HyperX ProCast XLR mic review: Pro-level sound at a price

HyperX ProCast XLR mic review: Pro-level sound at a price

Advantages

  • Impeccable build quality
  • Shock mount included with versatile thread
  • Impressive appearance, especially the visible capsule

The inconvenients

  • More expensive than similar non-gaming hardware
  • No way to easily rotate the mic in the shock mount
  • No cable included

Once upon a time, gamers relied on headsets with built-in microphones. Then boom microphones became increasingly common. Of course, they took up more space. But they allow you to use all the headphones you want.

As streaming became more mainstream, those boom mics also quietly signaled to viewers that you were serious about it all, much more so than those amateurs with their headsets.

If you really wanted to impress, you could go further. The USB mics that started the trend have given way to higher-end models intended for podcasting or even radio broadcasting. Where a USB mic would plug into your PC, this breed uses an XLR connection which requires a separate mixer or USB interface (or both).

What was the benefit of swapping your headphones for three separate pieces of audio equipment that probably cost several times as much? Audio quality. The biggest music stars and hottest podcasters pretty much all use XLR mics, for reasons we’ll discuss below.

The main body of the HyperX ProCast

The transparent mesh transforms the functional capsule into a centerpiece.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

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 bespoke audio gear just as professional as those made by audiophile brands. Although it has a commensurate price, it’s hard to fault its audio and build quality.

Features

Connector XLR
pickup model Cardioid
capsule type Large diaphragm condenser
On-board controls – 10Db gain toggle, 80Hz high pass toggle
To go up Permanent shock mount with 3/8″ and 5/8″ female thread
Response frequency 20Hz~20kHz
Power requirements 48V phantom power
Output impedance 16 ohm
Dimensions and weight 134L x 102W x 209H (mm) | 376g (mic), 127g (damper), 503g (total)

HyperX ProCast microphone on a boom with its pop filter activated

The pop filter can be clipped onto the shock mount by pushing it into place around the perimeter.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Manufacturing quality

Simply put, the ProCast is built like a tank. It’s one of those devices that you pick up and immediately feel confident with because of its density and solidity in the hand.

Of course, that means you’ll need a good quality stand or pole. I wouldn’t trust this $250 gadget for a no-name $25 arm that looks like a cheap desk lamp. This big boy needs a solid base rated for his over 1 pound mass, and that’s worth factoring into the purchase price.

The equally well-constructed shock mount is fairly permanent. Unlike models that use a friction fit system, the inner ring of the shock mount is screwed to its body. This means you’ll never have to worry about getting your mic out of its mount. However, it doesn’t allow for the extra bit of freedom that some other models offer by allowing you to rotate them in their mounts.

More: Shure MV7 review: A ‘near-perfect’ hybrid mic for podcasters and streamers

Aside from the pre-installed shock mount, the only other occupant of the ProCast’s box is its pop filter. Unlike the black foam “Beefeater hat” pop filters that most mic manufacturers 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 pops and plosives – those obnoxious over-emphasized “P” sounds you get on some pickups.

However, it didn’t quite do a good job of blocking wind and breath noise like regular black foam blankets. Of course, you really shouldn’t place your mic where you breathe directly into it, and it shouldn’t be very windy at your desk.

The back of the HyperX ProCast microphone

The PAD switch can add or remove 10dB of gain, while the high pass switch below will block out some unwanted rumble.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Features

The XLR port on the bottom of the HyperX ProCast microphone

This is the XLR port on the mic with the three pins that carry your audio signal.

HyperX

XLR mics are pretty straightforward in many ways. There are usually only two controls you’ll typically find on the microphone itself, and both are present here: a -10dB gain toggle and a high pass filter switch. The former will help you dial in your volume levels better, while the latter will help reduce unwanted low-frequency sounds. Both extend the ProCast’s flexibility a bit while allowing the USB interface or connected mixer to do the heavy lifting, as it should.

Connectivity

Again, this is an XLR mic. This means it uses the round three-pin connector that has powered professional microphones for many decades. Without going into the technical details of the impact of XLR connectors on signal-to-noise ratios or interference, I will simply say that it provides about the cleanest and purest audio input available. There’s a reason it’s remained the industry standard for so many years.

The ProCast’s connector is as sturdy and precision-crafted as in any XLR mic I’ve used, delivering that satisfying click that’s a connector hallmark. It would have been great if the ProCast included an XLR cable, and a great opportunity for HyperX to include some more of its trademark red accents. But at least you can get cheap, good, long XLR cables for around $10-$15.

Sound

The best way to experience sound quality is to hear it yourself above. But, if you’d rather read my opinion… I could get poetic about harmonics and timbre, and other audiophile words that get thrown around too often. Instead, I’m going to focus on the things that most gamers actually care about.

First, the ProCast is clear, very clear. It’s the kind of microphone that will get feedback in voice chat. I’ve been asked more than once if I’m “a streamer or something” when using good XLR mics, the ProCast included. The audio quality is totally different from that provided by a good headset. It’s more realistic, without any of those compressed nasal sounds that drive everyone crazy when they can’t understand your voice calls.

More: HyperX QuadCast S review: Add style to your streaming setup

When the speaker or headphones you’re heard through are good enough, that difference really shines through, providing that down-to-earth sense of professionalism that led to the initial adoption of microphones like these to begin with.

While no microphone can eliminate all background noise, the ProCast’s cardioid capsule does just fine. Whether it’s mouse clicks, key switch clacks, or my dog ‚Äč‚Äčeating his supper across the room, a little repositioning and a partial twist of my interface’s gain dial was enough to make it all Almost inaudible unwanted ambient noise, while I remained crystal clear.

Obviously, that means the ProCast is far better than you could wish for in-game chat, and more than good enough to please even the pickiest of Twitch YouTube watchers. He might even face podcasting stalwarts like the Shure SM7B, especially if your listener’s audio equipment isn’t as high-end. However, I wouldn’t recommend this model to non-gamers, regardless of quality, for reasons we’ll discuss below.

At the end of the line

If you are unsure if HyperX ProCast is right for you, I would advise you to decide on a few things.

First of all, do you really need this level of audio quality? If you’re not streaming or creating content, the answer is probably no. There are helmets, like the Drop PC38X for example, which offer great audio output and a much better microphone than you need for your FPS or MOBA chat of choice, all for less than the cost of that microphone. And that doesn’t even include the price of a stand, interface, mixer, etc.

If you’re streaming, I’d still recommend some further thought into whether this is the right mic for you. I believe that $250 price tag is in “gamer tax” territory. I used a $100 XLR mic for many years it sounded almost as good as the HyperX ProCast (it’s included in the Alternatives to Consider section below, if you’re interested). However, it is a very ordinary microphone, not at all “gamery”.

HyperX Micro ProCast

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

If stream appearance is as important as audio quality to you, the HyperX ProCast might be the one for you. But, if your mic will rarely, if ever, be seen, I’d skip this model in favor of something cheaper.

HyperX’s first foray into XLR mics is very promising and exceeds most buyers’ expectations of hardware marketed directly to gamers. But, to justify its price, it really has to be seen and recognized by viewers who will know what it is.

Alternatives to consider

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 XLRs. It’s also less than half the cost of ProCast at its regular price of $100, and often at a discount.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Shure’s SM7B. You’ve probably seen this mic in front of tons of celebrities, podcasters, and YouTubers. This is the attainable gold standard for XLR audio.

One of the most enduring “starter” microphones. We love it at ZDNET and always use it in our video production because it’s a great, easy to use, nice sounding and versatile mic that will be more than enough for all but the most serious content creators.

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