GameNation SA – Guide to USB mics for content creators, streamers & casters

15 June 2018

What on earth does a CS:GO commentator and esports journalist know about audio equipment? Quite a lot as it turns out. I have several years of experience in the audio industry under my belt. I am a former brand manager for Audio-Technica and Electro-Voice for Southern Africa. Both names are legendary brands in the microphone world. I feel I’m pretty well qualified to talk about this subject, both as an audio engineer and as a commentator and content creator within gaming and esports.

Getting basic

Whether you’re a Youtuber, podcaster, Twitch streamer or caster, you’re going to need some basic audio gear. For viewers of your content, being able to see you or see your skills in game is important. However, I’d argue that being able to hear a true to life representation of your voice is more important. Your voice is your most powerful asset in getting your message and personality across in any kind of broadcast or video. You owe it to yourself and your audience to make sure that the audio quality of your vocals is as good as is possible within your budget.

You will need two basic pieces of equipment. A microphone to capture the acoustic energy of your voice and convert it into electrical energy. Then an audio interface or soundcard, to capture that electrical energy and convert it into digital ones and zeros that your PC can work with. Both components are critical in making sure you bring across a clear and highly intelligible representation of your voice. There are of course USB mics available that combine both a microphone and an audio interface into one unit. They are a little compromised in both departments due to their two-in-one nature, but make up for it in convenience and lower cost. USB mics are by far the most popular option for content creators and have gotten increasingly good in recent years. I’ll focus on those in this guide.

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