NZXT is pushing its way back into the audio game by introducing its first mic in years, the Capsule. The Capsule is a $129 USB microphone, which is about the average price for a mid-tier USB mic these days.
Though it has to be said, there are some great-sounding budget gaming microphones around right now.
USB mics are an excellent choice for streaming, and pretty much any other plug ‘n’ play need, such as long, drawn-out, could’ve-been-an-email Zoom meetings and lively Discord sessions. More expensive, professional XLR microphones, on the other hand, use an analog connection fed into an audio interface before they go into your PC. Traditionally it’s hard to get an XLR feel with a USB mic, but the Capsule actually gets close.
The design of NZXT’s Capsule is super sleek and fits in seamlessly on my desk. If I were a minimalist it would blend directly into the background with its all black matte finish. It also comes in a white matte finish with black buttons and a black base if you prefer a little contrast.
There are two buttons on the face of the mic; one for gain and the other volume, which controls the levels of the headphones. Under that is a LED ring of light around the base. On this all-black mic, that pop of color really makes a difference and it’s subtle. Underneath the mic is a 3.5mm headphone jack. Next to that is where the microphone plugs in from a rubber covered USB Type-C to a USB 3.0 cord.
A black steel stand that comes in the box cradles the mic on any desk. There are also boom arms available for purchase or, if you already have a boom arm, the mic fits on a three-eighths thread. If that doesn’t fit your existing setup, it does come with a thread adapter.
Weighing in just under two pounds, the stand is heavier than the mic. Not only is the stand heavy, it’s well built and acts as a shock mount. That means you don’t have to worry about bumping the mic as you throw your head back and forth in laughter while watching a clip from your stream. You’re hilarious, I know.
The Capsule’s main draw is how it picks up on subtle noises. It is really good at blocking out unwanted sounds like bumps against the microphones, but the pre-configured gain button helps open up the mic to more sounds, or lockout some noise.
For example, my lovely stream room is about 15 feet away from my dishwasher, but I don’t want to stream the sounds of my dishwasher. I want to stream every decibel of my low raspy voice—the gain controls on the Capsule can help with that. When I turn down the gain it feels like the ceilings in my apartment get lower, the dishwasher gets further away and my voice sounds like an ’80s DJ playing vinyls on a late night radio show.
Just like the tube TV in the ’90s, the closer the better. Getting right up on the mic gets you the best quality.
This cardioid pattern microphone has a 96KHz bitrate. With this high bitrate the mic is great for entry level streamers, veteran podcasters, or musicians. This is the kind of mic you want to have for podcasting, ASMR dog eating videos, or hype sweaty gaming sessions so people can hear you yell “LET’S GOOOO!” right after you UNO!
Below the physical gain button is the volume control. The volume button also mutes the mic with a push. Since there is no software and maybe you’re doing a pre stream check. There is an LED ring going around the bottom of the mic. It turns red when it’s muted and when unmuted.
The Capsule is labeled plug ‘n’ play, and for good reason, there’s no software to fumble with. Companies like Razer heavily focus on their audio interface software, with mics like the Emote or Seiren Pro. Software can be essential to the fullness of a mic’s sound, but not always necessary.
And the Capsule proves to not need software. Though I did find myself having to manually tweak the gain when switching between applications. My OBS gain isn’t the same as Zoom’s gain, which means a lot of fiddling around in between meetings, chats, and streams.
But, without the software, the Capsule is really easy to integrate into a streaming ecosystem. A streaming ecosystem can be very sensitive. It’s important to introduce one piece of equipment at a time, just one thing can throw off the balance. I didn’t have that experience with the Capsule. I was able to add it to my setup without any upsets or malfunctions. And it is nice not to download any extra software to make sure the audio is working and at its best.
I can see this mic going the distance because there isn’t really anything to go wrong, and no software to bug fix. Though if anything should go wrong there is a 2 year warranty available.
The NZXT Capsule isn’t just good for the price, it’s a good mic for a good price. I really enjoy how it makes my voice sound, the overall simplistic nature of setting up and using the mic, and the all black matte finish.