There are a lot of gaming headsets out there that give good audio and have a decent microphone. These are more than enough for the typical gamer who wants to be able to sit down and play a few rounds of Apex Legends or Valorant with their friends, but what about a premium headset for streamers and other content creators?
That’s where the Audio Technica ATH-M50xSTS-USB (AKA the StreamSet) comes in. This headset is designed to produce sound and record audio at a professional level. There are two versions: one that offers XLR, 3.5mm and ¼” analog connections, and one that offers USB A and USB C digital connections. Audio Technica decided to send us one of the digital sets so that we could give it a fair and unbiased review. Here’s what we found.
- Connection: Wired (USB A/USB C)
- Plug and play
- Closed-back headset with 45mm drivers
- Frequency response: 15 to 29,000 Hz
- 20 Series microphone
- Built-in voice monitor
- Two kinds of earpads
- Price: $229.00
Unboxing and Build Quality
Inside the box, users will find a Quick Start guide, the headset itself, and a removable USB A-to-USB C adaptor that comes pre-attached. The headset is very lightweight. It has joints that allow you flip the earcups up so that they tuck inside the arch of the headband for easy storage. They also rotate horizontally and vertically. All of these joints are made of plastic, but it’s thick enough that it seems sturdy. The headband itself is coated in leatherette and has a thin layer of memory foam. It can also expand via a metal inner band that has markers at regular intervals to make it easy to keep both sides even. The cable is fairly long, and it’s made out of a nice quality rubber.
The earcups are plush and comfortable, if a tiny bit on the smaller side. Audio Technica has also decided to give users two options regarding what style of upholstery they want over the padding: mesh or leatherette. The mesh is highly breathable, while the leatherette is softer on the skin.
The headset is attractive, functional, and fairly comfortable overall. I only have a few minor criticisms about the design.
- The microphone flips up, but isn’t removable
- The headband is a little firm and would definitely benefit from a bit more padding
- The clamping pressure is a little too tight
- The headset is notably missing a volume dial.
The audio quality of the Audio Technica StreamSet is superb. I tested the headset out by playing the new Resident Evil 4 remake and was immensely pleased by my experience. The music sounded crisp, the gunshots felt impactful, and it was fairly easy to tell what direction the infected cultists were coming from by the sounds they were making. That kind of directional audio is particularly important for gamers who like to play shooters.
The headset balances high, mid, and low tones exceptionally well, and the bass hits just right when it needs to. It also has a fairly open sound stage, so it doesn’t feel like everything is happening right int your ear. There’s not much by way of noise dampening, however, so you’ll probably be able to hear if people are talking in the room while you game. It also doesn’t have any sort of virtual surround sound options.
The microphone is probably the most impressive thing about this headset. The audio that it picks up is very clear and sound surprisingly full. Most headset microphones have a tinny quality to the audio they record, and a good deal of them have issues with the sound cutting out when the user gets to quiet or peaking when they get a little too boisterous. The 20-series microphone doesn’t have any of these issues.
It might not be quite the same caliber as a good XLR mic with a quality pre-amp, but the sound is actually better than most low to mid-range USB mics I’ve tested, and it’s a far sight better than any headset mic I’ve ever heard.
The headset also has a built in system to monitor mic audio. There’s also a switch on the side that can be used to control this feature. Pressing it in mutes the monitor, while pushing it up or down controls its volume.
Is the StreamSet Worth the Money?
The Audio Techinca StreamSet MSRPs at $229.00. That is very expensive for a wired gaming headset. In fact, many users might be able to get a decent gaming headset and a decent USB mic for less than the cost of this headset alone. So, is it worth it?
Yes, sort of.
It depends on what kind of set up you want. Those who would prefer to use a headset mic rather than have another piece of equipment cluttering up their workspace won’t be able to find one better than the StreamSet. It makes it easy for streamers to get up and move around (albeit on a tether) without having to worry about repositioning their mics. It’s also good for those who wish to produce content remotely.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The Audio Techinca ATH-M50xSTS-USB is a well-built headset that is highly adjustable. The audio quality is fantastic and the microphone is best-in-class. It’s an excellent choice for content creators who are looking for a headset microphone that is on par with a good USB mic — so long as they’re willing to pay for it.
- Clear audio with a wide sound stage
- One of the best sounding headset mics on the market
- Has built-in microphone monitoring
- Much more expensive than most gaming headsets
- No volume control built into the headset
- Clamping pressure is a little too tight