You’re purchasing some equipment for your new stream, and you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to use your gaming headset as a streaming microphone, since it’s working great. On the other hand, you always see other streamers with fancy standalone microphones, and are wondering if you’re better off purchasing one yourself. In this article we will discuss which option is best for you.
Headset vs Standalone Mics
There are several things that set headset and standalone mics apart. It all comes down to what you will need as both a gamer and a streamer.
Headset Microphone Pros and Cons
Here are some pros and cons for gaming headset microphones:
- Convenience: You can move around without having to worry about speaking right into the microphone. If you turn your head, you will still be speaking directly into the microphone. Also, a headset microphone will not block your face while you are streaming.
- Versatility: Most headset microphones will work with multiple consoles such as PS4, Xbox One, and also a PC, without having to install complicated software.
- Price: You can purchase some headset microphones for relatively cheap compared to standalone microphones.
- Microphone quality: Ultimately, headset microphones are built for gaming, but not content creation. This means that the game sound quality on your headset will be great, but the microphone on the headset will be cheap.
- Battery life: For wireless headsets, you will need to constantly charge the battery, which means you cannot stream during that time.
- Comfort: Some headsets will feel a little uncomfortable after wearing them while streaming for many hours at a time.
Standalone Microphones Pros and Cons
Here are some pros and cons for standalone microphones:
- Sound quality: Unlike headset microphones, a standalone microphone is specifically built for content creation. You will get a richer, fuller, studio-like sound that you will not get with a headset microphone, and you will notice the difference.
- Features: Most standalone microphones will also have many features that will enhance the sound they pick up. For example, the Blue Yeti microphone has four polar patterns to select from which will pick up different sounds for different purposes (such as streaming, podcasts, interviews, etc.)
- Professional look: When you are streaming, your audience will not only hear the difference, but they will also see that you mean business with a professional microphone.
- Cost: Most standalone microphones will cost more than a regular gaming headset. On top of that, you’ll still need to buy earphones or a headset, because if you don’t, your standalone microphone will pick up your game audio. You will most likely have to buy other accessories such as a pop filter and a boom arm to help optimize the sound.
- Flexibility: For optimal sound, you will need to speak directly into the microphone, meaning that you can’t just get up, walk around, and start speaking to your audience and expect them to hear you.
Best Headset Mics for Streaming
Let’s look at three of the best gaming headsets at three different price points:
Razer Kraken X
- 7.1 Surround Sound
- Noise Canceling
HyperX Cloud II
- Noise Cancelation
- Built to last
- 7.1 virtual surround sound
- Studio clarity
- Silicone side grips
- X v2.0 surround sound
Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset
Razer is one of the top-selling gaming peripherals brands in the United States. The Razer Kraken X Ultralight features immersive 7.1 surround sound and a bendable noise-canceling microphone. As the name suggests, it is ultralight, at only 250 grams, and boasts a flexible, durable frame.
HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset
The HyperX Cloud II microphone has comfortable memory foam ear cushions, 7.1 virtual surround sound, noise cancellation, and a detachable noise-canceling microphone. HyperX is one of the best-selling gaming headset brands in the United States and it is compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro High Fidelity Gaming Headset
Thie SteelSeries Arctis Pro microphone features a luxurious steel and aluminum alloy construction, next-generation surround sound, and a USB chat mix dial which lets you adjust the chat audio and game audio separately. The clear cast microphone offers voice clarity and noise cancellation.
How to Make a Headset Mic Sound Better
Here are some ways you can make your headset (or even standalone microphone) sound considerably better:
You will want to position your headset microphone close to your face, but at least one inch away from your mouth, to get optimal sound. This is easiest to do with a boom microphone since the microphone is attached to the end of a boom, and you will be able to bend the boom to obtain the ideal positioning of the microphone. Some headset microphones, such as inline microphones, are not adjustable.
Microphone Volume on Computer
If you’re using a PC, in your computer settings, you can click on “sound”, and select your microphone. You can then click on “device properties” and adjust the audio levels from there. If the sound is too loud, it will also sound loud and distorted on stream. If it’s too low, then your audience will not hear you properly while you are streaming. Finding a nice balance and testing it out is important.
Streamlabs OBS Mixer and Audio Levels
You should also adjust your audio levels directly on Streamlabs OBS. On the bottom, right side you will see your microphone audio levels along with the desktop audio levels. Again, this is something to test out since everyone’s microphones and computers are different. As a streamer myself, I have my microphone audio set at -2.9 dB, and my desktop audio set at -9.0 dB. I like having my microphone audio higher than my desktop audio so that my audience can easily hear me while I’m streaming.
There are three filters on Streamlabs OBS that will make your microphone sound substantially better. Just like the audio settings on your computer, it is important you play around with the settings so that you can see for yourself what sounds best with your specific setup. Here are the filters:
- Noise suppression: This filter helps significantly reduce background noise such as the air conditioning in the background, or your computer fans.
- Limiter: This filter helps prevent your audio levels from peaking. This means that if you yell or speak loudly, your limiter will keep your speech volume below a specific level you set, and it will not startle your viewers.
- Noise gate: This filter will eliminate all unwanted sounds that are above and below a certain threshold that you set. This is commonly used to help eliminate keyboard and mouse clicking sounds.
I would recommend you initially start streaming with what you have, especially if you are on a tighter budget. For most of you, it’ll be the gaming headset you’re using to game with your friends. For me, I started with my Turtle Beach Stealth 300 gaming headset, and it served its purpose at the beginning. Once the stream picks up some traction, and you decide you want to give it a real go, I would recommend picking up a standalone USB microphone, as there will be a noticeable quality difference.
That was when I decided to purchase my own USB microphone, the Blue Yeti. USB microphones are specifically designed for content creation. They will help you obtain a studio-like richer, fuller sound, which will certainly help yield better results for your streams in the long run.