The mini-mics attached to the gaming headsets will often suffice when you want to scream at an underperforming squadmate, but if you really want them to pay attention to what you say or run a proper stream, then having the best microphone is a must thing for a gamer. However, most people are not well aware about things they should consider when buying a microphone for streaming.
When choosing the best microphone, you’ll want to give some thought to how and where you plan to use it. For example, if there’s a main road outside your window or a super loud air conditioner in your bedroom, you’ll want to prioritize noise-canceling features to prevent picking up any background noise. There are other features too which you will read in this article.
How to choose a microphone for streaming
In order to guarantee a high level quality and to be perfectly compatible with your operating system, your microphone must necessarily be equipped with a USB input , now a consolidated standard worldwide. The best products of all will also be equipped with an XLR input , an analog port that is not natively compatible with your PC, unless you use third-party adapters that will inevitably reduce the quality.
The cheaper microphones will instead only be equipped with a 3.5 mm jack input , which however we strongly advise against as it is not able to guarantee good performance. Good quality microphones will instead have this same input in addition to the USB port, in order to connect your headphones and constantly keep an eye on the level of your voice.
There are different types of microphones that are suitable for various uses. The most common one and that will certainly interest most people interested in streaming – and therefore we would like to advise you – is the cardioid model , or one-way, which only records the sounds coming from the front.
Other varieties of microphone, certainly more suitable for interviews with several people in a room, are the bidirectional models , which allow you to record sounds from both the front and the back, and the omnidirectional ones , capable of picking up sounds throughout the room. There is also a particular typology called multi pattern , that is able to easily change from one function to another with a simple touch of a button. Always keep these definitions in mind when choosing your ideal microphone.
There are two different types of structures, and it is important to understand what they are before purchasing. The first structure to be analyzed is the dynamic one . These are microphones suitable to be carried continuously, thanks to a metal diaphragm that guarantees their resistance. The second, on the other hand, is much more delicate and is the condenser one . The items belonging to this category are very delicate, usually need a separate power supply and are ideal for use in fixed locations.
We don’t think there is one type of structure better than another, but both are designed for microphones with different needs . If you are a player who needs to constantly change locations, then we recommend a dynamic model. If, on the other hand, you already have a fixed location and you find it very difficult that your positioning will change over time, then you can go for a condenser microphone.
Before purchasing a microphone for streaming, it is necessary to analyze some important technical data to understand its performance. The first of these is the sample rate , which indicates the rate at which sound is digitally converted. Your microphone must guarantee a frequency of at least 44.1 KHz , but the best models will be able to reach 48 KHz or, for the most valuable products, even 96 KHz . The second data to analyze is the bit depth , which indicates the amount of information present in each individual sample. In other words, greater depth means better resolution of your voice. 16 bit they are usually more than enough, but if you want a microphone that can also be used in a professional environment, we suggest you get a product that can even reach 24 bit . You should also know about the different audio formats.
The third factor to check is the possible latency , indicated in ms, which should be as close to zero as possible. In fact, lower latency means that not only will the quality of the microphone be better, but also that there will be no problems in verifying your voice in real time . Finally, also take a look at the gain control , i.e. the volume recorded by your microphone. The best products will be able to control it automatically, while those of the mid and low range may need manual or even external control through specific software.
The use of materials is another key point that should not be underestimated when choosing your microphone for streaming. If we have already stressed the natural resistance of dynamic microphones, particular attention should be paid to condenser ones, given their fragility. So make sure that they are made of metal or possibly aluminum . With these materials, however, a fair impact resistance will be guaranteed for your product.
We do not recommend microphones made of plastic , a material that is often fragile and also subject to involuntary movements. A heavy microphone will not only be resistant, but will also be less prone to background noise thanks to its stability.
Finally, as we have often been able to advise you, try to pay particular attention to the brands submitted. Microphones are very sensitive and delicate products, and as such it is better to rely on a brand that not only guarantees reliability and seriousness, but that can possibly assist you with a dedicated service in the – unfortunate – case you encounter problems.
Among these, we would like to point out as particularly important Shure , Rode , Blue and Samson , all brands that in recent years have proved to be extremely reliable and able to produce products of excellent quality.