Everybody is a streamer these days, but not everybody has the right kit. The EPOS B20 is positioned as a high-end product for those who are serious about their craft, but is this professional piece of hardware worthy of its professional price tag?
My experience with microphones and recording my dulcet tones only began in 2020. With the stay at home orders, I found myself with plenty more time on my hands as I didn’t have to partake in the daily grind at my day job as a retail manager. I was free to do whatever I liked, so long as it was within the confines of my home.
Some people started podcasts, others tried to maintain their social lives with family and friends via Zoom. Me? I doubled down on the side hustle and started putting video reviews together for Pure PlayStation on our all-platform channel, Pure Play TV.
If you’ve been on our YouTube channel and seen some of our reviews from the last six months or so, you’ll have noticed that they’re far better than what I was producing in the summer of 2020. Back then I had an EPOS | Sennheiser GSP 670 gaming headset that I was talking into while huddled under a blanket. Bear in mind, this was during the summer and it got HOT under that thick winter blanket that I was using to block out external noises.
The quality was… in a word, shite. Looking back, I’m a bit embarrassed but I’m not ashamed. The effort and willingness were there, but the equipment was not fit for purpose – it was a gaming headset that was designed for playing, not recording the voiceover for review videos.
Back then, I didn’t even edit the audio. In fact, the audio was recorded by connecting the GSP 670 to my phone via Bluetooth and then using my phone’s voice recorder app, which would then be sent over to my PC where I’d put the audio straight into the in-built video editor that comes with Windows 10. Yeah, that’s how bloody amateur those productions were.
Now in 2021, the videos are looking better with a professional polish to them, but they’re also sounding better. Much better. In October 2020 I finally caved and bought a proper microphone. It was €30 and it was decent enough. It served me well. But it has since been retired. For the past few weeks I’ve been using the EPOS B20 microphone and it has been a game-changer.
Strong and stable on any table
First off, let’s talk about the actual piece of kit itself.
Standing just shy of 24cm at its highest point, the microphone can easily sit on the desk in front of me as I parrot the words of my colleagues into it. I don’t have to worry about it falling over, either – a common problem I had with my prior microphone and its dodgy three-leg stand. It was forever tumbling. The thing even has a great big dent in it.
The EPOS B20 has a nice solid circular stand that you screw the main microphone unit to. It’s not a proper screw job – you can do it with a penny, so no actual tools are required. That’s if you want to use the included stand, which I did. But you can attach it to a standard microphone arm for a bit more versatility, and to open up the desk in front of you. I know this is something I’ll be doing sooner rather than later as I do find that having the microphone on the desk is a pain in the neck as I have to shift it around when it’s not being used and then set it up when it’s needed.
I’m also in the habit of waving my arms around as I speak the reviews into the microphone, and sometimes I get far too animated and I end up giving the mic a wee slap. Not the end of the world – it’s a sturdy device and it can take a good knock – but it’s an extra few seconds of me swearing that I have to edit out. If you’re a hand waving voice-over person, you’ll want to get this on a mic arm.
The front of the unit houses the volume adjustment and the on/off button, with a handy light to let you know whether you are potentially bad-mouthing somebody during a meeting. Very handy for an idiot like me. I’ve put my foot in it more than a few times.
Turn the microphone around and you’ll find two more knobs to play with. The ‘Gain’ dial which you can tweak to get the microphone to pick up your voice just as you want it. You can also use the EPOS Gaming Suite to tweak this. While the EPOS B20 is compatible with the PS4, the EPOS Gaming Suite is only available on PC.
Under the gain dial is another knob and this one took me a while to figure out. I actually had to rummage through the instruction manual to find out what each little symbol meant. Remember, I had previously been working with a €30 microphone that had two settings: on and off.
The four icons that you can turn the dial to represent the different recording modes of the EPOS B20 microphone. You have cardioid, stereo, bi-directional, and omnidirectional, and depending on how you’re recording, you’ll choose the one that fits your needs best.
Cardioid is for when you’re recording solo, so I used this 99% of the time. The other 1% is when I’d mistakenly turned the dial and didn’t notice. The other modes are useful if you’re recording alongside one or more people.
German engineering at work
What I really liked about the EPOS B20 is that it looks great but it’s also functional. This is German engineering at work. A solid, weighty circular base so that it doesn’t fall over. An adjustable stand so that you can turn the microphone towards or away – whatever you need. A simple plug-n-play setup with a very long USB C cable. So long, in fact, I was able to weave it around my complicated desk setup and plug it into the back end of my desktop that sits under my desk and out of the way. An under desk PC, then… My old microphone had a comically short cable that had to be plugged into the front, which meant unplugging my Xbox wireless receiver. Annoying.
It’s high quality, then, and to hold it in the hand, it feels like a premium product. And again, I’ll compare it to my old mic, which felt like it wasn’t really worth €30. The EPOS B20 feels like it’s worth the $200/€200 asking price, and that’s before you’ve even plugged the thing in and used it.
Thankfully, using the microphone is as simple as plugging it in, opening up your preferred audio editing software, and chatting away. I still have to edit my audio, mind you, as the EPOS B20 is quite sensitive and picks up my heavy gasps of air between sentences.
I’ve twiddled and tweaked with the settings in the EPOS Gaming Suite but I didn’t really need to. Out of the box, the improvements were obvious. I did a few tests before I sat to do some real recording and I was surprised at how clean and professional I sounded. I’m not used to sounding good…
Then I compared it to some of my previous recordings with my old microphone, which, despite the thrashing it’s getting here, did serve me well and did sound pretty good. But in comparison to this new, expensive model, it doesn’t hold a candle. The tinny sound is no more with the B20, and there’s an extra layer of clarity to my work, something that makes me massively happy, but the rest of the team just doesn’t get it. If you’re a voice-over person, you’ll know what I mean – having your voice projected in its best manner is important.
Great for work or play
On the gaming side, I didn’t try it out too much. I did set up with my PS4 Pro as it’s on my desk. I played some Tropico 6 with a mate and he didn’t have any problems with my audio, even with my boy running riot in the background, scattering LEGO all over the living room.
I did notice that it’s super sensitive, though, and while nobody else ever complained, I could often hear the low humming buzz of my PC in my recordings, despite it being buried underneath my work area. You can’t really hear it in the final published videos because of the blend between my audio and the game, but I often heard it during the editing process and I’m still worried it’s going to manifest as a horrible buzz in my videos. Thankfully, it hasn’t, and I’m sure with some proper tweaking inside the EPOS suite, I could probably get rid of this. Still, it’s not a problem I had with my last mic.
I also did some video meetings for work and a couple of personal video chats with family. I never had a problem on the audio front, but I did knock my webcam down and reveal that while I was all business up top, I was pool partying down below. I’ve already ordered a new webcam with a proper clip, but it’ll be a long while until I need to buy a microphone.
EPOS B20 Microphone Review
- Overall - Fantastic - 8/108/10
The EPOS B20 microphone is great for any streamer or reviewer wanting to put their voice to a video. It's heavy, robust, and feels like a proper piece of professional gear that is fit for purpose. It's pricey, though, but you get what you pay for.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a unit provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.