A GOOD microphone isn’t just for professional influencers these days.
In an era of video calls, remote meetings, and TikTok skits, a microphone is an important and worthwhile addition to a computer setup.
The audio brands know this, and there’s a heap of options on the market ranging from cheap and cheerful all the way up to commercial recording-studio quality.
Audio brand EPOS have released a range of products in the “serious enthusiast” level and their latest offering is, as I’d hope you’d have gathered from the illustrations, the EPOS B20 microphone.
The unit has a sleek cylindrical style finished in a matte black, and a solid construction with metal parts. It looks good, it sits well on the desk, and it’s well made – all important things for a peripheral.
One of the things I really liked about the B20 was how many of its controls were on-unit, meaning there was a knob or dial to control them and you didn’t need any other software to make it work.
On the front is a large mute button and indicator LED, as well as a volume control, while the rear has a gain dial and a knob to select whether you want the mic to function in cardioid, bidirectional, stereo, or omnidirectional mode.
Each mode offers different advantages depending what you’re doing – Cardioid is the way to go while recording or streaming on your own while stereo is good for doing a couch-cast and bidirectional is useful for conducting in-person interviews.
The B20 comes with its own stand – a circular base with a slot for the cables – and can also be mounted to a boom if you’ve got one. There’s a USB-C port to connect to a PC or Mac, and a 3.5mm audio out jack on the back where a wired headset can be plugged in to provide real-time audio feedback.
The Epos B20 records 24-bit sound at 48KHz, so the audio quality is very good – – in case you hadn’t gathered, I am recording this review using the B20 so you can hear it for yourself.
While the unit is definitely plug-and-play out of the box, installing the EPOS gaming software allows for the mic levels to be adjusted further – which is just as well because the microphone is very sensitive and some of the features in the software are good and countering background noise such as from PC fans.
While the B20 is excellent as a streaming, content creation or video sound microphone, it’s a bit bulky for use as a regular gaming mic and also the immediate voice feedback mode doesn’t work if you are running your gaming headset through a USB amp, as I am. I also couldn’t use the EPOS gaming software to adjust the microphone levels unless I made the B20 the default mic and sound output device, which was annoying because I have an excellent Sennheiser GSX-1000 gaming amp which I want to use for my headset, rather than running everything through the B20.
Did I mention how sensitive the mic is? If you don’t adjust the settings properly, you’re also going to have issues with the microphone picking up your PC game, your keyboard, your mouse, and even writing notes on paper. Depending on what you’re recording this could be a good thing, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
The “gain” and “volume” dials don’t have any markings or tactile feedback (such as when you reach the max or min levels), which is disappointing and something I can see more than a few users partially fixing with some correction fluid. It also makes getting the levels right when you’re using it for gaming a bit of a challenge, because you don’t want to blast everyone in team chat or Discord but you basically have to use the headset pass-through or your friend’s cries of “Too loud!” or “What? Speak up!” to get the sound right.
I’ve also got a few concerns over the price – EPOS stuff isn’t cheap generally, but the RRP of AUD$329 seems just a bit high and pushes the unit into a different bracket – and I feel like it’s missing a few features such as tactile dials or LED indicators for volume.
Overall, the EPOS B20 is a good “next step up” mic for someone who wants to upgrade their streaming setup but doesn’t want to turn their workspace into a AAA game or animation voiceover recording booth either.
This is a solid, well-made microphone which is well worth considering further if you are looking to upgrade your streaming or recording setup and while it’s not cheap, it does offer a versatile solution for a range of uses too.