Novel de­odor­ant stick or desk­top mic? You de­cide


SO, IT’S COME TO THIS: Asus is try­ing to sell you Op­ti­mus Prime’s beard trim­mer. Like stream­ers didn’t al­ready have enough to an­swer for, the ROG Strix Mag­nus is the lat­est man­i­fes­ta­tion of their in­flu­ence, a USB-pow­ered, desk­top mic, de­signed for in-game chat and broad­cast­ing. As such, it comes with all the fea­tures you’d ex­pect from a prod­uct that car­ries the word “gam­ing,” but doesn’t strictly have much to do with gam­ing: cus­tom­iz­a­ble RGB light­ing, ac­com­pa­ny­ing soft­ware, and a braided ca­ble.

But let’s give the Mag­nus a fair chance— there’s a def­i­nite gap in the mar­ket for a prod­uct like this. Stream­ers have mi­grated away from the scratchy world of head­set mi­cro­phones in fa­vor of quasi-stu­dio mics, such as Rode’s NT-USB and Au­dioTech­nica’s AT2020USB+, both priced slightly be­low this model. The ben­e­fits are ob­vi­ous: vastly im­proved sound, and more con­trol over it, too. Do you need one? Prob­a­bly not, but peo­ple don’t strictly need fid­get spin­ners ei­ther, yet here we are. Per­haps the more per­ti­nent ques­tion is whether Asus’s be­spoke gam­ing ef­fort can of­fer some­thing mean­ing­ful over the afore­men­tioned cur­rent fa­vorites, both of which are pro­duced by com­pa­nies with sig­nif­i­cant heft in the pro au­dio space. SEE THE LIGHT That’s a hard ques­tion to an­swer. Re­ally, it de­pends on how much value you place on RGB light­ing, be­cause else­where there’s not much to in­di­cate that the Mag­nus is a no-brainer for gam­ing and stream­ing us­age. Ad­mit­tedly, it’s an easy setup job: Pull the mic out of its car­rycase (a wel­come in­clu­sion), at­tach the meaty braided USB ca­ble to the mic in­put and an avail­able USB 3.0 port, and you’re done. Se­ri­ously—that’s it. You can use a USB 2.0 port in a pinch, with lim­ited func­tion­al­ity and—gasp—no RGB light­ing, but it’s prefer­able to just give it the juice it needs. You can use Asus’s own Aura soft­ware to fur­ther cus­tom­ize the light­ing, but sur­pris­ingly, there are no fur­ther op­tions for the au­dio it­self. That ab­sence is keenly felt when it comes to the “ENC” noise can­ce­la­tion mode—in our test­ing, we found it too ag­gres­sive, clip­ping con­so­nant sounds and pro­duc­ing a re­ally low over­all sound qual­ity. The abil­ity to ad­just the noise gate man­u­ally would go some way to­ward al­le­vi­at­ing that, but that’s not pos­si­ble un­less you start run­ning VSTs and plug­ins in front of it when record­ing with your DAW of choice.

ENC is one of three mic pat­tern modes avail­able here, along with a car­dioid (uni­di­rec­tional) and stereo (bidi­rec­tional) pat­tern. Car­dioid is the most use­ful for broad­cast­ing, be­cause it’s the pat­tern with the least back­ground noise pickup, and gives your voice the most clar­ity. If you did want to get all the am­bi­ent noise from your record­ing en­vi­ron­ment, too, stereo mode is there, but we’re not sure how use­ful you’d find it. Even when record­ing two peo­ple next to each other, the car­dioid pat­tern pro­duces the best re­sults. As for the qual­ity of your car­dioid record­ings and streams, it’s def­i­nitely fit for pur­pose. The lower end fre­quen­cies are con­veyed in­fin­itely bet­ter than a head­set mic could man­age, and the sig­nal is much cleaner, too.

There is a prob­lem, though, and it comes with the price point. The Mag­nus cer­tainly isn’t at the level of stu­dio mics, such as Au­dio-Tech­nica’s AT4050, and that’s re­flected in the fact that it’s al­most half the price. The lat­ter would re­quire more hard­ware be­tween it­self and your PC, too. But it also isn’t at the level of the afore­men­tioned AT2020USB or NT-USB, the lat­ter of which also comes with a pop shield and tri­pod stand, which this pack­age is with­out. The dif­fer­ence is in the clar­ity and low end of the recorded sound— sadly, the Mag­nus seems flimsy by com­par­i­son. On those grounds, it’s hard to rec­om­mend this one—un­less you’re a Trans­former with a bit of un­wanted stub­ble around the jaw­line, that is.

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