Why on earth is an Audio-Technica BPHS1 review being published in 2018? Well, since its release in 2009, this headset has earned a reputation for its incredible quality in broadcast applications, and now I’ve finally been able to check it out. After spying the BPHS1 in the occasional sports commentary box, as well as the odd YouTube video, and coming away impressed by the noise rejection and overall quality, I had to reach out and get my hands on it. My hope was that it would solve my issues of having two gaming setups in the same office space, which makes things difficult for recording clear audio.
Over the last decade, the demand for high-quality microphones has seen a huge increase, with millions of creators across YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook looking to capture their voice and present it to the online world. Standard gaming headset microphones are often tailored towards VOIP and not much else. The usual solution is to pair great sounding headphones with a dedicated Blue Yeti condenser mic or, in my case, the dynamic Shure SM7B. While this does solve the problem, it can look a tad messy on a webcam, and prices can often begin to skyrocket out of control.
The Audio-Technica BPHS1 is a $200 headset that aims to offer the best of both worlds: clear, great sounding audio, coupled with a fantastic microphone.
Audio-Technica BPHS1 Review – Unboxed and Ready for Action
As soon as I had unboxed the BPHS1, I knew I was dealing with a product that’s intended to get things done. There is no luxurious foam or careful assembly, with the headset simply being placed in bubble wrap. It was securely snug in the box, however, so I don’t fear for any damage during normal transit. The additional two windshields and headphone wire screw were great to see included.
After removing the headset from its bubble wrap cocoon, I was met with more of a dull moth than a beautiful butterfly. Aesthetically, the BPHS1 is as plain as it gets, being almost entirely black, aside from a little of the metal headband showing and the small Audio-Technica logo. As I mentioned before, this is a product designed around being a tool. It’s supposed to get things done, excelling in the audio and microphone department. Overall, I think the clean look is great for a professional environment.
Audio-Technica BPHS1 Review – XLR You Serious?
Setting up the BPHS1 may be a bit of challenge for those who buy without considering the XLR input. You see, that great microphone audio comes as a result of choosing XLR over 3.5 mm. You can’t just plug this headset into your PC’s 3.5 mm jacks and call it a day. No, the BPHS1 must be coupled with either a converter (which can be a bit iffy) or an audio interface. If you’re looking to take your audio quality to the next level, purchasing a USB audio interface (which processes that XLR input and sends it to your PC) is an investment that you’ll need to make.
Don’t go thinking that the XLR input is a disadvantage, however, as it allows for some serious versatility. For example, you can choose a mixer as your audio interface, allowing you to fine-tune multiple different inputs, which is ideal for streamers who need to adjust on the fly. Have your mic, game audio, team chat, and background music all fully adjustable with a twist of a knob. Most audio interfaces allow you to monitor your own audio, giving live feedback so you can hear yourself clearly, which is huge for maintaining control. What’s more, you can then add other components, like a compressor or noise gate.
If the above seems a little overwhelming, fear not, for I did the majority of my testing with the BPHS1 headphones plugged into an affordable Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD audio interface. What you hear in the tests below is straight from the microphone with no additional EQ or compression applied. (You can also use the video below to see how it looks when plopped on a streamer’s head.)
As you can hopefully hear, the microphone really is fantastic. To me, it sounds close to what you’d get from a USB dynamic like the Rode Podcaster, only it’s tiny and not blocking half of the webcam screen! You can have the microphone placed on either side of your face, which is definitely a nice touch. The mic is also great at rejecting background noise, which is the main reason why I wanted it as part of my setup. Having two people in close proximity, talking into sensitive mics, makes it difficult to keep the voices separate. This problem often results in an echo, which has meant that my girlfriend can’t join in with livestreams. I’m happy to say that upgrading to the BPHS1 has solved that issue.
Audio-Technica BPHS1 Review – A Nice Surprise
So the mic is good, as promised, but what about the audio coming through the headphones. My hope was for a passable amount of quality here, as the mic was my main focus, but I have to say, games and music sound fantastic. I’m honestly not a fan of virtual surround sound, so the stereo solution on offer here was perfectly fine with me. Tracking enemy footsteps in Black Ops 4 was simple, as was pinpointing gunfire in PUBG. Music across all genres sounds great, without sacrificing accuracy. For me, they are natural enough for monitoring voice quality and editing that audio in Adobe Audition, or another DAW.
When it comes to broadcasting longer play sessions, or enjoying a marathon of gaming and music, comfort becomes a huge factor. Now I must tell you that the BPHS1 earpads do sit on my ears, rather than enveloping them. This goes against what the product description says, so I can only assume that it’s my problem for having larger ears. With that said, it’s worth you all bearing in mind. I know that some people aren’t fans of pads that sit on the ears, but I didn’t experience any discomfort over 3-4 hours of binging Red Dead Redemption 2. I was honestly expecting this to be the major downside to the BPHS1 but, as long as you are giving your ears a chance to breathe every hour or so, I think most users would be okay. As for the cushioned headband, it’s satisfactory, though doesn’t compare to Audio-Technica’s more innovative “Wing Support System” that you’ll find on other headsets. Bonus points are awarded for the replaceable earpads and cable, which are a huge plus.
Audio-Technica BPHS1 Review – A Golden Oldie
Though the BPHS2 is now available, it is priced at $350, which is a massive $150 more than the first version. This puts the newer model in an awkward spot, and isn’t really comparable, in my opinion. (Though I certainly will compare them if the opportunity arises!)
Using the BPHS1 headset has been a joy. My high expectations have been met, and I think it’s a great choice for anyone looking to up their audio game in a compact package. Not only is it great for broadcasting and recording audio, it is also a cracking headset for competitive gaming and listening to music. That is quite the killer combo!
Audio-Technica BPHS1 review unit was provided by Audio-Technica.