In the past five years or so, streaming has become such a viable career that many are already considering and even investing in the field. This is even more prevalent with gaming streams, where one can enjoy playing games from the very comfort of their homes while sharing the experience with viewers around the world.
But more than just the actual process of live streaming the video aspect of your gameplay on the Internet, one crucial component of the craft is your voice. Whether it’s with your audience or your teammates in-game, vocal communication is the make or break decider in the streaming business. And thus, microphones!
What Are Gaming/Streaming Microphones?
Gaming and streaming microphones are specifically designed to augment the entire setup with a capable voice recorder to capture the needed sounds and noise. Most modern gaming and streaming microphones come in a USB configuration – and for a good reason. Most computers and consoles are outfitted with USB input/output ports and software support that makes the setup experience convenient. Alternatively, there are XLR versions but they fetch for much higher prices and need an external interface of sorts to function normally.
We’ve rounded up some of the top microphone choices for gamers and streamers that offer crystal clarity and minimal background noise, so hang tight!
Best Gaming Microphones 2020 – Top Picks for Gaming & Streaming
|Product||Main Feature||Our Rating|
|Blue Yeti X||Improved sound over predecessors||5.0|
|Elgato Wave 3||Multi-channel digital mixer||5.0|
|HyperX QuadCast||Decent sound capture||4.6|
|Blue Yeti USB||Great audio performance||4.7|
|Beyerdynamic FOX||Versatile voice-recording solution||4.5|
|JLab Audio Talk Go||Portable compact design||4.4|
|Razer Seiren X||Great recording performance||4.5|
|Audio-Technica AT2020USB+||Superb recording quality||4.9|
If you’re not afraid to go above the average spending for a gaming and streaming microphone, do so by picking the Blue Yeti X. Touted as one of the most premium offerings around without actually breaking into studio microphone territory. A step up from its predecessor, the Yeti, this streaming microphone has four condenser capsules instead of three, improving the sound pickup quality and refining sensitivity. This means an enhanced recording and playback quality over its competitors thanks to the wider dynamic range for a well-bodied sound.
What really ups the game for the Blue Yeti X though, is the smart dial that allows you to switch microphone polar patterns between bidirectional, omnidirectional, cardioid, and stereo options. This makes the unit versatile for tons of applications, including round table interviews or podcasts with one-on-one guests. You can also make use of the Blue Voice software that allows you to add preset or custom filters to achieve your radio host vibe or that tactical comms feel.
An LED front panel indicator takes care of real-time volume readouts so you can adjust it accordingly on the go. You also gain access to a noise-reduction button that improves ambient noise dampening, which can get quite tricky due to the enhanced sensitivity of the Blue Yeti X.
- Improved sound over predecessors
- Versatile polar pattern dial
- Single control module via the dial
- A bit pricey
- Fingerprint magnet
- Dial doesn’t match the premium build of the body
If you want a no-nonsense capture and recording solution, the Elgato Wave 3 offers a fool-proof design that even the most inexperienced streamers and gamers can set it up by themselves. This 96KHz microphone features a compact design that is compatible with most boom arms for ease of installation.
While the Elgato Wave 3 only sports a single cardioid pattern, the clarity you get from the pickup pattern is top-notch and is further enhanced by its noise-free circuit design, along with the proprietary Clipguard technology that takes care of audio distortion.
Another great feature of the Elgato Wave 3 is the digital audio mixer that comes with it. The Wave Link mixer accommodates up to 8 channels of audio, allowing you to mix and match in-game and communication software data into streaming programs like OBS and XSplit – in addition to two independent mixes. This improves the user experience as you can customize your audio streams so as to not mistakenly output at a channel not intended to receive certain transmissions. It doesn’t get easier than this, making the Elgato Wave 3 one of the most beginner-friendly streaming microphones in the market.
- Multi-channel digital mixer
- Improved circuitry and Clipguard tech improves audio clarity
- Easy to set up
- Single cardioid pattern
Avid gamers will love how the HyperX QuadCast looks – along what it brings to the table as well. Styled like HyperX’s premium gaming headsets, the HyperX QuadCast exudes top of the line looks and feel with its robust structure. From the get-go, this gaming microphone already ranks up in our steal-deals list due to the inclusion of a built-in shock mount that protects the unit from unnecessary bumping and vibration that might affect the captured quality of your voice.
The HyperX QuadCast also sports versatility with its four selectable polar patterns – omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo, and cardioid – to fit your streaming and gaming needs with precise audio-capturing profiles. This microphone performs decently with a rounder, full-bodied sound than most offerings that can be controlled using the gain dial. Do note that the gain increments are not as accurate as one would hope, but this should be fine for general gaming and streaming.
It also features a touch-sensitive mute button located at the top of the microphone unit that is quite important when using it for recordings as it gets rid of the audible click that is common with most built-in mute buttons. The HyperX QuadCast offers decent recording performance while complementing your gaming setup in style.
- Premium build quality
- Built-in shock mount
- Decent sound capture
- Four polar patterns
- Sound is warmer than most mics
- Slightly expensive due to gaming branding
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Blue Yeti USB is one of the most trusted microphones when streaming hit the mainstream, and we haven’t found any reason why we shouldn’t recommend it. It has all the functions a streamer needs and has gone down in price in recent years, making it a viable choice even for those on a budget. You really can’t go wrong with the build quality as well, as it’s made to withstand years of use and abuse, as well as anchoring the unit in place thanks to the hefty stand.
As far as looks go, the Blue Yeti USB doesn’t dish much except for its retro styling that can fit almost any setup without sticking out like a sore thumb. For its performance, the microphone offers four polar patterns in the form of cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo to provide a versatile solution that doesn’t only benefit gaming or streaming but podcasts and music recording as well.
The controls are as simple as it gets as well. You are greeted by a single volume dial along with a mute button, reducing the chance of misclicks that might ruin the viewing experience for your audience or cut off your comms link to your team. Other options in the market offer better audio quality, but for the price and reliability showcased by the Blue Yeti USB, you really can’t say no to it.
- Simple, rugged design
- USB interface
- Great audio performance
- Similarly-priced models may offer more features
If you have money to spare or want to stream original music on your channel, a microphone like the Beyerdynamic FOX might work out great for you. This offering from the pro audio giant fits the streaming ecosystem quite well thanks to its USB interface, making it a straightforward affair to set up.
It boasts 96 KHz/24-bit recording, which most consider as overkill especially when used on platforms that use some kind of audio and video compression technology like Facebook and Twitch. But does that mean you shouldn’t consider the Beyerdynamic FOX? You’d be hard-pressed to find a USB microphone that offers the same level of audio fidelity and quality. Do note that this unit only comes in a cardioid polar pattern, which may or may not fit your needs.
For controls, the Beyerdynamic FOX features mix and volume knobs for on the fly adjustment, along with a headphone jack input for inline monitoring purposes. This jack uses a preamp to output the signal but is quite distorted even before the microphone adds into the equation. It’s best to dial the gain down if you plan to use this feature just to ensure the accuracy of the sound you’re recording. You also get a handy mute at the top and a high/low gain toggle switch to vary your input levels.
For those who say that too much of anything is bad clearly haven’t crossed paths with the Beyerdynamic FOX microphone.
- High-res audio for a USB mic
- Premium build and features
- Versatile voice-recording solution
- Pricey option
- Preamp signal is distorted
Cardioid pattern might not cater to all of your needs
Streamers on a budget will be happy to know that an option like the JLab Audio Talk Go exists. This super-affordable streaming and gaming microphone comes in a compact and portable design for that grab-and-go functionality without actually skimping out on important recording features. It offers 96kHz/24-bit audio resolution recording to ensure that you get superior vocal quality whether it be for normal streams, podcasts, and even ASMR content. Do note that the mic only sports two condensers that make the sound profile lean more into the treble side of things.
It makes use of a USB platform and doesn’t need any drivers to initiate the recording process. You also get a Quick mute button for convenient operation and a 3.5mm jack for inline monitoring, along with the standard ⅝-inch input that is compatible with swivel mounts.
As expected of its price range, the JLab Audio Talk Go doesn’t have the latest and greatest features with it, like its polar patterns being limited to cardioid and omnidirectional options. This doesn’t take away the decent performance you get, however, and will work out great for beginner streamers versus its competitors in the same price point.
- Portable compact design
- USB interface
- Decent recording performance
- Limited polar pattern options
- Treble-inclined sound
Another major player in the gaming peripheral industry is trying its mettle in the audio recording field in the form of the Razer Seiren X. A step up from the original Seiren model, this gaming/streaming microphone boasts a premium build quality in a much more compact form factor, claiming a conservative amount of desk real estate that complements its minimalist control layout. Minimalist indeed, as it is only adorned by a volume control and mute button, along with an 8-bit LED display that adds a quirky aesthetic appeal to the design.
It features a built-in shock mount to counter unintentional bumps and vibrations that may interrupt the smooth transmission of your voice, which frankly is often overlooked in most streaming microphones. The Razer Seiren X also has a background noise reduction feature that blocks most of the incoming noise but doesn’t really do much when it comes to sources that are in close proximity to the microphone unit itself. If you plan to grab this mic, go with keyboards that have silent switches to greatly minimize the incoming ambient noise.
Apart from that, however, the Razer Seiren X offers a great recording performance thanks to the super-cardioid polar pattern to provide a clean and crisp vocal quality on-par with pricier units. You are also given a zero-latency inline monitoring output to give you an accurate reproduction of the audio signal without the feedback added by streaming software.
- Premium build quality
- Super-cardioid polar pattern
- Great recording performance
- Noise-reduction feature doesn’t work great against close-proximity sources
Admit it, going with a brand that’s established a reputation in the audio business for a long time already is almost always going to net you a great experience. The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ comes from a line of studio-level microphones that surprisingly found their way into the streaming arena. It sports a medium-diaphragm condenser in a lonesome cardioid polar pattern, which may be underwhelming on paper considering its premium price, but it performs phenomenally with what it’s got. No jack of all trades trickery here, just pure recording performance out of the box.
To fit in with modern recording and streaming applications, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ uses a USB output for convenient setup and compatibility. It also sports a high-quality A/D converter with a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz/48 kHz sampling rate to provide you with professional-sounding audio recordings, while an inline monitoring output with volume control allows you to keep track of your voice without the latency and distortion added by other channels. The mic performs superbly with the amount of detail and nuances it captures from your voice, making it perfect for podcast settings.
For controls, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ has both mix and volume control dials that allow you to precisely adjust the levels to provide your audience with an optimal listening experience. Setting it up is easy as well as you get a pivoting stand mount along with several threaded adapter options, a tripod desk stand, and a 3.1-meter USB cable.
- Superb recording quality
- Premium construction
- Studio-grade performance in a USB platform
- Pricey option
Single polar pattern available.
What to Look for in a Gaming Microphone
Here are some tips on what factors to consider when shopping for the best streaming and gaming microphone for your needs, along with a breakdown of technical jargon so you know what you’re dealing with.
One of the most important things that greatly dictate how a microphone’s recording abilities behave. Here are some of the most common polar patterns available in most consumer-grade mics.
A cardioid pattern offers a singular vocal recording performance due to its heart-shaped pickup area. Some mics offer hypercardioid or supercardioid patterns that have narrower voice pickup areas for pinpoint recording purposes.
As the name suggests, bidirectional mics capture sounds from two directions only, making it perfect for one on one podcasts and interview settings where both the speakers are facing each other.
This polar pattern allows the mic to capture sounds at virtually a 360° scope, making it perfect for round table settings.
A stereo polar pattern offers a front and left/right recording coverage, making it optimal for choir or choral-type recordings, and even ASMR purposes.
Choosing a streaming/gaming mic ultimately boils down to how it fits in your specific needs. Since most offerings nowadays already provide recording qualities that are on-par or even exceed studio standards, choosing from a polar pattern comes next. Among the listed options, cardioid seems to be the most functional choice as it offers the best performance for streaming and gaming, with most configurations intended to cater to the streamer doing the vocal work in front of the gaming setup.
How your gaming/streaming microphone will be installed on your setup depends on its form factor and mounting design. Desk space will be needed if you want to go for tripod-mounting mics, so make sure that you have enough real estate to facilitate a great recording position without interfering with your actual gameplay experience. For those that lack in this, however, there are clip-on solutions that make use of a vise to attach the side of a desk. This is paired with a boom arm that adjusts the position of the microphone for the perfect balance of capture range and minimal obstruction.