SteelSeries are out to make a statement, to the competition and on your desktop. The new SteelSeries Alias microphone range is a huge leap out of the ordinary for one of gamin’s more recognizable peripheral manufacturers. More accustomed to delivering flip down options on the end of an Arctis, the Danish manufacturer has unleashed a duo of streaming mics that come with big promises.
Coming in at £179.99 / $179.99 and £319.99 / $229.99 the SteelSeries Alias and SteelSeries Alias Pro are both built around an impressive set of specifications, and we got our hands on the base model to find out if either of these really delivers.
- Current Price:
- Type: Condenser
- Capsule: 1"/25mm ClearCast
- Connection: USB-C (Plug & Play) / 3.5mm Monitoring Jack
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Resolution/ Sample Rate: 24 bit/48 KHz
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 20 KHz
- Max SPL: 120 dB
- Quick Controls: Microphone Gain Dial, Mute Button, Headphone Gain Dial
- Dimensions: W 110 x D 130 x H 230mm (Stand mounted)
Steelseries Alias - Out the Box
There isn’t a lot to highlight when inspecting an unopened Alias microphone. Aside from the obvious branding, straightforward reveal, and reassuring lack of plastics the cardboard container that this comes in is easily dispatched. The microphone and stand fall out fully assembled, and come accompanied by a USB cable, boom arm mounting adaptor, and a quick start guide. This didn’t feel particularly auspicious for such an expensive peripheral, but it’s the microphone that’s going to dominate the desktop.
Steelseries Alias - Initial Impressions
Before even powering on, the SteelSeries Alias stands out without trying. A mix of plastic, mesh, and metal all come together around a striking silhouette that looks like some modern IKEA ornament. An elongated pill, cut almost in half and wrapped in an array of matte grey and black colors combined with a fabric face to decorate the core of the design. There are deft touches with the side mounted metal grills and physical controls that make the SteelSeries Alias interesting to inspect without feeling gaudy. It’s not the subdued palette that catches the eye here. Instead, this mic is every bit as unconventional as the Blue Snowball with the sort of premium presentation that its price tag demands.
Steelseries Alias - Setup
Exactly as you might expect, setup is as simple as plug and play. Power and data for this plug in via the USB-C port nestled in the back of the main body. The included USB-A to USB-C cable is obviously a welcome necessity, and the plastic stand incorporates a cutout for cable management.
This simplicity means the Alias on my desk comes with tons of flexibility. In a pinch it can conceivably hook up to any PC, mac, console, or mobile that provides the prerequisite data and power. If you’re looking to up your audio game with the minimum of fuss or switch setup without rewiring an entire desk, then that flexibility could prove crucial.
Once things spring into life it’s clear that some thoughtful design choices allow this mic to share a desk alongside more iconic Cupertino aesthetics. A mood light at the base of the main capsule changes color as the capacitive mute button is tapped. While audio is turned off, a red cross flares beneath the fabric front, and a five-stage volume level climbs the length of the mic when in use.
Should you wish, a 3.5mm monitoring output is available at the back of the microphone, although I can’t fathom why the input gain dial is also here. Squeezed in up against the desktop mount at the rear, this makes the gain tuner difficult to see, reach, and turn when it is up against the enclosing metal shock mount. An inch higher would have made a world of difference.
With the core components already mounted to the shock mount and desktop stand, all that’s left to do is adjust the pitch of the core components and get talking.
Steelseries Alias - Software
Normally I’d jump straight into the sound, but almost immediately after plugging in the new SteelSeries option, the SteelSeries GG software spawned on my PC screen. This, again, attempts to streamline the entire operation and it’s nice to know you won’t have to go rooting around the internet for the latest drivers. With yet another piece of proprietary software on my expanding list of startup options, which does mean that this was going to have to impress to be worth keeping.
Even weeks after installing the SteelSeries Sonar software I’m still conflicted. This desktop control centre provides an absolute wealth of options for some streamers and a home for anybody already invested in the manufacturer’s wider ecosystem. It also insists on getting involved where I don’t want or need it. Load up and jump into the GG Engine hub menu and you’ll likely find yourself redirected to another set of menus for the lighting configuration or audio setup. The solitary LED at the bae of the mic doesn’t particularly warrant integration into the Prism Meu, 17 different preset effects, or a library of associated apps that are unlikely to be of any use. This just feels unnecessary like bloatware for a single LED.
More relevant and infinitely more infuriating is the Sonar Menu. SteelSeries’ combined audio output, mixer, streaming audio interface, and microphone setup system is squarely aimed at Twitch and YouTube fame. Forcing me to set up an online account and log in before I could start, the system provides fantastic capability when it comes to redirecting audio from apps and other inputs, setting levels, mixing audio, and more. It’s a very competent piece of software that I absolutely didn’t need to just set up the Alias. If you already have a mixer, OBS configured, or simply don’t want an interface then you may find this as obnoxious as I did. Suffice to say, the mic settings are just as comprehensive, however.
Once in the Mic menu, an equalizer allows manual and preset configuration of SteelSeries Alias. A range of useful presets are already loaded, changing the response and tone of the mic. Some extremely useful noise reduction and suppression sliders are obvious, and the AI noise reduction is extremely powerful when up against background interference.
While competent, it is not as refined as Logitech's control center but still useful if you’re a streamer who knows what a noise gate does. If that is outside your comfort zone, then it’s just as easy to pick the ‘Desk Stand’ configuration and turn on the AI noise cancellation to find out what the SteelSeries Alias can do.
Steelseries Alias - Sound
While the Sonar software is front and center in the marketing material, the SteelSeries Alias holds up as a quality choice for any audio you want to record. The design is clearly aimed at vocals and solo streamers, so vocals come in crystal clear and with plenty of volume. This is quite obviously helped by the oversized condenser capsules in the mic and the cardioid pickup pattern. This is the only pattern you’ll get, however.
This is largely due to the massive condenser capsules sitting just behind the mesh fabric. There’s an excellent all round level of clarity, response, and range. The mic feels very well balanced. Combined with the cardioid pickup pattern, this is clearly designed to be put in front of a person. The reproduction is impressively consistent across the board, with just enough warmth to make sampled sound enjoyable to listen to, right out of the box. There is even a surprisingly minimal amount of pop, which wasn’t really expected without any software support.
This is reflected in a fairly basic frequency response test. Flooding the mic with pink noise gives us an almost flat line. There’s a little bit of bias on the lower vocals, but nothing that makes recordings sound odd. Overall, this is a great result for the solo mic, and the supporting software.
The clarity and consistency of the SteelSeries Alias means that when Sonar support does get involved, the change is just as significant as the SteelSeries samples make it out to be. Much like the Logitech Yeti software systems, the EQ here can add extra warmth, eliminate high pitch, or drown out problems like extraneous noise and pop. This is all very well implemented, but the AI noise cancellation really steals the show. While I have my gripes about the associated software, I could sit and bang my keyboard, shuffle a mouse around the deck, and leave the aircon on and this one button change managed to completely eliminate a set of Cherry MX Reds sitting right beside the desk stand. It can drive down the overall gain and impact the overall quality, but the result cannot be argued with. This is some of the best noise elimination I’ve used.
Steelseries Alias - Where Does It Fit?
The SteelSeries Alias has killer style, but it certainly isn’t going to score you fist blood. This is a microphone aimed at streamers not gamers. Whatever the manufacturer says, this isn’t designed to make you heard any better in battle or provide a better understanding of the gameplay environment. Instead, it has easy setup, flexible platform compatibility, and outstanding sound. One singular design decision is my only gripe with its unique aesthetic, and I do not think it’s ever going to leave my desktop. That said, the Sonar software could use some improvement and you won’t want this for anything but solo streams. If you need an esports mic, get an eSports headset. If you want a microphone that looks as good as it sounds when you’re on camera, then the SteelSeries Alias is available now via online retailers and the SteelSeries website.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Purchasing items through our links may result in a small commission for the site. Authors are not compensated based on clicks or commission.