Renowned for their headsets, and a favourite of Team NGB, Turtle Beach are turning their attention to the world of live streaming with their latest product. The aptly-named Turtle Beach Stream Mic aims to allow players to get better quality audio on their console live streams, rather than use a standard headset mic. With their primary lineup almost becoming synonymous with the phrase “Gaming headset”, I was intrigued to find out how the Streaming Mic performed in a number of different scenarios.
Firstly, let’s have a look at the design. It’s got a distinctly retro feel to it, with a whacking great Mute button on the front of it, which lights up with different colours depending on which pickup pattern you’re using. The pickup patterns range from cardioid (directly in front of the mic) to omni-directional (all around), but for the purposes of streaming, cardioid (or the additional super-cardioid, which I’ll come on to) worked best for me. It’s a nice array of options for people to have, and allows for a bit of diversity in the mic. Around the back there’s a headphone socket (For mic monitoring), a volume wheel (for said headphone socket), a pickup selector, Mini USB port and a PS4/PC/Xbox One switch. Back to the design for a second, and the provided stand offers a hefty base for you to put on a desk, which provides the bulk of the package’s weight, and the arms that go up to the side of the mic are metal as well. It’s a really well built piece of kit, which looks the business as well. All of the branding is subtle, and there’s nothing garish about the mic at all, which helps it to blend in to any set up out there. There is also a standard screw thread at the bottom, which will allow you to attach it to any regular mic stand/boom as well, increasing the versatility. The only thing I’m not too keen on is the location of the Mini USB port. If you use a heavy cable and a mic stand, then it looks like it could pull down on the port over time, although in my usage I’ve not come across any problems yet.
The mic is configurable with firmware and software updates, and on Windows PCs there is a suite that Turtle Beach have designed to let you customise the mic to your liking. There’s a couple of preset EQ settings, as well as the option to turn on a noise gate, and add another pickup pattern in the form of the super-cardioid I mentioned above. It’s evident that this one has been added as an update after the release of the product, and I hope that these continue to get added as it’ll only improve the mic even further. I will say that initially the sound that I got from the mic was a little bit on the thin side, but I was quite far away from it. After applying the “Deep voice” EQ preset and using it a little closer to my face, the results were much better. You can listen to the standard sound (without any tweaking) in the live stream I did of Batman Return to Arkham below. I honestly think that for most people, the standard settings whilst streaming would be more than acceptable, as it accentuates the upper mid/high end of the voice to help it stand out over the rest of the game audio.
The mic is easy enough to set up, just plug it into your console, flick the switch on the back to the relevant one and you’re good to go! It’ll even work as a standard USB microphone on PCs and Macs, without the need to install any drivers for it. I tested it out against a Blue Snowball microphone, and after the tweaks mentioned above, the sound was easily comparable. I need to stress that if you’re going to use this for anything other than streaming games, you really should go the extra mile and configure the software, as it genuinely does make all the difference.
The Turtle Beach Stream Mic is a great piece of kit if you want to get better audio onto your game streams. It’s well built, and USB positioning aside, feels extremely sturdy. The configurability is something that a lot of USB microphones don’t seem to offer, so full marks to Turtle Beach for providing this option. A really nice, versatile microphone that provides some impressive results.