You can watch a number of different streamers, both those who have made it to the big time and others with smaller audiences, and each one can be very different from the last. From the personalities of the individuals’ to the equipment they use. For example, you’ll see a mix of streamers who choose to set up a camera on themselves whilst others leave the visuals to the gameplay. One thing almost all streamers have in common though is they’ll have some kind of microphone to allow them to speak to their audience. Whether it be via a headset or a standalone microphone kit such as the Sandberg Streamer USB Microphone Kit that we’re reviewing now.
Whilst having a gaming headset will work for streaming, many streamers will opt to have a standalone microphone kit such as this instead. The main reason being that audio quality is usually much higher. Why is this? Essentially it’s because your mic in your headset will have a noise-cancelling function to stop it picking up background noise, but it can also dampen your voice. Whilst you can get software for a standalone mic to do this, off the cuff it picks up all audio, meaning you come across louder and clearer, although without fine-tuning, so will your washing machine in the background. The only real downside is they take up more space than a headset and it can be awkward to set up without it being too in your face. But will that be the case with our newest gadget from Sandberg?
Build Quality & Design – 4.8/5
Sandberg is a brand who believe in their quality, and as such always offer a 5-year warranty as standard for most of their products. That instantly speaks volumes to me before you even open anything because you don’t always find manufacturers displaying such confidence in their ability to create quality products. Safe to say, I wasn’t disappointed when I opened the box.
Inside you’ll find a number of components that come together to make up the microphone kit. You have got the microphone itself, made from metal, it’s elegantly designed and looks very professional. The mic slots into a shock mount which fits on one end of the main adjustable arm to assist in eliminating vibration noise in the microphone. To further help sound quality like reducing external noise and cut down on heavy breathing there is an anti-wind foam cap to place over the mic and a pop filter on a flexible metal arm that clamps to the main frame. The main frame is adjustable and allows you to raise or lower the mic, making it easy to manoeuver it around your desk so as not to be too in the way for streaming, whilst also having a commanding presence that makes you look like the real deal when on cam.
Last but not least you have the clamp to attach the microphone kit to the surface where you’ll be placing your kit. The clamp simply screws to tighten up, and the main arm slots into place. It couldn’t be easier to set up, and best of all, nothing feels like it will topple over or collapse when it’s all good and ready to go. The only issue I did have was with the pop filter, due to the metal frame of it, it was quite heavy so you do really have to tighten the clamp on it to ensure it doesn’t fall down, but if you set it up as in the photo below, you shouldn’t have much of an issue.
Audio Quality – 4.5/5
As I mentioned above, one of the main reasons that people choose this type of microphone kit over a headset is superior audio quality. And Sandberg’s addition to their Esports Equipment range certainly provides quality audio capturing. I’ve used it both plugged into my PS4 and PC, and received reports of much clearer audio being received, even when moved further back from the mic when I was sat on my couch playing Realm Royale. However, on that occasion, I did have to increase the microphone sensitivity, which unfortunately picked up a little background noise in the form of my washing machine and one of my cat’s crying. I did have the pop filter on, and the wind cap but background noise was still heard on my PS4. But, as I stated, I did turn up the sensitivity for it as I sat quite far away, and it was less noticeable turned down with me sat closer.
On PC, the experience was much smoother, mainly because you can download numerous pieces of software to help reduce background noises. I tried a few pieces as there were many recommended with just a quick Google search, and most of them drastically reduced background noise, without compromising my voice too much as with would normally happen using my gaming headset.
Functionality – 4.8/5
In terms of functionality, the Sandberg microphone kit was excellent. It did exactly what you needed it to, offering a high-quality audio capturing experience. It was super easy to set up; on the PS4, it was a simple case of plugging in the 2.5m USB cable, attaching it to the mic and then putting the frame together. Then I just required to select the source to pick the mic over my headset one and adjust the sensitivity if needed and away you go.
For PC, you just plug it in and the drivers if not installed already install automatically, as with most PC accessories nowadays. However, it uses a Realtek USB 2.0 Audio driver which is pretty standard to already be installed on most PCs nowadays. Then, you’re good to go once you select it as your source for a microphone. You are then good to go, however, I recommend doing a little research and checking out some software to help fine-tune the mic and work on that background noise reduction as it doesn’t take long, and the results are worth it.
Once set up for either system, it is then just a case of manoeuvring the microphone kit to best suit you. The arm can be stretched out or brought closer inward, and the mic swivels slightly too. Meaning you can set it almost anywhere on your desk and fit it around your setup to have minimal impact. Obviously, for smaller spaces, it still takes up a fair bit of room, but you should be able to fit it in comfortably without it covering your entire face,
Value for Money – 5/5
When it comes to microphones, everyone is looking at brands such as Blue Yeti, or even Samson, but they can quite often set you back a fair bit. One of the best value bundles I could find for these brands was the Blue Yeti Nano Premium at £120.23 on Amazon (price correct as of 15/07/2019), which isn’t bad as it comes with headphones too. But, this was still roughly an extra £40 than the Sandberg Streamer USB Microphone Kit and didn’t come with the wind cap which isn’t that expensive to get separately, but that’s not important as it’s still an additional cost. Plus, you can pick up a decent set of headphones for around £20 so you’re still saving a fair whack that could be better spent on sweets or other tasty treats.
Add to the fact that with this you get that 5-year warranty I mentioned earlier, and it just adds to the value because that’s 5-years you know you’ll be safe for. Any faults, and it’ll be resolved. I don’t see many other manufacturers offering that kind of promise with their goods, and they’re charging an absolute fortune more for some models too. So, if you’re in the market for a mic and you want to get bang for your buck, this won’t disappoint.
Overall – 4.8/5
Standalone mics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those in the market for one, whether it be to capture better audio or just to make them look the part on stream, you can’t go wrong with this microphone kit from Sandberg. It’s built well using robust zinc, aluminium and ABS plastic that makes it feel sturdy and secure, whilst looking the part, giving you that professional feel. It’s easy to put together and adapt to your surroundings too, whilst also offering up excellent audio quality. It did pick up a little background noise on the PS4, however, this is designed for PC and with the right software that issue can be near eradicated. Add all that into the generous price bracket it has been put into compared to some of its competitors, you’d almost be crazy not to go with it.
The Sandberg Streamer USB Microphone Kit is available now. For more info on the product and where to buy it, visit the official website by clicking HERE. You can also check out our previous review of the Sandberg Studio Pro Microphone by clicking HERE. And if you’re looking at getting into streaming, here’s some top tips right HERE.