Something I’ve been wanting to add to my gaming setup is a standalone microphone.
This comes with its own degree of challenges because the microphone I’d like, doesn’t exactly plug into a USB port meaning I’d have to spend a bit of money on a small mixing desk or XLR-to-USB converter to get my setup the way I want it.
Of course there are microphones which do connect to a PC using USB specifically for streamers so when the Volkano Pro USB Microphone came up for review I jumped at the chance.
Could this microphone be the golden mic I’d been looking for? The short answer is no.
What do you get?
The Volkano bills itself has being dual purpose. That is to say it has both a cardioid and omnidirectional mode. A turn of the hefty dial on the front of the mic switches between the two modes with green representing the omnidirectional option and blue the cardioid option.
And that is where the first problem arises.
A cardioid mic is primed for input from a single direction, such as the microphone your favourite musician uses to sing to thousands without picking up the noise of the crowd too much.
An omnidirectional microphone can be used in something like a podcast where you might want to have more than one person speaking into a microphone but can’t afford more than one mic.
The trouble with the Volkano is that the sound quality from either application is woeful compared to a headset with an included cardioid microphone.
The lack of low-end is immediately apparent when in cardioid mode but switch to omnidirectional mode and you have quite a lot more bass. We’re also able to pick up far more background noise than we’d hoped to when using the cardioid mode.
It’s also appears as if Volkano is simply boosting the volume of the microphone in omnidirectional mode. The sound quality does change (though not for the better) so we’re inclined to believe that there are two receivers in the Volkano but sadly, neither are very good.
The audio test below contains voice samples recorded on the Corsair Void Pro headset as well as the Volkano’s cardioid and omnidirectional options. Note, we did not boost either microphone and the output level was set at 95 percent.
Technically speaking, the frequency response sits at 20Hz – 20kHz which is what you would expect from a microphone designed for human ears. The maximum impedance of the mic is 128dB which is as loud as a human can scream and in line with other cardioid microphones although those can capture noises quite a bit louder.
The microphone sports a USB Type C port as well as a 3.5mm jack for monitoring purposes.
There is also a volume controller on the microphone. The trouble with this knob is that it switches your computer’s audio output the moment you move it. This feature, cut our audio during a PvP match in Destiny 2 because we accidentally touched it.
We’ve searched up and down the internet looking for drivers for this microphone and have found nothing so there’s no way to avoid this from happening to you during your stream aside from making the microphone your primary output and plugging your headphones or speakers into it. For us this meant having cables move from behind our desk to the front and it’s not ideal.
At R1 299, this Volkano microphone is pricey. Sure, it’s not a lot compared to some microphones you can buy but in terms of gear for your stream, you can do better.
For a streamer that is starting out, this microphone might make a degree of sense if you absolutely cannot use a headset. That having been said, if you’re just starting out, perhaps you shouldn’t be throwing thousands of Rands into something that isn’t making you money yet.
The problem with Volkano’s mic is that it is trying to be two microphones when it really should focus on being one, good microphone.
Look we get it Volkano, you want to cater to both streamers and podcasters but the fact of the matter is that there are literally hundreds of other options available to streamers and podcasters that cater to their individual needs.
The ability to connect to a PC using USB is great but given how easily you can connect a microphone to a PC these days, that’s hardly this product’s saving grace.
Save your money and get a proper cardioid microphone if you’re looking to improve your stream quality or if you’re starting out, spend as much money as the Volkano costs on a headset, the results will be far better.