me who does not want to have it set as default. There doesn’t seem to be any workaround for it either, beyond having no customisation at all.
Overall, the B20 is a great microphone for recording and streaming but a mic arm might be necessary for you to get a good result. It retails at £179.00, making it more expensive than it’s main competitors and a lot more expensive than a standard microphone and sound card combo. It may not look the part, but it’s a much cheaper option. If you want a high quality plug-in and play mic that looks snazzy on your streams, or a mic that can handle multiple scenarios such as both podcasting and streaming, then the B20 is a solid choice. But perhaps a little overpriced for what it is.
A EPOS B20 microphone was provided for this review.
Featured Image: EPOS