If you’re a game streamer on a platform like Twitch or YouTube Gaming, or are considering becoming one, a dedicated gaming mixer like the Yamaha ZG01 will help improve the experience for you and your audience. In this article, we’ll explain why.
A gaming mixer provides inputs for all the audio and video sources required for gaming — no more, no less. You don’t need a separate mixer and audio interface; the gaming mixer handles the functionality of both.
Typically, a gaming mixer offers the following connection types:
The ZG01 features two USB ports. One port is used if you’re hosting the game from a computer that has USB-C. In that case, it not only provides power to the ZG01 but also carries game audio and voice chat from your PC into the ZG01 and sends your mix of game audio, voice and chat back to your PC for streaming.
The second USB port is used to power the ZG01 if you’re hosting the game from a console or from a PC without USB C.
These allow you to connect a game console’s audio and video signals to the mixer via HDMI. (Note: A gaming mixer won’t process the video but will “pass it through,” allowing you to send it to a video capture device for streaming on your computer.) The ZG01 offers two HDMI inputs, which make it possible to connect up to two game consoles (such as a PlayStation® and Xbox™, or an Xbox and Nintendo Switch™) and an HDMI output for a TV or monitor.
Here are the kind of connections you’d make in such a setup:
These enable you to plug in a microphone for chatting with your audience. The ZG01 offers both professional XLR/TRS and standard 3.5 mm microphone inputs so that you can use either a standalone microphone or the mic built into a gaming headset.
Your stream includes both the game audio and your spoken commentary about the game action, as well any comments coming from your chat group. If you want to keep your audience interested, it’s essential that your viewers be able to clearly hear both the game audio and your voice, as well as their own chat. A gaming mixer like the ZG01 is purpose-built for doing just that. It allows you to easily adjust the balance between the game audio, your microphone and group voice chat. A good audio mix is crucial even if most of your audience is listening on mobile phones, poor-quality stereo headsets or laptop speakers with limited fidelity.
Many audio mixers take up a lot of space and offer dozens of knobs and switches, many of which are unnecessary for game streaming. Dedicated gaming mixers provide a smaller and easier way to manage your gaming audio experience. The compact footprint of the ZG01, for example, fits neatly into any gaming command center, offering just the right selection of tactile controls needed for real-time mixing and effects, with deeper, less frequently accessed settings available in free companion ZG Controller software.
One way to make your stream more compelling and at the same time help differentiate your commentary from voices in the game is to add effects to your voice. The ZG01 provides a wealth of onboard effects, including compression, limiter, reverb, pitch, radio voice and more, plus press-and-hold buttons for echo and censor beep sounds. It gives you the power to substantially change the character of your voice, quickly and easily.
A gaming mixer will sometimes let you enhance the game audio in different ways to add to the excitement for your audience. For example, the ZG01’s Focus Mode feature enables you to increase the ambient sound and reduce the player’s sound in the game audio to add to the dramatic effect in battle and other action scenes — there’s even a 3D Chat Space, where game chat voices get placed where you want them in a virtual space that avoids overlap with the game sound.
In addition, the ZG01 allows you to virtualize the game’s surround soundtrack, thus significantly enhancing the immersive aspects for your audience and making them feel like they’re part of the action even if they’re listening on stereo headphones.
It’s worth noting that, although a dedicated gaming mixer like the ZG01 offers the most flexibility and connectivity options, you can get some of its functionality from a compact audio mixer with a USB output, such as the 6-input Yamaha AG06MK2 or 3-input AG03MK2. (The AG03MK2 is also part of the Yamaha AG03MK2 LSPK bundle, which includes a high-quality microphone and connecting cable, along with studio-quality headphones.)
Alternatively, you can use an all-analog audio mixer connected to an audio interface, which will route the audio signal directly into your computer. Audio mixers put many handy features at your fingertips. Their multiple input channels allow you to connect simultaneous sources (for example, multiple microphones if you have guests or more than one host). They also typically offer multiband EQ for adjusting the tone of your microphone as well as dynamics processing such as compression/limiting, along with panning and built-in effects for enhancing voices. However, they won’t provide the HDMI ports you’ll find on a dedicated game streaming mixer, which makes getting the game audio into it from a console much less convenient. (For example, if your gaming console has an optical out, you might need to convert that optical out to analog first.) You’d likely have to control the game audio level from the console or your streaming software instead of the mixer.
The lack of HDMI connections on a compact audio mixer won’t be an issue, however, if you’re playing the game on your PC rather than on a console. That’s because you can feed the output of the mixer into your computer via USB and then balance it with the game audio using software running on your computer, such as OBS Studio or Streamlabs.
Check out this companion article: “Five Ways a Mixer Can Improve Your Multiplayer Gaming”