The rise of streaming and the switch to remote work means that in the past few years, more people are using mics than ever before. Which in turns means that lots of companies are looking to get into the space, and the latest entrant is well-respected game accessory manufacturer SteelSeries. Though the company’s probably best known for its headsets, it just might change that perception with its $180 Alias and $330 Alias Pro gaming microphones, available today.
Upfront I’ll admit I’m not a streamer, but I do make regular use of a microphone in both podcasting and regular Dungeons & Dragons sessions on Discord. And, like so many during the pandemic, I found myself in an endless array of remote meetings over Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and whatever else companies want to throw out there. Even in the year 2023, it’s a pain in the ass. My go-to mic for the past few years has been the Elgato Wave:3, which I admire for its excellent audio and solid build quality. But in use it hasn’t always been a dream; weirdly enough I never got it to work properly with USB headsets, even those made by its parent company Corsair. And switching between apps, even with the Elgato software installed, wasn’t always a smooth process. I’ve started so many meetings with my computer outputting to the wrong device (usually the internal laptop microphone, which as you can imagine, is crap).
SteelSeries looks to simplify all that with its GG software, which automatically works with all SteelSeries hardware. I plugged in the Alias and it was detected immediately; I didn’t have to adjust the settings in any app or on my system. Within seconds I was on a call with a friend on Messenger, and Discord automatically made the adjustment on its own as well. In 2023 I would expect audio software should just work, and GG fits the bill. It has lots of built-in customization for things like lighting so you don’t have to be a programmer to make your setup look cool. It also lets you set levels program by program, with multiple outputs so you can have what your stream hears be different from what you hear on your end. It’s just a good level of control that allows professionals (as well as amateurs) fine-tune their stream to their liking.
Of course, solid software wouldn’t be anything without the hardware to back it up, and the Alias and Alias Pro are high-quality, extremely attractive microphones to have on your desk. They’re both oblong pills suspended by elastic cords in a ring-shaped stand. It’s easy enough to remove and mount on a boom arm, and both models of the Alias come with a clip to attach it to your existing arm, or you can purchase one from SteelSeries.
From there the two mics have different features: the entry-level Alias has a volume dial and mute button right on its front, while the Pro outsources those to the included mixer, which requires external power (it comes with an AC adapter). The mixer has two dials, which can be customized in the GG software, and two buttons for muting mic and headset audio. (They feel extremely nice to push.) The biggest difference, however, is where the Pro gets its name from, and that’s the XLR connection in the back. That’s a higher-end connector than most users will need, but professionals looking to add a speciality gaming microphone into their mix will appreciate it. The mixer also comes with two USB ports so you can do dual PC streaming.
As I am not a professional audio person I stuck with the regular Alias, which connects to your setup using USB-C. It also has a single headphone jack for plugging in a headset, and I appreciated the mic stand design for keeping the cords tidy. When you plug in the mic it’ll start working right away; you’ll know because the front of the mic is outfitted with LED lighting that will show your levels. If the single bar of lights rises into the red, you know you’re clipping. When the mic is muted, a big red “X” is displayed on the surface, so there’s absolutely no question about the state of your recording.
In chatting with friends and family over various chat programs, the reports I got was that my audio was clear and loud, though one podcasting friend did think I did sound a little off at times — possibly because I got too close to the mic. At a normal distance I sounded fine. By my own reckoning through headphones, I thought it sounded great — on par with the audio I get from the Elgato Wave: 3 though a little more sensitive as it picked up the occasional ambient sound, like my typing. This isn’t unusual when I’m using a mechanical deck, but in this case it was the spongier membrane keyboard on my laptop. It can be mitigated by simply moving the devices further apart, if you have the space to do so.
Overall I think it’s a good piece of hardware to have on my desk; one of those accessories that makes you excited to record a stream, podcast or anything else you can imagine. You don’t need good tools to start creating, but the SteelSeries Alias is one of those that makes you want to make something because it’s such a delight to use.
SteelSeries Alias USB Mic
SteelSeries Alias Pro Kit