Tuesday, 7 November 2017

TheChiefMeat's Starter Microphone Guide

One of the most asked questions I get asked by new Twitch streamers is "what microphone should I buy that's around 100 dollars or less?". I've been meaning to answer this question in some detail for some time now, so below we're going to go through a few microphones that I'd recommend to new streamers.

The first choice you'll be making when picking a microphone is choosing betweem XLR or USB. For pretty much every person reading this article, you'll be using a USB microphone unless you already own an audio interface that has XLR inputs. I'm not going to go into too much detail about each microphone, nor will I get too technical, I'm simply going to state my reasoning for picking each one, and why I would personally choose to buy each microphone if I were spending 100 dollars or less on them. Microphone kits will be our primary focus, as they include the necessities for a new streamer to get up and running without much hassle, and include the required components to use them straight away.

First a small disclaimer of sorts. I have not been paid in any way to promote the following products by Samson, it just so happens that their microphones are well positioned in the market for beginners and are well priced amongst the competition, however I am using Amazon Affiliate links throughout this article.

The first microphone on this list is the Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone. This is the lowest end microphone on this list and the cheapest, at about 35 dollars. The microphone includes a very basic portable stand that is more designed to sit on top of a laptop screen than be placed on a desk, however it is possible to also be used as a desktop stand. Being the cheapest microphone here, I cannot strongly recommend this microphone, only if you have a very tight budget; this is probably your best bet for the near 30 dollar mark.

The second microphone we'll be taking a look at is the Samson Q2U Handheld Dynamic USB Microphone Recording and Podcasting Pack, which retails for around 50 dollars. This is a rather good starting microphone; it has both XLR and USB input, making it ideal if you later upgrade to an audio interface that has XLR inputs. It comes with a basic stand, foam pop shield and XLR and USB cables, making it ideal for anyone looking for a bang for your buck microphone, although I'd strongly recommend later upgrading to a proper microphone desk stand or floor stand.

The third microphone we'll be looking at is the Samson C01U Pro USB Studio Condenser Microphone + Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount + On Stage 4 Inch Pop Filter, which comes with both a spider shock mount, stand and a pop filter, which retails for around 110 dollars. This microphone is considered a good all rounder, capable of being used as a general purpose microphone for vocal and instrument recording. Assuming you have the money to spend, this is the microphone I'd personally go with as it is of a higher quality in general and is proven to be adept at multiple tasks. Once again, I'd strongly suggest later upgrading to a proper desk or floor stand.

As this microphone includes all the components required, has a standard USB input, which will make ease of use simple and is a well reviewed microphone, I'd strongly suggest it to those looking for a general purpose microphone.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

TheChiefMeat's Guide to OBS, Voicemeeter Audio Setup & Security.


Below you can find all of the information I use for various projects and hobbies, including streaming and audio software. This page will be updated as often as possible to include any new additions, refer to the below changlog for reference.

Also included is a standalone version of this guide which will be updated alongside this online version for those that would like it Found here.

Changlog & New Additions

Version 0.2 Changes:

[19th of August 2017]

Finished Audio Setup with OBS & Voicemeeter Banana Pro Guide.

Version 0.1 Changes:

[2nd of August 2017]
Finished OBS Overview & Installation guide.

Started Audio Setup with OBS & Voicemeeter Banana Pro Guide.

[1st of August 2017]

Initial Version; Added OBS Overview & Installation.

OBS Overview & Installation

Before we start with the basic overview and setup of OBS, please ensure you have the following before proceding. It is recommended to have this page open on one side of your monitor and OBS on the other side as you follow the guide.


The latest version of OBS (found here)
Twitch Stream Key (this can be found on your Twitch Dashboard).

Follow the on screen instructions for OBS during the installation process, once the installation is finished continue following this guide.

Now that OBS is installed, let's go over the main interface as well as the menus.

Basic Setup

The first thing we will want to do is create both a profile and a scene collection for ourselves, as well a local folder that we will use to store all of our pictures, gifs, overlays and any other files you might use with OBS, this will allow you to keep all the relevant files in one easy location.

This tutorial will assume that you already know how to setup scenes within OBS, so I'll be moving straight to the settings menu, which can be found under the files menu.

Here we can see the General settings menu, most of which we will be glossing over as most of the settings here are changed due to personal preference. If your PC is capable of recording and streaming at the same time (note that this can have result in significant CPU usage) then feel free to check the "Automatically record when streaming" option so you always have a backup of all your streams.

This is the Stream menu, which we won't spend much time in at all. Simply select the nearest Twitch server that is available to you and enter your stream key into the provided box.

720p Recommended Setup

The ouput menu is where we will be spending most of our time. Switching to the advanced menu is recommended here so we both have the same view of this screen.

Encoder: x264 - The x264 encoder gives high quality video playback with minimal tearing and screen blockyness, in exchange for higher CPU usage. This is the default recommended encoder to use on modern systems as most PCs are equipped with 4+ core CPUs.

Rescale Output: 1280x720 - This resolution offers good parity between quality and performance, depending on the provided bitrate (covered later).

Rate Control: CBR - CBR (Constant Bit-Rate) is recommended by Twitch as the default setting when connecting to their servers, as such that is our setting.

Bitrate: 2500/3500 - 2500 to 3500kbps (Kilobits per second) is a healthy middle ground between performance for the CPU and clarity for the viewer. When selecting your bitrate, take note that some viewers who may be watching could be watching on a poor connection, and as such might not be able to view your stream at all if you push the bitrate too far.

I would recommend taking note if viewers tell you that they are experiencing stutters or even interrupted playback as this may be due to you using a high bitrate, especially if you're a non-partnered streamer or someone that doesn't have access to the quality settings (this is usually due to the amount of viewers in your stream, too low and the quality settings won't show up for the viewers).

If you are a partnered streamer, going past the 3500 bitrate mark is recommended if your PC can handle it. This will benefit those that have the internet connection to support it, and other viewers will be able to select a low quality preset while watching your stream.

CPU Usage Preset: Superfast/Veryfast - This setting is entirely dependant on your CPU, so you may have to fiddle around with this particular setting. Simply put, the lower your preset, the more OBS will utilise your CPU, causing CPU usage to increase, but with the added benefit of a better quality stream. Those on lower end CPUs will be bound to the top three presets as CPUs will 4 cores or less will suffer greatly on the more intensive presets.

All other settings on this page will not be touched. Under the recording tab you'll find similar settings for recordings. Generally speaking I use the Nvidia NVENC encoder with a bitrate of about 20,000-30,000kbps as these recordings will be uploaded instead of streamed.

Finally we have the audio tab, with I usually set to 320kbps for all channels.

Under the audio menu we'll find a few settings for our sample rate as well as desktop and microphone devices. For now we simply want to make sure that the sample rate matches that of our current device (you can find this information by going to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sound on your PC, right clicking on your active speakers, going to the advanced tab and look at the default sample rate.

Most if not all people will have a sample rate of 41000Hz, so in OBS we want to ensure that 44.1khz is selected.

If you're planning on using the Voicemeeter Banana mixer as detailed in the tutorial included with this guide, feel free to skip the following, if not then simply select your microphone in the "Mic/Auxiliary Audio Device" tab.

Under the video menu, not much has to be changed. The Base (Canvas) Resolution should always match your monitor resolution, and the Output (Scaled) Resolution should match the Rescale Ouput resolution you set in the Output menu, unless you plan to record your streams, in which case it should match the Base (Canvas) Resolution for the best possible looking recordings.

The hotkeys menu has a few keys that you might find useful to bind, such as the Mute and Unmute hotkeys for your microphone, I usually have these bound to a single button on my mouse so I can easily mute my microphone when needed.

This covers the basics of the OBS settings menu. The advanced menu has little to cover and once again is mostly for personal preference and troubleshooting (such as the low latency mode). If you want feel free to fiddle around with these settings, but I'd recommend leaving them as they are.

Audio Setup with OBS & Voicemeeter Banana Pro

This section will cover setting up Voicemeeter Banana Pro with OBS using both Voicemeeter Banana Pro and Virtual Audio Cables. Please note that in order to continue with this tutorial, you will need additional software (linked below) which does require a donation to the creator of said software.


Voicemeeter Banana Pro (Website)

Virtual Audio Cables (required donation for complete setup, one free cable download)

Once you gone ahead and donated, you should recieve an email with a link for the two additional cables. Back these files up along with the other downloaded files!

Once you have download the files go ahead and create a folder on the desktop for your convenience, you should have the following four files:



Go ahead and run the VoicemeeterProSetup.exe as an Administrator and complete the setup, then extract the zip files into their own folders (using something like 7zip) and run each of the three Setup_x64.exe files as an Administrator for each of the three cables.

Once completed go ahead and restart your PC.

At this point you'll have no audio at all for any application, so lets go ahead and fix that. The first thing we want to do is open the Windows Sound menu shown below. Set the VoiceMeeter Input and VoiceMeeter Output as the default Playback and Recording devices.

Now that we have the default audio set for the mixer, we can go ahead and open it up, either by the desktop shortcut or by launching Voicemeeter Banana from the Windows Start Menu.

To begin with we need to understand the very basics. At the top right of the mixer you can find three outputs for audio, A1, A2 & A3. Press the A1 button and a drop-down menu will appear with the possible audio outputs, as we're trying to get basic audio back, select your speakers/headphones that you usually use for audio output (if there are two identical names for your output, select the MME version).

Go ahead and open up a YouTube video and comfirm that the audio is now working. What you should see is the Voicemeeter VAIO mixer (found in the centre of the panel) is now displaying the current audio levels, feel free to use the slider to adjust the audio, double-clicking the slider will bring it back to 0dB. This slider is going to be used for most of the audio coming through your PC, so consider it as the default audio slider.

Next to the slider you'll find three other buttons, also called A1, A2 & A3. These buttons correspond to the three output buttons; you'll notice that if you turn off the A1 button, you can no longer hear the audio playing, we'll use this later to allow us to pass through audio to the stream that we want our viewers to hear, and to block audio we may not want them to hear.

Now that we have basic audio working again, it's time to setup our music player. To the left of the slider we just played around with are three other sliders (I'm using the centre slider), we can use these for other programs and have individual control over their sound levels, and if the stream hears the audio or not. Go ahead and open your selected audio player and find the audio output menu (obviously all audio players are different). We want to send the audio down a virtual cable instead of to our speakers, so select any of the virtual cables (I'm using CABLE-A) in the drop down menu (I'm using Foobar2000 in this example).

Now that our music player is routing its audio to the virtual cable, we need to assign one of the sliders to that cable, to do this choose a slider, and at the top of the slider where it says "Select Input Device" click and choose the cable we used in the audio player (as seen below).

Now that our slider has the correct cable assigned to it, we should be able to hear any music played with our audio player. go ahead and test out the slider, as well as turning on and off the A1 button just like we did before so that you can hear the music.

Now that our audio player has been setup, we can do the same for our microphone. Go ahead and choose another slider (I'm using the right slider) and select your microphone just like we did before from the dropdown menu. Now that your microphone is selected go ahead and listen to yourself by enabling the A1 button (watch out for feedback if you've got your speakers on!)

Congratulations, you've now got your microphone and your audio ready to go! All that's left to do now is to send this audio to OBS. To do this we need to setup another ouput. In the top right of the mixer go ahead and press the A2 button and select the last unused cable (if you've been following along, this should be CABLE Input) and assign it to the A2 button.

Finally all we have to do is open up OBS and in the audio menu assign our Desktop Audio Device to the "CABLE Input" (This is our A2 ouput in the mixer).

Everything is now complete! To send audio to the stream, simply enable to A2 button the slider, and to let yourself hear it, press A1 (below I've added a small guide image to help).

As a final step, you can right click where it says "HARDWARE INPUT 3" at the top and write in a name for each of the two sliders (Music, Microphone) so you can more easily remember which is which.

I hope this guide helped you setup the basic of audio routing with Voicemeeter! If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below, or contact me on Discord or Twitter!


Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Little Acre...Review?

Point and clicks are far from my forte, in fact The Little Acre is my first brief step into this genre, and so far I have been left with an impression that will be difficult to beat.

Upon entering this world you're greeted with an artistic style that has a whimsical nature to it and a soundtrack to match. Even from the menu screen it was clear that this particular game had some great effort and love poured into it by its creators. From the art direction to the voice acting, everything appears to fit snugly in place, which in turn helped me immerse myself into the magical world that awaited me.

Jumping down the almost literal Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, you're greeted with a magical world away from the simple farm life your characters left before. Surrounded by strange plant and animal life, everything seems to have a reason to be, and if it were placed in any other world everything you see would seem threatening, but here you're filled with a child-like sense of wonder.

I spend just under three hours with the game, part of which was due to my lack of experience with the basic mechanics of point and clicks in general (how to move between scenes using the edge of the screen etc). The puzzles in the game are on the simplistic side, which honestly I was thankful for so I could experience the world without getting bogged down and becoming uninterested.

I can say that the performance of the game was sublime and had no impact on my experience of the game whatsoever, nor did the frame rate. Animations throughout were simply smooth and I never felt any slowdown, stutter or tearing.

As is expected options are extremely limited here, with just simple sliders for audio and subtitle tracks in various languages.

As someone that has great difficulty keeping focus and finishing games, I can say that The Little Acre kept me captivated throughout, which is a rare feat.

The Little Acre is available at both GOG and Steam for £9.99/$12.99 USD, a more than fair price for such a beautiful and polished gem.

Thursday, 18 August 2016


Okhlos was not a game I was expecting to be playing today, but regardless I found myself recruiting hordes of peasants and warriors alike in a mob based action beat'em up. The developer has managed to blend PS1 era looking 3D art with 2D spites, a game I can imagine looking at through rose tinted glasses if it were released back in the 90's.

The premise is simple. Recruit followers to your cause of destruction and havoc across multiple ancient Greek cities fighting mobs and bosses as you go, and the game executes this simple idea excellently. The game has multiple types of followers available from just your lowly peasant to warriors and defenders, each with their own role, benefits and downsides. You can even have stray cats, dogs and other animals follow you on your adventures.

I spent roughly three hours with game, but I certainly will be coming back for more as there are still more levels for me to explore and followers to unlock, the levels of which are semi-randomly generated but maintain a theme for each.

The game has full support for 4K and gamepad support, as well as windowed mode but sadly no borderless mode. The only bugs I encountered while playing the game was a single frustrating crash as I brought a bosses health to its knees, and a strange bug with the underwater wooden platforms that are on the water levels, my character would get stuck around the edges of the object without any means of escape.

Overall this game is a great pickup for the asking price with many hours of mindless fun ahead. The game is available on GOG and Steam for £9.99/12.99 USD.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Zombie Night Terror...Review?

Zombie Night Terror is probably best described as a lemmings-esk zombie infestation game, with your primary goal (assuming you're of the same mindset as I am) of biting and infecting as many humans as possible whilst completing the mission goals. The game has no direct control over the zombies, and just like willful lemmings they will simply walk towards whatever goal you have set for them or wander around the general area they are in.

Whilst you have no direct control over them, the walking dead are surprisingly entertaining to control through other means, even more so when you are forcing them to self-destruct, causing blood and body parts to splatter across the screen in a meatboy styled explosion, taking out other zombies and humans in the blast radius. There are several "mutations" available that will periodically unlock as you progress throughout the game, giving you new abilities to unlock and that open up more gameplay elements and strategies. There does seem to be a very loose story from what I have played so far, but I'll leave you to explore that for yourself.

Video options are simple, but to be honest with a game like this I didn't expect much. Full 4K support is a feature and the game should auto-detect your monitors resolution.

A few other options I appreciated was the ability to automatically pause the game when I placed an overlord (a sort of mind-controlling zombie for the peasant zombies), the in built game time tracking and the ability to clear my save data within the game, something that is surprising missing from a lot of games nowadays.

Controls are also fully rebindable (as far as I can tell) with the option of a secondary set of controls.

So far I have enjoyed my brief time with it, and will most likely continue streaming it on a regular basis. The gameplay is a nice mix of challenge and excitement, wondering what each level will bring and how I can overcome it, not to mention the exploding zombies, did I mention that?

Zombie Night Terror is available at both GOG and Steam for £9.99/$12.99 USD, IMO a price that is fitting for a game like this.

No Mans Sky...Review?

So I know this has been said by a bunch of people, but these are my nick-picks I have with No Man Sky after playing using a friends version of the game. I was thinking of making a video highlighting all of this, but I simply don't have the audience to make any effect, that and people have already bought the game and found these things out for themselves.

Problems I've had:

 * Resolutions don't appear matched up to what they're set to. The game appears to upscale from something like 720p regardless of what I set it to including 4K, this is especially obvious when I'm still getting 60fps at 4K and still see noticeable jaggies on my ship and trees.

 * The anti aliasing doesn't appear to work either, forcing it through the nvidia control panel helps.

* The FOV appears to be either incorrect, or the terrain and gun model is making the FOV appear much narrower than they are, thankfully you can manually edit the FOV in a file.

* Inconsistencies with mouse clicking in menus. Sometimes the menu wants a single click, sometimes it wants you to hold down..why, I have no idea.

* Ship controls are almost non existent when traversing above the planets surface. The ship appears to have a mind of its own and will randomly jerk, rise, fall and turn without any input from you. As someone who has put thousands of hours into flight sims, this was incredibly frustrating.

* The black bar thing when you get a milestone is extremely jarring when in combat or mining, mostly because it removes the HUD and now finding the centre of your screen can be difficult, came close to dying once or twice due to this.

* Inventory management is, well it's a cancerous piece of consolitous that's made it's way onto PC. Hopefully someone will make a Skyrim-esk interface mod for this game, it seriously needs it (I doubt that will happen though).

* Textures in general on planet surfaces are blurry even at full settings, I don't know how to fix this.

* Also noticed some texture pop-in flying over the planet surfaces and flying into the atmosphere. Honestly this point is expected due to the way the game is rendering assets and textures in.

I'm sure there is more that I haven't got to yet or I've forgotten about. The game is IMO a shallow impersonation of a grand space exploration game, capitalising on the resurgence in the interest of space games/sims. If you're looking for a game that gives you the same sense of exploration, or you are looking for something that is just as grand but without the pitfalls, the X series is still amongst the best there is. You can get X3 Terran Conflict with it's expansion on GOG and Steam, either that or something like Elite: Dangerous, which actually has real MP.

Right now I think that the biggest argument (beside the above) to not purchase this game is it's price tag. At £39.99/$59.99 USD it seems unjustly expensive.

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