Best Gaming Microphones For 2018 – Buying Guide and Microphone Reviews
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Gamers and streamers can argue a lot about their microphone’s qualities and how they sound while playing or streaming. While sound performance can be very critical, aspects such as ease-of-use, configuration alternatives, and pricing are also important when it comes to figuring which is the best gaming microphone as well as the best live streaming instrument.
The following list shows the best microphones that I’ve found for use by regular users in various gaming and streaming situations. The list is definite and shows the best gaming microphone according to your specific use case scenario. We hope you find the best microphone for gaming in your specific case via this list.
|Best Gaming Microphone||Blue Yeti |
|Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo||16 Ohm|
|Best Attached Microphone for Gaming||AntLion ModMic||Unidirectional/Omnidirectional||Max. 2200 Ohm|
|Best Gaming Microphone For The Money||Zalman ZM-Mic1||Omnidirectional||Max. 2200 Ohm|
Many streaming users will just employ the microphone that’s built into their best gaming headset in order to live stream or the best webcam (as most webcams have an inbuilt mic). A discrete USB microphone with its own dedicated output usually produces much higher sound performance, though. If you intend to use a dedicated microphone as a gamer or streamer, you may want to consider getting a well-reviewed stereo headphone to match.
Audiophile stereo models usually provide much nicer audio performance and imaging than most gaming headsets.
Many do not realize that a studio-grade microphone is not really necessary for effective gaming or live streaming.
However, a lot of us do want something nicer than the tiny mics fixed on the booms or cords coming off our headsets. So not only am I reviewing mics that are good for transmitting your voice on your present sessions and channels, I have tested models that would be best for those who team up with friends online as well as live stream gameplay and other content and you can see my picks on the table above.
Blue Yeti – Best Gaming Microphone
This is a rather pleasing standing microphone. Not only does it have good sound quality, it is readily configured and is relatively inexpensive when compared to other USB condenser mics with a similar level of performance. Its great advantage is that it adapts well in problematic settings that would flummox lesser mics during live streaming.
The fact is that a user’s position away from the microphone, and his relative speaking orientation towards its head, and the mic’s recording pattern can all greatly affect sound quality.
This model is known for consistently good default performances across reasonable distances. The stand has a foam cushion underneath which didn’t seem to reduce surface vibration much. Still, it was easy to find an appropriate spot where its compact form could readily fit into with little issue on most desktops or stations. The best microphone for Windows 10 (and other operating systems) is most definitely this good gaming microphone.
The Yeti’s great flexibility ensured it had a little problem performing excellently wherever it was located.
Performance above all
I don’t care for a standalone microphone that would be clumsily located to my front in a way that blocks my view of parts of the display.
That’s why I normally locate dedicated microphones away to one side, at an arm’s distance. But from a further field, some microphone receivers will begin to shape incoming audio signals in metallic-sounding ways or else introduce more echoes, especially if you increase the gain to counterbalance the attenuation. It is this iffy situation that Blue’s model was able to handle with considerably less drop in recording quality.
It really outperformed the vast majority of its tested rivals in this respect.
Only earlier Yeti Pro version seems to perform better within that six-inch zone, although the standard model did a record with better quality at greater distances.
This is not to say that it can perform less well when located closer. The mic was always capable of delivering decent recording accuracy within reasonable distances, even when it wasn’t ideally located in front of me. Given how PC users’ hardware and furniture setups can vary in design and configuration, this is an advantage that makes a huge difference in practice.
The Yeti does have its issues, such as its propensity to gather and transmit clicks from keyboards and mice and taps on tables.
The Yeti’s aforementioned tiny foam cushions at the bottom of the stand did damp extraneous sounds to an extent. I would occasionally experience spiking sounds whenever I jolted the table by chance or else smacked a glass or other heavy object flat on the desk.
What did work was slipping some thick cloth beneath the base. This seemed to dampen almost all vibrations transmitted to its head via the stem.
Its design definitely emphasizes function over style, for it functions well where needed and is otherwise low-key. I suspect it isn’t going earn product styling awards anytime soon, even though it has now been released in additional color schemes. For example, there is a broad bottom to its stand that keeps the microphone’s shell stable and offsets it from other stuff around the desk that it could bump into, but for its wide platform. It means one less thing to worry over so long as it remains planted where it is. I can remember only a few instances when I couldn’t immediately find an obvious spot on my desk for the microphone to work fine.
You can surely spend more to acquire better sound performance. But Blue’s finest already performs all the things required for a live public streaming or an intensive gaming session with friends, and performs them well. You can always up the ante by purchasing a shock-resistant mount and adaptable stand much like what professional studios use, but then you are likely to be investing a bit more in mic technology and quality as well. We believe this is one of, if not the best microphone for YouTube videos if you make that kind of content. Also, if you are streaming, then the Blue Yeti is also widely considered the best microphone for streaming as well.
If you’re not willing to spend for a sound setup that delivers more features and performance than you really need, you will find that the Yeti delivers sound quality with features that are more than good enough. For its price, the Yeti is overall the best gaming microphone available for use in normal gaming or live streaming settings.
AntLion ModMic – Best Attached Microphone for Gaming
Attached microphones have one great use, and that’s to do their thing away from desks of users who might be generously thought of as unorganized. You know who I’m talking about, the kind of guy who lives with huge amounts of hardware both inside his PC and outside on his desk. In such situations, it may not be easy to find an appropriate spot for a stand-mounted mic that’s also clear of useful, cool, or just edible stuff.
The solution would obviously be a headset, or in this particular case an accessory microphone that attaches to your existing headgear. Attached mics are designed to be fixed to your current headphones’ side in the manner of integrated headsets, but with a sound performance that can be considerably better. Most have magnet mounts that allow for very easy mounting and adjustment. AntLion’s ModMic is configured as such and is one of better models out there.
Upgrades existing headphones
The majority of tiny condenser microphones used with headphones do not offer high-fidelity audio as most are normally integrated into headset-type designs. Their designers tend to emphasize headphones’ audio output quality at the expense of microphone performance.
These are different in that they are made to perform decently and be marketed on that basis, thus manufacturers make sure to release quite decent models. Condenser microphones mounted on stands like those of Blue’s range still sound better on average, but attached mics are also more likely to sound far nicer than those integrated into regular consumer headsets. The unidirectional ModMic works well enough in receiving and filtering almost all extraneous personal sounds, as well as surrounding noise from clicky mice and keyboards.
It is nice to know that if I had to, I can always use my existing headphones in the way they were originally designed for. That’s due to the simple and clean way the ModMic is attached at a headphones’ side. The dark base is first affixed with adhesive backing to the shell, to which the actual microphone element is then attached with magnets. With this magnetic mounting, you can always detach both the microphone element and its cable at any time, with just the small and unobtrusive base left behind for later re-use. This arrangement should address any worry you might have about fixing stuff to the sides of your headphones in what may turn out to be a permanent manner.
Attached microphones are usually more applicable to being used in regular voice chats during game sessions than to live stream commentary. Sound performance does not need to be as clarifying, and breathing and other transient noises do not really matter in most gaming environments anyway.
This is an excellently performing model given its pricing and specialized configuration. Its adaptability is great if you already own a pair of high-performing headphones but only require a supplementary microphone. The ModMic may not be best for those planning to launch podcasts or live streams, but it’s the ideal microphone to get you quickly into team-based battles using your favorite headphones. Certainly, the best streaming microphone for PC (attached) if you ask us.
Zalman ZM-Mic1 – Best Gaming Microphone For The Money
The ‘budget’ solution should have been an obvious one: just use the microphone that already comes integrated into your headset, if you have one. It’s not likely to be good, but you can’t get any cheaper. Certainly a good contender for the best mic for Windows 10 (based on the price) and most certainly the best cheap mic for YouTube if you do that. This is a great gaming microphone without headphones.
But I changed my tune when I came across Zalman’s ZM-Mic1, which is priced at only ten dollars or less and yet brought a huge upgrade to my headsets’ built-in unit. This model’s accuracy is not among the best, but then all it has to do is perform a bit nicer than the mic of whichever headset you already own. It was so good that it seems to be in a budget class of its own.
Although it can gather sound with clarity and presence, it is a clip-on mic for attachment to cables or clothing, so your voice might be picked up at a lower volume. Settings had to be tweaked for greater sensitivity to counterbalance the gap between the lowered microphone and lips, so background noises should be more readily picked up. It does not seem to do badly in a relatively quiet room. Just be aware that in busy settings with others moving about or things happening, it will likely pick up background noises.
It’s true that there are many microphones offering nicer sound performance than this model, Zalman’s mic is definitely not a “studio-grade” accessory. But for the add-on convenience it provides with the right configuration and with volume set correctly, it can actually sound remarkable and is unexpectedly competent for its low cost.
I did not hear much if any of the noisy breathing or emphasized hissing that microphones built into headsets are known for. You can employ this microphone for live streams or podcasts, and the content would only suffer in comparison to that created with much more expensive gear.
Gamers who are looking for good and reasonably-priced microphones that are optimized for stationary use will find the Yetis or ModMics in the market to be appropriate to their needs.
If you desire only a convenient mic upgrade for a headset you are otherwise satisfied with, the ZM-Mic1’s is the best one available for now. It comes in a configuration that’s convenient and at a price that’s low enough to dissuade you from having to buy a whole new headset, and in quiet settings, it does the job well enough.
Test methods, rival, and upcoming models
It is vital to remember that PC players have their own criteria to meet when it comes to the best gaming microphone, not all of which necessarily matches that of serious audiophiles and their musical fidelity standards. A lot of the content created with consumer-oriented microphones is dynamically over-compressed anyway as well as reduced in definition, for transmission through online channels.
The effects of diminishing returns tend to come earlier with the stuff we do in our homes and offices, as opposed to what recording professionals have in industrial studios.
Even though sound fidelity is critical, at this level there is more to what makes a mic good for gamers or live streamers beyond just audio properties. The following are some standards to use when appraising the utility as well as recording performance of mics.
The idea of a consumer review is to identify affordable microphones that enable you to consistently sound good in your applications. Although audio performance remains by far the most critical aspect when it comes to evaluating mics, there’s more to consider.
To this end, I tried various mics in multiple environments and with varied microphone configurations, although I did test models using cardioid-pattern settings wherever possible.
This pattern emphasizes recording only from sources to the front of the microphone. It is by necessity the configuration that the vast majority of successful gamers and streamers use most of the time. The ability of microphone circuitry to filter out unwanted environmental and personal sounds such as mouse/keyboard noises and the user’s breathing also helps to shape incoming signals into the usable audio of good quality.
There is an issue not particular to just attached mics, which is related to the general problem of emplacing microphones near one’s lips and nose. With the receiver capsule located within inches of them, any noisy breathing or hisses you might be prone to would likely generate spiking sounds as well as some distorted passages.
Pop filters that cut off such transients are actually the only solution to this undesired effect. Unfortunately, this alternative is not possible with microphones mounted so closely on consumer headphones. Or at least not with affordable models that don’t have expensive signal processing circuitry for electronically canceling ambient noises on the fly.
Materials selection and design influences microphonic properties. Microphones mounted on stands will be planted on your table for much of the time, which you will have to learn to appreciate. On the other hand, attached microphones are designed for convenient configuration and balanced so as not to distract their wearers too much.
A microphone’s shape also affects its flexibility in day-to-day usage, as well as the space it must occupy to operate properly in a particular polar orientation. Every unit reviewed was tested in several configurations with a variety of computers, displays, keyboards, and other input devices, so that I could experience how each appeared and performed in various settings.
Withs tanding microphones, inserting a dampener between the ground and the stand’s bottom will work to dampen vibrations in most cases and not just with dedicated mics. I would recommend doing the cloth trick with most every microphone placed on tables anyway. Just remember that rumbles have a propensity to transmit upward through the mounting hardware of stand microphones unless you use a pricey mount that is designed to be shock-resistant.
Table setups and hardware configurations can vary a lot so it is critical for a microphone to deliver acceptable performance in a number of common uses. A mic that performs better than others, but only when it has been mounted over a shock-resistant base and exactly located just a few inches from your lips, would be difficult to recommend to most.
What would be best for most users is a microphone that performs well in regular settings with the flexibility to be reconfigured in whatever position and profile are needed.
With most microphones, it is usually best to locate them less than nine inches from your lips, ideally within six. The better designs have pop circuitry to filter out noise from the user’s gasps or breathing if any. But that is a perfect setting, and the real world is not so accommodating. A microphone capsule placed within a few inches of your lips and to the front of your face would almost surely block your view of critical portions of the display.
The conventional solution is to suspend the mic’s capsule of a microphone stand.
Now, this does not have to cost much, but it can be unnecessary for the majority of users as they will find themselves seated upright and speaking into the receiver at all times. If you are planning on recording content as a live streamer or gamer for extended time intervals, it will not be possible for you to shift your body weight and position constantly so that you can relax and focus on your vocal delivery.
For some heavy players, it is easy to justify “investing” huge amounts of money and time to attain the finest audio configuration. Against that, the majority of consumers only want the best speakers, headsets, and microphones we can find within limited accessory budgets.
Pricing is a critical aspect in determining which models should make into your wish list, so it’s a good thing that studio-grade setups are not necessary to get consistently usable sound. You can always go up range in specialist categories and up with fancy models offering marginally nicer performance at progressively higher prices.
Pricing always matters when comparing alternative mics, and small cost differences can mean big jumps in performance. If a reviewer wants to keep it real, he must ensure that his selection falls within a typical gamer’s accessory budget. To be sure, I searched for the finest microphones within the $150 pricing range. After much testing, I eventually found Blue’s Yeti to be the best choice for most users in regular settings, an all-around pick worthy of its higher pricing.
Rival and upcoming models
What constitutes high-end gear can be a critical description to go by. If you’re not too strict, you could wind up with hundreds if not thousands of dollars’ worth of amazing studio-grade mics. Those working in the media or military may already have that level of equipment at their disposal, but the stuff is not normally available to the average consumer.
A description of what high-end normally means must, therefore, encompass consumer or perhaps prosumer gear that delivers a degree of performance sufficient for regular gaming and live streaming.
I hadn’t found enough samples of what I’d term high-end mics that are applicable to regular users. Thus I can’t evaluate this class for a decisive win, although I have emphasized two good options in the following sections.
With this situation in hand, I evaluated all microphone models I could find that more or less met my criteria and price bars. I had hoped to present alternatives for those who don’t mind budgeting a bit more for higher-fidelity systems. There are hardcore users with hardcore budgets who can afford really heady stuff of the kind reviewed at uber-audiophile sites. But I personally wouldn’t pay more than $200-300 dollars for a high-end mic that gamers and live streamers can use.
Audio Technica’s ATR2500-USB is a high-performing USB condenser microphone that can be found at reasonable prices. However, this model does have a few issues that render it less than optimal for certain types of gamers and live streamers.
For one thing, it can record voices at too low a level when positioned far to the front, for it’s actually meant to be placed close to your lips.
If only the tripod it is mounted on did not have such a broad base that occupies much space on a table, it would be convenient enough to set up in that manner. Just the same, it offers pretty good recording performance for the money.
Another issue is the very visible power-on LED. It gives off a brilliance that can be a bit too much at times, particularly as the microphone’s front will be usually less than a foot away and directly facing you. It’s always possible cut a piece of gaffer’s tape to cover it while in use, but nothing less opaque will do, as the light leaks through thinner tape and cloth materials.
If you get this microphone and plan to permanently plant it on your desk, it might be a good idea to cover it with a small black rubber bumper.
Razer Seirēn Pro
Razer’s Seirēn Pro is actually a pretty good USB condenser microphone with a superb design. It’s just that it seems to be priced somewhat too high for its level of performance, as less expensive alternatives can deliver almost comparable audio quality. It does look the business with its signature Razer design and color scheme, and I can’t fault those whose exacting standards also include hardware that is stylish as well as competent.
There are a few quite useful accessories for this model, such as a $25 pop circuit attachment for filtering breathing and ambient noises. It is performance-enhancing extras like this which appeal to users in need of good performance and who are more comfortable in limiting their gear choices to brands they already use and know. Note that the XLR jacks of the Seirēn Pro versions let owners interface them with mixer boards in higher configurations.
Blue’s USB microphones tend to have a good reputation, among which is the Snowball.
This a decent and also cheaper alternative to the Yeti. But then, the latter is a considerably nicer microphone and yet costs only a little more. This is an example of similar issues regarding inexpensive gear, for the most inexpensive choice does not always make sense when it comes to upgrading microphone performance.
The Blue Snowball is one of the top microphones for streaming due at its current price level. If you are streaming on Twitch, then this is the one of the top best mics for streaming Twitch as well, so don’t worry about that either.
The Blue Yeti ranks up there as well, although it is of higher quality.
A microphone of decent quality can sound a whole lot better than the lower-grade product, at a price that is usually only slightly higher. Although this model offers more than adequate voice quality, buyers should probably spend a little more in order to get much better, or else just go for a cheaper microphone if they won’t prioritize audio performance.
Blue Yeti Pro
As noted previously, Blue’s Pro version of the Yeti definitely outdoes its standard stablemate in ideal settings where you can keep your face around eight or so inches from the microphone. It does less well when situated farther apart, though.
The Pro model does not necessarily perform better in all situations and apparently, it is optimized for use in more studio-type setups. But it can be a good alternative if you require more performance, although it normally costs much more at about $200-230 unless you wait for a sale.
As I noted with Razer’s Pro models, the XLR-type jacks of the Blue’s Pro version let owners interface them with mixer boards in fancier setups. You may be wondering why this isn’t the best desktop mic for gaming then? Well, the price point is too high to justify its great performance.
Although there are approving reviews of Shure’s PG42-USB, this item will no longer be produced and will eventually disappear from the market, which is why I did not evaluate it.
Marshall’s MXL AC-404 appears to have good reviews as well, but given that its flat design and high sensitivity is tweaked for capturing voice reflections around bare conference tables, I decided that this model was not appropriate for testing as well.
Users who go the route of using dedicated mics (my recommendation in general) have come to regard Blue’s Yeti as a mic that pleases. Probably the best gaming microphone for the price and a pretty decent tool for live streaming as well, it has been a bestseller for a long time and should be on most buyers’ shortlists.
In any case, the mics I have listed here work well for teaming up with friends online and for live streaming gameplay and other content. You really can’t go wrong with one of these on your desk or person.
One more thing: if you’re into live streaming, your microphone will likely appear in most of the views you will be broadcasting to your audiences. So if you have a choice, it would be smart to choose one with a design that suits your presentation theme and style. We hope you liked our list of the top microphones for gaming and that you found the best microphone for gaming according to your budget and needs.