Before microphones were popular in gaming, people had limited methods of communication. You had to manually type everything you needed to say, or use pre-programmed messages or emoticons. Voice communication made it possible to relay longer messages without having to pause to type.
Not only does voice communications make gaming easier, it’s made streaming one of the largest growing aspects of gaming. It’s easy for today’s modern gamer to stream their gaming session for others to see or make commentary on videos uploaded to YouTube. Streaming can be done for entertainment purposes or for asking others to help improve gameplay. There is also the potential to earn some cash while streaming, which is a major reason for some people to start in the first place.
Voice communication plays a very important role in gaming and streaming, and if you need proper streaming experience, you can’t expect a run-of-the-mill substandard mouthpiece to keep up with your needs. A gamer who is looking to stream their games needs to get their hands on a proper streaming microphone.
So, you’re probably convinced that you need a streaming mic, but what exactly should you be looking for? Here’s a quick guide to help you get started on your search.
The most important part of having a dedicated streaming microphone is to make sure it records your voice properly. Regular gaming headset microphones might provide poor sound quality which can easily ruin your gaming and streaming experience. It can be difficult to understand instructions coming from someone with a poor-quality mic because the sound might be garbled, barely audible, or both.
With a dedicated streaming mic, you don’t have to worry about the hardware compromising your recording quality. Every inch of that mic is dedicated to capturing your voice, so you can expect better components and better sound quality. Having a dedicated microphone means you also get to use a dedicated headset, which is generally less cumbersome than combination-type headsets.
What’s keeping you from getting a typical condenser mic for gaming and streaming purposes? Most condenser mics are designed to capture sound from within a studio with a highly-controlled acoustic environment. Studio recording has a very different setup compared to a typical gaming environment because A) You don’t usually game in a soundproofed studio and B) There will be a lot of unnecessary sound courtesy of your mouse clicks and button presses, and perhaps your heavy breathing, while in a very intense gaming session.
The most recommended gaming headsets come with cardioids, filters, and other built-in noise-canceling features to help improve the recording experience. This can be the difference between winning and losing a game because someone on your team misheard your last message after that last phrase got drowned out by the sound of furious typing. Using a dedicated streaming mic with good noise-canceling is probably the closest thing you can get to playing in a soundproofed room without investing in studio stuff.
Regardless of what platform you’re gaming on, you need to make sure everything near you won’t get in the way of streaming. You may want to jump in excitement or flip out because of something that happened in the game, but doing so can easily cause you to knock a big microphone over by accident. If you’re playing on a PC, you need to make sure you have enough room for your mouse, keyboard, possibly another game controller and—if you’re into gaming marathons—a dedicated food area for the entire night. Last but not least, you don’t want your mic to block your field of view. A full-sized studio mic might be better at capturing the sound but it’s not conducive to gaming if it’s mounted on an imposing tripod over your face. You want something small enough that you can play comfortably anywhere in your gaming setup.
A good starter option is the Turtle Beach Stream Mic. It’s small enough to be placed on a desk but you can easily point it your way to maximize audio pickup. It has a built-in stand, so you don’t have to get bulky tripods or booms to keep it in place, but you can still add this mic to a boom if you want. As a side bonus, portability features also make this streaming microphone a great option for those who record for non-gaming purposes.
When it comes to streaming, you want to spend more time actually playing games than setting up your gaming rig. Setting up a studio microphone can take a lot of time and may even require trial and error to get it to work with in-game features such as voice recognition and push-to-talk functions. Some mics may even require you to run dedicated recording software before you can get the most out of their recording quality. A streaming mic does away with all of those and lets you get in on the action as soon as possible.
Connectivity is the biggest reason why the most highly-recommended dedicated mics use USB connectors and have a plug and play feature. Sure, you can download special software and drivers to let you further customize a mic’s recording properties, but those won’t stop you from plugging them into a USB port and being able to use them straight away. Being universally compatible is also a valuable feature for people who need a good mic for multiple gaming platforms, which may lack the hardware and apps required to make the most out of certain studio mics. This means you don’t have to worry about buying a separate mic for every gaming platform you play on.
Quick-access buttons are a gamer’s best friend. The easier it is to control something, the more smoothly it can be integrated into your gaming experience. Many people think that this rule applies only to game controllers, but it’s actually an important factor when it comes to microphones. Many studio mics may offer excellent audio recording properties, but the ease of use is just as important as audio quality to a gamer.
Gamers need to be able to turn their mics on and off at will. You’ll frequently have to mute your mic to talk to someone else or if you have to leave. It’s also common courtesy to mute the mic when not talking because other players wouldn’t want to listen to you fumbling for something in the next room. Depending on what you’re playing, “tabbing out” and adjusting the mic’s sensitivity can be too awkward to use while you’re in-game. Last but not least, a proper mic must have an intuitive interface, so you can quickly tell if it’s recording, muted, or set to a certain recording mode. You want your mic to only record the stuff that it needs to record when you’re in-game.
Because of other factors such as environment, sound cards, audio recording software, and even latency, there is no point in getting the most expensive dedicated mic you can buy. You can get the same quality from a microphone that sells for a hundred bucks cheaper.
Buying a reasonably-priced dedicated mic is not just about saving on costs. The money you end up saving by ditching an expensive mic can be used to improve other parts of your gaming setup to further improve audio quality. You get more cash to spend on better internet connection, upgrade your device’s sound card, or even purchase premium software that will allow you to fine-tune your recording.
Whether you’re duking it out with the best in the competition or casually sharing your game experience with your followers via a streaming platform, a dedicated microphone should be a high-priority piece of gaming hardware.