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Video games have always been an essential part of popular culture. From the first simple tennis game created in 1958 to the diverse video game ecosystem of different platforms, subject matter, and themes that we have today, games have cemented their place in society.
Gaming has always been popular, but in no other era of history has it been so deeply embedded in our culture. Gaming is no longer a niche hobby that only a few gamers have access to— it’s something that we do on our phones on our commute to work, with our families and friends, and even with people halfway around the world through the Internet.
This boom in popularity owes a lot to one thing, and that’s video game streaming. Gaming has always been done with friends and fellow players, but the Internet has caused that communal nature to expand even further. Online gaming has linked up communities of players from all over the world for years, but video game streaming has turned that shared experience into entertainment for millions of people, including non-gamers.
The era of video game streaming began in earnest with the advent of streaming website Twitch in 2011. A decade later, there are over 41.5 million Twitch viewers in the USA alone. Better equipment, faster Internet speeds, a thriving social media culture, and an appreciative audience has turned video game streaming from a niche hobby into a viable livelihood— one that can earn you thousands of dollars a year.
If you’re someone who’s put some thought into starting your own streaming career, you’re probably looking at all the equipment you need to start. While your console, video cards, and even marketing push are all equally important for building your streaming audience, once thing that you absolutely can’t skimp on is your mic.
A good streaming mic is what will help you keep your audience interested and engaged while they enjoy your gameplay. Of course, many gaming headsets will come with their own built-in mic, but there’s nothing quite as good as a dedicated microphone that can get your enthusiasm across perfectly and immerse your audience in the experience.
If all of this sounds confusing for a first time streamer, don’t worry. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of the best microphones for streaming. With a range of quality and affordable choices, this list is guaranteed to make finding the best gaming microphones easier than ever. Read on, and find out which of these mics will make the perfect addition to your streaming gear.
Deciding on just one model out of the dozens of gaming models available out on the market is difficult, but one mic manages to shine the brightest. That’s the AT2035, a fixed cardioid large-diaphragm condenser mic. It has a fairly more complex set-up than your standard USB mic, as you’ll need to connect your mic via XLR cord to an audio interface, and then connect your audio interface to your computer via USB.
However, despite the complexity of its set-up, the AT2035 shines because of its incredible sound quality and build. It has a self-noise level of only 12dBA, compared to other professional mics that come in at around 16dBA. It has a smooth, balanced sound with a great midrange that flatters most voices. Plus, with a side-address design and cardioid polar pattern, you don’t have to worry about your mic picking up unnecessary keyboard or computer noise. Overall, its quality engineering, flattering tone, and great noise exclusion make this one of the best microphones for streaming around.
|✓ BEST STREAMING MIC UNDER 100: Blue Snowball iCE|
|✓ BEST STREAMING MICROPHONE: Audio-Technica AT2035|
|✓ BEST USB GAMING MICROPHONE: Blue Yeti Nano|
|✓ BEST VOCAL QUALITY STREAMING MIC: Røde Procaster|
|✓ BEST MID-RANGE STREAMING MIC: Blue Yeti Pro|
When it comes to picking the right microphone for streaming, buyers have to look at specific criteria. A good streaming microphone will be able to block out unnecessary background noise like keyboard sounds, while still maintaining the quality and fidelity of the audio.
Because commentary is such an integral part of the streaming experience, you’ll also want to look for a microphone that captures the warmth and detail of your voice without those tricky plosives. Plus, there’s also the set-up to think about. Will you want to go for a USB microphone, or something more complex?
Whether streaming is something you want to do as a side hobby, or something that you want to keep investing time, money, and effort into, picking the right microphone requires doing a bit of research. Here are the three things you should be looking out for when you start exploring your microphone options.
Frequency response is what you basically call the sound range that a microphone is able to produce. Most microphones will have a frequency response from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, but it’s important for buyers to look at how the sound output varies within that range. This is because the frequency response will help determine the sound signature and tone of the microphones you’re looking to buy.
Generally, a frequency response anywhere from 80Hz to 15,000Hz will be enough to capture the human voice, but be sure to do a little more research on your preferred microphone’s frequency response chart. While streaming doesn’t quite require the precision and sensitivity that high-end vocal microphones have, you’ll still want to look for a microphone with a frequency response that can flatter your range.
Polar pattern is one of the most important aspects of looking for the right microphone for streaming, and one glance at a gaming set-up will tell you why. If you’re doing live gaming on your PC, chances are that you’re going to be making use of your keyboard— a lot. Most gamers will want to keep unnecessary background noise like keyboard sounds out of their commentary, which is where polar patterns come in.
Polar patterns determine the ‘shape’ of how your mic is able to capture noise. Omnidirectional polar patterns, for example, will capture practically 360-degrees of sound around the mic. The best polar pattern for streaming is a cardioid polar pattern, as it captures all the detail of your voice while blocking out sound from the ‘back’ of your mic, which is usually where your keyboard or other streaming gear is placed. This allows your mic to capture your voice and commentary, without annoying computer or keyboard noises to muddy the sound quality.
Finally, one of the most important things any streamer will want to look out for when picking a microphone for streaming is the connection method. There are two main types of connection method that you’ll be looking at: first is USB, second is XLR. USB is the easiest one, and will most likely be familiar to most gamers as it’s basically plug and play. You’ll find this option on a lot of dedicated streaming models, as well as more affordable mics. USB microphones are easy to use and set up, but may not last as long as XLR options.
The second type of connection method is XLR. XLR connections will require connection to an audio interface or preamp, which would then be connected to your computer via USB. It’s thus a little pricier than USB mics. However, the high price point is more than made up for thanks to the durability and sound quality of XLR mics. If you want your set-up to last you for years, then an XLR mic is well worth the investment.
|Audio-Technica AT2035||• Top quality sound for an incredible price |
• Low self-noise
• Flattering for all kinds of voices
|Røde NT1-A||• Great dynamic range |
• Low self-noise
• Incredible recording clarity
|Shure SM7B||• Industry standard |
• Natural sound
• Electromagnetic shielding against computer and electronics hum
|Sennheiser MKH 416||• Industry standard for film and television |
• Great in and out of the studio
• Less sensitive to plosives
|Blue Yeti Pro||• Versatile mic for speaking and singing |
• Flexible for both desktop use and more complex setups
• Rich, full-bodied sound
|Røde Procaster||• Focused and lively sound|
• Detailed, but not oversensitive
• Built-in pop shield reduces plosives
|Audio-Technica AT2020||• Affordably-priced |
• Durable make
• Clean, clear sound
|Blue Snowball iCE||• Great for beginners |
• Easy to use and set up
• Cardioid polar pattern blocks out noise
|Blue Yeti Nano||• Affordably-priced |
• Great quality especially for beginners
• Optimized for recording human voices
|Shure SM58||• Classic microphone |
• Rich sound
Shure is a giant in the microphone industry, and it’s not hard to see why. The company has decades of quality microphone design and manufacturing, and their microphones consistently rank among the top in terms of sound quality and affordability. The Shure SM58 is no different. While it definitely looks like a quintessential microphone, the Shure SM58 promises consistency and quality of sound.
Priced at a little under $100, the SM58 is an industry favorite for its friendly price tag, incredible durability, and great sound. It’s more of a vocal microphone, but its cardioid polar patterns make it a good, affordable choice for streamers as well. The SM58 is an XLR connected microphone and requires an audio interface. This makes its set-up a bit complicated, especially for beginner streamers. However, the quality, durability, and versatility of this mic make it a good option nonetheless.
The smaller, more affordable sibling to the fan favorite Blue Yeti Pro, the Blue Yeti Nano is a premium USB condenser microphone that was designed to bring top-quality audio into your home computer set-up. Coming in at a little under $100, it’s a favorite for many beginner streamers thanks to its affordable price, simple set-up, and top quality sound. For the price, it has great quality sound, and its compact size make it an easy addition to any gaming set-up. It might not hold up against more powerful mics, but if you need a good beginner option, this might just be it.
Another great option for beginner streamers, the Blue Snowball iCE is a favorite for its easy, USB set-up, dynamic and versatile design, and quality sound. Set-up is quick and easy, and the Blue Snowball iCE automatically loads up in programs like GarageBand or Discord. Its cardioid polar patterns and adjustable head make it perfect for streamers to set up. The Snowball iCE microphone can be a little more sensitive to background noise than other, more expensive mics. However, it’s a great, user-friendly option for beginner streamers, and at around $50 is one of the most affordable, quality microphones around.
Affordably priced at around $100, Audio-Technica AT2020 is another great mic that vastly outperforms other microphones in its price range. Its frequency response allows the human voice to shine, adding depth and smooth highs without harshness. It has a cardioid polar pattern that makes background noise reduction automatically easier. However, keeping noise sources like your keyboard away from the mic is still recommended, so mind the placement. Luckily, the provided mount makes that easier, and its USB connection makes it a user-friendly choice for streamers, beginner or not. Definitely a great choice.
A bit of a pricier choice at around $230, the Røde Procaster is a top-of-the-line investment. This is a broadcast-quality mic that’s sure to capture your voice almost perfectly. Its XLR connection requires a bit more complex set up, but the quality of this dynamic microphone means that your commentary is going to be at par with the industry standard. It’s got great background noise reduction, and has a built-in pop shield that will reduce disruptive plosives. All in all, a great mic for streamers willing to invest.
Blue Microphones’ mics are favorite options for streamers around the world, and it’s not hard to see why. With affordable prices but incredible quality, it’s not hard to see why their microphones are so well beloved. The Blue Yeti Pro is perhaps the best example of this. It’s incredibly well made and versatile, with a USB connection and dual XLR breakout cable. This means that you can use it in your favorite home studio set-up, or on the road with your laptop. It has multiple polar patterns that you can adjust according to your preference, and no latency. A plug-and-play option that can fit just as well in more complex audio set-ups, it is absolutely a game-changer for streamers everywhere.
A shotgun microphone may not be your first choice when you think about gaming set-ups, but you’d be surprised at just how good the Sennheiser MKH 416 can be. It has hypdercardioid polar patterns that let it pick out single sound sources, which means that keyboard and background noises are a thing of the past. It’s also less sensitive to plosives, and provides a full, rich sound that captures the human voice perfectly. The Sennheiser’s MKH 416’s only real downside is its price at around $1000, so it’s definitely not your average streaming mic. If you have the funds to invest in equipment, however, make sure you give it a try.
Thanks to their incredible quality and durability, Shure have pretty much established themselves as giants of the microphone industry. If there’s one microphone in their line-up that outperforms when it comes to recording the human voice, it’s the Shure SM7B. The Shure SM7B has a rich yet neutral low-end, with no distortion and a clean, balanced bass. Eliminating unnecessary noise is easy with this microphone, as it has air suspension shock isolation, a pop filter, and a cardioid polar pattern. The Shure SM7B also has electromagnetic shielding to avoid capturing hum from computers and other equipment. This XLR mic will require a preamp or audio interface to be used properly. At around $400, it is a pricy mic, but it’s definitely one of the best options around.
Røde has established itself as one of the greats in the microphone industry, and the Røde NT1A is a good example of how it’s managed to do that. With a crisp sound and incredible clarity, it’s incredibly flattering for nearly any type of audio source. It’s got a very low noise floor, so you don’t have to worry about this mic capturing its own noise. Thanks to its focused cardioid polar pattern, the NT1A can block out off-axis sounds easily. At around $230, it’s not the cheapest mic around, but it more than makes up for it with its incredible quality and inclusions like a pop shield, shock mount, and microphone cable. This is a versatile mic that can capture most sounds, so streamers who have plans to branch out can count this microphone as a great investment.
Finally, our top choice for the best microphone options for streaming is, of course, the Audio-Technica AT2035. With a frequency response of 20Hz to 20,000Hz, it has a rich, detailed sound that captures and flatters the human voice perfectly. Its low self-noise, side-address cardioid polar pattern, and overall high quality tone make it a perfect option for streamers.
The AT2035 has much better specs than many other microphones in the same price range, and can last you years thanks to its durable build and fantastic engineering. As an XLR microphone, and one priced at around $200, it may not be the best option for beginners. However, if you’re an established streamer who wants to make content that stands out, then the AT2035 is definitely the microphone for you.
|Image||Model Name||Sound Quality||Design||Features||Price||Total Rating||Check Price|
|Sennheiser MKH 416||9||9||8||9||8.8|
|Blue Yeti Pro||8||7||9||10||8.5|
|Blue Snowball iCE||8||8||8||10||8.5|
|Blue Yeti Nano||8||8||7||9||8.0|
With streaming likely to grow in popularity, aspiring streamers should think carefully about the type of equipment they’re willing to invest in. Your audience will want the whole package, and that means you shouldn’t settle for low quality microphones that might ruin the listening and viewing experience.
We’ve presented a few of what we believe are the best microphone models for any kind of streamer— whether you’re a beginner just building your Twitch audience, or an established favorite who’s looking to upgrade. Pick your mic, map out your set-up, and get ready to captivate the world.