These things right here are the coolest bits of kits that I've been sent in a very long time, and they might just be changing the way that people use audio in live streams!
The day is finally here where we can talk about BEACN.
These are the BEACN Mic, the BEACN Mix, and the BEACN Mix Create, three products launching today, specifically designed for streamers and content creators.
BEACN Mic May look like a certain popular XLR microphone, but it's actually a USBC broadcast dynamic mic with an onboard DSP allowing for Decompression, an expander, and even real-time noise suppression to happen directly on the microphone itself!
BEACN Mix with its screen and knobs aims to be the simplest solution to controlling the volume of any audio on your Pan BEACN Mix Create builds on top of that adding features specifically for content creators who need more advanced audio control, things like sub mixes, knob paging and audio routing, so there's a hell of a lot to cover, let's dive in.
So in this video, we're going to be covering the Machen the Mix, and then probably my favorite of the three products, the Mix Create. Since this is a long video, I’ll put timestamps down in the description below, or you can hover your mouse across the timeline to see the chapters that I've added.
Who even is Beacn?!
But first we should probably answer the question who the [___] are BEACN?
BEACN is a new brand that's building audio products, specifically designed for content creators and streamers.
And it's made up of ex-TC Helicon employees, the people who designed and built the ever-popular go XLR who have since left TC Helicon and started BEACN, so since we're hopefully in safe hands, let’s first take a look at the BEACN Mic.
What’s included in the box?
So in the box, you're going to get some documentation, a USB-C to USB-C cable, which is nice and long at 3.5 meters, a headphone extension cable, which is two meters long, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter if you need it for your PC. Below that you're of course going to be getting the microphone itself, which comes with the yoke mount and windscreen already attached as well as this customizable RGB ring.
The back of the mic has the USB-C and headphone outputs, and then there's this little cable routing clip attached to the mount to keep your cables tidy, mounting the microphone to a mic stand or boom arm is made simple with this clever little rib ring, which prevents you from having to spin your microphone round and round, you simply twist that to go as tight as you can onto your stand and then you use this lower ring to make it harder or easier to rotate your mic.
Beacn Mic Pricetag
Now with the launch price of $279, this is far from being a cheap or affordable USB mic, but the team at BEACN have apparently designed this microphone to match or even exceed most XLR setups that content creators are becoming accustomed to.
Beacn Microphone Features
it’s a large diaphragm, broadcast style dynamic USB-C microphone, and it has a DSP powered microphone chain directly built into it, wow, that's a lot of words.
What this means is that audio effects like equalization, compression, even noise suppression are done directly on the microphone in real time, without any need for an audio interface or any VST plugins to be running on software. Your mic sound will already be processed on the microphone itself before it's sent to your PC.
The Beacn App
Speaking of which let’s jump on the PC, take a listen to the microphone, and then look at the software we can use to configure it.
So the BEACN app is where we configure the settings for any of the BEACN products, so if I had the Mix or the Mix Create plugged in, they’d also show up here, but since we just have the microphone, you can see it's just the microphone tab and then we've got some pages below that, mic chain set up, lighting controls, mixer controls, and some general settings.
The Microphone Chain Page
The mic chain page is essentially split up into three different sections, this top section here is our EQ and other enhancements and then we have some secondary plugins down here for mic setup, noise suppression, expander, compressor, some headphones settings and then finally on the right-hand side, we have our mic output, our output gain controls, and then a handy little recorder down here, this allows me to record a sample of my voice up to 10 seconds and then play that sample back through my microphone chain.
So you can then adjust things like the EQ or any of these other filters down here, and then hear in real time, exactly how that affects the sample.
This is so, so useful.
I can't stress the number of hours I've probably spent recording my voice, listening back, making a small change to one of the filters, then rerecording my voice, listening back, etcetera, etcetera.
This just makes everything so much quicker, so before we look at the EQ and the other microphone enhancements, I think it's worth starting with our mic setup, so the microphone setup page is designed to help you set the right gain for your microphone and you can see here, you're getting a graph which is showing you the voice level over time.
So when you're speaking, you should be landing in that sort of green, teal area and rarely hitting the yellow peak area.
The microphone does, however, come with a few features to really prevent you from ever clipping, there’s a built-in analog limiter, they use 32-bit float processing, and then there's a low noise pre-amp to switch to, it’s basically makes this microphone impossible to clip with just your voice.
The next tab that we have is noise suppression, now this isn't designed to remove random background noises like a dog barking or a baby crying, which we've seen programs like NVIDIA Broadcast really excel at.
Instead, this is designed to remove consistent noise that the microphone picks up such as air conditioning or computer fans.
Noise suppression, as I'm sure you're aware is typically quite a taxing process on your PC, so by having this done in real time and completely on the microphone before it even reaches your PC should free up significant resources on your computer while streaming.
There are two different types of noise suppression offered here, adaptive and snapshot, adaptive suppression as the name suggests will continue listening to your noise floor, which is basically the noise that your microphone picks up when you're not speaking, and it will then create a profile and keep adapting this profile to learn of any new unwanted noise that occurs.
So if you live somewhere much warmer than the UK and you have air conditioning and the air con comes on in the middle of a stream, or maybe your GPU fans start to spin up louder, it should adapt to learn that new sound and suppress it without degrading the quality of your microphone too much, snapshot suppression, however, is more straightforward.
This allows you to take a snapshot of your noise floor when you're not speaking, and then it won't adapt or change or anything like that. It’ll just use that noise floor until you take another snapshot, so this is designed more for people who have no changes in the noise floor and want a consistent removal of noise, so to actually test out how well this noise suppression works, I brought along my room fan, which creates a pretty loud and annoying hum when it's running at full speed, it's not running right now.
The first thing we need to do is turn off our expander to make sure that it's not getting any help when I'm not speaking, and I'll just be quiet for a second so you can hear the actual room noise in my room, I don't have a particularly loud room, but you can sometimes hear the computer fans.
Next, I'm going to enable the adaptive noise suppression, so it learns my room noise again, the floor fan isn't running yet. So you can see as it turns yellow, it’s learning the noise profile of the room, so now that it has the noise profile of the room, I will enable the fan, give it a few seconds to pick up speed, and there you can see the actual noise suppression, the adaptive noise suppression learning the profile, the new profile as the fan is running, and we'll see the reverse happen when I turn off the fan, that's magic.
The next tab that we have is the expander, if you aren't aware as to what an expander does, it’s basically just a more natural sounding noise gate, a noise gate will effectively mute your microphone when you aren't talking, AKA closing the gate, and then will unmute your microphone when you start speaking again, AKA opening the gate. The problem is that it can sound a bit unnatural and often gets a bit choppy as the gate has to be either fully opened or fully closed.
An expander, however, compresses the level of the microphone when you aren't speaking or when you're below a certain threshold, so instead of that gate being fully closed. It’s instead just reducing the volume by a certain ratio, which sounds a lot more natural, BEACN Mic has a simple and an advanced expander, the advanced one of course, lets you dial in things like the ratio and the attack and release times.
The next tab is the compressor, so if you're unfamiliar with what a compressor does, essentially the opposite of what we just talked about with the expander, instead of compressing your audio when it's below a threshold, a compressor will compress your audio when it's above a threshold. So for those moments when you get really loud, the compressor will instead reduce those really loud peaks so that your audio is more consistent.
Again, there's a simple and an advanced mode here if you want to dial in things like your ratio, attack, and release, but I got great results from the simple side of things. And I really liked this visual representation you get of the attenuation, actually how much the compressor is reducing your peaks by, so you can see it if you get really loud, the attenuation increases and has reduced it by minus 5.5 decibels there.
The final tab here is the controls for your headphones. I’m not going to go through everything here, but I do want to highlight the BEACN Mic has a headphone amp that can power some pretty demanding headphones. In fact, all the way up to 300 ohms, so if you're using some really high-end headphones that require a lot of power, it's good to know that BEACN Mic can support that. You can, of course also change your mic monitor levels, so how much of your own voice you hear back in your headphones.
Some people like hearing that, some people don't like hearing that, and there's also an equalizer here, we can adjust the actual sound coming back into your headphones, not anything to do with the sound going out to your stream, but if you like more bass in your headphones or something like that, you can adjust those settings here too. Right onto the EQ, probably the part of the signal chain that I get the most questions about no matter what microphone I'm talking about.
So what BEACN have done is they built both a simple EQ and an advanced EQ, which can be toggled with this option here. The simple EQ can adjust three bands that they've already done for you up and down, and the advanced EQ, you can have nine different bands and fine tune down to the nth degree by adjusting frequencies, gain, band type and Q bandwidth.
You can also enable this guide option here, which then shows you all the different parts of your voice and the frequencies that they occur at. Now, this isn't fine-tuned to your own voice, this is for a generic voice, but it'll really help especially those users that are new to EQing their own voice, work out which parts of their voice they want to boost and cut. This is also where that looping sample feature comes in clutch because you can record a ten second sample of your voice and then adjust your EQ settings until you like what you hear.
There are three final enhancements that you can make to your voice here, the de-esser, the base enhance and the exciter, the de-esser does exactly as its name suggests. It reduces the harshness of the S sound when you speak, which if not reduced, especially when people are watching your stream for several hours can be really fatiguing to listen to, the exciter helps add back in some of the crispness at the top end of your voice, which can be removed, especially when using a de-esser.
Finally, the base enhance has four different options that give you an extra layer of depth to the lows of your voice, and you can actually see a representation of how it's being applied there. So there are four different options which affect different parts of the low-end frequencies of your voice. I like number two, just probably because it's the most subtle, and then you can also adjust the amount here too.
Right next onto the lighting tab, so the RGB ring actually around the BEACN Microphone can be completely customized and controlled from the app to behave in various different ways. There are five different lighting styles to choose from, solid color, gradient, reactive meter, sparkle, and of course, spectrum cycle.
If you don't like RGB, rest assured that the brightness of the ringing any of these different color modes can be fully adjusted all the way down to switching it completely off if you wish. There are also some options to change the color of the ring and how it behaves when the microphone is muted in Windows.
The last tab here gives you the option of enabling BEACN's mixing suite, which enables 12 to 14 different audio devices in Windows that you can then assign certain programs to use as an audio source, and then you can of course, control those levels independently for both yourself through your headphones and your audience. It’s very similar to how Elgato's Wave Link works if you've ever seen or used that.
I'm going to be going over this mixer software in the BEACN Mix Create sections it's more relevant to use there. But keep in mind, even if you just buy the BEACN Mic and you don't buy Mix Create, you’re going to have access to all of these audio devices through the software, which is a great feature.
So let's have a look at BEACN Mix, which is the cheaper of the two mix products from BEACN at $149 and aims to be the simplest way to control all of the different audio sources on your PC, In the box, you get the Mix itself with its five inch screen and four scrolling, clickable knobs as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable, the build itself feels solid enough for a desktop controller, but I'd probably keep the packaging it came in if I ever wanted to actually travel with it, these infinite scrolling knobs, they don't have any kind of tactile bumps as you twist them, which is a shame, I like having that kind of feedback, and there's some grippy feet on the bottom to prevent it from sliding around on your desk, plugging this into our PC reveals a clear LCD screen where you can see the volume and metering information for each of the four available audio groups.
So within the BEACN App, you can see that we now have the Mix layout available, which is pretty simple. The top half really is essentially a preview of what we're seeing actually on the BEACN Mix device itself, so we have our four different audio groups controlled by the four different knobs. And they're ready for the different audio sources to be assigned to each group.
The bottom half shows you a list of all the different recording devices, playback devices, and applications playing audio that Windows has detected, you then simply just drag and drop your audio sources onto the different knobs, and then the knob on the actual device itself will control the volume of any of the applications within that group. So I put Spotify music on the third knob here, I'll put my microphone on the first, maybe have my headphones on the second and Google Chrome on the fourth, you can also drag multiple applications into a single group.
So say the third knob was for all of your different music sources and you sometimes use VLC for music. You can, of course have more than one application on each group, you can rename both the group names as well as the audio source names, just by double clicking and then typing out the new name, the screen on the actual physical Mix device then updates to show the new group name, the current volume, metering information or muted state as well as which audio sources are assigned to each group. The responsiveness of the software and the visual feedback on the hardware is instant, It’s really nice to see how quickly it reacts to changes on both ends.
To mute a group, you can either click on the knob on the device itself, or you can click these little listening icons here in the software. There’s also a neat feature here in the software where you can set two different listening devices and then a toggle to swap between them, so I usually set one to be my headphones, one to be my speakers, and then I can toggle between those two different outputs as I please and you can do that either by clicking the toggle switch in the software or by holding down any of the mute switches on the Mix for over a second.
One final thing to mention is you can, of course, change the colors of your four different audio groups just by double clicking on the color here and changing it to be something different and that will, of course, update on the actual Mix hardware itself.
BEACN Mix Create
Next we have the Mix Create, this is a little bit more advanced than the Mix and it comes with a $50 higher price tag, just like with his little brother, in the box, you get the device itself and a USB-C to USB-A cable. There aren't really a huge number of physical differences between Mix and Mix Create, you get these LED mute buttons below each knob, two paging buttons here on the right for scrolling to additional channels and a sub mix button for toggling between your personal and audience mixes, all of which will be explained later.
The main differences are in the software and what Mix Create allows you to do, coming from the Mix layout, the Mix Create UI has a lot more visually going on. Behind the scenes, by using Mix Create BEACN has installed a whole bunch of new audio devices into Windows that we can then use to route and control audio sources, this is exactly the same as what go XLR, Wave Link and RODE connect to, each source here has two different faders.
One for your personal mix that you hear and one for your audience mix that goes to your stream. So if you want something like your Discord comms to be nice and loud for you yourself, but quieter for your stream viewers, that can be done by adjusting these two faders here, you can also use Mix Create to adjust these faders and switch between them. So everything can be controlled from the device.
You can even lock the faders together so that the relationship is maintained between the personal and audience mix, so obviously if they are at the same volume, this means that they'll always be at the same volume but say that you wanted to have the music twice as loud for you as you do for your audience.
Then if you click this link button, the actual relationship between them is maintained, so that there's always the same ratio, It’s always half the volume for your audience as it is for you. Assigning a program or an audio device to a channel isn't as simple as it was with Mix, where you could just drag and drop the audio sources.
Here instead you need to enter the Windows App audio device preferences, there’s a little shortcut button to it up here, and then you need to set the output device for the program that you're using. So for example, you can see that here I have set Spotify to use the music channel of BEACN Mix Create and then Spotify is showing in the music channel actually within the software and on the device itself.
Apparently BEACN are working to have the same drag and drop functionality that we used in Mix available in the Mix Create too. But as of right now, you have to use the Windows App audio method, you can add up to nine different channels in total through the software and that's really where those paging buttons come in useful on the device itself because it allows you to scroll across as many devices and as many channels as you have and then the knobs will control the appropriate channel.
Channels can be dragged and dropped to reorder them if you wish to and that of course reflects on the Mix Create itself, channels can also be locked to their faders so that they stay in place. This is super handy if you always want to have, say your microphone on your first knob controls, and then when you page through to the rest of your channels, knob one will always be your microphone.
Whilst on the subject of microphones, it’s worth pointing out that this is completely mic agnostic. You can use Mix Create with absolutely any brand or type of microphone here to control this level, As long as it's shown in Windows Devices, is going to be shown here and you can select it and then control the volume, you also have these new mute buttons below each knob, which can be set to mute different modes, such as mute to all, mute audience, mute to self and mute to chat.
This is useful for those times when you want, for example, to be able to meet your teammates in discord so that your audience can no longer hear them, but that you still can hear them through your headphones. Just like with the Mix, you can set up two different listening devices for your personal mix and toggle between them. So your headphones and your speakers, for example, but unlike with the Mix, you can also set a custom audience mix.
This is great for people that use a two PC setup. As you can set your audience mix to go through your motherboard audio, for example, to a second streaming PC, Mix Create also gives you a routing table, which if you've ever used go XLR's routing table, this should look pretty familiar. It allows you to choose which channels go to your personal mix, your audience mix, or even your voice chat mic.
This icon here lets you copy your voice chat mic to a physical output in Windows. So this feature again is really useful for two PC streamers that have separate gaming and streaming PCs and want to use their microphone both in their streaming software, as well as on their gaming PC for their in-game voice chat.
So those are BEACN's first three products. What are my thoughts? Well, firstly, BEACN Mic may well be the best USB microphone for streamers, but I still feel like the software UI isn't intuitive or easy enough to use for most streamers. I first saw the BEACN software probably close to six months ago now and let me tell you it's come a long, long way.
I hope BEACN continues to refine this software and make it as approachable and easy to use for new creators to really get the most out of this awesome hardware. If they can do that, I do think we'll see some streamers steer away from using XLR setups that require interfaces and additional gear when there is such good USB microphone on the market.
BEACN Mix is a bit of a strange one for me, I don't really know why anyone would pay $149and not just spend the extra $50 to get Mix Create, which gives you sub mixes, the control of nine channels through paging, the various different mute modes for each channel. It just seems like such a better device, especially for streamers and content creators, I guess maybe BEACN Mix is more useful for non-creators that just want really easy control at their fingertips of all the different app volumes on their PC, but I don't know how many of those are going to be spending $150 on a device.
I can see the more expensive BEACN Mix Create being a hit, especially amongst streamers, just because of how much granular control it gives you over all of the audio management that you need to do for a stream.
Also I'd love to see just a little bit of refinement when it comes to the actual physical device itself. It might sound nitpicky, but just little things like the USB connection not sitting flush with the rest of the body or the dials not having any kind of notch feedback, they might sound like minor complaints, but for me, they’re what makes a product really feel premium. Overall though, I'm really excited to keep using and keep testing these three products from BEACN, It's always great for us consumers when a new brand enters a space and is innovating, creating products for streamers.
So I'll certainly be keeping the BEACN Mic and the BEACN Mix Create on my desk setup for now so I can get more hours in testing them. OH, and that reminds me, if you want to hear more examples of the BEACN Mic or ask any questions about any of the BEACN products, you should come and check the Gaming Careers podcast. It’s actually going to be live just a few hours after this video releases, It’s a few hours after the embargo.
We go live every single Monday and talk about the live streaming industry news and BEACN products is definitely going to be a big topic this week, so hopefully catch you then, peace.