What is it?
Nyko's new controller attachment SpeakerCom is a small speaker and microphone combo that plugs into the base of your controller. There's a version for the PS4 (the one tested), and a similar version for the XBOX ONE.
With a price of $24.99, it's a lot less than most gaming headsets, and it's currently available directly from Nyko.
What's it for?
In short, this is a speaker/microphone hybrid that plugs into your controller, outputting your game sounds and allowing you to chat with the tap of a trigger.
In long, this is a godsend for those of us that hate wearing headsets. Thus far, we've been forced to remain silent, listening to others babble incessantly about snipers and campers and spammers, unable to join in the chatter ourselves. But no longer, friends–now we can enter the verbal fray!
How does it actually work?
The SpeakerCom unit is a wide matte-black pad that fits between the left and right grips of your controller, spanning the gap. It's powered by a rechargeable battery that can be charged via a usb cable (included) by your console, laptop, or what have you. A 3.5 mm audio jack and prongs latch the unit firmly in place, and the PS4 version has a swell little plastic loop that slides over the HOME button; the whole thing feels very secure, and popped on and off without a fuss.
The front of the unit, which is the only thing you'll see while playing, is a speaker with a teeny-tiny whole for the mic. Since the unit plugs into your audio jack, it cues your console to pump audio exclusively through the unit, silencing your TV or monitor, and sending all the cursing and explosions directly to the speaker now gripped between your hands.
While this was a shock at first, I quickly realized that the sound was much more localized to my immediate area this way, and kept audio from traveling throughout the house (much to the gratitude of my fiance). There's also a wheel-style volume adjuster on the bottom of the unit, as well as the micro-USB port used to charge it. The internal battery is a smart decision, because it doesn't drain so much as a minute of battery life from your controller, a real bonus for long play sessions. The unit was comfortable, as well, though my hands are just big enough to prod the back of the unit if I'm gripping the controller fully. That kind of death-grip is not conducive to good gaming, anyway (unless you enjoy carpal tunnel syndrome), so it didn't bother me at all.
The back of the unit hides the power button, which you have to hold for a second to turn on or off, which prevents you from accidentally deactivating the speaker while playing. This is also where the two microphone triggers are, one for each side of the controller. Tripping these with my bottom fingers was easy, and it swapped the sound for the mic instantly and without any noticeable lag. The sound turns off when you press a trigger to talk, just like a walkie-talkie, which is a necessity to keep the mic from picking up all the game noise. A nice touch is the glowing Nyko logo, which goes from white to green when you depress a talk trigger. It looks cool, and also lets you know the unit is charged and working.
The battery life is quite good; the unit came fully charged, and my controller died long before the unit did. So far, it's withstood over 4 hours on a single use, and seems to be holding strong.
The sound output through the speaker is, as you'd expect, not as stellar as your wonderful soundbar or surround-sound setup–even so, I was pleasantly surprised that one round into Rainbow Six: Siege, and I totally forgot I wasn't listening to the TV. Battlefield 1 sounded even better, and I experienced no sound drops, which I sometimes do when using my PS Silver headset.
Where the SpeakerCom really shines, the real money-maker of this little box, is how great the mic is. I tested the mic with both a group of longtime buddies, and then with a random selection of match-ups, and both literally said the same thing during play sessions: "That's the clearest mic I've ever heard."
This really blew me away, as I didn't expect a unit held 18 inches or more away from my mouth to perform better than the one clasped to my head, but the proof is in the pudding. This outcome is likely to vary a bit, depending on it you're quiet as a mouse, or boisterous as a trumpeting elephant, but my monotone voice carried through the unit like a dream. I especially liked not having to rely on a mic's auto-pickup/voice recognition, which sometimes clip statements short, and instead could trigger when the mic was on or off manually.
Will it last, or will I break it?
This unit is really solid, a heckuva lock more rough-and-tumble than the XB1 adapter the first gen controllers required to add a standard headphone jack (and those weren't all that terrible). While it does add a little bottom-weight to the controller, I didn't find my wrists tiring at the same rate they did while using those cumbersome keypad attachments.
All in all, Nyko's SpeakerCom surprised me. Like most of us, I've used my share of 3rd-party accessories (Nyko's, included), and generally come away with mixed feelings–but the SpeakerCom seems to buck that trend.
Great button-placement, good battery life, and a solid build are just icing on the cake that is an excellent microphone. I don't foresee picking up my headset anytime soon, and that's definitely worth the meager price tag.
|+ Lessens sound-bleed into other rooms||– Speaker can't compete with soundbars or headsets|
|+ EXCELLENT mic quality|
|+ Good batter life|
|+ Solid build and fit|
|+ Cheap MSRP|