Every streamer knows audio is an integral part of the first impression on new viewers. When streamers sound good, the audience can hear every word you say – from the loud expletives to soft sighs. They have a great experience and may follow or donate to your stream.
On the flip side, nobody enjoys a stream if they can’t hear what you are saying. They will leave your stream faster than you can ever imagine. It’s a lonely two-bit town from thereon. That makes it imperative for newcomers to figure out how famous streamers sound so good.
So, how do streamers sound so good?
Streamers sound so good using high-quality microphones for voice clarity with onboard controls for versatility. They also calibrate their streaming setup so they can give the viewers a top-notch audio experience as well.
People claim that content and personality differentiate the good and bad streamers. But what good is stellar content if you have a dull audio setup? What good is a dynamic voice if you can’t equalize your streaming audio or find the right mic within your budget?
Luckily, it’s not a difficult thing to configure, and we are here to help you get it right.
What consists of their streaming setup?
Calibrating your streaming setup to suit your voice can make a huge difference. Their setup consists of a mic, mixer, audio interface, and streaming software. They also use audio plugins such as noise gate, compressor/limiter, equalization, and reverb on their vocals.
Learning how to equalize or use free or paid digital effects in streaming software or DAW is no secret. It can render a crisp, clear, and pleasant-sounding voice quality with consistent audio volume. You can also research and experiment with software and plugins.
Experienced streamers use pop filters to tame plosives, equalization to improve the vocal texture or remove sibilance, and hardware like shock mounts and boom arms to create a flexible setup. They find the mic positioning, polar pattern, and other tweaks that are a great fit for their voice.
You can start looking at YouTube videos of streamers explaining their setup or tips on how to sound good while streaming. This has a learning curve, and improvements happen with legwork and experience.
The following video from YouTube is an excellent place to start.
What audio set up do streamers use?
The audio setup streamers use includes a microphone, audio interface, audio mixer, and a streaming software or digital audio workstation (DAW). There are many variations and add-ons, but there are four essential pieces of gear in the audio setup streamers use, namely –
- An XLR or USB microphone
- An audio interface or soundcard
- An audio mixer for Streaming
- Streaming Software like OBS
Many top-notch streamers use a dynamic mic to boost gain, especially the Shure SM7B with a Cloudlifter. Others use a USB condenser or XLR condenser. USB mics like the Blue Yeti have a built-in audio interface, but you need an audio interface to use an XLR mic.
The microphones need additional accessories like a pop filter, shock mount, boom arm, mic arm, or stand to complete the setup. Some microphones ship with a pop filter and mic stands or arm. However, streamers often customize their audio setup based on their needs.
There are many ways to soundproof, and sound treat a room, although it may not be necessary if you stream from a quiet place. Lastly, some streamers line the wall with blankets or use acoustic foam panels to treat their room. Doing so will deaden the sound and prevent echoes.
What is EQ in streaming audio (will it sound more pro)?
EQ is short for equalization, a well-known audio plugin to tweak the frequency content of streaming audio. You can use EQ to adjust your sound levels or tweak a range of frequencies to hide the imperfections in the audio, which can make you sound more pro.
For instance, you can roll off the lows if your voice has too much bass. Additionally, you can use EQ to add more depth to the sound with a slight nudge at 5kHz. With a bit of practice, EQ can also be useful to remove or reduce sibilance and mud from streaming audio.
Generally, you need to find an EQ setting that is the best fit for your voice. There is a learning curve to the process, and it entails some trial and error. But you can find several ‘cheat sheets’ for vocal EQ that can be used as a starting point.
We recommend relevant YT videos and learning the best practices from forums, videos, and other online resources for EQ streaming audio.
Which budget mic will make me sound good when streaming?
Streamers don’t need to spend a fortune on a microphone to sound good. You can have a great-sounding stream with a no-frills $50 USB microphone plugged into your laptop. Here, we share some budget streaming mics under $100 that can blow your listeners away.
#1 JLab Talk Go USB Microphone – Best Budget Mic for Streaming
The JLab Talk Go is a compact plug-n-play USB condenser microphone with a dynamic sound range and lightweight build. It offers a two-directional pattern (Cardioid and Omnidirectional) with 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution, which is ideal for gaming, podcasts, and streaming.
The mic features audio volume adjustments and an easy-to-access quick mute button. It ships with a 5-foot USB input cable and a 5/8” swivel mount to keep it steady as you stream. This budget mic has a frequency of 20Hz to 20kHz with zero latency and a max SPL of 119dB.
The JLab Talk Go sounds great out of the box and is available in 3 color options. You can connect your headphones to a 3.5mm input to enjoy zero-latency real-time listening. Overall, it’s a top-notch budget mic if you are starting out and want to sound good when streaming.
#2 Blue Yeti Nano USB Microphone – Our Top Pick
Blue Yeti Nano is a USB microphone with a 24-bit, 48kHz recording sample rate. It sports two polar patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional) and has a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz.
This pint-sized mic is compact, lightweight, and available in four color options.
It has two polar settings (omnidirectional and cardioid). Either way, it delivers a crisp, clean, and balanced sound. The mic is sensitive and will pick up noise from a keyboard or fan. You can pair it with OBS software for tweaking the sound while you are live streaming.
It features onboard controls (mute and headphone volume) and a headphone input for real-time zero-latency monitoring. There is no gain dial, but you can add gain via the Blue VO!CE desktop app. You can also add HD audio samples, modulation, and effects to your vocal sounds.
Overall, this feature-packed mic is a fantastic choice for podcasting and streaming. It’s a little expensive compared to other budget mics. But the mic sounds are warm and well-balanced.
#3 Blue Yeti Blackout USB Microphone – Best Premium
Logitech created this USB mic keeping streamers and content creators in mind.
Unlike other options in this list, the mic offers four pickup patterns (cardioid, omni, bidirectional, and stereo pickup). The options allow you to stream and record in a multitude of ways.
The mic has a resolution of 16-bit, 48kHz and a red LED for metering. It also features customizable LED lightning which can make your stream look and sound good.
You can use accompanying software (Blue VO!CE) to edit your vocals and add effects and modulations.
The mic ships with a desktop stand. You can connect it to an aftermarket boom arm or mic stand of your choice. The onboard audio controls include quick mute, headphone volume, pattern selection, and mic gain.
The Yeti is a great mic for streaming if you value versatility. The resolution is slightly lower than similarly priced options, but the mic is decidedly more feature-packed. Plus, the onboard controls smoothen your workflow and give you better control over the streaming process.
We have avoided some of the cheap mics under $50 because they are ultra-sensitive. They will pick up innocuous sounds like mouse movement, fans, and even a dog panting in the next room. You need third-party software or Nvidia Broadcast to clean up and tame these mics.
Additionally, too many cheap/budget USB mics strip off basic features to keep costs low. Imagine having a streaming mic with no onboard quick mute button. It’s not worth it if the mic burdens your workflow because it lacks controls and functionality.
5 tips to improve audio quality for Streaming
Let’s end with five simple but effective things you can do to improve the audio quality of your streams. We’ll lay out the basics because each of these tips could be an article in its own right. Use them as a springboard to explore these ideas using freely available online resources.
#1 Polar Pattern and Mic Positioning
Mic positioning is relative to the type of mic you are using. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to keep a microphone close to the sound source – your mouth. When it comes to polar patterns of a condenser microphone, tighter ways are better as they pick up less of the room sounds. Pick cardioid over omnidirectional or super-cardioid over cardioid if your mic is sensitive.
#2 Always test before you go live
Streamers need to do a quick test run before broadcasting or live Streaming. Ensure you have good self-monitoring, no hum, and clear vocals during the test. Check audio and video to ensure there are no embarrassing moments or on-the-fly tweaks required.
#3 Keep a check on the reverb
Don’t stream in a large room without any acoustic treatment. It can sound like you are streaming from a cavern… in outer space. Choose a small space and use fleece blankets or blackout curtains to prevent sound from bouncing off the surfaces in your room.
#4 Use EQ to Create a Well-Balanced Sound
Equalizing can make all the difference if you are looking for good audio quality. Take some time to learn how EQ interacts with your voice. Find the ideal settings for your voice type and adjust beforehand to ensure you sound great when you stream.
#5 Add a Compressor
Mobile users, which are the bulk of your audience, benefit from a limited dynamic range. You can use a compressor plugin to create consistent volume levels and control dynamic audio signals. To start, place it at the end of your feed with a 4:1 or greater ratio. Tweak till you find a sweet spot.
Choosing the best microphone is a crucial step when it comes to streaming or in everyday usage. It drastically enhances the sound quality of your stream which can help the viewers to stay in your stream for long periods of time.
Arguably, the best streamers on the internet sound so good using high-quality microphones for voice clarity with onboard controls for versatility, in addition to having the best gear that would give the viewers a top-notch audio experience. This article helps you choose the right microphone for your streaming journey.
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