With over 16,000 employees spread among companies in 30 countries and an annual revenue of over two billion USD--yes, with a “b”--the Demant group might be the biggest audio and hearing technology company that you haven’t heard of yet. But their personal communications arm has a couple of heavy hitters in the business and gaming audio peripheral space with Sennheiser and EPOS. Formerly combined in making the thick but performant GSP headset line, the two companies parted ways in July 2020 with EPOS continuing to make the gaming headset as well as newer models.
Now EPOS steps into the arena of prosumer streaming microphones with the B20. Designed to be a high-quality plug-and-play USB solution for content creation, streaming, and general voice chat with the utmost precision, the B20 positions itself right alongside well known products like the Blue Yeti X, Elgato Wave:3, and HyperX QuadCast S while trying to justify a higher price tag than any of its competition. I was fortunate to have EPOS send over its new B20 Streaming Microphone for review, so let’s find out if it can provide the excellent sound quality and ease of use that is promised.
Behold the B20
I covered the release of the B20 with a news post that contains details and specifications for the new EPOS crafted streaming microphone, but here’s the gist of what you can expect to find in the glossy magnetically clasped box. Encased tightly in safeguarding foam, the impressively thick and girthy aluminum housed microphone sports three dials, one button and an LED status light. The dial and button on front control volume and muting respectively, with an LED changing from white to red when muted.
The back of the microphone contains the other two dials, the top one for gain and the bottom for switching between four available pick-up arrangements. Three enclosed condenser capsules can be utilized for standard cardioid and stereo patterns for one user, or bidirectional and omnidirectional patterns to clearly hear two or more speakers.
The bottom of the EPOS B20 Streaming Microphone allows access to two available ports. One is USB-C with an included 9’6” cable for primary connection to your PC, Mac, or PS4; and the other is a standard 3.5mm jack for lag-free monitoring. The latter can also be used as a pass-through speaker or headphone connection with basic 2.0 output or simulated 7.1 surround sound through downloadable EPOS Gaming Suite software.
The B20 is supported by an approximately 4½” solid metal arm with a wonderfully sturdy pivot that securely holds the microphone in any position in its full 360° rotation. The bottom of this stanchion screws into the included desk stand or onto any standard ⅜” threaded boom arm or accessory. EPOS nails the B20’s first impression with the presence of a premium audio appliance. From the shiny packaging to the no-frills yet robust construction, EPOS assures an impressively minimalistic and professional microphone.
The shrillest highs and the lowest lows
The EPOS B20 has a microphone frequency response between 50 - 20,000 Hz, a recording sample and bit rate of 24bit - 48kHz, and is sensitive enough to pick up -37 dBV/PA. All those technical sounding numbers and acronyms can be summarized by saying this microphone hears everything. It’s so sensitive that at middling volume and gain levels, it can easily pick up any sound made in the room with perfect clarity. The sampling rate is especially exceptional and matches that of professional studios. EPOS promises that the B20 will capture the human voice without cutting out any of the treble or bass tones and they absolutely keep that vow.
This can be both a blessing and a curse if you’re not used to a microphone that can listen to a mosquito’s heartbeat. Finding the right volume and gain balance for your setup is simply a matter of twisting two dials while monitoring with any pair of 3.5mm headphones, and after a quick adjustment I was very pleased with the results. The B20 will still cleanly transmit any sound within its generous range, so mitigating any background noise is paramount.
If you’re already using software like Discord, OBS, or nVidia Broadcast and RTX Voice to handle noise canceling, the B20 Streaming Microphone will fit right in with ease. To give users finer control over this new microphone, support has been added to the EPOS Gaming Suite. This gives access to tweak noise canceling and gating, equalization, sidetone, and gain. You can also test a quick recording, download firmware updates, and more.
The ability to update the firmware for the microphone also holds a lot of potential to fine-tune both the physical and digital experience with a planned update coming in the next few weeks to tweak the gain dial and side tone adjustments. Future firmware updates can even expand platform compatibility like for the PS5, which EPOS is hopeful to release but has no current timetable.
Unfortunately, the EPOS Gaming Suite is the only negative experience I’ve had when setting up the B20 with some features not showing proper feedback when testing them or simply not altering anything. The requirement to set your primary sound device to the microphone’s headphone output in order for the Gaming Suite software to recognize the B20 is also an annoyance. This basically requires you to have a pair of wired 3.5mm headphones around to make any meaningful adjustments in the software, if they take effect at all. Hopefully this will all be addressed with a future update, but as it stands, using the microphone with established third-party solutions has proven more reliable.
What’s it all worth
At the end of the day, the B20 Streaming Microphone from EPOS is an extremely capable and powerful audio capture device that looks stylish in any setting. At an MSRP of $199 USD, other prosumer level alternatives can be found for $20-40 less at retail. Blue, Elgato, and AverMedia all have software that rivals or bests the EPOS Gaming Suite, but for raw sound quality, the B20 is hard to beat. While the B20 Streaming Microphone does provide elite performance, it's currently stifled slightly by a wonky first-party software experience. It's a step up from its closest competitors, but individual buyers will have to decide if the increased sound fidelity is worth the price bump.
I've put the EPOS B20 Streaming Microphone through several hours of streaming and Discord calls and I can safely say, the B20 is simply the best sounding mic I have ever used. If you’re looking for a superbly built recording device that will sound amazing for years to come, the B20 Streaming Microphone from EPOS should provide value over its lifespan.
This review is based on a sample product provided by the manufacturer. The EPOS B20 Streaming Microphone is compatible with PC, Mac OSX, and PS4. It is available for $199 USD direct from the EPOS webstore and select retailers.
EPOS B20 Streaming Microphone
- Solid aluminum construction
- Premium feel and appearance
- Plug-and-play capability not overstated
- Fits nicely into existing software configurations
- Sounds absolutely incredible once dialed-in
- More expensive than other prosumer streaming microphones with similar features
- EPOS Gaming Suite detracts from the overall experience but is not necessary for use