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Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Headset Review: Streamer's Delight

By Christopher Coke on October 05, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Headset Review: Streamer's Delight

If you’re a streamer wanting to take things to the next level, you’ve probably looked into standalone microphones. Today, we have another option for you with the Audio-Technica BPHS1 broadcast headset. That’s right, a broadcast headset - but there’s a reason why big gamers and content creators like Angry Joe have dropped the boom arms and picked one of these up. Is it right for you? Join us as we find out in our official review.

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Specifications

  • Current Pricing: $199.99
  • Type: Closed-back Dynamic (Headphone)/Cardioid Dynamic (Microphone)
  • Driver Diameter: 40mm (Headphone)
  • Magnet: Neodymium (Headphone)
  • Voice Coil: Copper-clad aluminum wire
  • Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz (Headphone)/40-20,000 Hz (Microphone)
  • Maximum Input Power: 1,600 mW at 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB (Headphone)/-57 dB (1.4 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa (Microphone)
  • Impedance: 65 ohms (Headphone)/560 ohms (Microphone)
  • Weight: 264 g (9.3 oz)
  • Cable: 3.3 m (10.8') long with 8-pin connector at headset end; 3-pin XLRM-type connector (microphone) and 6.3 mm (1/4") phone plug (headphone) outputs
  • Accessories Included: 3 windscreens; spare connector screw

Who is this for? It’s not a gaming headset, after all...

Over the last six months, I’ve gotten into streaming more than ever, actually taking on a paid stream for our partners over at Colorful Technology. I invested into my setup and mounted an expensive condenser mic on a boom arm. And while I love that mic, I realized something: Having a big mic in your face is actually kind of annoying.

When you’re working with a nice microphone, your audio game improves but your on-cam just doesn’t. To take advantage of proximity effect - that extra bassiness you hear from radio DJs - the mic needs to be close to your mouth, which means it’s upfront and center in the frame of your video.  The same is true if, like most of us, you’re not in a sound-treated room; if the mic is too far away, you get reverb and that nice mic doesn’t sound nearly so good. That’s where the BPHS1 comes in.

The BPHS1 is a specialized headset made for broadcast. You’ve probably seen sports commentators wearing something similar. Though that sounds kind of crazy - why are you sharing a production headset on MMORPG?!? - a quick look at the Q&A on the product shows they are clearly looking at this for things like professional podcasting. Big YouTubers and streamers, like Angry Joe, have also begun using it with great results.

But, why: wouldn’t it be better to get a nice pair of headphones and a ModMic?

First off, this is a great sounding pair of headphones. I was concerned that they would sound flat since broadcasters, in my naive thinking, would need the minimum - making out a voice in their ear. I was wrong. The BPHS1s have an excellent bass presence and clear, articulate mids and highs. They reminds me a lot of my Audio-Technica M50X headphones with an extra bass punch and different earcups. They work great for gaming and let you hear all of the details you would expect to fly right by a headset like this. It’s a performer.

The other half of the equation is the microphone, which is the real star of the show. Gaming headsets tend to put the mic last while they focus on surround sound and other gaming features. It’s only the rare few that have a mic you would even want to stream with and even then they pale in comparison to standalone mics. Here, the microphone is simply the best I’ve ever heard. It’s better than the ModMics or the V-Moda BoomPro (which are both very good in their own right). It’s better than any headset mic I’ve ever used and even some standalone mics.

Add onto this your Audio-Technica build quality and you have a recipe for a very nice headset that’s perfect for streamers. The headband is metal, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking, and the driver housings are a dense plastic that feels like it’s meant to take some abuse. And they probably are - remember, these are meant the field as much as your home PC. To that end, you’ll also find that they’re very light and quite comfortable to boot. 

So this is a headset that’s really about its mic (even though the headphones are also very good). What makes it so special?

I’m glad you asked! The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s big, probably triple the size of a normal headset mic. One of the reasons is that it’s a dynamic microphone capsule rather than the standard electret condenser found in most gaming headsets. Think of the microphones singers hold onstage - this is that kind of microphone and it has some unique benefits over traditional condenser mics like the AT2020 or Blue Yeti.

The first is simple: this microphone will block out way more background noise than a condenser mic. The off-axis noise rejection is simply superb. In the audio review below, you’ll hear as I type away on a mechanical keyboard with Kailh x NovelKeys BOX Jade switches. Don’t worry that you’ve never heard of them. What’s important to know is this: they’re probably three times as loud as Cherry MX Blues and click twice as much. You can hear them but far quieter on another type of microphone. On a stream with my condenser mic, I have to avoid using them because they’re distractingly loud.

If you’ve streamed with a condenser mic, you already know that they’ll pick up almost everything. If there are other people talking nearby, congratulations, they’re Twitch stars. Kids, pets, fans, every squeak from your chair… they’re all getting recorded. With a dynamic mic, the range of the pick-up is much smaller while sounding as good, if not better, than many so-called “streaming mics.”

The BPHS1 offers the rich tone of the dynamic microphone capsule. If you’ve heard professionally produced podcasts, then you know what I’m talking about. Condensers can certainly provide a great capture too but the BPHS1 has a very resonant low-end that just sounds excellent.

Sounds good, but what’s the catch?

It’s not so much a catch as the realization that this is a specialized piece of equipment with a cost to match. The BPHS1 carried an MSRP of $199.99, which unfortunately prices it right out of entry and mid-level ranges. That said, if you’re considering a microphone like this, you’ve probably also considered buying a standalone mic setup. Comparing costs, is it really that much of a catch?

Let’s consider. Factoring in $100 for a mic, $15 for a cheap stand, and $75+ for a comparable set of headphones, and you come out to very close to the same amount of money. And no, don’t compare it to a gaming headset or even one with a ModMic. They’re just completely different classes of gear, just like the standalone mic setup would be against a gaming headset.

Because of that, however, you’ll also need an audio interface. The BPHS1 connects using XLR for the mic and a 1/4" plug for the headphones. If you don’t already have an interface, that’s another $50 investment at minimum. In that case, the price gaps stretches and you might want to think twice about what you really need and why.

Final Thoughts

The Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Stereo Headset features the hands-down best microphone I’ve ever used on a headset. Thanks to its use of a dynamic capsule versus a standard condenser, it blocks out background noise much better too, making it a great fit if you’re streaming in a noisier environment. At $199, it’s not a cheap piece of kit but as a replacement for a full standalone mic setup, that price becomes much more reasonable. If you have kids or loud pets, or are simply tired of getting up close and personal with your condenser mic, the BPHS1 is absolutely a headset you need to consider.

Pros

  • Great build quality, feels made to last
  • Headphones are remarkably rich
  • The microphone sounds great, very full bodied
  • The dynamic capsule does a great job of rejecting background noise

Cons

  • Expensive compared against other headsets (but you shouldn’t be comparing them anyway)
  • Requires an audio interface

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.