Audio for streamers is super important, and I’d probably argue the case that it’s the most important. I’d rather watch a great sounding video with sub-par quality video, than sub-par audio with the sharpest videos ever. On the desk today I’ve got the Roccat Torch, and it’s Roccat’s first iteration I’m pretty sure into standalone gaming microphones, and what they’ve come up with is a pretty decent looking and simple solution. So, let’s dive into what this new microphone has to offer.
The whole package of the microphone is attached to the stand sits at around 20cm tall, which is more than enough to have the microphone sit close to your mouth while playing games. Its total width though is a little deceiving, as the controller sits at 10cm wide by 13cm deep. Not a lot, but it was noticeable if I had the microphone in front of me while playing games. However, a solution to that problem is to detach the microphone, and have that on a separate boom arm, and have the control box sit next to your keyboard. Roccat’s branding on the microphone is subtle, with the Roccat logo front and centre which lights up and some strip LED lighting down the front and back, but that’s it. Build quality is decent around the microphone, nothing feels like it’s going to fall off. The grill is metal with plastic detailing, and the base plate itself is again made from plastic. The whole thing has a decent weight to it so if you accidentally knock it, it’s not going to fall over.
Setup of the Roccat Torch was simple enough, it’s mostly plug and play, but in the box you do get two lengths of USB Type-C to Type-C, depending on your setup. See, the Roccat Torch needs two cables, one of which runs between the control box and microphone, and one that runs between the control box and PC, which is a traditional USB Type-A cable. It’s not a major problem, though surprised Roccat couldn’t figure out how to power the microphone if attached to the control box without the need for a second cable. The microphone is on a ball head when on the stand though, so if you need to bend and twist it to aim more towards your mouth, the feature is there.
Looking down at the control box, the dials and buttons again are simplified. There are no real bells and whistles around front, and from left to right you’ve got a pickup pattern dial, a knob for the volume of your headphones, which can be pressed to mute your microphone and finally a gain slider, all of which feel very plasticky. The pickup patten dial can sit in one of four positions. The first is front and back pickup and displays purple LEDs, the second is for the front only and has orange LEDs, the third adds some extra gain to the front pickup which is displayed in blue and the fourth switches the microphone completely off when not being used. The LED lighting effects are actually quite tasteful and are very subtle and actually represent the gain level so you can quickly visualise your gain level without looking right down at the control box.
Around the back, you’ve got a button to change LED brightness between four modes, and a switch to change the mute button sensitivity. This means the top mute button can detect different distances, so when you wave your hand over it it’ll mute the mic. This can be switched off completely if you’re the type of gamer who sits on top of your microphone or if you wave your hands around a lot. I’m the former, and I found my nose muted my microphone quite often while gaming.
One big oversight in my eyes is the fact you can’t monitor your own voice through the microphone, without using some form of third-party software, like OBS Studio and its monitoring feature. Even the Roccat Neon software doesn’t turn anything on. The only thing the NEON software does is turn on AIMO lighting if you have Roccat peripherals. I don’t anymore unfortunately so it’s a feature I couldn’t use.
Sound quality-wise though, it does sound pretty decent. As expected with any kind of condenser style microphone, there can be a lot of background noise, due to how sensitive the microphone is, and will probably need some filters added to your OBS or Streamlabs to get this sounding nice, but tone-wise, my voice sounded a little empty. There’s was no real warmth to the tone of my voice like I can pick up with my Rode Podcaster and GoXLR, or even a Blue Yeti, which is the current go-to for streamers. However on the flip side, my voice did sound very clear, and the microphone did a great job of reducing any background noise coming into it. And though I can class myself as fussy, voice quality is definitely passable when it comes to live streaming. If you’re someone who wants that warm, faux bassy podcast radio voice, then you’re going to need to rely on some filters or post-processing to get to where you want to be. Also, avoid banging your desk with your elbows when playing if you’ve got the microphone on the desk. It picks it up very well, even on the lower gain settings. If a mechanical keyboard is placed behind and you’re using the front pickup pattern, it does a good job of reducing audio at the rear. It’s not as directional as say a dynamic microphone, but it does a great job.
For an all in one solution, the Roccat Torch is great. It looks pretty smart in my opinion and has a wide enough range of features to get you going on your live streams, and offers a clearer voice over your traditional gaming headset microphones. Not having audio passthrough on your voice is a bit of a problem for me, though you can use the Windows sidetone options to help with that though there is a slight delay. Why nothing is built into the proprietary app, I’m not sure. As I said, if you’re someone who wants your voice to sound more podcasty or radio-like straight out the gate, then this might not be for you. But if you’re upgrading your gaming headset, or are starting out streaming and want to sound nice and clear when talking to your audiences, it’s pretty nice. It cost me around £90 to buy from Amazon, which I think is a pretty good price, and something like a Wave 3 is sitting at £130. It feels like a no brainer. Plus it’ll look awesome on your desk as part of your gaming setup.