Hey y’all! Now that you’ve read Part 1 of this series, it’s time to talk online gaming microphones!
In Your Face
Before we do, there’s one thing you need to understand about using a mic: even really good expensive mics need to be in your face. That’s right, you’ll need to invest in a boom stand so you can get your mic where you need it: right up next to your pie hole. You want about a fist’s-worth of space between your mouth and your mic. (This is a huge part of the problem with a laptop mic: it’s tiny and has poor range, so people often sound garbled. They’re too far away and tend to move around a lot. The wee little mic simply can’t pick up what you’re laying down.)
Amazon has a pretty good kit for about $23.
I use a desk stand with a boom arm like this:
Either way, you want something that will get the mic close to your mouth without it taking up valuable real estate in your immediate vicinity. Trust me, I tried the small desk stand and it got annoying real fast, especially when I tried to do things like type or take notes. I had to keep moving it around which in turn led to a lot of excessive, unwanted, and distracting noise. It’ll also pick up every last sound like typing or accidental bumps. So yes, get a boom stand and ditch the little desk mount that may come with your mic.
Types of Online Gaming Microphones
There are a couple ways to go with mics. If you go with a USB mic, there are plenty of decent ones for under $50. I mean, if you’ve got the dough by all means spend it on a good quality mic like a Blue or Audio-Technica, and of course Shure, but if you’re on a tight budget it’s not imperative. The nice thing about USB mics is how easy they are to use. Just plug and play, that’s it. Some even have a headphone jack so you can monitor your voice which is extremely helpful. Amazon has some nice, low-priced options, like this FEFINE USB large diaphragm condenser mic for $30:
I can’t personally review it because I have never owned one, but by looking at reviews, for $30 I would try it. If you are really money-conscious you can get a package deal something like this:
When it comes to XLR mics, again you have many inexpensive options, but you also have to have extra gear to utilize them. I use a Behringer XM1800S dynamic mic. They come in a three-pack for $40 and have really, really good sound and build quality, and for the price it’s a smokin’ deal!
I’d gladly use these on stage as well! And the nice thing is, they aren’t phantom powered, which limits you to finding an audio interface that has it, though most do. Also, I found that phantom powered studio mics are a little too good at picking up sound, which means a lot of background noise. Gods forbid you accidentally bump your stand (or your desk, or type, or pass gas, etc.). Also, studio mics are more suited for professional use than as online gaming microphones, and are more fragile than a stage mic like mine. But if you find you want a really want a studio type XLR mic, go for it. There are plenty of inexpensive options for those as well.
XLR mics are nice because they send a balanced signal that helps isolate noise for a better audio quality, and that’s as technical I’m going to get about it. All that really matters is XLR mics sound better than USB mics, especially small condenser mics like on gaming headsets. If you’re wondering what the “XLR” stands for, it’s X Connector, Locking Connector, Rubber Boot. The rubber boot part isn’t rubber anymore due to upgraded design changes. The important thing to know is they have a three-pin connector, so they require an XLR cable to hook to your mic to the interface. I recommend this particular cable because the 90-degree end give you better clearance in your immediate vicinity so you’re not whacking it when reaching for your Cheetos and/or Mountain Dew. Note that you can get it in different lengths.
My one big beef with the online gaming microphones that attach to headsets is the quality. They suck. Period. I bought my wife (the host of this blog) a nice Razer BlackShark V2 Pro gaming headset because of the rave reviews the mic got. It’s better than the average headset mic, but even with the EQ and other enhancers that comes with the software it still sounds “tinny”. Like you’re talking to a CSR.
Same goes for those small desk condenser mics. The first rule of mic buying is small = crappy sound quality. I mean, not always, but you can pretty much count on low-cost mini condenser mics to not deliver good audio. You want as much diaphragm as you can afford.
Also note that I’m not talking about using the computer’s 1/8” mic input (If it has one). We’re not even going to take that route because the kind of mics you use for that aren’t going to deliver any kind of sound that makes it worth the purchase. Again, we’re going for good sound so you’ll want gear that will reflect that. So, take the time, do a little research about online gaming microphones, and spend as much as you can reasonably afford.
YouTube is a good resource. Search the make/model number and more than likely you’ll find at least one or two videos of someone demonstrating a mic that interests you. That’s really the best way to help you decide. Just remember that a lot of reviewers are more advanced in sound engineering so you may not get the same results as them, but it’ll still be a huge improvement, and that’s all we’re after.
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll talk about hooking these mics up to your computer with an audio interface. Cheers!
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored or have any affiliations with any of the brands and websites mentioned.