Turtle Beach Stream Mic
- Pricing: $100
- Availability: Out now
- Compability: Consoles and PC over USB
The Turtle Beach Stream Mic is one of the best microphones you can get for livestreaming gameplay directly from an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
You may remember that I previously said it was a “good idea with poor audio” in the original version of this review (which you can still read below to maintain transparency). But after speaking with Turtle Beach and fiddling with my settings, I believe that my own human error was causing a strange issue that almost certainly won’t affect you.
So it turns out that the Stream Mic sounds nice, and it also has a suite of features that make it ideal for console broadcasters. That’s exactly the audience Turtle Beach is going for, and it’s those creators that’ll get the most out of it.
What you’ll like
High-quality sound with built-in processing
The Stream Mic sounds better than most headsets I’ve tried, and that’s the main competition for the Turtle Beach device. Because you can press a button and start livestreaming to Twitch from native apps on Xbox One or PlayStation 4, a lot of people have invested in headsets to improve the quality of their audio. But the Stream Mic is a step above anything you’d get in a standard gaming headset in the $100 range (OK — maybe the Turtle Beach Elite Pro headset with the optional audio controller and noise-canceling mic is better, but that’s in the $300 range).
What really sets the Stream Mic apart is that it does all of the processing inside the unit. That means it can filter out background noise and give you a better-sounding final product than even most USB microphones. If you’re in a loud room, Turtle Beach’s microphone is going to handle that situation far better than something like a Blue Snowball USB microphone plugged directly into a PS4 (it won’t work on Xbox One). It is also a serviceable mic for podcasts, interviews, and voice over work.
Having that built-in processing means that you can plug it into about anything and it should work. If you want to do a lot of audio recording, and you have an Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, then the Stream Mic offers you a simple solution.
You will still, of course, get better results if you get dedicated equipment that enables you to do your recording through a PC or a sound mixer. But the point of the Stream Mic is that it can give you improved clips without having to complicate your setup. It just works.
Smart features like a stand, monitor line-out, and easy-to-change options.
I also like that the Stream Mic doesn’t take up a lot of space and comes with its own stand. You don’t need to go out and buy a separate device to hold it up in front of you while you play. That plays into the simplicity that Turtle Beach was going for. The stand ensures that you can set everything up and start playing with minimal effort.
Having the stand also enables you to easily reach all of the buttons and inputs on the device. That includes mute on the front and the audio-profile button on the back. You can change the profile on the fly, which is another way Turtle Beach helps you get by without having to bring a computer into your day-to-day recording.
Finally, the mic has a line-out for monitoring your own voice. That’s crucial for getting consistent levels, and it’s a feature that many USB mics do not include.
What you won’t like
The stand picks up a lot of vibrations
While I like the stand, it can also pick up keypresses and bumps as annoying vibrations in the recording. You could potentially find a shock mount, which would eliminate those anomalies, but that defeats the purpose of the included holster.
It still doesn’t sound amazing
The microphone’s quality is very good, but it’s not great. You’re still going to get better results on PC or PS4 from a $50 Blue Snowball (even if that doesn’t have mic monitoring) as long as your room isn’t overly noisey. If you’re working in a quiet environment, the processing of the Stream Mic is going to sound overly compressed and unnatural. You can adjust the settings to improve that a little, but that’s not going to perform miracles.
I recommend the Stream Mic based on its quality across a variety of potential scenarios. Now that I have it working as intended, I’ve decided that this is now my go-to mic for recording anything directly on a console. That is who it is for, and in that environment it performs wonderfully.
If you are considering investing in a recording setup that involves capturing footage on your PC and lots of post-production work, then you’ll get better results from something else (a Blue Yeti or an Audio-Technica 2020). But if you’re trying to keep it simple with the Twitch app on Xbox One, then you’re not going to get anything better for $100.
Turtle Beach provided GamesBeat with a sample of the Stream Mic for the purposes of this review. It is available now for $100.
Correction: This review was originally titled “The Turtle Beach Stream Mic is a good idea with poor audio.” I’ve updated the review because I was using the product improperly. For the sake of transparency, below is the original review text.
Everyone is a content creator. You are a brand, and you need to promote it. And you’ll need equipment to do that properly. That’s where Turtle Beach wants to step in and help you.
I love that idea, and I think that Turtle Beach would really have something here … if the mic sounded just a little bit better.The Turtle Beach Stream Mic is a USB microphone that comes with its own stand. It plugs into your PC, but you can also use it on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One — and that sets it apart from other microphones. While you can already use most high-quality USB mics on a PS4, few of those will also work with your Xbox One. But Turtle Beach’s Stream Mic is compatible with them all, and the company is pitching this as a way to bring better audio to live broadcasts and recordings that you might do directly on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One using the built-in Twitch and YouTube functionality.
What you’ll like Works across consoles and PC I won’t argue against the basic functionality of the Stream Mic. It does what it claims to do. You can plug it into a PC, a PS4, or an Xbox One, and it will work. And, like I said, it’s a smart concept. Thousands of people have started livestreaming their gameplay to Twitch and other sites thanks to the tools included in the current generation of consoles, and some of those folks may want to step up their production without having to bring a PC or capture hardware into the mix. I respect that Turtle Beach is making a product that serves that crowd — especially the people on Xbox One who don’t have a lot of alternatives. And I like that it comes with its own weighted stand, which is probably something most people broadcasting from Xbox One won’t have lying around. Lots of options This also isn’t a dumb microphone. It has a lot of options to better perform for a single speaker, a 1-on-1 interview, and even a room full of speakers. While none of these will suddenly make the Stream Mic sound like a Blue Yeti, but you can definitely squeeze better audio out of it if you set it up properly. On top of that, the Turtle Beach Stream Mic also includes a headphone jack so you can do instant mic monitoring. This is one of its best features since it provides you a way to ensure your voice levels are consistent.
What you won’t like Audio quality isn’t great But as much as I like the idea, the audio actually sound really rough. It sounds significantly worse than a Blue Snowball, which is $50 less expensive. You could also spend a similar amount of money on an Audio-Technica AT2020, which sounds leagues better. Sure, neither of those will work on your Xbox One, but they definitely work on the PS4. So if you are primarily using the Sony system, I probably wouldn’t jump on the Turtle Beach solution. If you want to hear the Stream Mic in comparison to some other headsets, listen to this playlist.
Conclusion Turtle Beach can make great microphones. If you don’t believe me, listen to the noise-cancelling microphone for the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset in the SoundCloud playlist above. That’s one of the best microphones I’ve encountered on a “gaming headset.” But the Stream Mic, which is $100, doesn’t even come close to matching that. Its quality never sounds professional, and I think it’s fair for you to expect that when you’re spending as much money as Turtle Beach is asking. At the same time, the mic does work with the Xbox One. And it may provide a solution for certain audio demands you may have if you are using that console to create video content. Maybe you want a mic that’ll pic up a room full of talkers or maybe you like the idea of having a mic that comes with a nice stand. But outside of a specific use case, I would pass on the Stream Mic.