Looking for something special for your favorite keyboard warrior? Or maybe an upgrade for that gaming streamer or podcaster in your life? Well you've come to the right place. Check out this year's holiday gift guide for some of the latest and greatest that will make your gaming, streaming or podcasting world a much better place! There is everything from keyboards, to mics, to headphones and more.
EVOPlus microSD - $14.99 - $109.99
Samsung has always been the purveyor of the best in solid state memory storage and my go to choice for over 15 years. With their superior SD card technology, Samsung has been the only SD card that has never failed on me like some of their big competitors.
This season they have released the new EVO Select (teal), Plus (white) & Pro (blue) line of microSDXC cards ranging from $14.99 - $109.99 and in 64, 128, 256 and 512 gigabyte formats with significant jumps in read and write speeds from previous models, which translates to fast transfers, flawless 4K playback and non-stop gaming without lagging.
As I mentioned before, I've always had the best luck with Samsung SD cards and the newest release has now been rated to be EVERYTHING-proof, to guarantee that you do not lose any photographic/video memories or valuable saved game data.
Hurry over to the Samsung website for special discounts on this newly released line of microSDXC cards, which are currently not available on Amazon yet.
The NT-USB Mini (NTUM) is RØDE’s answer for anyone looking for a compact pro microphone that won’t take too much space on your gaming desktop or studio workspace, but still packs quite a punch for any Twitch stream, podcast or even live music session.
Measuring in at 5.58” (h) 2.15” (w) 3.52” (base diameter) and weighing in at 1 lb. and 5 ounces, this USB-C microphone is tiny but built like a mini tank. If you’re always on the go with your podcast/stream or you’re a fan of joining LAN party gaming sessions in your teammate’s basement, this is one of the best microphones when it comes to pro sound, portability and durability.
Right out of the box you can feel the build quality in the steel and reinforced nylon resin construction that screams minimalist sophistication. While other similarly priced USB microphones flaunt eye-catching RGB lighting, the NTUM sticks with keeping it low key with two tiny white led indicator dots on the front of the mic, specifying power and connection.
Also located on the front is the microphone volume wheel which doubles as an on/off switch, when pushed, for your connected headphones. Missing on this microphone is a physical mute button but that can easily be done with the RØDE Connect app or any app you’re using. A weighted magnetic steel base with a rubber grommet helps with easy connect and detachment and also dampens any table/desk vibrations. In the box you get the Mini and a generously long USB to USB-C cable.
The NTUM is a single directional cardioid polar pattern microphone that is designed to limit ambient noise and focus on delivering high quality sound for any and all uses whether it be a heated podcast debate about current affairs, an intense rage filled gaming stream or simply wanting to pick up your guitar and sing a song for uploading onto YouTube or TikTok. Studio quality 24bit 48khz analog to digital conversion delivers impressively low distortion and high dynamic range leaving you with professional quality recording for podcasters and singers, which means whatever you want to do, the NTUM is a champion in this world.
The NTUM comes with a solid built in pop filter which performs surprisingly well even at a 5-6 inch distance, but if you like your mic even closer you will need to mount it on an arm/stand like the PSA1+ (featured below) and definitely get an external pop filter for added pop-protection. As a cherry on top, the NTUM is equipped with an integrated studio quality headphone amplifier that ensures excellent in-ear playback with zero latency so you always know exactly what you sound like and what your viewers/listeners will hear.
RØDE has also released RØDE Connect software to maximize the use of multiple NT-USB mini mics as the software digitally mimics many of the amazing features that the RØDEcaster PRO offers.
If you're in the market for a microphone, the RØDE NT-USB mini delivers exceptional studio quality performance in many settings and is definitely worth the price.
Wireless GO II - $299.99 (on sale here)
Have you ever wished you could film a stream or podcast that had great mic performance without being tethered to long wires that curse any mobile content creator’s set up? Here to the rescue is the RØDE Wireless Go II (WGII) which packs a truckload of audio capture technology into the tiniest form factor that can fit in an Altoids tin.
With the WGII you get two (2) clip on transmitters (mics), one (1) dual channel receiver, three (3) furry windshield puffs, three (3) SC20 USB-C to USB-A cables, one (1) SC5 TRS to TRS memory cable and one (1) carrying pouch.
And with the opening of a box you are now able to mic up and go. Some of the key features that propel the WGII to greatness are dual channel wireless recording that will record two sources at the same time, Series IV 2.4GHz digital transmission with 128-bit encryption and up to 200 meters of clear reception as long as there are no obstructions, 40 hours of internal memory, 7 hours of battery life and the option to use 3.5mm lavalier mics which then convert the transmitters into mini recording packs.
The WGII continues to wow with its unbridled versatility in its ability to plug into virtually any device. With the right Android or iOS adapter cable, the WGII can be coupled with smartphones, tablets and laptops in addition to DSLR cameras or any cameras supporting 3.5mm TRS analog output. This is amazing news for content creators of all kinds who can finally be liberated from wired microphones, leaving them free to roam around their environment and still have crystal clear chat audio.
RØDE also offers two free apps like RØDE Central which allows you to configure the WGII, unlock advanced features, transfer records and install firmware updates when released.
The second app is RØDE Connect which is a podcasting and streaming software solution that makes it easy to record and stream from your computer. It can even bridge another WGII set to record four sources simultaneously, with a user interface inspired by the legendary RØDEcaster PRO featured below.
If you're looking to untether yourself from your desk mounted microphone or free yourself from long cables and confusing set ups then look no further, the Wireless Go II has you covered.
RØDE offers a one-of-a-kind piece of podcasting and streaming awesomeness, by way of a thoughtfully engineered production studio crammed into a small 13.8” x 10.83” x 3.23” console designed to take any podcast or gaming stream to a stratospheric level. Introducing the RØDEcaster PRO (RCP) an integrated podcast/stream production console with legendary processing from Aphex. This is hands down the most powerful all-in-one tool that you will ever need for any Twitch stream or podcast.
The RCP comes equipped with four (4) studio grade XLR microphone inputs, four (4) dedicated headphone outputs, eight (8) programmable sound pads, onboard audio processing and onboard recording with the ability to record directly to microSD. Additional connections include smartphone, USB and Bluetooth channels which allow remote call integration. Did I mention that the sound pad can be programmed with up to 64 sounds total (8 sounds per pad)? But wait, there's more...the onboard audio processor includes Aphex’s legendary “Aural Exciter” and “Big Bottom” effects just for good measure. There is, hands down, nothing else out there that comes close to the production power or the portability that the RCP offers and delivers!
Never have I ever seen a stand alone Frankenstein-esque piece of equipment like the RCP. Right out of the box what sits before you is a mixer, sampler, soundboard, DSP, sound effects processor and multitracker with a built in microSD recorder that can run on it's own without being tethered to a computer. And with the help of the RØDE DC-USB1 power adapter and a PD rated USB power bank, the RCP becomes a mobile monster. This means you can set up a professional podcast, Twitch stream or an acoustic music session ANYWHERE in the world!!! The possibilities are limitless. Oh did I mention that this can all fit in your carry on bag or backpack?
Outside of the amazing portability of the RCP, it can also be connected to your computer (Mac or PC) and transform into an audio interface. While connected to your computer you can customize the soundboard pads which allows the RCP to deliver sound bytes of your choice, whether it be stadium applause every time you dominate a round of Warzone or laughter from a studio audience every time your teammates fail. But who needs a computer? The RCP can sample sounds on the fly directly and make them available for replay on the soundboard.
I will say this, if you have a loved one who is an avid Twitch streamer or someone dabbling in the world of podcasting or maybe you're interested in exploring these worlds yourself, the RØDEcaster PRO is a Ferrari-Lamborghini in the audio recording realm and it gets my highest recommendation. Yes $599.99 is a big kick in the bank account nuts but with the amount of production value this single unit brings versus the multiple pieces of equipment you would have to buy to match it, the value and features far outweigh the price.
With every great microphone there must be a great stand. RØDE has delivered such a stand/arm with the new PSA1+. I can honestly say that over the years I have purchased many scissor style stands to help with lighting, microphones and filming and each time I’m always stuck with sub-par performance from no-name Amazon specials. I guess it’s true what they say… “you get what you pay for”...
Similar to the older PSA1, the PSA1+ is a rugged scissor stand that is designed and tuned to carry a heavy microphone and hold it wherever you direct it, without fail. The only downside is the PSA1+ will not work with lighter microphones and will just fully extend.
Upgrades include neoprene covers over the arms, protecting anyone from pinching, cord management nubs to keep your cables wrangled, a 3/8 to 5/8 adaptor and a threaded desk mount with easy to install directions.
The PSA1+ comes with two mounts, a desk clamp and a threaded mount (installation necessary). Both are dressed with rubber accents for vibration dampening and both deliver excellent secure mounting solutions for this professional stand. I work on a wire rack workspace so with a couple of strategically placed squares of wood, my PSA1+ is secured and ready for use.
If you have a mic and need a stand, don't make the mistake of wasting money on misleading "Amazon's Choice" recommendations, instead, give the PSA1+ a try and invest in a stand that will stand the test of time.
Turtle Beach has landed on the virtual battle grounds with another excellent and affordable headset to confidently keep you in the video game fight. Introducing the Recon 500 (R500), in black and Arctic Camo, debuting with features that make this an excellent weapon of choice.
The R500 is equipped with an industry-first 60mm Eclipse Dual Drivers which are engineered with separate chambers that individually control low and high frequencies to essentially fine tune grenade explosions, crouching footsteps and teammate chat, considerably better than standard 50mm drivers. The larger 60mm drivers also deliver a much larger soundstage with richer bass and separated crispy highs, all in a very affordable gaming headset. Also complimenting these revolutionary drivers are precision engineered earcups injected with AccuTune wood composite to further complete acoustic enhancements to deliver the best in all kinds of audio.
While playing Doom Eternal, the R500's did a convincingly amazing job at recreating burning buildings with intricately detailed crackles and pops. Zombies started to sound more real and close in proximity which caused me to flinch and jump throughout my 3 hour session. Rifle blasts, grenade explosions and the simple act of running and jumping played back in rich deep sounds which is one of many reasons why this headset shines! For this I have to salute the R500 for delivering a fun gaming experience that I wasn't expecting.
Another gold star on the R500 list is the large memory foam cushions wrapped in soft moisture wicking fabric that can sit on your ears for 3+ hours and never cause any ear lobe pain.
The R500's 3.5mm braided cable also grants cross platform compatibility to anything that it can plug into, which means you only need one headset for them all. You can even plug this into your mixer for a mixtape session.
If you're in the market for a new headset but don't have a lot of cash, give the Recon 500 a run. You will be surprised by the epic audio and shocked by the low price.
Recon Controller (Xbox & PC) - $59.99
Turtle Beach has released the Recon Controller (RC) which not only gives you a competitive edge in Xbox/PC control and accuracy but also offers on-the-fly audio controls easily adjustable in a moment’s notice.
Ergonomically designed along the lines of the standard Xbox controller, the RC definitely comes jam packed with so many features that make it a standalone controller beast. Sure, the ultimate in game control is keyboard and mouse, but I grew up with consoles so I’m at my best when I have a controller in hand. First off, the RC is excellent in the hands with vibration feedback, perfect shape and lightweight translating to little to no hand fatigue. Next is the intuitive Advance Audio control panel located at the top of the RC which offer volume and chat rocker switches, SuperHuman Hearing button, EQ presets (default signature sound, bass boost, bass & treble boost and vocal boost), button mapping setting, mute and Pro-Aim, which fine tunes thumbstick sensitivity for enhanced long range accuracy.
One gripe I’ve always had with wired headsets is the inability to accurately hear yourself speaking to your teammates, aka "mic-monitoring," a premium feature usually found in higher priced headsets. The Recon 500 headset above, does not have this feature but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the RC easily fixed this by plugging in. Yes, mic-monitoring can be had without breaking the bank.
Along with solid ergonomics, the RC also has fine tuned details like stippled R1&2/L1&2 triggers, stippled programmable rear quick-action buttons, ribbed edges on the tacky thumb sticks that keep your thumbs on even when sweaty, a tactile core styled D-pad that is a dream to use and triangular pattern vented palm grips to keep the airflow going and the grip in your hands.
With so much attention to detail directly close to any gamer's heart, the RC definitely executes and delivers on so many levels and at a very affordable price. My only wishes would be a wireless version with RGB lighting and a PS5 version.
Torch - $99.99 (on sale here)
Roccat released their first microphone this year and packed a bunch of one-of-a-kind features in an original design that has drawn the attention of many gaming enthusiasts. Introducing the Roccat Torch.
Roccat wowed consumers with the release of the first streaming mic with a built in mixer on the base. Equipped with three control settings, the first knob controls the power and pickup patterns of which the Torch has three. Next is the volume knob which doubles as a push button mute, with the third control being a slider for the gain. This baseplate mixer design is actually quite interesting in that by removing all controls off of the mic, you are able to reduce handling noise drastically. I just wish the base was heavier and made of metal.
It doesn't stop there with the "firsts" as the Torch also has a very unique no-touch air button for the mute. This feature solves the common "thud" noise problem that usually accompanies any button pushing, knob turning or slight touching.
The Torch is also unique in that it offers three pickup patterns with one being another industry "first." First off we have cardioid, which focuses on picking up sound directly in front of the microphone. There is stereo, which is good if you plan on using your mic for music, as it picks up everything in the surrounding area and the third is a very cool whisper mode which allows you to whisper into your mic, but automatically increases the gain so your listeners and/or teammates can hear you loud and clear.
The build quality on the Torch is excellent and even though the base and outlining frame of the mic are made of plastic, you still can't deny that this is a quality microphone. Internally the Torch flaunts a dual condenser design, 24-Bit audio and up to 48kHz sampling, which is top notch for streaming and podcasting purposes.
RGB lighting is now controlled by the new NEON app but on the Torch the only customizable LED is the center logo which is pretty useless. The other internal LEDs light up in connection with the pickup pattern that you've chosen. A cool feature is the side LEDs turn up and down in sync with the gain slider so you always have a visual of where your gain is set. The last LED action comes by pressing the mute button which will turn the Torch red. I honestly don't know why they didn't make all of the LEDs customizable. Also the NEON app does nothing for the Torch, for now, except turn off AIMO. As the new generation of Roccat peripherals roll out, NEON will have more items in its ecosystem and maybe one day they will reach the greatness that is the Swarm ecosystem.
With so many "industry first" innovations it's easy to see how bright the Torch burns in the microphone market. So if you're looking for one of the most innovative USB microphones made in the last few years, make sure to grab a Torch.
With a tsunami of mechanical keyboards saturating the gaming market, Roccat went a different direction and released the Magma, a membrane keyboard with a softer click disposition and a unique AIMO RGB layout.
Almost immediately, I fell in love with the Roccat Magma keyboard. While I do love mechanical keyboards when I’m PC gaming, I do find them a bit too loud and unwieldy when I’m writing an article related to gaming. Not sure if Roccat was already being asked for this from other sources but I honestly feel this membrane keyboard was made for me. I love how the river of LED lights under the keys, give off a vibe of keycaps floating on a RGB lava flow.
The Magma delivers increased typing speed and silence with the help of high quality rubber dome keys that are responsive and definitely my preference for any work related projects. Also embedded into this keyboard is advanced anti-ghosting technology which ensures key strokes on heavily used keys all register, even in the heat of a key stroke intensive battle.
The Magma also boasts a low maintenance design that keeps dust, moisture and dirt out by sandwich sealing a high grade membrane layer, translucent top plate and a precision engineered circuit board together.
And we cannot forget Roccat's awesome AIMO LED ecosystem that allows all compatible AIMO devices to illuminate in RGB synchronicity.
If you know a workaholic that likes to dabble in gaming or someone interested in an all-around great keyboard at a ridiculously low price... the Magma is a solid pick.
Kone Pro Air - $129.99 (on sale here)
After last year's release of the Burst Pro mouse, I honestly didn't think I would ever need or want another mouse. Then Roccat had to go and drop the Kone Pro Air (KPA) and now feel myself wanting.
As soon as you take the KPA out of the box you are greeted with a tested and trued ergonomic shape that immediately greets your hand with comfort like your favorite pair of shoes. Then you realize that the KPA is light, weighing in at only 72 grams, which is impressive for a wireless mouse, considering that the wired Burst Pro is only 4 grams lighter at 68 grams.
To add more icing to this cake, the KPA is equipped with heat-treated pure PTFE glides that quickly make you realize that this wireless beast is gives you one hell of an advantage over anyone that comes to battle.
The hits don't stop there as the KPA is blessed with the world-leading Owl-Eye 19K DPI optical sensor, 100 million click rated Titan Switch Optical buttons and the milled all aluminum Titan Wheel Pro, which I found to be very nice in real world use.
Battery life is also impressive with up to 100+ hours and a 5 hour gain after a 10 min rapid charge feature, which doesn't matter since you can choose to turn off wireless and hardwire in with the PhantomFlex cable.
I'm telling you this is an awesome mouse! So this year if you or your loved one is on the hunt for a mouse, than this is the one you should trap.
Syn Pro Air - $149.99 (on sale here)
If you caught last year's guide, you'll remember the Roccat ELO 7.1 which was a wireless PC headset with amazing audio clarity and rich deep bass. Roccat has recently released the Syn Pro Air (SPA) to fill that seat and it's a sight to see.
First off is the debut of the new headband with vertical piston like arms that hold newly designed earcups that are decked out in translucent frosted honeycomb covers and only reveal a triangle sliver of RGB lighting.
Another thing that is immediately apparent is that the SPA is not an aggressively styled gaming headset but instead a stylishly designed headphone, breaking it out of the "gaming use only" mold. Roccat seems to drive this "not for gaming use only" point home by having a removable mic and a rubber plug to cover up the unsightly hole. I have already used the SPA in many situations, and more recently on a stroll to my local Whole Foods to pick up a cold brew coffee.
Some of the stand out features accompanying the SPA's fresh new look are borrowed from parent company, Turtle Beach, which include TruSpeak noise-canceling mic, Superhuman Hearing and my favorite, ProSpecs ear cushion memory foams. TruSpeak tech is excellent for providing crystal clear chat without picking up all of the ambient noise in your room. Superhuman Hearing, when activated, drops out a lot of the bass and accentuates the mids and highs to assist in audibly pinpointing where your enemies might be. ProSpecs is the greatest invention that creates tiny indentations in ear cushions so eyeglasses won't jam into your temples for hours! The most exciting feature is the Immersive 3D Audio that envelops you into a surround sound environment, which can be activated by the new Roccat NEON app.
AIMO Lighting is always a welcome feature although the SPA's AIMO system is only compatible with NEON systems. Swarm LED systems will not co-mingle. And lastly, you can't knock the gratuitously long 24 hour battery life with rapid charge technology that restores 5 hours of battery life after only 15 minutes of charging.
If you're looking for a gaming headset that delivers the top tier goods and can stylishly quick change into a headphone for the gym or walks through the city, then the Syn Pro Air is the headset for you.
Razer has been going full steam since our last guide and this year they've dropped many feature packed goodies in their more affordable "Razer X" sub-line, which means we all win!
Kaira X - $59.99
Razer has dropped the Kaira X (KX) at a very affordable price and it is marvelous. As a non-powered 3.5mm cross-platform ready headset, these lightweight masterpieces do not miss a beat in the heat of any gaming session.
As part of the lower priced "X" line, the KX surprisingly delivers big returns. One of those big returns are the TriForce 50mm drivers, which can be found on pricier Razer headsets and should be the driving force for anyone to press "buy" on a new pair of KX's. TriForce drivers were released in 2020 and are able to focus on bass, mids and highs separately which translates to clarity in all frequencies and richer fuller sound.
The lightweight all plastic headband, has me a little skeptical about build longevity but being so cheap it would be painless to buy a new replacement pair when they break. Large and generous memory foam cushions really make long hours of game play, enjoyable and pain free. Volume is controlled by an easy to locate jog wheel with mute switch on the left ear cup.
Mic performance is crystal clear thanks to the HyperClear cardioid mic, which focuses on audio from your mouth and not the ambient noise in the room you're gaming in. Also standard on the KX is a sponge pop filter which drastically reduces any mic-popping that can occur when the mic's too close to your mouth.
If you’re looking for a no nonsense high performing headset with top tier features but at an entry level price, then the Kaira X should be in your sights.
BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed - $179.99 (on sale here)
Earlier this year Razer dropped the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed (BWV3) with aluminum construction, tiny footprint and yellow switches and it has proven to be a performing beast that drops the hammer in the 65% keyboard market.
I was both excited and a little skeptical about a wireless gaming keyboard with my excitement being for the obvious, less cables, less clutter and more room to move on my mouse pad, but with wireless comes the issues of latency and random dropouts from signal loss or battery depletion, which can be stat-destroying if you're down to being 1 of 2 teams left in a Battle Royale.
I was quickly relieved to find that the BWV3 can run via Bluetooth, 2.4 Ghz dongle or wired up with its supplied USB-C cable. Battery life is rated at 200 hours, give or take, so this means you never have to worry about running out of juice. Along with legendary wireless performance, Razer also offers HyperSpeed multi-device support, which means you can pair up to 3 Razer supported devices on one USB dongle.
Another unseen feature are Razer's Yellow Switches with silicon dampeners that are designed to execute at lightning fast speeds while drastically reducing the clicky sounds that mechanical keyboards are infamous for. This is an excellent option for the Twitch streamers, hoping to limit their ambient noises during their live streams. Also with keystroke lifespan rated at 80 million strokes, the BWV3 is destined to survive through years of avid gameplay.
The BWV3 is also blessed with Razer's Chroma RGB system which is customizable to the tune of 16.8 million color options and can be accessed via the downloadable Razer Synapse app.
True to their motto and cleverly embossed on the bottom of the BWV3, Razer continues to be "For Gamers, By Gamers."
Razer has released the Opus X (OX) which is a more affordable version of its flagship sibling the Opus, in three flavors (Mercury, Quartz and Razer Green) making it a perfect versatile headset for anyone interested in listening to music and the occasional mobile game session.
Blessed with Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), the OX does a fine job in filtering out the outside world and secluding you in a world of what you intended on listening to. In my real world use, the OX's ANC didn't totally block out the screaming sirens of the fire engine passing by, but it did a good enough job with other street side noises. Razer has also included "Quick Attention Mode" that can be activated with the push of the power button. Once activated instead of noise canceling, the external mics power up the ambient sound giving you the power to hear everything going on around you. This is an amazing feature that feels like you took off your headphones to hear what's going on.
Another exciting feature is 5.0 Bluetooth which establishes a rock solid reliable connection with your source device and the OX. Have you ever watched a YouTube video and the lips weren't in sync? 5.0 Bluetooth drastically reduces that issue. If you're in need of a better connection for gaming, a 5 second push of the multi-button (in between the volume buttons), activates OX's "Active Gaming Mode" which gives you better wireless performance by way of its 60ms low latency connection, keeping your gaming audio in sync.
With custom tuned 40mm drivers the OX delivers a well balanced audio sound stage that can easily be tweaked to your preference with the Razer app, which is also how you can update your OX once new updates are released.
At only $99.99 the Opus X is truly a great stocking stuffer for the mobile gamer in your life.
After much fanfare over the Seirēn X, Razer has released its successor, the Seirēn V2 X (SV2X), sporting a tinier body but still packing a big punch.
Geared for the gaming streamer in mind, the SV2X is a powerhouse in a tiny package with a whopping 25mm condenser microphone at the helm and a supercardioid pickup pattern which has been fine tuned to be tighter than standard cardioid patterns. This translates to clearer and more focused audio reproductions from anyone speaking directly in front of the SV2X without picking up as much ambient noise.
The SV2X is ready to go right out of the box with pre-programming to automatically prevent clipping and peaking, making all of your streams a snap. Additionally, the SV2X comes with a built in shock absorber designed to withstand and dampen any light bumps, taps and knocks
Mic-monitoring can be achieved by plugging a headset into the back of the SV2X, which keeps you informed of how you sound and what your listeners are hearing. Gain and mute controls are located at the front of the SV2X granting easy access.
To further help with your productivity, Razer offers their Synapse app which grants you access to the Stream Mixer to handle all of your microphone mixing needs.
Razer has created another high performing microphone that is small enough to fit in a pocket and doesn't require anything to begin capturing high quality audio. If you're interested in a streaming microphone but aren't tech savvy or you just don't have the time to learn new software, then the Seirēn V2 X is for you.
Razer recently released the Kiyo X as an entry level webcam built for beginning streamers and works right out of the box with compatibility across various streaming platforms.
The Kiyo X is a compact and very portable no nonsense plug and play webcam that can shoot 1080p HD video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps with auto focus or manual focus. The Kiyo X is also equipped with a collapsible mount that can be mounted on a screen, made to sit on a table and can even be mounted on a tripod.
To make the streaming task easy, the Kiyo X also has various image presets and can allow you to create a preset profile that caters to your skin tone, through the Razer Synapse 3 app. By using this app, you can control many settings like brightness, contrast, saturation and white balance, which are necessary to get the right color and look for your shooting environment.
If you're in the market for a webcam and you can't afford a decent camera, then the Kiyo X may be an option until you can upgrade to an actual camera with adjustable settings.
So you have a mic, a pro camera, a computer and all the RGB in the world, but how do you start streaming? Introducing the Razer Ripsaw X (RX) capture card, the essential key to unleashing your stream to the world.
The RX is a tiny plug-and-play powerhouse that can turn any camera with an HDMI input (ie: GoPro, DSLR) into a powerful web streaming cam with ultra low latency that can stream 1080p@60fps or up to 4K@30fps.
RX is also compatible with popular streaming software like Streamlabs and OBS which give you the freedom to easily adjust video resolution and tweak frame rates to upgrade your streams to the highest level.
This holiday season treat yourself to 4K streaming power that is as easy to setup as snapping your fingers and can fit in your shirt pocket.
QuadCast S RGB microphone - $159.99
HyperX has released the flagship QuadCast S (QCS) in their growing line up of microphones to tackle any and all of your gaming, Twitch streaming, podcasting and Zoom calling needs.
The QCS stands tall with its sophisticated engineered design on a weighted hinged pedestal that allows it to be positioned straight up or at a 45 degree angle. Included with the QCS is an arm adapter in case you'd like to mount this onto a scissor arm stand so it can be closer to your mouth. Another vibrant new feature is the RGB shining from the center of the mic which can be customized using HyperX's Ngenuity software.
Out of all the microphones we have in this guide, the QCS is the only one that offers four pickup patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo), which give you a variety of options for any stream, podcast or even music session. Our go to is always cardioid but the stereo pattern is a good option when you're in a group setting. Overall, the cardioid pattern delivers crispy clarity and is excellent in vocal reproduction.
The selector knob is located behind the mic, above the USB-C and live feed 3.5mm ports. Mute is activated by a soft touch button located at the top of the microphone and only requires a light touch but we found that by doing so, you did get a bit of a handling noise in the recording.
Gain control is located at the bottom of the mic with a soft spin knob slightly smaller than the diameter of the microphone, which gives the QCS a refined fit and finish. Another feature that the QCS has over the rest of the microphones featured in this guide is an intricately engineered suspension system composed of braided rubber straps stitched into the framework to help with bumps and vibrations that can translate to loud booms to any listeners. Personally, I love the look and the QCS wins points on its design.
The QCS has a built-in pop filter over the glowing center and though we found that it did a good job from a 7-10 inch distance, we highly recommend an external pop filter for added protection, especially if you like to keep your mic close to your mouth. Here's a great one under $10.00 on Amazon (purchase here).
All in all the QCS build quality and microphone performance delivers excellent results that will please any podcaster or streamer. I personally found the QCS to be at perfectly at home on my desk with my many other RGB drenched devices and peripherals.
Cloud Flight Wireless - $139.99
HyperX has released the Cloud Flight Wireless (CFW) for all platforms (except Switch) at an affordable price range with nothing but premium features.
First and foremost, the fit and comfortability is a key seller on these headsets with their metal frame and excellent leatherette wrapped memory foam ear cushions that hug your ears allowing you to play for hours without any ear fatigue or pain.
Having a bad mic in gaming is like walking into high school with fake 4-stripe Adidas on. It’s the worst self sabotaging thing you can do. You don't have to worry about that with the CFW as it comes equipped with a premium plug-in bi-directional noise canceling mic that delivers crisp and clear vocals and also can help to eliminate any ambient noise, like the fan you have going because you're in California during winter and there's another heatwave.
Equipped with 50mm neodymium drivers, the CFW is a solid performer delivering rich sound with an excellent balance between highs, mids and lows. Also located on the earcups are LED logos that have three settings, on/off and breathing.
One thing I love about HyperX wireless headsets is they never seem to run out of power. Like the Energizer Bunny they just keep going and going and the CFW will keep going for up to 30 hours, which is impressive.
One last thing is the CFW delivers the goods when it comes to Bluetooth range. I have reviewed and demoed MANY wireless headsets and these are the first pair that haven't dropped connection with my PS5 throughout my apartment. Now that I have these long range beauties, I'll be able to happily leave the game but continue the conversation as I grab a beer, make a snack, play with my kitties and join back like nothing ever happened lol. Thanks HyperX!
This holiday if you feel like splurging on a top notch pair of wireless headsets with enormous Bluetooth range and ridiculously long battery life, the Cloud Flight Wireless is the way to go.
In a world where professional gaming mice are fine tuned precision machines, you absolutely need a mousepad that can keep up and compliment such a device. HyperX just released the Pulsefire Mat XL RGB Gaming Mousepad (PMXL) and it is an epic addition to any gaming desktop.
Measuring in at 35.4 x 15.2 inches, the PMXL is huge and covers a lot a real estate ensuring that no mouse will fall off the edge in the heat of battle.
With its densely woven cloth, designed specifically to offer precision tracking for any gaming mouse, the PMXL sits on top of a thick anti-slip rubber base that keeps the pad flat without any ripples or lifted edges. On-board memory and a built-in touch sensor gives you the power to cycle through up to three RGB profiles without the use of a computer.
Perfect for the Twitch streamer that likes to change up their RGB styles on the fly and also a perfect stocking stuffer for any gamer, pro or beginner.
Quantum 800 wireless headset - $199.99 (on sale here)
If you ever went to a warehouse rave or party, chances are your day or night was thunderously powered by the excellent sounds of JBL. This holiday season, check out the JBL Quantum 800 (Q800) wireless headset for your gaming pleasure.
Coming in hot with amplified 50mm drivers for all platforms, the Q800 is equipped with customizable LEDs circling each earcup which are generously dressed in leatherette wrapped memory foam cushions making them a pleasure to wear for hours of gameplay, considering that this headset does have a bit of weight.
The Q800 out of the box sounds mediocre, but that all changes once you connect to via computer using the JBL QuantumENGINE software which gives you the ability to activate JBL QuantumSURROUND, DTS headphone:X v2.0 and access EQ settings so you can fine tune your audio experience. LED lighting is also controlled by the same software which allows you to customize your RGB flair.
The Q800 is also the first headset that I have ever reviewed that was certified "Hi-Res Audio," which is kind of a big deal that definitely earns JBL some serious bragging rights regarding the Q800's audio playback quality.
One of the most unique features in the Quantum 800 is active noise cancelation (ANC), which is a feature usually found on higher end headsets/headphones and are a godsend when you’re blasting your favorite beats at the gym or walking through the city, so to find them as a push button feature on a gaming rig is impressive. PC gamers with multi 120mm cooling fans will appreciate the filtering of their room's ambient noises, leaving them only to the sounds of their game at hand. Sometimes it’s not a blowing fan but a screaming roommate or an angry significant other in the background causing a commotion and killing your concentation. With just a click of the dedicated ANC button, all noises are drastically reduced leaving you to less distracting sounds. Sorry the Q800 will not be able to fix your relationship, maybe it's time to put the controller down for a while, lol.
The microphone is activated when pulled down or positioned in the middle and will mute when flipped up. Mic performance, in my experience, is solid. During the many nights I played with my teammates and some randoms, all of them confirmed that mic clarity was really good and also inquired about what headset I was using. One cool little Easter egg is the power button, which plays an upward guitar strum when turned on and a downward strum to indicate “off.” The same switch activates Bluetooth pairing. Battery life is mediocre depending on what you have activated on the headset. I had my RGB LEDs dancing on my ears and mic-monitoring on so my battery performance was ok.
With my own personal experience, the Quantum 800s are a hell of a headset. Once you get all of the special features dialed in and unlocked, it's hard not to always reach for these first. I love the Quantum 800… yes they are pricey but they are DEFINITELY WORTH it. Presently they are on sale so GET A PAIR ASAP.
One of the most important things in life, outside of raving, gaming and food, is SLEEP. OneClock just released one of the most unique devices to shake up the otherwise standardized and boring world of clocks.
No, OneClock is not an “alarm clock,” instead it is a Swiss engineered analog timepiece dressed up in a gorgeous white oak, glass and aluminum shell. Coupled with its analog design, is a sophisticated internal “wake up” sound system, that randomly chooses one out of seven songs and remixes it to gently wake a sleeping soul. There is no way to pick and choose what plays next as a measure to combat "alarm fatigue." Instead you get a different composition, currently orchestrated by Jon Natchez, daily, to welcome you into a new and beautiful morning. OneClock owners will be notified when new compositions become available and can easily be swapped out by plugging the cable into a computer.
Why OneClock? To be honest, after many hours of heavy gaming filled with bomb blasts, bullets whizzing by your head and too many toxic idiots, when it’s time for bed, sleep is your savior and escape from all of the stress that life and gaming brings.
It has been scientifically proven that waking up to an alarmingly loud series of beeps actually spikes your heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and stress levels, which can often lead to “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” syndrome and more importantly can cause damaging health issues as you get older.
Imagine waking up to a beautifully soothing track of music, specifically composed and curated to naturally wake you with waves of sweet song versus a clanging repetitive clash of noise noise noise. Personally, I have loved waking up to the birds chirping outside of our window, so OneClock is most definitely a welcomed change to my nuclear bomb blast alarms that my phone screams out every morning Mon - Fri.
Another positive to having OneClock as your bedroom wake specialist is OneClock does not have any “always on” lighting or Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to disrupt your sleep with invisible waves. Just a dead silent clock, a touch activated warm night light and the most beautiful music to soft-start you towards a productive new day.
This holiday, instead of relying on your phone or a basic alarm clock, give the OneClock a try and wake up in a sweetly refreshing way...because life’s too short to be plagued with BEEP BEEP's as the first thing you hear when you wake up.
THE BEAM VAPE
Ever since marijuana became legal for recreational use in California, the weed world has opened up a stratosphere of new and exotic strains to address any and everything your heart desires as well as a myriad of tools to enjoy these new and exciting strains.
If you live for online multiplayer gaming, there's nothing worse than playing with potheads that cough throughout the whole session. I get it, give me a good sativa strain and I'm hell on wheels in any game, but come on with the ear blowing coughing. Hmm, I wish there were a way to get high and not have to cough a lung out each time...Here to save the day is The Beam, the weed industry’s first and only handheld portable laser vape! Yes you heard that right.
The Beam is quite honestly, AMAZING! Right out of the box you're greeted with a solidly built system made out of metal, a swivel top mouth piece and a large action button to get the vaping started. Ignition of your concentrates comes by way of a class 1 laser that fires a blue stream illuminating the green window chamber where you can actually see the pure untainted vapor that is ready for inhalation. This compact, good in the hands vape is also assembled just up north in Petaluma, California.
This is hands down the smoothest and possibly the safest way to vape any crumble, budder, shatter, wax, rosin or thick honey because it's all flavor and clean vapor without the harmful toxins or burned flavors that come from off gassing molten metal coils and burnt cotton wicks. Although the jury is still out on how dangerous coil & wick systems can be, personally, I'm all for cutting out any questionable incendiary systems and going straight to the laser beam.
There will be a ritual that you will need to adopt when you reload, which should also include regular cleaning of the laser core and lens, but, for me, that's part of the fun. Hot tip: if you're wanting the least amount of steps towards getting your high on, stick with a thick honey or live rosin as those will be the fastest to load and use. My recommendation is to follow the company's suggested concentrates. I went with the Jetty Extracts Dablicator Unrefined Live Resins.
So if you have a gamer in your life that loves to hit the weed pipe...maybe it's time to give the gift of lasers...because there's nothing more perfect than laser Beam vaping some of that Ewok Hybrid live resin while re-watching the Return of the Jedi...May The Beam be with you.
When you need a break from zombie hordes attacking and devouring your flesh, or you need to take the edge off before you begin a marathon stream session, what do you do? This holiday season, reach for the PARTY CAN! If you are 21 and over, this is the premixed adult elixir to give the body that sought after buzz.
At present, Party Can comes in three delicious flavors from the distinguished Gold Rush Old Fashioned, poolside Passion Fruit Cosmicpolitan and party party party Triple Spice Margarita. Each can is filled with the freshest ingredients, premium top shelf liquors and will pour 12 five ounce cocktails. Now you won’t have to spend time measuring out the right amounts to make the perfect drink, all you need to do is shake, pour over ice and voila!
First of our favorites is the Gold Rush Old Fashioned (SRP: $33.99/each @ 1.75 L/each): Made with real Kentucky bourbon, fresh lemon juice, natural herbs, bitters and black and chamomile tea. The smooth smokiness complimented by the citrus and herbs really tickled our taste buds.
Second favorite is the Passion Fruit Cosmicpolitan (SRP: $33.99/each @ 1.75 L/each): Made with vodka, combier liqueur d’orange, passion fruit and lime juices. This perfectly sweet cocktail took us back to the poolside parties of Coachella where music was king and cocktails, the queen.
Last but not least, the Triple Spiced Margarita (SRP: $29.99/each @ 1.75 L/each): Made with 100% blue weber agave tequila, fresh lime juice, premium orange liqueur, and subtle spices from real ginger, cinnamon and chili pepper. This party favorite was delicious and had me reminiscing about the many nights at Don Cuco in Burbank.
This holiday season, instead of walking into any holiday party with a boring bottle of Pinot Grigio, try cracking open a Party Can and see how much better the night gets.
How many of you gamers have kids and want to start them off right (in the world of gaming)? I’m excited to feature one of the most amazing STEM learning DIY devices that I wish I had as a child.
From the innovative DIY company Circuitmess, here comes the Nibble, a build it yourself handheld gaming console that your child or even a learning adult can build from scratch!
When I was a child growing up in the barrios of East Hollywood, I didn’t have that many friends to play with. My life was filled with building my own toys out of old cereal boxes or deconstructing the various electronics that we had in the house. Think of this as Lego on ELECTRONIC CRACK. Sprinkle in some light soldering skills for resistors, capacitors and CPUs to circuit boards and voila, your child will be assembling their own Gameboy style creation.
Not only can your child experience the basics of circuit board crafting but they will also learn basic programming and can even go further with programming this little homemade gaming handheld.
The Nibble is an amazing way to cultivate creativity, curiosity and analytical skills that could possibly shape your child to be come the next Susan Wojcicki, Elon Musk or Bill Gates.
Circuitmess has also released Spencer, the digital voice assistant that your child can build from scratch, program and actually talk to.
Spencer is an adorable robot voice assistant that loves to tell jokes and use his LED display to show his various expressions and animations. Rated for ages 11 and higher, Spencer is an excellent way to spark your child’s interest in the world of engineering and software programming.
Once tethered to a computer, Spencer comes to life and actually can hear you with his built in microphone. Ask him simple questions like “can you sing me a song” or ask him to tell a joke. Even after the build, Spencer is ready to be programmed for a variety of simple functions like telling you about the weather in your area. Your child can learn the world of computer programming with simple easy to learn features using the Circuit Blocks code editing software.
What better way to spark your child’s curiosity and to possibly start them on a path to crushing it in engineering and computer programming.
And there it is, one of our largest and most comprehensive guides featuring the best to keep you in the game and crystal clear on your streams. As we say farewell to another year plagued with Covid, we at Magnetic want to wish you all a very safe, healthy and joyous holiday! Now fire up your RGB lighting, grab your headset and let’s get down to gaming business!