The best microphones for gamers and streamers in 2021

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Gaming and streaming microphone.
Gaming and streaming microphone.

Of course, nowadays most headsets come with original built-in microphones. So why would you need one of the best microphones to play with? Can’t you just do everything through your headset? Well, not all microphones are created equal, and if you want to do both streaming and voice-over for the videos you’re making, you need the right microphone. Also, not all headsets come with a microphone. Maybe you’re playing with a proper headset and want a removable microphone to talk to your team members every time you venture online? Either way, this guide will help you find the right microphone for your needs.

What are the features that make one mic better than the others for playing and streaming? Well, if all you need to do is give your Sennheiser headset a boost, look for comfort and clarity. That’s all you really need. The best gaming headsets offer great sound quality, but they’re not quite up to the task of high-end microphones. However, if you’re a streamer or budding video creator, you’ll need a studio-quality microphone (or equivalent) with a vibration damper and the right filter for background noise. Nothing undermines the credibility of your stream more than your mom vacuuming the hallway. Here are the best microphone options for gaming – whether you want to add a headset or start from scratch.

How to choose and test our microphone?

It is important to understand that gamers have different standards and needs when it comes to microphones than the most demanding audiophiles among us. Our use of microphones often implies that the sound will in any case be compressed and pumped via the Internet, so you reach the point of diminishing output much faster than if you were recording in a studio. While quality is important, a good playing and streaming microphone is a lot more than that. Here are the criteria on which we have judged our microphones.

Recording quality

I’m saying that audio quality isn’t everything, but it’s still the most important factor when testing a microphone. The goal is, after all, to find a microphone that will allow you to accurately reproduce your voice. We’ve tested the microphones in a variety of configurations and settings, although we’ve mainly tested them with the “cardioid” recording model, when available. This model is designed to record only what is in front of the microphone. You will use this setting 99% of the time for playing and streaming. It’s also important to know how well a microphone picks up background noise or keystrokes.

Adaptability

Everyone’s hardware and configuration needs are different, so it’s important that a microphone works well under several different scenarios. If one microphone sounds better than all the others, but only if it is placed on a suspended microphone stand with a shock absorption system, placed exactly 14 centimeters from the mouth, this is a difficult option to recommend. You need a microphone that sounds good in all circumstances and can adapt perfectly to all situations if you want to be able to use it comfortably while maintaining quality sound.

The shape factor

We’re not in a fashion show, but the shape factor is always something to take into account. In the case of a stand microphone, you’ll see it every time you sit at your desk – and a removable microphone should be discreet enough not to distract you. A microphone’s form factor can also play a role in its adaptability, as you’ll need to make room for it. We’ve used each mic in multiple settings with different computers, keyboards, and monitors to get a sense of how they look and perform in each environment. As a streamer, your microphone will also be visible to your audience, so paying attention to its appearance is relevant.

The price

And of course, every good PC gamer always tries to get the best for their money. It’s easy to get lost in the dark depths of the audio world and even easier to spend a ridiculous amount of time and money to get the best possible setup. But since we don’t need studio equipment, price is an important factor in determining the quality of a microphone. You can always keep moving up the pyramid, finding more and more incredible quality at an ever-increasing price. So make sure you don’t get carried away and buy equipment that is totally superfluous for a player. Price is also essential when comparing what one mic offers to another.

The best microphones for gaming and streaming

1. Blue Yeti

Blue Microphones Yeti

The best microphone for the majority

  • Specifications: Power supply: 5V
  • Directionality curves: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz
  • Features: choice of four colors, zero-latency monitoring, gain, microphone mute controls, volume control

The Blue Yeti offers many valuable features. Easy to install, its price is low compared to other microphones offering this level of audio quality and, of course, the sound is excellent. But its best asset for streaming is its adaptability. Your distance from the microphone and whether or not you speak directly to it can have a considerable impact on the sound quality, but the Yeti works well even in rather archaic conditions. The foam padding at the bottom of the stand doesn’t do much to dampen desktop vibration, but the shape and size of the Yeti usually allow you to find a suitable place for it to work properly without getting in the way.

The Yeti does have problems, however, including its tendency to catch clicks and keystrokes on the keyboard. The small foam pads on the underside of the base, however, help reduce this effect a little. You can certainly pay more for superior audio quality, but the Blue Yeti offers everything a streamer, or anyone playing with friends, needs.

Advantages
Disadvantages

2. AntLion ModMic

2. AntLion ModMic

The best removable microphone

  • Specifications: Power
  • supply: 10V
  • Directivity curve: Unidirectional
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB (adapter)
  • Frequency response: 100Hz-10.000Hz
    Features: modular buttons to mute the sound, adhesive pads, box for transport, 1m or 2m cables

Some of you may have an office… well, let’s just say cluttered. Making room for a microphone without it being in an inconvenient spot on the other end of the desk may be impossible. That’s where removable microphones come in, and the AntLion ModMic is the best we’ve tried. It sticks to the side of your headset like a built-in microphone, but its audio quality is much better. Its magnetic attachment also makes it incredibly easy to install.

Most small helmet microphones like the ModMic don’t offer very clean audio quality, but that’s because they’re usually attached to a helmet. The sound from the helmet takes precedence over the quality of the microphone, but ModMic doesn’t have that problem. It was designed to be a good microphone and nothing else. And in fact, it is a very good microphone. It obviously doesn’t have the quality and purity that a stand microphone like the Blue Yeti can offer, but it probably sounds better than any other microphone attached to a headset.

Advantages
Disadvantages

3. razer Seiren X

3. razer Seiren X

Compact and portable

  • Specifications: Power
  • supply: 5V
    Directivity curve: Super-cardioid
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz
  • Features: integrated stand with shock attenuation, mute button, 3.5mm zero-latency helmet monitoring port

50% smaller than the original Seiren microphone design and offer the same audio quality, the Seiren X is designed for portability. It takes up the space of a soda can on your desk, which is how modest its dimensions are. The built-in shock mount works well to absorb unwanted spikes from desk kicks and other bumps, while a unique volume control and mute button are the only controls available, allowing the Seiren X to maintain its sleek design.

Inevitably, this mic has some minor drawbacks. As with the Blue Yeti, we found that this mic picked up a noticeable amount of ambient noise, such as the dreaded clicking of the mechanical keyboard. This isn’t really a major problem when it comes to streaming, but we had hoped that Razer had better optimized the noise suppression, given all the communication around their super-cardioid directionality curve. Nevertheless, the recording quality is there, as is the quality of the finish.

Advantages
Disadvantages

4. Focusrite Scarlett CM25 MkII

Focusrite Scarlett CM25 MkII

A studio solution for budding sound engineers

  • Specifications: Power
  • supply: 5V
  • Directivity curve: Cardioid
  • Connectivity: XLR, jack
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz
    Features: microphone stand adapter, cable included

We are moving slightly away from pure playing microphones, but it is worth considering if playing, streaming, and music production overlap on the Venn diagram of your interests. The large-diaphragm cardioid design of the Scarlett CM25 Mk II makes it a great instrument for picking up voices, whether soft or loud. So when you instinctively whisper from your PUBG hiding place, just as you scream in terror when an enemy approaches, it handles it with ease and delivers a perfect rendition. In general, the sound quality is among the best on this list.

However, it is not strictly speaking a gaming microphone, so it doesn’t have a simple USB or 3.5 mm connection. To make it work, you will need to use a preamp via XLR. Although this is likely to be a big hindrance for most people, Focusrite sells a Scarlett Studio package including a microphone, headphones, and audio interface for less than 180€. This is tempting for any aspiring music producer or podcaster who is also very interested in games and streaming quality.

Advantages
Disadvantages

5. Zalman ZM-Mic1

5. Zalman ZM-Mic1

Good sound quality for an exceptional price

  • Specifications: Power
  • supply: 2V
  • Directivity curve: Cardioid
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm
  • Frequency response: 100Hz-16,000Hz
  • Features: three mini-clips, ultra-lightweight, very low power consumption

The ZM-Mic1 doesn’t have the recording fidelity of a high-end microphone, but we’re willing to bet that it’s much better than what you’re currently using with your gaming headset. This microphone is so impressively priced that it has naturally made its way onto this list.

Let’s be clear, there are plenty of microphones out there with better audio quality than the ZM-Mic1. It tends to be rather quiet and prone to pick up background noise, but in the right environment and with the correct volume setting, the voice quality is impressive. There’s not the usual breathing sounds or the heart-rending “S” sounds that you inevitably expect from a built-in microphone on a headset. The sound quality is not up to a studio microphone, but you can use this microphone for a podcast and the sound would only sound bad if you compare it directly with a better option. It’s not an extraordinary microphone, but it’s incredible for its price.

Advantages
Disadvantages

When it comes to choosing the best microphone for us, it is definitely a standards matter, so all we have to do is to look for the best one that suits us the most.

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