This wearable microphone keeps the volume down, but at what cost?

This wearable microphone keeps the volume down, but at what cost?


No-one can hear you scream in the mutalk. That’s because it purportedly lowers your voice by around -30 dB, making it nice and quiet – as if your mouth weren’t emitting any sound at all.

There’s a long-running joke that virtual reality is kinda like headphones for your eyes, and now thanks to Shiftall – the creator of mutalk – there are headphones for your mouth as well. This is great news for gamers (like me) who love staying up late playing online games with buds, or public transit commuters who want to talk on the phone without irritating nearby passengers, or people who simply don’t want their private conversations overheard.

Designer: Ken Omae and Takuma Iwasa (via Shiftall)

If you want to see the mutalk in action for yourself, this demo is extremely convincing:

Granted, this VR headset-shaped microphone may not be the comfiest-looking fit at first glance. It almost looks like a torture device, but that’s admittedly part of the appeal. There’s an element of humor in watching someone voluntarily place a muzzle over their mouth to get some privacy in public, though there’s a cost-benefit equation to be had: is the added privacy worth the risk of stares and comments from onlookers?

In any case, the $200 asking price is easily worth being able to speak on the phone or communicate in online games late at night – away from prying eyes, mind you – without risking waking up roommates or family members, or evoking the wrath of neighbors.

The mutalk is also just a solid wireless microphone on its own merit, thanks to a robust array of features. Shiftall promises up to eight hours of battery life, only one hour of charge time, and a secure-looking strap system to easily put the mutalk on and take it off. It connects to client devices via Bluetooth 5.1 or 3.5mm AUX, and charges via a single USB-C cable. There’s even a mute button, which comes handy if you need to shout expletives in the middle of a conversation or game match, but don’t want anyone – online or offline – to hear you. It also has comfortable-looking foam padding to let the microphone sit comfortably over your mouth and nose.

Shiftall first released the mutalk in Japan, where it’s had a strong reception, selling “thousands of units” according to a press release in June 2023. Now that it’s finally available in the USA for $200, it may be worth picking up as a holiday gift for your favorite gamer – or, someone who you want to ask to be quieter without making them feel bad.


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