Releasing their first microphone range to a worldwide audience is SteelSeries, a well-known gaming peripherals brand renowned for their sleek and easy-to-use products. The SteelSeries Alias range is entering into a dense market of audio hardware, now competing against not just gaming brands, but well-established audio manufacturers as well. Knowing that there was a need to position themselves differently, the Alias and Alias Pro microphones come packed with notable features that make a tangible impact for your avid gamer.
Going hands-on with the SteelSeries Alias microphone over a 3-week period helped to highlight the device’s unique selling proposition. Gone are the days when a scratchy headset mic is enough for every gamer. The advent of streaming, podcasting, and communicating amongst lobbies and friends over a video game has created the need for studio-quality tools. And so SteelSeries took to the task and did so by pairing their new range of microphones with their in-house software that’s set to assist gamers, and, more specifically, streamers.
The Alias is a good-looking unit. There’s a simplicity to the design and some fantastic user-friendly tools built into the product without any sacrifice to the premium aesthetic. That user-friendliness is absolutely key, and easily one of Alias’ best assets. The plug-in-and-go functionality of the USB microphone is fabulous, but perhaps even better is the LED lights on the front, giving a visual indicator of the audio levels. This is a game-changer and something I wish came standard for microphones. Why rely on an external piece of software to track your audio levels when you can see them at a glance on the device itself? Of course, these audio levels are just an indication without much finite detail, but they absolutely get the job done in most scenarios.
“…the Alias and Alias Pro microphones come packed with notable features that make a tangible impact for your avid gamer.”
Also built into the design of the Alias microphone is a volume dial and touch-sensitive mute button. The mute button also interacts with the LED lights, clearly displaying when the unit is silenced. It all works perfectly and has made regular communication whilst gaming a breeze.
Also notable is the shock mount that keeps the Alias suspended. The intention here is to reduce unwanted noise as the mount absorbs bangs and vibrations. I don’t know that it works immaculately, as testing still showcased some amount of unwanted noise. However, I am impressed by how neatly the shock mount is incorporated into the design.
As for the audio quality of the unit? It’s a little bit of a harder sell. Don’t get me wrong, the SteelSeries Alias has great audio quality, and alongside the larger microphone capsule, it produces great sounds above and beyond your standard gaming mic. However, the Alias is not strictly competing within the gaming space. Boasting a studio-quality sound and coming in at a studio-level price point, the Alias’ recording capacity can be emulated by cheaper units. My day job involves working as the Producer of a radio station. I was therefore able to test the Alias side-by-side against a range of much older microphones used in the studio which showed results that didn’t inspire the desire to upgrade. Had we had the opportunity to test the more expensive Alias Pro microphone, the results may have been different.
Not just a piece of hardware, one of SteelSeries’ selling points for their Alias range is their Sonar software. It’s billed as an ‘all-in-one streaming sound studio’, comes as a free download, and doesn’t even need to be paired with an Alias microphone. Sonar is intended for video game streamers, and as I’m not a video game streamer, it’s difficult to talk about the software’s functionality and how much it really does assist that market. However, what I can say is that the software facilitates the application of different audio filters and templates, allowing you to fine-tune your sound and tailor your voice to suit your needs.
Sonar is the kind of tool your average gamer isn’t likely going to need to use, but podcasters, broadcasters, or streamers will undeniably find a level of customisation here that will up their audio game. Much of the tools built into the software will be found elsewhere, such as AI noise cancellation and submixing, though Sonar is by no means a run-off-the-mill piece of audio software. It encompasses much of what you’d want whilst doing so incredibly accessibly and with its own impressive style.
The SteelSeries Alias microphone is, in many ways, the total package. As somebody who works with microphones every day, I can safely say that the unit is unlikely to disappoint. In the gaming landscape particularly, the Alias will stand out as a user-friendly unit with good audio, lovely design functionality, and the right software backing it all up. Moving into recording studio territory and it’s a bit of a harder sell, not because it isn’t a solid choice, but because much of what it does has been done before and for cheaper. Still, as a complete package, there’s a lot to love about this new line of microphones from a company that clearly puts thought and ingenuity behind their creations.