Disclosure: Review unit provided by PR on behalf of Monoprice | All photos captured by Wesley Copeland. To learn more about our review policy click here. | Alternatively, click here to find out why you can trust me.
Recently I launched the RetroResolve YouTube channel, now with voiceover videos! At first, I started out using my Pixel 6 Pro phone to record video and audio, but after getting some feedback, I was told it’d be worth getting a proper microphone. I still use the Pixel 6 Pro to record video, but I agreed that the mic quality could be better.
As with any newcomer to YouTube, I did my research about which mics are the best for newcomers and why. As the channel isn’t anywhere near being monetizable yet, I needed something that offers up solid vocal quality while not costing a bomb. Some professional mics go for upwards of $1000, which is way too much for someone just starting out.
That’s where the Dark Matter Sentry streaming mic from Monoprice comes in. At a suggested retail price of $99, you’ll often be able to pick this mic up while on sale for $39.98. That, as someone just starting out, is exactly the kind of money I’m willing to risk on a microphone.
The video I’ve embedded above was created using the Sentry mic. Feel free to give it a listen to get an idea of how it sounds.
For someone who’s just starting out, this mic has been a godsend. I borrowed my son’s HyperX Quadcast to get an idea of the difference between the Sentry and a more premium offering. There is a slight difference – P and S sounds pop a little more on the Sentry mic than the more expensive HyperX offering. But overall, there’s little difference in terms of the actual audio quality.
The pop difference is due to the superior pop filter included in the HyperX Quadcast which helps to dampen clicking sounds. Monoprice did send me a separate pop filter as well, and that did help somewhat. The video above was recorded without the pop filter because, in the end, I felt the quality was good enough without it.
I do need to stress this pop filter problem isn’t something you’ll even notice unless you’re using both mics next to one another like I was. It’s a difference, but it’s not a reason to avoid the Sentry gaming mic. For a budget mic, the Sentry packs in clean audio in a stylish look.
Ease of Use.
I know I keep mentioning starting out, but it’s so important that budget mics are easy to use. I live online and work on a Windows PC and Linux Steam Deck daily. Not everyone is going to understand tech as easily as I do. Plus when it comes to new tech, the more approachable the better.
The Dark Matter Sentry mic is as simple to set up as they come. The solid metal base stand screws into the bottom of the mic, the USB is automatically aligned with the port, and the other end of the USB-C cable goes into the PC. Simple stuff.
Two knobs guard the front, with a headphones jack below. The bottom knob controls the headphones’ volume, while the top knob is your gain dial (how sensitive the mic is). On top of the mic, surrounded by rather average lighting, is the button to switch between the different listening modes.
Honestly, this is the easiest piece of tech I’ve set up lately. It’s a great example of plug-and-play with minimal fuss.
The Dark Matter Sentry comes with four listening modes:
- Cardioid – a mode that records sound directly in front of the mic.
- Stereo – a mode that records a wider area in front of the mic.
- Bidirectional – a mode that records sound from the front and back of the mic.
- Omnidirectional – a mode that records from all sides of the mic.
Cardioid is what I’ve been using for YouTube videos as I only want the mic to pick up my voice and not, say, the neighbors shouting outside or roadworks. Stereo would be useful if you’re recording a podcast side by side with someone else, as would the bidirectional mode if you’re recording at a table. Likewise, omnidirectional is best suited for if you’ve got several people in the room.
So, let’s show examples. Below you’ll find three recordings of me with the Sentry mic to get a closer idea of what it sounds like in different situations.
Recording of my voice at the recommended distance from the mic:
Recording of my voice one foot away from the mic:
Recording of my voice from the other side of the room:
All of the above have been recorded with the gain up to the highest to give you an idea of how far (or close) you can get before the mic stops picking up your voice. I should also add, there were kids playing outside my house when I recorded these. The mic managed to ignore those outside sounds, even when I was far away from the mic, and only picked up my voice. Not bad, eh?
The Dark Matter Sentry mic is the perfect mic for someone who’s just starting out. The audio quality is excellent for the low price, it’s easy to understand and set up, and the gain knob really lets me fine-tune how loud I want my voice to come out.
The RGB lights are cool, but they’re also pretty basic. You can change the color of the four lights on top and one inside only visible from the back. If you’re using the mic for a solo recording, that’s just the one light that’ll light up. It’s not bad, but it’s hardly exciting either.
In terms of quality, it won’t rival the HyperX Quadcast or Quadcast S, but that’s fine. The Sentry is $160 cheaper than the Quadcast S. That’s why I say if you’re thinking of getting into YouTube or streaming on Twitch or Kick, and you don’t want to spend loads on expensive equipment, the Dark Mattery Sentry comes easy to recommend for fellow newcomers.