Are you looking for a great microphone (without a headset) to help you commentate your gaming recordings or live streaming on Twitch or YouTube in 2017? You’re in the right place!
When choosing a stand-alone gaming microphone, you’ll want something that doesn’t get in your way and will easily pick up your voice. But you don’t want it to pick up too much other noise from the keyboard or mouse. It’s a delicate balance.
Most microphones attached to headphones or headsets have pretty poor audio quality, so let’s find you something that will make you sound more professional. In fact, audio quality is much more important than video quality.
There are several different types of microphones that work well for gaming and live streaming. We’ll highlight the best choices for each of these types and for a variety of budgets. Let’s get into it:
Overall Best Gaming Microphone
The Blue Yeti USB Microphone has excellent audio quality for the price. It is a condenser microphone, which means that it is more sensitive than dynamic microphones, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll get the best results when you pair this mic with the Blue Radius II Shock Mount (which they sell in different colors so you can match the look of your mic) and a tabletop mic stand or boom arm.
Another thing that sets the Yeti apart is the number of features and controls included:
It includes a built-in headphone jack
This allows you to hear what the microphone hears, without any delay. You can also control the headphone volume right on the front of the Yeti.
There is a gain control
This allows you to change how sensitive the microphone is. The lower the gain, the closer you will have to be, but the less background noise you will pick up. The opposite is true as well. With the gain higher, you will be heard clearly farther away from the microphone, but it will also pick up other unwanted sounds.
You can change the pickup pattern
This is a unique feature that allows you the change where (which direction) the microphone picks up sound.
For gaming or livestreaming you’ll typically want to use the cardioid pickup pattern as that picks up sound from the front, but not from the back or sides.
You have the option to change to 3 other pickup patterns depending on your needs:
I use the Blue Yeti in the cardioid pattern 90% of the time, but it’s nice to have the option to switch for in-person interviews or conference calls.
And here are the Blue Yeti tech specs:
- Power Required/Consumption: 5V 150mA
- Sample Rate: 48 kHz
- Bit Rate: 16-bit
- Capsules: 3 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules
- Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Max SPL: 120dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz)
- Dimensions (extended in stand): 4.72″ (12cm) x 4.92″(12.5cm) x 11.61″(29.5cm)
- Weight (microphone): 1.2 lbs (.55 kg)
- Weight (stand): 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
Built-in Headphone Amp
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Power Output (RMS): 130 mW
- THD: 0.009%
- Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz
- Signal to Noise: 100dB
Runner-Up Gaming Microphones
If the Yeti isn’t your style and you are looking for something else, check out a few of the other top choices for the best USB microphones. I would consider these 2 mics below equally as good as the Yeti for live streaming, although you lose the ability to change the pickup pattern, they are lighter in weight, which can be useful.
Here are my “runner up” choices for gaming microphones:
The Rode NT-USB is a cardioid condenser mic. It includes a pop-filter to avoid those “plosive” sounds, has a headphone jack and mix control that allows you to blend (or balance) the game sound (source output) and your voice (microphone input).
Pair with the Rode SMR Shock Mount for an awesome combo.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus has similar features to the Rode above. It is also a cardioid condenser, includes a headphone jack and mix control.
Pair with the AT8458 Shock Mount to reduce unwanted noise.
Best Budget Gaming Microphone
If you’re looking for a cheap gaming microphone, there are a lot of options under $50 or so. I’ve seen that few sites recommend the Zalman ZM-Mic1, but if you can spare another $10 or so, I would highly recommend the Sony ECM-CS3 lavalier mic. You’ll still be around $20 for a decent budget gaming microphone.
It plugs into your computer’s microphone port and includes a clip that allows you to position the mic on your shirt or collar close to your mouth. The clip rotates 360 degrees, allowing you the flexibility to get it secure and still have the mic pointed the correct direction.
Like most lavalier microphones, it uses an omnidirectional pickup pattern, meaning that it will pick up sound from all directions.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
All of these microphones pair well with a great pair of closed-back headphones. You’ll almost always get better quality by using dedicated headphones and a dedicated microphone instead of using a headset/mic combo when you’re looking to livestream for gaming.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!