Audio Technica BPHS1 broadcast headset with dynamic mic: review + comparison

In this article I review the BPHS1’s construction, specs, and applications, and include comparative recordings with another microphone.

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Head mounted microphones have specific virtues, including isolation, consistent distance between mouth and element, elimination of the cost & complexity of mounting gear, and -in some cases- built-in listening devices. I have been anxious to compare the BPHS1 broadcast headset with the AT2005USB hybrid mic, which I’ve already covered in three articles in ProVideo Coalition magazine, and in one ebook which is available in two languages. Thankfully, Audio Technica obliged my request and sent me a review unit of the BPHS1, so ahead you’ll find my comments on its construction, specs, applications, and cost analysis, followed by recordings, subjective analysis, and conclusions.

 

In this article

  • My first experience with the BPHS1 in Guatemala
  • The hands-on feel of the BPHS1
  • General virtues of a head mounted microphone
  • Potential applications for the BPHS1
  • SIDEBAR: Why omnidirectional microphones are so predominant in TV news interviews?
  • Cost analysis between a BPHS1 versus an AT2005USB for an XLR application
  • Cost analysis between a BPHS1 versus an AT2005USB for a USB application
  • Audio recordings of both microphones
  • My impressions of the sound of each microphone
  • Conclusions

 

My first experience with the BPHS1 in Guatemala

My first experience with the BPHS1 was back in May 2011 in Guatemala, when I was working with Lyn Kachler and Daniel Borrayo of their company DICHO & HECHO (which in Castilian means “Said & Done”).

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Many ProVideo Coalition readers will recall Datavideo's sponsored article, which contained the above photo which shows Lyn and Daniel. In this photo, Lyn is wearing and testing the Audio Technica BPHS1 broadcast headset, while Daniel is wearing the intercom headset which comes included with the Datavideo HS2000HD Mobile Studio.

Although not visible in the picture, the room was filled with spectators who were all making lots of noise, and I remember how later when we heard the audio/video playback from the AJA KiPro, we were all so impressed by both how good Lyn’s voice sounded, as well as the lack of ambience. (Of course, this was only a test, and DICHO & HECHO likely added additional microphones for ambience when they actually covered a martial arts match.)

 

The hands-on feel of the BPHS1

The BPHS1 looks and feels “broadcast”, especially according to definitions 19 and 21 as established in my 2009 article Do you work in the broadcast industry? What does “broadcast” mean?. I find the BPSH1 to be both comfortable and durable.

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It includes a foam windscreen (already installed) and a removable/user-replacable cable that ends with XLR male for its dynamic cardioid microphone and a stereo TRS 1/4″ for its headphones.

 

General virtues of a head mounted microphones

As explained in the introductory paragraph of this article, head mounted microphones have specific virtues, including isolation, consistent distance between mouth and element, elimination of the cost & complexity of mounting gear, and -in some cases- built-in listening devices. Consistency of the distance between a microphone and the speaker’s voice is critical for consistent sound. With a head mounted microphone, it is very easy to lock in the sweet spot between plosives and sounding off mic. Although this is possible with hand held or microphones mounted somewhere other than the speaker’s body, it requires a conscious and continuous effort on part of the person speaking not to allow the distance to change during a program.

Potential applications for the BPHS1

Beyond the obvious use for sports broadcasting, I see the following other potential applications:

 

  • Podcasters, especially those who otherwise find it difficult to maintain a consistent distance between their mouth and the microphone element.
  • Audiobook voice narration, especially for voice talent who find it difficult to maintain a consistent distance between their mouth and the microphone element.
  • TV & documentary reporters for standups in noisy environments or whenever the esthetic look of a highly visible headset mic is preferred.
  • TV & documentary reporters for interviews (for their own isolated voice, not the interviewee’s voice), especially those who want their own voice recorded on a separate track from the interviewee, even in those cases when the reporter is the camera operator, and an independent microphone is used for the interviewee. (See the sidebar ahead: Why omnidirectional microphones are so predominant in TV news interviews?)

 

In any case when a reporter or reporter/camera operator uses a broadcast headset like the BPHS1, s/he can monitor program and/or foldback (instructions from a producer). Likewise, a podcaster can hear program, including the other person on the end of a Skype, telephone or other chat system.

SIDEBAR: Why omnidirectional microphones are so predominant in TV news interviews?

Despite the (sometimes) excessive background ambience associated with standups or interviews done in TV news, I believe the reason why omnidirectional microphones (like the RE50B or the RE-50N/D-B with higher output are so predominant is the following: When doing an interview with a single handheld microphone, no matter how experienced or agile the reporter is in toggling the mic's position, there is almost always an unexpected interruption by either side which causes one of the two parties to sound either off mic or almost inaudible if a cardioid or other directional microphone is used.

However, if the reporter uses a headset like the BPSH1, s/he can use an independent cardioid microphone to point exclusively at the interviewee.

 

On page 2 of this article

On page 2 of this article, you’ll find two cost analyses:

 

Click here for page 2…

 

 


Cost analysis between a BPHS1 versus an AT2005USB

Many ProVideo Coalition readers may recall my prior articles and ebook on the AT2005USB hybrid microphone (which contains both XLR and USB outputs, plus a headphone output). Here are those related articles:

 

Links to the related ebooks that cover this microphone and workflow are found at the end of page 3 of this article.

Although when I published those articles, the AT2005USB hybrid microphone had a typical discounted price of US$79, since then it has gone down to under US$44 each. On the other hand, even though the BPHS1 broadcast headset has a typical discounted price of US$199, it is not fair to compare those two prices directly, since the AT2005USB generally requires accessories that are built into the BPHS1, and in some cases, the BPSH1 requires an accessory built into the AT2005USB. For that reason, I am going to provide two different cost analyses for you, depending upon the situation.

First for an XLR application, i.e. when connecting the microphone to an audio mixer, professional camera or recorder, either directly or via an extension or snake:

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Next for a USB application, i.e. when connecting the microphone directly to a computer or iPad:

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Note: I realize that the Shure X2U won’t work directly with an iPad, since I understand that the Shure X2U draws more amperes than the iPad outputs. However, the X2U does work with a computer, and the AT2005USB works with either or a computer or an iPad, as long as you have an Apple Camera Connection Kit for the iPad.

On page 3 of this article

On page 3 of this article, you'll find:

 

Click here for page 3…

 


Audio recordings

At this link, you’ll find recordings that have not been equalized at all. To be fair to each, both microphones where connected via XLR (even though the AT2005USB also has an internal A>D converter and USB output) to a Roland OCTA-CAPTURE which I reviewed in 2011 (Review: Roland OCTA-CAPTURE 8/10-channel USB 2.0 audio interface). Both recordings were done at the digital audio for digital video standard of 48 kHz. The two recordings have been normalized so that you hear each at the same optimal level. To avoid influencing your impression with mine, please listen to the two recordings here before reading to my impressions.

My impressions about the sound

I was kind of hoping that the two different microphones would sound the same, but that wasn’t the case at all, at least with my good speakers and those of my friend Víctor Martorella of Voice Over Mart. The only place they sounded the same was with the inboard speakers of my MacBook Air. On my good speakers and on Víctor’s Genelec 1031A monitors with 7070A subwoofer, there is much more body in the recording from the AT2005USB, and (at least with my voice) that one was much more pleasing. However, perhaps that’s not the case with everyone’s voice, or perhaps that’s not the case with what’s desirable for sportscasting, which is one of the popular uses of the BPHS1, and we must recognize that the element in the BPHS1 is much smaller than the one in the AT2005USB. If you want to hear comparisons between the AT2005USB and the Heil PR–40 and Shure SM58, check out this article.

Conclusions

There are some applications where one must use a hand-held or mounted mic. There are others that obviously lend themselves more for a head mounted mic, either for esthetic or practical reasons. It is for those borderline applications (i.e. audiobooks and podcasting) where one must really balance the other factors: sound quality versus consistency of distance from the speaker’s mouth, and overall cost. If you already studied the two cost comparisons on page 2 of this article, you know that even though at first glance the AT2005USB seems to cost about 75% less than the BPHS1, the real difference in price can change drastically after you factor in the required accessories for each microphone, depending upon the application, and what accessories you may or may not already own.

 

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My latest ebook

I have just published an ebook in two languages.
The format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Android tablets, Mac computers, Windows computers, some Blackberry phones and Windows 7 phones.

In English:
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In English, it is currently available in the following Amazon stores, depending upon your region:

 

If you’re going to buy a Kindle book as a gift, you must do so via the Pan-American Amazon store (the first one listed above), regardless of where you live or where the recipient lives.

En castellano:
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En castellano, está disponible actualmente en las siguientes tiendas Amazon, según tu región:

 

Si vas a comprar un libro Kindle como regalo, debes hacerlo vía la tienda panamericana de Amazon (la primera de la lista) sin importar donde vivas tú o donde viva la persona que recibirá el regalo.

Allan T©pper's books, consulting, articles, seminars & audio programs


Contact Allan T©pper for consulting, or find a full listing of his books, articles and upcoming seminars and webinars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his TecnoTur program, which is now available both in Castilian (aka “Spanish”) and in English, free of charge. Search for TecnoTur in iTunes or visit TecnoTur.us for more information.

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC's rules

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan T©pper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted T©pper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan T©pper review units, including Audio Technica. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.

Copyright and use of this article

The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalition magazine are copyright Allan T©pper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!

 


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Allan Tépper

Allan Tépper

Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is a bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994, Tépper has been consulting both end-users and manufacturers through his Florida company. Via TecnoTur, Tépper has been giving video tech seminars in several South Florida’s universities and training centers, and in a half dozen Latin American countries, in their native language. Tépper has been a frequent radio/TV guest on several South Florida, Guatemalan, and Venezuelan radio and TV stations. As a certified ATA (American Translators Association) translator, Tépper has translated and localized dozens of advertisements, catalogs, software, and technical manuals for the Spanish and Latin American markets. He has also written many contracted white papers for tech manufacturers. Over the past 18 years, Tépper’s articles have been published or quoted in more than a dozen magazines, newspapers, and electronic media in Latin America. Since 2008, Allan Tépper’s articles have been published frequently –in English– in ProVideo Coalition magazine, and since 2014, he is is the director of CapicúaFM.com. His website is AllanTépper.com.