SteelSeries Alias Pro Review: A Newbie-Friendly XLR Microphone and Interface

For streamers, podcasters, and basically anyone who wants to upgrade their audio without a full studio backing them, the choices are to use a simple USB microphone that sounds OK or upgrade to a full XLR-based setup. The latter is what most professionals use and can deliver higher-quality audio. The SteelSeries Alias Pro is the best attempt yet to split the difference.

SteelSeries, the company that has impressed us with a number of high-quality gaming headsets, has entered the gaming microphone market with the Alias and Alias Pro. The former is a USB microphone that comes with a shock mount and RGB LEDs, but it’s the Alias Pro that turns heads the most. The microphone inside is similar to the base Alias model, but it uses an XLR connection and comes with a dead-simple audio interface.

Innovative Interface

The audio interface is one of the more cumbersome hurdles to get over when learning how to upgrade audio recording gear. Nearly every other type of gadget on earth can connect directly to a computer, but professional microphones still require this extra box that just sits on a desk. What does it do? Why do I need it? How do I get the right one? Can’t I just use a USB mic?

Photograph: SteelSeries

There are a lot of complicated answers to these questions, and we’ve explained them a bit more in-depth in the past, but rather than answer them, the Alias Pro sidesteps them. The box comes with an XLR microphone and an interface—dubbed the Stream Mixer—in the same package. If you don’t want to bother learning why an interface is important or what kind you need, you don’t have to worry about it. Just plug everything in and it’ll work. If you decide you want to upgrade the Stream Mixer interface later, you can swap another in and still use the same Alias Pro mic (or you can swap out the mic for another). It’s just like any other pro setup.

For gamers and streamers, the audio interface is worth keeping around. It’s not too complicated to use compared to most other interfaces. There are two dials—one for microphone gain and one for computer volume (you can customize them)—and two buttons. The buttons mute either the microphone or computer audio and light up while muted, so you’ll never wonder if someone can actually hear you while on a stream. The physical controls are easier to monitor and adjust while live and the LEDs even make for a better aesthetic if your desk space is frequently on camera.

Streamlining Streaming

The interface comes with +48V phantom power—a feature most professional mics need to get a usable audio signal, including the Alias Pro—and a built-in preamp. If you don’t know what those words mean and really don’t want to get bogged down in the details, then the Alias Pro interface might be appealing to you. It makes XLR support as plug-and-play as it can get.

Unlike most audio interfaces, the phantom power on the Stream Mixer doesn’t have a hardware button you can turn on or off. That’s a feature professionals might need—like if you’re swapping to a microphone that doesn’t require phantom power—but for most people, you either need it on or you don’t (and you can configure this in the Engine section of the SteelSeries GG app). A dedicated button for this is one of those features that doesn’t make sense to devote room to for streamers.

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