When it comes to streaming equipment, I strongly vouch for starting with whatever you’ve got. If you’ve only got the mic built into your laptop, use that first. If you have a gaming headset, that works as well. Upgrades can wait until you spend some time streaming with your current gear and figuring out
But when you’re ready to upgrade, would it be better to get a standalone microphone? Or would a nicer gaming headset do the trick? Using my own gear, I put these options to the test!
In the blue corner is my new HyperX Cloud Alpha S gaming headset. Regular price for this on Amazon is $120. In the red corner, my Blue Yeti Nano USB microphone, which regularly goes for $100. For $20 more, you’re also getting a quality headset that lets you hear the game and your voice chat clearly. Why not get the headset over the standalone microphone for the purposes of streaming?
As a head-to-head comparison, I recorded myself speaking with both. While the headset mic will suffice if you don’t have anything else, it gets trounced by the Blue Yeti Nano in terms of clarity and range. The even-cheaper Blue Snowball Ice at less than half the price of the headset sounds better than the mic on the HyperX headset. The headset mic sounds like a telephone by comparison to either of the standalone mics.
There are other inherent disadvantages to the headset format. With the mic positioned so close to your mouth, headset mics are more prone to picking up plosive sound. Plosives are the popping noises you hear sometimes when someone says something with a hard “P” or “B”. It’s much easier to negate those with a pop filter on a standalone mic. Also, with the mic attached to your head, any sort of head movements or adjustments to the mic position will get picked up by the mic and sound terrible.
Again, if the headset is all you’ve got and you’re not in a position to move from it, keep using it. It’s more important to develop a feel for streaming before investing in the medium. Heck, maybe you just want the Tyler1 sound, and that’s certainly a vibe. But if you’re in the market for a microphone for streaming, I would strongly nudge you towards a standalone mic. Even an average USB mic at the level of a Blue Snowball Ice will sound better than the microphone from a higher-end gaming headset at a fraction of the cost. Your viewers will appreciate the bump in quality!