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Once upon a time, gamers relied on headsets with built-in microphones. Then, boom-arm microphones became increasingly common. Sure, they took up more space. But they let you use any headphones you wanted.
As streaming became more prevalent, those boom mics also quietly signaled to viewers that you were serious about all of this, way more than those amateurs with their headsets.
If you really wanted to impress, you could take things a step further. The USB mics that began the trend gave way to higher-end models meant for podcasting or even radio broadcasting. Where a USB mic would plug into your PC, this breed uses an XLR connection that requires a separate mixer or USB interface (or both).
What was the benefit of trading your headset for three separate pieces of audio equipment that likely cost several times as much? Audio quality. The biggest music stars and most high-profile podcasters pretty much all use XLR mics, for reasons we'll discuss below.
It's this market that finds HyperX dipping its toes into the XLR arena for the first time by making an XLR mic specifically for gamers. With its ProCast model, HyperX has created a purpose-built piece of audio equipment every bit as professional as those made by audiophile brands. While it comes with a commensurate price, it's hard to fault its audio and build quality.
Large diaphragm condenser
-10Db gain toggle, 80Hz high-pass toggle
Permanent shock mount with 3/8-inch and 5/8-inch female threading
48V Phantom power
Dimensions and weight
134L x 102W x 209H (mm) | 376g (mic), 127g (shock mount), 503g (total)
Put simply, the ProCast is built like a tank. It's one of those devices you pick up and immediately feel confident in due to how dense and solid it feels in the hand.
Of course, this means you'll need a good-quality stand or boom arm. I wouldn't trust this $250 gadget to a $25 no-name arm that looks like a cheap desk lamp. This big boy needs a solid foundation rated for its 1-pound-plus mass, and that's worth factoring into the purchase price.
The equally well-built shock mount is quite permanent. Unlike models that use a friction-fit system, the shock mount's inner ring is screwed to its body. This means you'll never have to worry about bumping your mic out of its mount. However, it doesn't permit the extra bit of freedom some other models provide by letting you rotate them in their mounts.
Aside from the preinstalled shock mount, the only other occupant of the ProCast's box is its pop filter. Unlike the black foam "Beefeater hat" pop filters most mic companies include, HyperX chose a rigid metal filter made of a bent sheet of metal with tiny perforations that does the same job. I found it to be excellent at dampening down pops and plosives -- those overemphasized, obnoxious "P" sounds you get on some mics.
However, it didn't do quite at well blocking wind and breathing noises as the classic black foam covers. Of course, you really shouldn't have your mic positioned where you're breathing directly into it, nor should there be much wind at your desk.
XLR mics are pretty featureless in many ways. There are usually only two controls you'll commonly find on the microphone itself, and both are present here: a -10dB gain toggle and a high-pass filter switch. The first will help you better dial in your volume levels, while the latter will help reduce unwanted low-frequency sounds. Both expand the flexibility of the ProCast a bit while allowing the connected USB interface or mixer to do the heavy lifting, as it should.
Again, this is an XLR mic. That means it uses the round, three-pin connector that's powered pro microphones for many decades. Without going into technical details of how XLR connectors impact signal-to-noise ratios, or interference, I'll just say it provides just about the cleanest, purest audio input available. There's a reason why it's remained the industry standard for so many years.
The connector on the ProCast is as sturdy and precisely manufactured as in any XLR mic I've used, providing that satisfying click that is a trademark of the connector. It would have been great if the ProCast included an XLR cable, and a great opportunity for HyperX to include a bit more of its trademark red accents. But, at least you can get cheap, good, long XLR cables for about $10 to $15.
The best way to experience the sound quality is to hear it yourself above. But, if you'd rather read my opinion... I could wax poetic about overtones and timbre, and other audiophile words that are thrown around far too often. Instead, I'll focus on the things most gamers will actually care about.
First, the ProCast is clear, very clear. It's the kind of microphone that will get comments in voice chat. I've been asked more than a few times if I'm "a streamer or something" when using good XLR mics, the ProCast included. There's an entirely different quality to the audio than even a good headset mic provides. It's more realistic, with none of that compressed, nasal sound that drives everyone nuts when they can't understand your voice chat callouts.
When the speaker or headphones you're being heard through are good enough, this difference really shines, providing that concrete sense of professionalism that drove the initial adoption of microphones like these to begin with.
While no microphone can eliminate all background noise, the cardioid capsule in the ProCast does very well. Whether it was mouse clicks, key switch clacks, or my dog eating his supper across the room, a little bit of repositioning and a partial twist of my interface's gain dial was all it ever took to make any unwanted ambient noise almost inaudible, all while I remained clear as a bell.
Obviously, this means the ProCast is far better than you could ever want for in-game chat, and more than good enough to please even the pickiest Twitch YouTube watcher. It could even stand toe-to-toe with podcasting mainstays like the Shure SM7B, especially if your listener's audio equipment isn't equally high-end. However, I wouldn't recommend this model for non-gamers, regardless of the quality, for the reasons we'll discuss below.
If you're unsure if the HyperX ProCast is right for you, I'd advise you to decide a few things.
First, do you really need this level of audio quality? If you don't stream or create content, the answer is probably not. There are headsets, like the Drop PC38X for example, that provide exceptional audio output and a microphone that's way better than you need for your FPS or MOBA chat of choice, all for less than this microphone costs. And that doesn't even include the price of a mount, interface, mixer, etc.
If you do stream, I would still recommend further consideration about whether this is the right mic for you. I believe this $250 price skews into the "gamer tax" territory. I've used a $100 XLR mic for many years that sounds very nearly as good as the HyperX ProCast (it's included in the Alternatives to consider section below, if you're interested). However, it's a very mundane, not-at-all "gamery" looking mic.
If looking good on stream matters as much as audio quality to you, the HyperX ProCast may be the one for you. But, if your mic will rarely, or never, be seen, I'd skip this model in favor of something cheaper.
HyperX's first foray into XLR mic's shows huge promise, and outperforms the expectations most buyers have for hardware marketed directly to gamers. But, to justify its price you really need it to be seen and recognized by viewers who will know what it is.
This is the XLR mic I've been using for years. It's affordable and compact, and even comes in a USB version if you don't want to deal with XLR. It's also less than half the cost of the ProCast at its regular price of $100, and frequently discounted from that.
One of the most enduring "starter" microphones. We love it at ZDNET and still use it in our video production because it's a great, easy-to-use, all-around pleasant-sounding mic that will be more than enough for all but the most serious content creators.