Peripheral maker Roccat has made its way to the world of USB microphones with the Roccat Torch, an entry-level condenser mic with a few cool touches. You’ll not only get a dedicated mixer with various controls, but there’s also Roccat’s proprietary whisper recording mode, RGB lighting and more, making the Torch an interesting – but not perfect – first microphone for budding podcasters and streamers.
The question is, is that enough to tempt consumers from established cheap USB mics like the Blue Yeti Nano? Well…
Design & features
The Roccat Torch looks pretty different to most other USB microphones I’ve tested, mainly down to the two-part design, splitting the condenser microphone from the mini mixer for easier on-the-fly adjustment – in theory, anyway.
There are a few controls on the mixer, including physical controls for polar patterns, headset volume, mic mute and even a slider for gain control – a nice touch from Roccat, especially at the entry-level price point. The latter provides much more granular control than a simple dial, allowing me to quickly adjust my levels when I notice that I’m peaking.
The problem is that, with the microphone screwed onto the mixer by default, it picks up on the click of switches. That’s easily remedied by using a mic arm – mine is fairly cheap, from Amazon – which allows me to freely use any controls as and when I need them without fear of it being picked up in the audio, but it’s not the ideal solution for those on a tight budget.
In Roccat’s defence, it did try and address the issue by including a gesture-activated mic mute atop of the microphone itself, activated by a simple wave in its proximity – most likely the most common function streamers and podcasters will use during recording sessions. Other settings, like headphone level and polar pattern controls, will usually be set before recording and won’t change.
The sensitivity of the hands-free mic mute is adjustable via a switch on the back of the mixer to make it more or less sensitive, giving you three ways to mute the Roccat Torch at a moments notice (if you count software mute too!).
There were a few occasions where I’d been using the Torch to chat with colleagues on Zoom, only to be told that I’ve been muted unexpectedly, but dropping the sensitivity to its lowest seemed to stop the false positives.
The cable management is a little less polished than competitors, with a bevvy of USB-C cables to connect the microphone to the mixer and, if you opt to use a boom arm as I did, there’s a longer USB-C cable in the box too. It’s not complicated to set up by any means, but the end result is messier than competing budget mics from the likes of Blue.
The saving grace is that the Torch offers plug-and-play support via USB-A on both Windows and Mac, without the need to download dedicated software to get the most out of the microphone.
General setup aside, you’ll find RGB lighting that not only illuminates the Roccat logo, but will run along the sides of the microphone itself. There are different lights for different recording modes, letting you know at a moment’s notice if you’ve selected the wrong polar pattern or accidentally muted yourself, and you can customise them via the Roccat Neon software for PC.
It’s not too exciting for a podcaster, but if you’re a streamer that wants to look the part among the glowing desk setups of the gaming community, the Roccat Torch is a great choice.
The Roccat Torch looks the part, but how does it perform? The answer is surprisingly well – as long as you use it correctly.
You see, unlike most of the pill-shaped condenser microphones I’ve reviewed in the past, the diaphragm is housed much lower. That means if I spoke into the top of the mic, as I would with the Blue Yeti X, the audio seems quiet and a little muffled. It’s fixed primarily by speaking into the lower part of the microphone grille, but you can also increase the gain if you find yourself constantly missing – albeit with an increase in noise.
Once I realised where I was supposed to speak into, the Roccat Torch performed well. Using the cardioid recording mode, which records in front of the mic for a one-person recording experience, I captured clear, crisp audio perfect for entry-level podcasters and streamers, though it’s not quite as detailed as some high-end options.
Still, unless you’re looking to record instruments or produce Hollywood-level short films, it’s not something you’ll notice. For the price, it really is great – I’ve even used it in a few recent episodes of our weekly video podcast Fast Charge.
There’s also a stereo recording mode, ideal for two people sitting across from each other, but it’ll also pick up much more ambient sound like nearby doors closing or cars driving by outside.
The more interesting recording mode is the whisper mode, a proprietary mode exclusive to Roccat in response to the ASMR video trend sweeping the internet at the moment. Either that, or a lot of people whisper in live streams…
Regardless of the why, the whisper mode cranks up the gain without too much of an increase to ambient sound and noise (although it is still there) to make it easier to whisper into the mic. It’s a little too niche for my uses, but if whispering is something you find yourself constantly doing when creating content, then the Torch might be a tempting option.
Just don’t get too close in any recording mode; while the Torch technically offers a built-in pop shield, behind the grille, it’s not a very good one, constantly blowing out with plosive thumps. I’d recommend either taking a step back or investing in a decent pop shield, especially if you’re looking to record podcasts. Those thumps can really get jarring.
The Roccat Torch is one of the most fully-featured entry-level USB microphones on the market right now, coming in at an attractive £89.99/$99.99 – around half the price of the Blue Yeti X. While it might not have the bells and whistles of Blue’s top-selling microphone, there’s a lot to love about the Torch – as long as you can overlook the budget-nature flaws.
If it’s tempting, you can buy the Roccat Torch from Roccat itself, along with Amazon in the UK and US. To see how it compares, take a look at our best USB mics for streaming and podcasting.
The Roccat Torch offers something a bit different to most entry-level USB microphones, essentially bundling a mixer and a microphone into a single unit. The ability to quickly adjust gain via a dedicated slider is a nice touch at any price point, let alone the entry level, and if you don’t like the two-in-one, you can attach the mic to a boom mic (sold separately, of course).
There are a few flaws that might irk some – including the odd diaphragm placement, the hit-and-miss pop shield and the gesture-controlled mic mute – but if you’re just starting out with your podcast, YouTube channel or Twitch, it’s a solid option that’ll look the part.
Roccat Torch: Specs
48kHz bit rate
24-bit with optional selection for 44.1kHz
2 × ROCCAT Proprietary Ø14 × 6.5mm condenser capsules
Cardioid, Stereo & Whisper pickup patterns
20Hz – 20kHz frequency response
138mm × 95mm × 208mm
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