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Category: #AudioGear (Page 1 of 7)

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The Best Gaming Headsets of 2021 for PC and Consoles

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The best gaming headset needs to be affordable, comfortable, sound sharp, and have a microphone that won’t make your voice chat companions wince. Our top picks manage to do it all with some extra features on top.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/749769/best-gaming-headsets/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tyler Colp

JVC HA-XC50T Earbuds Review: Nothing but Treble

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In the world of tech, we spend a lot of time praising the best earbuds and pointing fingers at the worst. But what about those that sit somewhere in the middle, that are neither outright horrible nor breathtakingly wonderful? JVC’s HA-XC50T earbuds are precisely that and honestly, that’s just fine.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/93136/jvc-ha-xc50t-earbuds-review-nothing-but-treble/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Should You Buy a Headset or a USB Microphone?

Gaming headset on desk and a Microphone against red backdrop in a collage.Random Photo Gallery/Shutterstock.com EKKAPHAN CHIMPALEE/Shutterstock.com

USB microphones and headsets both offer relatively budget-friendly options when it comes to capturing audio, but they have very different priorities when doing so. Which one is better for your situation? Let’s dive a bit deeper and figure that out.

USB Mics: Better Audio Quality, More Work

Blue Yeti microphone on a silver table against black backdropRockcache/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to high-quality audio, there’s no competition—a dedicated USB mic is going to beat out a headset mic any day of the week. USB mics are larger and include better internals for recording things like voiceovers and podcasts. Your voice will be clearer, they handle background noise better, and the actual audio captured will be higher definition than most headset mics, allowing for much more freedom in post-production and audio editing. If you’re prioritizing audio quality, then a USB mic is the way to go.

On top of better audio quality, USB mics also tend to be more customizable. Many of them—like the Elgato Wave 3 or Blue Yeti X—allow you to fine-tune the audio with different settings like EQ adjustment. This is model-dependent, and some USB mics might only allow you to adjust their volume, but these options are much more common than in the world of headsets. Some microphones also include on-device controls (like a dial for adjusting the volume or a mute button), which helps out with this, but that’s not as common—especially in budget mics.

USB microphones often feature zero-latency headphone jacks that allow you to monitor your audio in real-time. This way you know exactly what you’re going to sound like before the recording is over, and you can adjust things live if needed. That brings up an important point against USB mics, though: the setup. Because there’s a lot you can do to ensure the best quality out of a dedicated microphone.

Microphones sound their best when close to your mouth, and while most USB mics come with short stands to help with this, it’s rarely enough. If you want the best quality possible, you’ll have to invest in multiple accessories like a mic arm (for raising the microphone to your mouth) and a pop filter (for removing plosives). This can complicate your desk setup and make using the microphone more bothersome (at least until they invent a quality wireless microphone). It might also add to your overall bill, which you may not have been planning on.

USB microphones are by no means the height of audio quality, but they strike a comfortable balance between lower-end microphones you’d find in headsets or webcams and higher-end options like XLR microphones. But with increased audio quality comes a more finicky product that requires more attention.

And that’s without mentioning the prices; while you can find solid USB mics for around $50, the $100 to $150 range is where you’ll find the best balance of quality for the money. These higher-end microphones include better audio quality, more features (like the in-depth settings previously mentioned), and superior build quality. Add in those accessories we mentioned earlier, and you can easily spend a pretty penny on a USB microphone setup.

Headsets: Jack of all Trades, Master of None

Man wearing headset while using a computerfizkes/Shutterstock.com

While USB microphones put their emphasis on audio quality, headsets differ because they need to balance their priorities between the headphones and microphone. Making a comfortable, nice-sounding pair of headphones is no simple task, and adding a microphone into the mix only complicates things. However, the pricing isn’t that different from USB microphones—there are budget options that strike the $50 to $100 range, with higher-end options that can go up to $150 to $200 (especially wireless headsets).

This immediately means the microphone quality won’t be as good as a USB mic, but that’s probably expected. Not only are the microphones much smaller, but the money also needs to go to ensuring a quality pair of headphones as well. This leads to microphones that, while not bad most of the time, certainly won’t blow you away.

But it’s not like the headphones get away scot-free here, they also suffer from this versatile design. You can’t expect a high-end pair of headphones out of a headset for the same reason you can’t expect a high-end microphone. Again, they don’t sound bad, but a dedicated pair of headphones for the same price would definitely outperform them.

However, with that lower quality comes convenience, as you’ll never have to worry about purchasing a mic arm or fiddling around with the settings for a headset—they’re about as plug-n-play as it gets. Whether it’s an inexpensive office headset or a high-end gaming one, the trade-off of audio quality for convenience is clear.

This is also seen in what features are prioritized when it comes to headsets. For example, there are no wireless USB microphones because of the quality loss, but there are quite a few wireless headsets out there. And headsets often include small buttons and dials for adjusting your volume or muting yourself on the fly, which isn’t as frequent on dedicated microphones.

If you don’t care much about the audio quality—going in or out—and you just want something all-around decent, then a headset is more than fine. They’re not made to excel anywhere, but rather cover a few different use cases well. Headsets aim to be easy-to-use products that exchange pure quality for simplicity, and they do a fantastic job at that—but if you’re looking for an amazing pair of headphones or microphone, it’s not the market you should be looking in.

Which Should You Buy?

While we’ve covered a lot here, this decision may be easier than you think, as it just comes down to what you actually need a microphone for. If all you do is join voice calls, then that’s what headsets are designed for, and a quality one will be more than enough. You can also save some money by not needing to buy a separate pair of headphones, assuming you need a new pair in the first place.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to record voiceovers, create a podcast, or anything else that requires quality audio, a USB microphone is definitely the better option. USB mics are great because they balance quality sound with convenience. They may not be as high-end as XLR microphones, but they beat out headset and webcam mics easily.

So if your only concern with audio quality is sounding alright, then a headset mic is fine—if you have higher aspirations, then you should probably pick up a USB mic.

The 8 Best USB Microphones




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Best Overall
Blue Yeti




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Best Mid-Range Pick
Blue Snowball




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Best Budget Option
Fifine K669B




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Best Premium
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+




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Best Ultra-Premium
Blue Yeti Pro




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Small and Powerful
Razer Seiren X




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Best for Streamers
Elgato Wave 3




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Versatile
Audio-Technica AT2005USB




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Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/82087/should-you-buy-a-headset-or-a-usb-microphone/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

These New Yahama Stereo Receivers Support 8K Video and the Xbox Series X

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If you have an Xbox Series X and a TV capable of 8K or 120 frames per second, you might want to enjoy those better visuals with full surround sound. Yamaha’s latest Stereo receivers support 8K video and 4k/120FPS. Best of all, they fix an outstanding bug with the Xbox Series X.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/84369/these-new-yahama-stereo-receivers-support-8k-video-and-the-xbox-series-x/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

Samson Q9U Broadcast Mic Review: An Easy and Affordable Mic with USB-C and XLR

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Researching and investing in audio products is one of the greatest hurdles for amateur podcasters and streamers. But Samson is offering an affordable, low-effort entry point to the world of high-quality audio with its $200 Q9U broadcast mic. With excellent noise rejection and options for USB-C or XLR connections, the Q9U is one of the best entry-level mics available today.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/79322/samson-q9u-broadcast-mic-review-an-easy-and-affordable-mic-with-usb-c-and-xlr/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Windows 10 Is Finally Getting Better Support for AirPods

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Part of Microsoft’s great big overhaul to Windows 10 finally includes some major changes to Bluetooth support and audio endpoints. These changes are now live in the latest Windows 10 Insider preview build, reports The Verge.

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/windows-10-is-finally-getting-better-support-for-airpod-1846793852
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joanna Nelius

The 8 Best USB Microphones

Razer Seiren X, Blue Yeti, and Audio-Technica 2005USB against purple backdropRazer, Yeti, Audio-Technica

Finally getting tired of the subpar sound from your webcam mic? For professional recordings, it’s already a no-go, but even for video calls, webcam audio is generally hot trash. Fortunately, USB mics can deliver some solid audio quality at reasonable prices, along with a simple setup process—so let’s look at the best around.

What to Look for in a USB Microphone

There’s a decent amount of stuff to consider when looking at a microphone, whether those are cold-hard specs or the physical design of the product itself.

  • Audio Quality: There’s little point in picking up a microphone if it’s going to sound awful. The issue is it’s hard to gather how good a mic sounds just from the product listing. Looking at the specs sheet can help a little, but it’s not 100% reliable even if you know everything about how microphones function. This is where reviewers can come in handy; looking up a couple of sound tests online is your best bet for getting a taste of how a microphone sounds. And all the microphones on this list offer quality that matches their price tags of course.
  • Sampling Rate and Bit Depth: This is more important if you’re trying to do professional recordings with your microphone. The sampling rate and bit depth both have to do with how much data is being sent by the microphone, which doesn’t matter if you’re just joining voice calls. The standard rate and depth are 44.1 kHz and 16-bit, respectively (commonly called “CD Quality”). Anything higher is called “high-definition audio,” so if you’re planning on doing professional recordings, it’s worth looking out for mics with a higher sampling rate.
  • Polar Pattern: You can think of a polar pattern as the area around a microphone where it will gather sound. There are a few pickup patterns out there, with the most popular being “cardioid.” This pattern focuses on picking up sound directly in front of the microphone, which can also help eliminate background noise. Other popular patterns are stereo (which uses the left and right channels for a more immersive sound), omnidirectional (which gathers sound from every direction), and bidirectional (picks up sound from in front and behind the microphone). Some mics also have settings to let you switch between these patterns.
  • On-Device Controls: Many microphones will have dials or buttons to adjust certain things. It’s a useful feature to be able to mute the microphone or adjust the gain (volume, basically) on the fly without having to mess with any software. Many mics will also include zero-latency headphone monitor jacks, which are useful if you want to, for example, hear your audio live while recording a voiceover.
  • Software: Speaking of, the software of a microphone is important to be aware of. Microphone software can range from a versatile, feature-packed tool to a place where you just change the gain of your microphone. Usually, the former is preferable, but not every microphone needs a complex software suite, so we’ll go into detail on how each software manages.

Best Overall: Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti microphoneBlue

The Yeti is a well-known name in the world of microphones, but it’s a safe call for voice calls, streaming, and voiceovers. For features, the Yeti keeps things simple yet practical; there’s a dial for adjusting volume through the zero-latency headphone jack, a mute button, and a switch for adjusting the polar pattern (it supports omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, and stereo).

It uses a sampling rate of 16-bit, 48 kHz, which is adjustable through Blue’s Sherpa software, alongside the gain. The simple mic stand the Yeti comes with is fine for setting it up, but Blue also offers a dedicated boom arm mic if you need more movement (and most third-party arms will support the Yeti as well). Thanks to a combination of smart features, an elegant design, and good support among the accessory market, the Yeti is an easy choice to make.

But that’s not where the Yeti’s legacy ends, as there are a couple of other microphones under the Yeti label that, while similar to the original, offer some unique features. First up is the Nano, the Yeti’s smaller follow-up that still delivers similarly great audio—in fact, it even has a higher bit depth at 24-bit.  Besides that, the specs are extremely similar, though the Nano only supporting cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.

Second is the Yeti X, which is an upgraded version of the standard Yeti that offers better specs and audio, alongside a more versatile dial that can now adjust the gain. It’s a worthy upgrade if you already have a Yeti, or want something with some more features.

Best Overall

Blue Yeti


A well-garnered microphone that balances price, features, and quality excellently.

Best Mid-Range Pick: Blue Snowball

Blue Snowball microphoneBlue

If the Yeti clan is out of your price range, then Blue still offers an excellent substitute—the Snowball. The Blue Snowball is an oddly shaped microphone that still delivers some great audio quality. With a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and bit depth of 16-bit, the microphone does a good job for the money. You still have a couple of polar patterns to switch between, namely cardioid and omnidirectional, and Blue Sherpa still controls your microphone gain. There are no on-device controls to speak of, nor is there a headphone jack, but considering the more casual approach to this microphone those are understandable.

And if the Snowball is still out of your price range, then the Snowball iCE lowers the price even further. This microphone is only capable of using the cardioid polar pattern and cuts down the number of condenser capsules (which, put basically, is the tech inside the microphone that actually records audio) from two to one. This does decrease audio quality overall, but the iCE still sounds fine and is more than enough for video calls.

Best Mid-Range Pick

Blue Snowball


Another option from Blue that offers some solid audio quality for a lower price.

Best Budget Option: Fifine K669B

Fifine K669B microphoneFifine

Considering how inexpensive this microphone is, it still delivers an impressive level of audio quality. The K669B is a basic microphone though; there’s no software, no headphone jack, and it only supports the cardioid polar pattern. The mic still sounds good though, it has a gain dial on the front, and it records at 16-bit, 48 kHz. If you don’t need anything fancy, the K669B is good enough for most audio purposes—but it will disappoint if you try to use it for anything professional. Just turn off your fan when using it, because most reviewers cite it as being pretty sensitive to background noise.

Best Budget Option

Fifine K669B


An inexpensive mic that, while sensitive to background noise, still lives up to the price tag.

Best Premium Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ microphoneAudio-Technica

Forget fancy features and software, if you just want great audio quality, the AT2020USB+ has it. Audio-Technica makes some of the best microphones around, and the AT2020USB+ is a shining example of that. It records at 16-bit, 48 kHz and has two dials on the bottom; one for mixing audio from the mic and computer, and the other for headphone output volume through the zero-latency jack. It’s limited to the cardioid pattern, which is unfortunate, but if you’re just doing voice recordings that shouldn’t be an issue —you’d want to use cardioid for that either way.

If you’re looking to do professional recordings but aren’t quite ready to make the jump to XLR, then the AT2020USB+ is a nice middle ground.

Best Premium

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+


A high-end USB mic that delivers quality sound.

Best Ultra-Premium: Blue Yeti Pro

Blue Yeti Pro microphoneBlue

We have one more stop to make in the Blue realm, this time with the Blue Yeti Pro. While it is technically a part of the standard Yeti family, the Pro offers a lot more upgrades than even the Yeti X in terms of quality—for a much higher price. It records at a max of 192 kHz, 24-bit (adjustable through Blue Sherpa), and can be switched between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo polar patterns. It also keeps the headphone output volume dial, zero-latency jack, and mute button of the standard Yeti.

But the most interesting feature of the Yeti Pro is it’s not solely a USB microphone—it also includes an XLR port. XLR is an alternative connector for microphones capable of transferring higher-quality audio signals, which makes it preferable for professional recordings. It does have some drawbacks, however. It’s more complicated and requires an audio interface to work. This feature makes the Yeti Pro a smart choice if you think you’ll want to switch to XLR in the future with the simplicity of USB to start.

Best Ultra-Premium

Blue Yeti Pro


Another mic from Blue which offers high-quality audio and a choice between USB and XLR connection.

Small and Powerful: Razer Seiren X

Razer Seiren X MicrophoneRazer

If you’re familiar with Razer, then it’s no surprise that all its microphone released over the years are marketed as “gaming microphones.” However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from the Seiren X, because at the end of the day, it’s a great microphone in a sleek and compact package. There’s been a lot of these smaller microphones released over the past few years, mostly targeted at streamers, and the Seiren X makes a compelling case for itself.

The Seiren X records at 48 kHz, 16-bit which can be adjusted alongside the gain in Razer Synapse. The most unique part of the Seiren X is the polar pattern it uses: Super Cardioid—an even more focused version of standard cardioid. This helps eliminate background noise, which is something a lot of other USB microphones struggle with. It also features a zero-latency jack, a dial for adjusting the volume, and a mute button.

Then there’s the Seiren Emote, which is extremely similar to the X but uses the “Hyper Cardioid” polar pattern, which is even more focused than Super. It also has an LED panel on the front of the microphone that can display small images and animations. This is mostly a fun alternative to the Seiren X than an upgrade per se, although you’d be forgiven for thinking the latter as the Emote is nearly twice as expensive as the X.

Small and Powerful

Razer Seiren X


A sleek and compact microphone that uses a unique polar pattern.

Best for Streamers: Elgato Wave 3

Elgato Wave 3 microphoneElgato

While any of the microphones we’ve listed so far would make for competent streaming microphones, the Wave 3 is a special case. Elgato is well-known for making some of the best streaming peripherals you can buy, and the Wave 3 is no different.  In terms of hardware, it’s a pretty solid offering; compact form factor, a sampling rate of 24-bit, 96 kHz, cardioid polar pattern, and a versatile dial that can adjust gain and headphone output volume. (There’s also a zero-latency jack.) There’s also a dedicated mute button located on the top of the mic.

But the software is where things get more interesting. Through Elgato Wavelink, you can access a lot of features and settings that simplify the streaming experience. The main feature is you can balance and mix up to nine audio sources, including the microphone itself, games, or other programs. And then there’s the “Clipguard” setting, which automatically balances your microphone audio to avoid clipping on stream. Clipping occurs when your audio is too loud and overloads your microphone. Clipguard will ensure your audio never gets to that point by dynamically lowering the gain.

It’s a feature-packed microphone, but admittedly expensive. That’s where the Elgato Wave 1 is handy—it loses the multifunction dial and dedicated mute button, but still keeps the great functionality of Wavelink.

Best for Streamers

Elgato Wave 3


A feature-packed microphone built for streamers.

Versatile: Audio-Technica AT2005USB

Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphoneAudio-Technica

The final microphone on this list is one for users who want some freedom. The AT2005USB features a sampling rate of 48 kHz, 16-bit, and uses the cardioid polar pattern. So nothing too unique there, but unlike most of the other mics on this list, it has an XLR port alongside a USB. This allows you to switch from USB to XLR on the fly (assuming you have an audio interface for the XLR) and choose whether you want the simplicity of USB or higher quality audio of XLR. This is also a dynamic microphone, which means it’s more suited for recording loud noises and instruments than the other microphones here (which are all condenser mics).

Either way, the microphone still sounds pretty good for the mid-range price point, so if you want the ability to switch connector types at will, it’s an inexpensive way to do so.

Versatile

Audio-Technica AT2005USB


An XLR/USB microphone that performs better when recording loud sounds and instruments.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/76467/the-8-best-usb-microphones/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Skullcandy Dime Earbuds Review: Worth More Than What You Paid

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Skullcandy’s latest pair of true wireless earbuds are quite the attention grabber. Not for any notable features or accomplishments, but rather the price—$25 is quite the bargain. But while you may expect these to be low-end earbuds that barely function, they are much, much more than that.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/75754/skullcandy-dime-earbuds-review-worth-more-than-what-you-paid/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Best noise-cancelling headphones

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Noise-cancelling headphones are one of the most popular types of cans, and for good reason. They block out ambient noise that can distract from you enjoying your favorite tunes. While they’re particularly useful for air travel and daily commutes—especially via mass transit—they’re also great at isolating you from at-home noise pollution, whether that be the whoosh of your HVAC system, than whir of your computer’s cooling fans, or your neighbor’s lawn mower.

Noise cancellation can be accomplished in two ways: Through active or passive measures. Our focus here is on the former. The latter isn’t isn’t a technology per se; rather, it refers to how much ambient noise a headphone will physically block. Closed-back over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones with memory-foam tips and offer the best passive noise cancellation. You’ll find our reviews of all types of headphones here.

To read this article in full, please click here

Source: https://www.techhive.com/article/3611418/best-noise-cancelling-headphones.html#tk.rss_all
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Theo Nicolakis,

TechHive staff

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