The MXL AC-404 USB microphone is designed to be used as a tabletop conference mic, but with the right settings and conditions it makes for an excellent gaming mic.
If you have played a competitive multiplayer game online you know that the teams that talk together, win together. This is what makes having a good microphone a substantial component of a PC gaming setup.
The AC-404 is a 180 degree, directional microphone. This means that when placed on a desk, it will be less sensitive to noise coming from behind the microphone. The voice pickup works very well, and will even work if you wanted to be on the other side of the room while talking.
When using it for games this is perfect for those who don’t like to play with a headset mic, or are just looking for something with a better voice quality than a lot of the gaming branded sets. Most games have a button bound to player voice, so the mic is only active when the button is pressed. Applications that offer a hotkey toggle of the voice input will work perfectly.
If live streaming, or using something with a little less software control of the voice input is what you do a lot of, MXL’s AC-406 might be a better match for you. The AC-406 has a physical mute toggle, allowing for control of the voice with the push of a button.
I found that sometimes the mic was a little too sensitive, picking up a lot of the background noise from my computers and fans in the back of my room. This was mainly a result of me having way too many computers with very loud air cooling. I was able to tweak the gain to a point where my voice was coming in clear at a normal talking volume without having the constant hum of fans fill the gaps in speech.
Like most modern devices, setting up the microphone is as easy as plugging it in. The AC-404 comes with a mini USB cable and installs as both a recording device and a playback device. Installing as a playback device means that it comes with a convenient headphone jack for the use of headphones if desired. I hadn’t seen this feature on a desktop microphone before. This was great for playing games where I wanted a more immersive audio experience, while still being able to maintain quality voice communication with other players.
The microphone also works great with all versions of Windows (I tried XP, 7 and 8 x64 and x86 architectures) . Other brands of microphones (specifically from Blue) have given me volume issues with the 64bit Win7 and Win8. No such problems with the AC-404. While testing the mic in different surroundings with different operating systems, the microphone was always at a satisfactory volume with easy to tweak gain in the system recording settings.
MXL’s AC-404 is currently available on Amazon for around $81 and is a great tabletop mic for online gaming or voice chatting services. If you like the style of this mic, but are looking for a different type of control, the physical mute toggle AC-406 is listed on Amazon at $78.