How to Choose a Microphone for Streaming
Every live streamer understands that stream quality is critical to their success. However, stream quality is much more than a high-resolution image and sophisticated stream overlays. Likewise, audio plays a significant part in pro streaming. So how do you acquire high-quality audio? With a superb microphone! This guide goes through all major technical mic properties and software adjustments to make your stream sound the best.
How to Choose a Streaming Microphone
A microphone's specific features are determined by several variables, making it more or less suited for various circumstances. As a result, it's critical to grasp how your streaming setup works and what all of these different elements signify.
Here are the essential specifications of a streaming mic:
Simply put, it shows a range of sound that a microphone can take. It is presented from low to high frequencies and is measured in Hz. The holy benchmark for frequency response is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Anything below or beyond these spectrum extremes is meaningless since the human voice cannot produce such frequencies and, obviously, the human ear cannot hear them. This feature is less critical for a streamer than for a singer. Still, it is advisable to opt for microphones covering a broad frequency range.
The polar pattern or the direction (or directions) in which the microphone picks up the sound is vital when choosing a microphone for streaming.
The primary categorization is:
Omnidirectional: sound may be picked up from any direction. Although it may appeal to us, it actually collects ambient sounds, such as the keyboard, making them unsuitable for streamers.
Bidirectional: catches sound from two opposing sides, the front and back, making them ideal for streaming in pairs or interviews.
Cardioids, hyper cardioids, and super cardioids: they pick up sound in one direction and are the most common microphones for streaming. The cardioid profile is formed like a heart, catching sound from the front of the microphone's location and some from the sides.
Shotgun: these are very directional, catching the sound in front of them and providing excellent acoustic accuracy.
Cardioid is the greatest option for streaming and podcasting, although other patterns may also be helpful in some cases.
There are three major types of gaming microphones: USB, XLR, and TS/TRS/TRRS. Each type of microphone has its own set of characteristics best suited to specific jobs.
USB mic may seem like an appealing choice for a beginner's home studio — it's less expensive and simple to use. Just insert them into a USB port on your computer, and you're all done. Additionally, most of them come with desktop stands, making it simple to select the ideal mic location.
Pros of USB microphones
Simple to use.
No digital audio interface is required to connect it to a computer.
Cons of USB microphones
It might be a shaky economy.
Typically, only one source may be recorded at a time.
The majority of USB microphones have latency issues.
Reduced sound quality.
Lack of control.
For at-home streaming and podcasting, USB microphones often are the quintessential solution.
XLR microphones are more powerful than USB mics; however, they require additional setup equipment, and a recording audio interface is needed to utilize an XLR microphone with a computer.
Pros of XLR microphones
Crisp and vibrant audio quality.
A lot of customization options.
May record a few audio sources at a time
Cons of XLR microphones
Complex setup process
Audio interface required
An XLR microphone offers superior sound quality. It is also more robust, and the interface wiring allows for more customization. It is, in a nutshell, the industry standard for high-quality live streaming.
This form of connection is used with mobile phones, tablets, and computers. These microphones often have poorer sound quality than XLR and USB microphones. However, TS/TRS/TRRS mics are ideal for mobile streamers.
Accessories: Microphone Boom Arm, Shock Mount, or Pop Filter?
In most cases, no additional equipment is necessary for streaming. Nevertheless, some of these might help you obtain better sound from your microphone.
Microphone Boom Arm
Mic arms are one of those items that you don't realize you need until you have one. A mic boom arm, also known as a 'scissor arm stand,' is a piece of equipment that allows you to place and reposition your mic flexibly and silently, reducing on-air noise. It is connected to a recording desk or other equipment. Streamers frequently use the desk-mountable microphone arm for their setups because it aids audio quality, saves space, and looks professional.
Microphone Shock Mount
Shock mounts are only intended to protect the microphone from vibrations conveyed by the stand. It does not influence your audio unless your mic stand is vibrating from something. But if you have a clamp mic stand on your desk and your PC on, the vibrations from the PC could slightly shake your mic stand through the desk. A shock mount is not required, but it is a good accessory.
Microphone Pop Filter
The apparent benefits of using a pop filter when streaming are the reduction of plosives and improved audio quality overall. Before the plosive sounds reach the microphone capsule, microphone pop filters block, reflect, absorb, and dissipate it. The disadvantages of using a pop filter for streaming are more about the image than anything else. The presence of a large pop filter might obstruct the streamer's outlook.
Mind to have accessories both for audio and for the image. Learn how to improve your appearance in this post.
OBS Microphone Settings Guide
Noise gate. This is used to remove all ambient sounds. To turn off the filter, click the eye icon. Without speaking, look at the mic meter to check the dB level of sound. The CLOSED threshold dB level should be just above or equal to that. The OPEN Threshold dB should be around 8 dB higher.
Noise suppression. This helps to eliminate PC, console, and maybe even fan buzzing in the microphone. Add a filter, and the dB setting should be 5-10 dB lower than your voice.
Compressor. This plugin is designed to make the dynamic range of your voice sound consistent without any abrupt volume spikes. A ratio of 3.00:1 or 4.00:1 is recommended.
Limiter. This plugin will save your mic audio from clipping when the input is excessively loud and distorted. Set this one to -2 dB and put release after 60 milliseconds.
Learn more tips here:
Top 5 Microphones For Streaming
The finest microphone for gaming and streaming might help you save time and money. If you want to improve your Twitch stream, getting a good mic is something you should strive for.
Shure is a highly regarded audio firm known for its high-quality microphones. Many prominent streamers, including Shroud, Tfue, and Sodapoppin, use the Shure SM7B microphone. Joe Rogan, for example, utilizes it for his podcasts.
Polar pattern: cardioid
Connection method: XLR
Features: a high rejection of background noise, great durability, pop filter included, dual XLR and USB output, touchscreen interface, Shure MOTIV desktop app.
Blue Yeti USB
When compared to other USB microphones, this one has better sound quality. It is used by streamers such as DrLupo and Myth. Because it does not require a stand or additional cords, it is simple to use.
Polar pattern: multipattern (cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional)
Connection method: USB
Features: possibility to switch between polar patterns, pop filter included, headphone jack and volume control, mute button, solid stand included.
Elgato Wave 3
Elgato is a prominent brand in streaming hardware, it's built for live streaming and integrates with other Elgato products.
Polar pattern: cardioid
Connection method: USB
Features: the Wave Link software that allows to mix up to eight channels of audio within a stream, built-in limiter, and pop shield.
Samson G-Track Pro
A great microphone for streaming. Instead of one, it has three polar patterns, providing outstanding sound quality and a solid foundation. This makes it an extremely versatile and flexible option.
Polar patterns: multipattern (cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional)
Features: dual track recording, instrument input, zero-latency monitoring, gain, mute, and headphone volume controls.
One of the finest budget microphones for streaming. To begin with, the ZM consumes extremely little energy and is small enough to clip on practically any place.
Polar patterns: cardioid
Features: three mini-clips, lightweight, low power, incredibly cheap, better sound than most headset mics.
Have you recently become Twitch streamer? Read our ultimate guide on how to start streaming on Twitch!
Top 5 Microphone Accessories
Depending on your streaming budget, you may require extra equipment for audio recording. We've searched through a ton of them to come up with a list of the top microphone attachments for Twitch streaming.
Rode PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm
It is well-known in the broadcast industry as a go-to boom arm, and it's also popular among podcasters, voice-over studios, and internet streamers. This spring-loaded broadcast microphone arm has two sections that spin 360 degrees.
Aokeo Professional Microphone Pop Filter
Aokeo is a double-layered screen pop filter that can effectively filter sounds. It filters out noise without muffling your audio.
Acoustic Foam panels: New Level Acoustic Panels.
This acoustic foam is ideal for soundproofing walls and home studios. Streamers may use the New Level acoustic panels to increase acoustic control, sound dampening, reverb, and flutter echoes in small to medium-sized spaces. Read more on building a room for streaming in this article.
Elgato Wave XLR
The Wave XLR is an audio interface developed particularly for live streaming, with a clean, professional appearance that will fit into any setup.
Stagg SMC6 6 meter standard microphone cable
It's a nice XLR cable with a lot of rubber to weight it down and give it a lot of flexibility. The connections are excellent, so one can receive flawless sound from the cable using a sound mixer.
Once you're looking to improve your audio quality, there are various parameters to check. First, you should learn about technical mics characteristics such as frequency response and polar pattern. Then, choose what connection method suits your needs and budget most: USB or XLR. Then, depending on your setup, you may buy some microphone accessories to obtain better quality and improve your streaming experience. And last but not least is to adjust your software settings to ensure you're gaining the best result from your gear.
Hopefully, we've helped you decide on a streaming microphone and accessories. Visit our blog for more helpful live streaming tips and tricks. Kudos!