We're specifically considering gaming-focused products like the Astro Mixamp or the Turtle Beach TAC. Audio-mixing units where you might connect an XLR microphone and a bunch of other devices together are a different beast entirely.
But these little boxes can make a huge difference in gaming audio, whether you're on PC or console. Some will get more from it than others, but if you're involved in content creation, in particular, streaming, it could be an important part of your gear.
Who should not get a mixamp?
If you're thinking you shouldn't use one because you don't use Turtle Beach or Astro headsets, that couldn't be further from the truth.
But there are limitations based on hardware. If you like to use a wireless gaming headset, a mixamp is probably not for you. You have to connect to either the Astro or Turtle Beach units with a cable. A number of wireless headsets include this option, but if you want to stay wireless, you don't want a mixamp.
You're also not necessarily getting a good deal buying one to use with your PC or console if all you're doing is gaming. If it comes with your headset that's one thing. But on both console and PC, you have software solutions to game and voice audio, which will likely be enough. The mixamp is best for folks who go a bit beyond, or who want additional audio processing.
The mixamp is perfect for streamers
Where these little boxes of joy come into their own is for content creation purposes, in particular for streamers. One of the biggest advantages is that you can mix console and PC audio together, and at the same time control your game audio.
Say you're a console streamer who wants to use Discord voice chat and be able to hear stream alerts at the same time. Instead of wearing a set of earbuds under a headset so you can hear your game audio while feeding the rest from your PC, you could use a mixamp.
That's one pretty specific example but it covers a fairly broad range of people. It's also the outright best solution if you're a console creator by virtue of mixing your native console game audio. So you don't miss out on any of the great audio effects as you might if you just listened to it through a capture app or your streaming software.
Which mixamp should you get?
Of the two mentioned here, there's one clear winner: The Astro Mixamp. Unless you got the Turtle Beach TAC included with your headset, it's a clunkier way of doing things, especially if you're an Xbox gamer. The lack of an Xbox compatible security chip means additional cable mess, where the Astro Mixamp is simple.
Both will definitely improve your experience, especially if you're a streamer. But the Astro Mixamp is easier to setup and use, and a single micro-USB cable to your PC or console, an optical audio cable, and the 3.5mm headset connection are all you need to get up and running.
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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