Editor’s note: SteelSeries is currently a sponsor of WellPlayed’s DLC Podcast and Talkthrough video segment, supplying the team with Alias and Alias Pro microphones. However, this partnership does not influence our review process or content – WellPlayed prides itself on honest and informative critiques.
With content creation being easier and more prominent than ever, it was only a matter of time before the award-winning gaming peripheral brand SteelSeries made its presence known in the microphone market. Enter the SteelSeries Alias microphones, coming in both a standard and Pro model with compatible SteelSeries’ Sonar software suite, the Alias series promises the quality you’ve come to expect from the Chicago-based company. Thanks to SteelSeries, we’ve been using the Alias Pro for the past few months to see if it’s the grand debut the market needs.
I’ll admit, the look of the Alias Pro (and Alias), which uses a light grey fabric overlay design, didn’t grab me at first. But after seeing it in person I’ve come around somewhat. I still don’t love the use of grey fabric, but that’s more of a personal taste than a flaw of the microphone.
The light grey fabric might take some getting used to
Unlike the standard Alias, the Pro has no dials or indicators on the front. Instead, it connects to the StreamMixer, which offers XLR connectivity and two USB outputs, allowing users to stream via two computers at once – a useful feature if you’re in the streaming space. On the front of the StreamMixer you’ll find two buttons for muting the mic or your headphones, as well as a gain dial for the mic with LED indicators for levels, a volume dial for sound output, and some fancy RGB lighting. The simplicity of the mixer is what makes it great – being able to easily mute or adjust volume on the fly is a huge boon.
Despite an XLR and mixer connection, both Alias mics are simple to set up and you’ll be recording in less than five minutes if this isn’t your first rodeo. The beauty of the SteelSeries Alias mics is that even if you’re not super computer savvy, the set-up is easy enough that you’ll be able to get it up and running without any fuss.
The architects at SteelSeries have built the Alias microphones with a 25mm condenser capsule, which they claim is three times larger than some other mics, resulting in more detail being captured. Specs-wise, the Alias mics support a 24-bit /48kHz sample rate, a frequency response of 50Hz-20KHz and a cardioid polar pattern, the latter of which means the mic will pick up the majority of its audio from the front.
Physically, the Alias Pro’s dimensions are a slim W53mm x D45mm x H185mm and it weighs in at 170g, so it won’t take up too much space if you do take it on your travels. The actual microphone is at the top and front of the device, meaning you’ll need to speak straight into it as opposed to something like the RODE XDM-100 where the mic is at the actual top of the device (like a scoop of ice cream in a cone). The main issues with this design are that it gets in the way of your screen when it’s standing up straight (when using a boom arm) and it’s more susceptible to plosives, which the Alias Pro is. I would highly recommend using a pop filter or at the very least finding a nice distance between you and the mic and having it on an angle or talking over it to mitigate the plosives.
The StreamMixer has all you need at the push and turn of a button
In saying that, the sound quality captured by the Alias Pro was clear and crisp, and I very rarely had any issues once I worked out a good distance between my mouth and the mic. There’s good body to the audio and I didn’t have to do much editing in post other than boost the volume to get it ready for publication.
The Alias Pro does come with a handy desk stand and shock mount in the box and it can be mounted onto any mic arm by using the included attachment. With my review Alias Pro mic, I also received a SteelSeries boom arm, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a purchase, as there are some excellent boom/mic arms on the market that work better than the SteelSeries one.
To be honest, these days it’s hard to sound bad while using almost any microphone, and most people won’t be able to tell the difference between most mics. However, there’s a lot of magic that can happen on the software side of things, which is where SteelSeries’ Sonar software adds another dimension to the Alias experience.
Perhaps my favourite feature is the AI noise cancellation, which automatically detects and reduces unwanted background noise, such as a fan working hard close by or a TV in another room. You can also enable EQs, noise gates and compressors, as well as choose from a selection of presets to fine-tune your audio before you hit the red button or go live.
Sonar has a lot of valuable features
Sonar can be a finicky beast to work with at times though and it will wreak havoc on your Windows audio device settings. Also, for whatever reason, I could not get Sonar to set the Alias Pro as my default input device, I had to go into Sonar and enable it every time. I’m sure SteelSeries is working hard to fix these little kinks, but Sonar is ultimately is a handy tool that I’d highly recommend.
Probably the biggest sticking point for many people will be the price of the Alias Pro, which can be bought from JB Hi-Fi for $699. It’s not cheap, and at that price it’s not unfair to expect a little bit more bang for your buck.
SteelSeries’ first foray into the microphone market is about what you’d expect from a company renowned for its gaming peripherals, with the Alias Pro delivering great audio quality, a simple but well-designed mixer and solid software tools. However, some slight kinks and a high price stop it from being top of the recommendation pile.
Review unit supplied by manufacturer