HyperX Quadcast S Review – Colour Me Convinced
I didn’t expect to be feasting on crow this week, but the RGB-infused Quadcast S from HyperX saw me do just that. Normally one to scoff at what I typically see as a trend towards gaudy excess, the prospect of a USB microphone that lights up like a Christmas tree was somewhat bemusing, a non-feature targeting part-time streamers to perhaps distract from less than stellar hardware. My prejudices laid bare, HyperX saw fit to craft a product that impressed me with its versatility, quality and – much as it pains me to admit – looks damn fine in festive red and green, whether you happen to be on stream or not.
Tastefully packaged with a mount adaptor, 2 metre USB cable and little more than a quick-start guide, the Quadcast S is brimming with features and physical controls that allow a good amount of customisation without the need for unique software front-ends. Pre-installed on a shock-mount attached to a desk stand, the Quadcast S was a huge boost in sound quality compared to a number of headsets I had been using – just check my last few appearances on the Player2 Pixelcast to hear the difference.
Direct monitoring is possible via a 3.5mm headphone jack on the rear of the unit which sits above a USB-C port that both powers the unit and connects it to a PC, PS4, PS5 or Mac. At the front of the Quadcast S beneath the HyperX logo sits the gain control wheel which makes adjusting levels on the fly a breeze. If you’re like me and went to attach a pop filter to the front of the mic, save yourself the trouble as HyperX have pre-installed one internally – wouldn’t want to mess with those aesthetics now, would we? Tucked at the rear of the unit is the element I presume responsible for the Quadcast S title, a small knob which rotates between four recording modes; stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid and bidirectional. Having dabbled in sound recording before, I was a bit sceptical that the Quadcast S could perform well in each category so I fired up Ableton Live to primarily test the stereo and cardioid modes alongside my trusty Mini Martin acoustic guitar. Although the HyperX doesn’t do the wonders for my singing voice that a producer like T-Pain might be able to with sufficient auto-tune, I was impressed at the level of quality the Quadcast S was able to capture with minimal effort on my part; for those in the market for an extremely versatile USB microphone, the Quadcast S is going to ensure you can workshop ideas and pivot between streaming, recording and podcasting with a simple flick of the mode knob.
There is one design choice that I have to question, and it’s not that it’s necessarily terrible depending on the use-case, but having to tap the top of the mic itself to mute is somewhat inelegant when compared to the rest of the features on offer. I would have likely preferred a dedicated switch elsewhere that wouldn’t necessarily interfere with recording in the same way the tap sensor can. That said, the “prosumer” market the Quadcast S seems to be targeting likely isn’t worried about an easily editable blip on a podcast or demo and I suppose there is always the added benefit that if there’s a need to mute during an especially demanding section of a game, a solid hit from one’s nose would be enough to enable it. It’s easy enough to use software level mute in Discord or other preferred platforms and the integration the Quadcast S has across all major platforms makes it a great plug-n-play piece of kit.
That said, there is of course the requisite piece of dedicated software that helps to unify a company’s hardware and encourage users to stay loyal, if only to avoid having six different software suites demanding attention every time they turn on their PC. HyperX has Ngenuity, a fairly unassuming program which primarily serves to deliver firmware updates to the Quadcast S and allow users to customise the RGB lights embedded in a number of ways, seemingly the main addition over the previous model. Whether you’re proudly waving the rainbow flag, want to set a festive mood with some Christmas themed red and green or simply need pulsating waves of colour to assault your eyes and those of anyone in the vicinity, Ngenuity makes it fairly straightforward to do so. Adjusting colours across the two main RGB sections of the microphone is a cinch, the UI on Ngenuity matching the unit in realtime to demo user adjustments before saving to the Quadcast S itself. It’s even possible to save a range of presets and presumably more display patterns will be forthcoming over time to join the likes of ‘Wave’, ‘Lightning’ and the truly nightmare choice of ‘Blink’.
Retailing at $269 from a range of major outlets, the HyperX Quadcast S sits in the upper-mid price range and feels justifiably so. It’s balance of versatility, sound quality and ease of use make it an no-brainer to recommend for anyone wanting to dabble in a bit of everything content creation-wise and look good whilst doing it.
Power consumption: 5V 220mA (white light)
Sample/bit rate: 48kHz/16-bit
Element: Electret condenser microphone
Condenser type: Three 14mm condensers
Polar patterns: Stereo, Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Bidirectional
Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz
Sensitivity: -36dB (1V/Pa at 1kHz)
Cable length: 3m
Weight Microphone: 254g
Shock mount and stand: 360g
Total with USB cable: 710g
Lighting: RGB (16,777,216 colors)
Light effects: 2 zones
Connection type: USB-C to USB-A
Impedance: 32 Ω
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Maximum power output: 7mW
THD: ≤ 0.05% (1kHz/0dBFS)
SNR: ≥ 90dB (1kHZ, RL=∞)