With the XSTRM, manufacturer Endgame Gear presented a futuristic-looking USB microphone in April, which is supposed to be really end-game capable with a 20 mm real gold microphone capsule, a resolution of 24 bit and a sampling rate of 192 kHz. We have now been able to convince ourselves of the qualities and tell you in our Endgame Gear XSTRM test, what the microphone has up its sleeve.
|Microphone Diaphragm:||20 mm (electret condenser)|
|Frequency response:||20 Hz – 20,000 Hz|
|Sampling rate:||192 kHz / 24 bit|
|Sensitivity:||-36 dB (1 V/Pa to 1 kHz)|
|Dimensions:||Height: 250mm with stand, 221.5mm without stand;
|Dimensions (incl. tripod):||173 x 170 x 290 mm|
|Weight:||820 g (with tripod); 475 g (without tripod)|
|Connectors:||USB-C; 3.5mm jack|
|Features:||RGB illumination; AI noise reduction|
Endgame Gear XSTRM review: the scope of delivery
The Endgame Gear XSTRM wants to be strikingly different. This is already evident in the massive packaging, which measures around 31 cm high and just under 20.5 cm deep. Why the box turned out so huge is revealed when we take a look inside after splitting the rectangular box in half diagonally upwards.
The manufacturer has equipped the entire cardboard box with an acoustic foam pad, which is familiar from recording studios in a similar – albeit larger – form. This not only serves to hold the microphone securely, but is actually officially part of the scope of delivery, as the manual reveals.
The rest of the scope of delivery is then rather ordinary in nature. In addition to the microphone itself, which is attached to a detachable spider on an equally detachable table base, we find a magnetic pop filter, instructions, and a roughly two-meter USB-A to USB-C connection cable included.
Design and workmanship
Without a doubt, the design of the Endgame Gear XSTRM is unique and probably a deciding factor as to why many are likely to opt for this USB microphone. For instance, the XSTRM comes in the form of an eye-catching triangular stick complete with rounded edges, the top half of which is dotted with quite a few large and small holes.
The pure microphone is around 22.2 centimeters high and just under 6 cm wide. In combination with the round metal table base, the microphone reaches a height of just under 25 cm and reaches 14 cm in depth.
Below the holes, the XSTRM features the manufacturer’s logo on the front. Below it, we find an elongated rounded light panel that serves as a gain indicator in a total of 10 gradations. Positioned below it is a metal rotary control that can be used to fine-tune the microphone gain. In addition, the knob can be pressed as a button and thus controls the RGB lighting.
At the bottom edge on the back are found (from top to bottom): A switch that turns noise cancellation on or off, the USB-C port for connecting to a PC, notebook or Mac, and a 3.5 mm jack for connecting to headphones for mic monitoring.
Another special feature is located on the top of the Endgame Gear XSTRM. This is touch-sensitive and functions as a mute button. The table base and spider, as well as the pop filter, present themselves much less extravagantly. They are made of anthracite-colored metal.
The microphone itself is framed by three firmly screwed brackets, which are fixed in the spider with the help of rubber cords to compensate for vibrations. There is a screw on the back of the table base that can be loosened to use the XSTRM on a microphone boom or tripod using the 3/8-inch thread.
Fabrication of the Endgame Gear XSTRM
We liked the build quality of the microphone, which costs around 130 euros, extremely well in the test. Overall, the construction weighs around 820 grams and thus finds a secure hold on the desk. The microphone itself looks sturdy and high-quality, and the flexible spider also cuts a good figure.
The same is true for the desk stand, which allows a precise adjustment and still leaves an absolutely high-quality impression. There is absolutely nothing to complain about.
Commissioning, field test and RGB lighting
Plus points are also garnered by the Endgame Gear XSTRM USB microphone for its foolproof setup. Connect the USB cable, select the device as audio source and that’s it. Fortunately, the manufacturer, headquartered in the German capital Berlin, consistently dispenses with accompanying software.
The user manual is also praiseworthy, as it explains every detail, no matter how small, on around 15 pages, even to laymen.
The RGB lighting, which shines all around the upper half of the microphone via the aforementioned holes, also presents itself in a variety of ways. It can be set to a total of ten colors and also changes the color of the gain display. This is joined by a color cycle mode where the microphone cycles through all options.
If we hold down the gain button for three seconds, the RGB lighting also deactivates completely. When the XSTRM is muted, the microphone and gain indicator light up red.
Another clever detail: The microphone has a gravity sensor that turns the gain display around when we hang the device upside down on a microphone boom, for example. Here, the manufacturer has thought of absolutely everything.
Recording quality of the Endgame Gear XSTRM
For voice recording, the Endgame Gear XSTRM resorts to a 20 mm condenser capsule made of real gold and uses a cardioid characteristic. So in theory, as long as we speak into it frontally, the microphone should be able to record our voice clearly while noticeably suppressing sound from the rear and sides.
The maximum quality is 192,000 Hz and a resolution of 24 bits. Theoretically, you have the option in the Windows audio options to also select 16 bits and a minimum of 44,100 Hz (CD quality).
The covered frequency range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz corresponds to the standard, while the sensitivity of -36 dB (1 V/Pa at 1 kHz) is remarkable and should thus even reliably record quieter whispers.
In our test, the XSTRM also gets to work convincingly right from the start and scores with a clear, powerful and dynamic voice recording. It is also surprising how well the microphone filters out background noise, such as the notebook’s fan, even without the AI noise-canceling function. The pop filter also does a good job of muffling sharp S and plosive sounds.
AI Noise Cancellation in a practical test
A background noise is absolutely not perceptible. Typing on a keyboard, however, is. This can actually be effectively counteracted with the AI noise cancellation, which takes place directly in the microphone and therefore does not affect the CPU. However, the speech quality suffers audibly.
It is also possible to monitor the user’s voice in real time via the 3.5 mm jack on the back. Here, however, an activation of the AI smoke suppression leads to a minimal delay of the mic monitoring.
All in all, though, the recording quality is excellent and leaves nothing to be desired. Especially since you can theoretically get a notch more out of the box here with a little tweaking and the acoustic foam.
Endgame Gear XSTRM review: conclusion
And the next spot landing for the still comparatively young manufacturer Endgame Gear. After the convincing gaming mice like the XM1 (our review), they deliver a peripheral with the Endgame Gear XSTRM USB microphone that easily positions itself among the best representatives of its guild.
So here you prove that behind the unique and unusual design is not only convincing workmanship, but also excellent audio quality. I also find it extremely pleasant that the microphone is ready for use right after connecting it thanks to plug-and-play connectivity.
In addition, Design has really thought about the functionality, which is noticeable in every corner. From the handy touch-sensitive mute button on the top, to the gain control that rotates with you when you turn the mic upside down.
I personally find the ten-step LED sensitivity meter extremely handy, and the RGB lighting is a nice touch for those who want one. Everyone else simply turns it off.
Especially in terms of acoustics, the Endgame Gear XSTRM does a really great job, putting it at least on par with Blue Yeti, beyerdynamic FOX and other high-quality USB microphones.
Only the somewhat strong influence on the voice quality when the AI noise reduction is activated gives reason for criticism. Otherwise, there is nothing to complain about. You definitely won’t go wrong with this microphone and will have a lot of fun with it.