Page 3 - Recording Performance Tests
While a typical user may not always need a dedicated microphone at their computers, there are use cases for one, especially as working from home becomes more of a norm for those across multiple industries. In addition, dedicated studio-grade microphones are often the audio input of choice for content creators, streamers, and gaming enthusiasts. We have tested microphones on gaming headsets in the past, and the result has ranged widely from barely usable to surprisingly clear. While we could just sit and say, "Yep, it picked up my voice loud and clear, 10/10", there are some audio tests we can do to see how it performs. Furthermore, we can also test various applications, whether it means speaking for recording podcasts or instruments and singing for music recording. A single microphone may not work for every situation, this will be a demonstration of the ROCCAT Torch's capabilities.
When we listen to the different recording patterns of the ROCCAT Torch, you can hear a notable difference, especially when switching from the Stereo to the Cardioid mode. The Stereo mode works well in differentiating left and right, but of course this left-right directionality works if the microphone is in an upright position. As for the Cardioid pattern, the polar pattern resembles closer to a sub-cardioid and figure-8 mix, with a slightly reduced sensitivity when recording from the back of the mic, while recording on the side sees a notable reduction in sensitivity. You can still record sound coming from the back of the ROCCAT Torch, especially if you are using it as a single destination for multiple sources, but I would not necessarily recommend off-axis recording due to the reduction in sensitivity and recorded sound quality. Finally, the Whisper mode is a valuable one because I definitely have been involved in gaming sessions that go past midnight, and having a more sensitive mode that does not disturb your family or friends is helpful.
As for the more technical tests, you can hear how the ROCCAT Torch handles plosive sounds and background noises. Plosive sounds traditionally refer to a speech sound where the vocal tract is blocked and airflow stops right before the pronunciation of these sounds. If you try making the sounds that a p, k or t make, or say the sound that a d, g, or b make, you will notice right before you say these letters, your airflow will have stopped. Afterwards, this produces a "puff" or immediate contrast in air pressure. When it comes to microphones, they can pick up this air pressure change and result in an unpleasant sound. As for background noises, this is generally affected by the pickup pattern of the microphone.
In terms of plosives, the ROCCAT Torch handled slight plosive noises well, with all of the p-words coming through without being too distracting. There was still a noticeable air pressure noise recorded, but it was generally reduced. The integrated membrane behind the microphone did an adequate job at filtering these, but you can always purchase a third-party pop filter to help with this too. As for background noises, all of the pickup patterns tested generally picked up my keyboard and mouse presses, which can be distracting based on your use. The ROCCAT Torch is a pretty sensitive microphone, and even when I was using it in Discord during my gaming sessions, my friends often heard the output from my sound bar. As such, you will probably want to use headphones if you are in a group call, as in-game noises and background sounds will be picked up on the ROCCAT Torch.
As with all recordings, a good microphone should capture the source in a natural way. I recorded a reading of a journal entry from my past for some spoken word comment. The second and third recordings were of me strumming on an acoustic guitar, then overlaying the recording with me singing into the ROCCAT Torch. If you are unaware of the song, you can refer to the introduction in the review of the NZXT Aer F120 and F140. Otherwise, in terms of the spoken word content, the recording was pretty accurate with a decent amount of depth. I believe I have a baritone voice range in my general speech, so you could hear a bit of the timbre in my voice. Built-in microphones generally would sound more cut off at the bottom while also sounding nasally. Thankfully, the ROCCAT Torch did not exhibit either the limited range nor any nasal-like signs.
With respect to the music and singing recordings, I placed the microphone directly in front of the sound hole to ensure it captured the full audio. Based on the solo acoustic guitar, I thought the recording was generally clean and able to pick up both the strings and the natural resonance. Otherwise, disregarding my lacking guitar or singing capabilities, the ROCCAT Torch showed it was capable of capturing my voice in a natural way without cutting off anything. The acoustic guitar was not loud enough to cause any distortion, but I would advise against using the Torch with louder instruments or in front of an amplifier.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Recording Performance Tests