Features, Functions, and Flaws: Razer’s Audio Mixer Review


The Razer Audio Mixer combines multiple sources into a single audio channel and, with software features, can make you sound better than ever.

Little by little, Razer seems to be entering just about every market associated with gaming and streaming. The former is the bread-and-butter of the business, everything from mice and keyboards to headsets and monitors, but the latter is growing, with more streamer-focused products launching each year.

The Razer Audio Mixer is the latest streaming device, aiming to give streamers more control to adjust audio levels instantly.

If you’ve invested in the GoXLR Mini, which the Razer Audio Mixer emulates on almost every level, there’s not much new to be excited about. With a launch that came years after the product it seeks to replace, the Razer Audio Mixer could have added new features or swung for the fences to differentiate itself from its competitor.

It’s not an unreasonable expectation after Razer innovates in the gaming peripheral space. Yet, despite not elevating the original design of the GoXLR Mini, it’s a step in the right direction for Razer.

Paired with the Synapse app and other Razer-branded streaming and gaming peripherals, the Razer Audio Mixer is a missing piece to the streaming puzzle. And it’s useful beyond streaming, making life more convenient when listening to music, hopping on a Zoom call, or recording audio for a video project. Though difficult to set up and lacking certain features, I found the product essential.

This is why it’s such a shame I had my experience tainted by an unexplainable and recurring error. With an assurance from Razer that the problem was not widespread and no evidence to dispute that, I likely received a faulty unit. If that’s true, I stand by what I said. If not, it’s not the only game in town. It happens.

Setup Is Not as Advertised

The issue I encountered randomly caused playback to sound staticy and distorted. After speaking with the Razer team and going back and forth with the engineering team, the root cause hasn’t been found.

Razer also hasn’t mentioned this problem to other users, and I’ve yet to find a similar complaint on Reddit, the internet’s de facto source for complaints and solutions.

On Reddit, I have found an overwhelming confusion regarding the mixer’s compatibility with USB mics. I don’t blame them because—unless you’ve pored through the manual—it’s hard to grasp how USB microphones work with the system since they’re not all built the same.

Screenshot of how to work the Razer Audio Mixer
Setting up is a hassle, but it’s worth it once you can do this.

There are actually three ways to connect a microphone. Connecting a USB microphone requires connecting the microphone to your computer’s USB port. That’s in addition to plugging in a 3.5mm cable from your microphone to the mixer’s line-in port to monitor and control the audio.

After that, you can go into the software to link the line-in channel to one of the four-channel sliders. There are several problems with this setup. 

For one, USB microphones with built-in gain and headphone monitoring volume adjusters are still the primary ways to control microphone levels. I spent nearly an hour troubleshooting the AT2020USB+ microphone before realizing both the gain and monitoring volume wheels on the microphone were set all the way down.

This makes the slider on the Razer Audio Mixer secondary and redundant. Another wrinkle with this setup is that gain and monitoring are tied to each other—moving the slider affects both. This means you’ll be using the microphone’s controls instead of the sliders, defeating the purpose of the mixer.

Also, USB microphones without a 3.5mm port are a non-starter. Sorry Razer Seiren Mini, Blue Microphone Snowball iCE ($50), and HyperX SoloCast ($60). At least these budget options are the exception and not the rule for having a built-in 3.5mm port.

The Front Port Is Better and Worse

Using the front 3.5mm microphone port adjacent to a 3.5mm headphone port is an alternative option. This port was designed for using headsets with a 3.5mm TRRS jack split into line-in and line-out jacks with a splitter like this one.

The wired Apple AirPods are a good example of headphones with a TRRS jack—that’s a jack with three rings that stands for Tip Ring Ring Sleeve.

It’s also possible to use the front microphone instead of the line-in port in the back when using a USB microphone. But, because the front port is unbalanced, it’s not recommended—unbalanced ports introduce interference.

Screenshot of Razer Audio Mixer
You can make any pair of earbuds into a microphone headset with a headphone splitter.

While using a USB microphone connected to the front port isn’t recommended, there’s a reason you may want to. The front port is synced to the Synapse software, which manages audio levels and applies voice modulation effects.

In the Mic tab of the Razer Audio Mixer software, you can adjust gain, toggle and adjust mic monitoring, and turn on useful features like a noise gate, compressor, and a mix equalizer.

In the Effects tab, you can sound like a monster or cartoon, or add echo and reverb to your voice. You can bind one of the effects to the large microphone mute button to apply the effect whenever. 

Voice modulation’s mileage may vary, but the combined features can make almost any microphone shine. So, it’s confusing why the line-out port, and by extension USB microphones, doesn’t have access to the same features, especially when Razer only makes USB microphones.

The only real option is to upgrade to an XLR microphone and not look back. 

XLR or Nothing

The option to use USB microphones is nice if that’s all you have, but support for an XLR microphone is arguably the best reason to buy the mixer. USB microphones like the HyperX Quadcast S are good because of their convenience, but, let’s be honest, XLR microphones are the next step in any setup. Instead of having a built-in preamp like USB microphones, XLR microphones rely on the preamp in an audio interface.

Being able to plug into any audio interface means XLR microphones’ sound can be made to sound better, whereas USB microphones are stuck. XLR microphones also produce less noise because XLR cables and connections are balanced.

If you’re going to spend $250 on the Razer Audio Mixer, you might as well upgrade to an XLR microphone. On that note, one-input audio interfaces like the RØDE AI-1 cost about $100, so you’re paying $150 more for the software features and the privilege to manage your audio with sliders.

Screenshot of the cable inputs to the Razer Audio Mixer
XLR is the way to go.

Using an XLR microphone with the Razer Audio Mixer takes full advantage of both components—the mixer can provide phantom power to hungry microphones by toggling the 48V button. 

The noise gate feature is a necessity when recording in a noisy environment—you’ll thank yourself later when the audio is crisp. When comparing the noise gate built into the Audio Mixer to the one on DaVinci Resolve, which is top-notch, I heard no major difference. Just like in Resolve, the Audio Mixer gives you control of the effect, with sliders able to change the threshold, release, attack, and more.

My setup is very close to a window, and it was able to mute the sound of a train, passing cars, and the awful noise of my PC fans. Some tinkering with the noise gate settings is not a bad idea; I felt the default setting was too powerful and was causing clipping.

Additionally, features like the equalizer, gain adjuster, mic monitoring, and compressor expand the functionality of your XLR microphone, which can help make it sound better than any USB mic.

Learn the Software

Without the Synapse software, the Razer Audio Mixer is a brightly-lit paperweight. You’ll want to get familiar with it to get your money’s worth. This bit is also confusing, and the manual only muddies it further, so I’ll break it down.

The first order of business is mapping all four of your channel sliders to an audio source in the Customize tab. Me? I have the XLR microphone on the first channel; game on the second; system on the third; music on the fourth.

Then, you’ll need to switch over to Sound Settings on Windows—right-click the speaker icon on the Windows toolbar to open it up.

The rest is like this: 

  1. Set the Output to “System (Razer Audio Mixer).”
  2. Set the Input to “Microphone (Razer Audio Mixer)” if using the XLR input or frontside 3.5mm port. Alternatively, set it to “Line-In (Razer Audio Mixer)” if using the 3.5mm Line-In port.
  3. Scroll down to App Volume and Device Preferences under Advanced Audio Options to bind channels to specific software—e.g., set Spotify to “Music (Razer Audio Mixer).”

Setting each software to correspond with a specific channel will make it easier to manage your audio. Music apps should be tied to the music channel; chat apps like Discord with the Chat channel.

Games can be linked to the Game channel via the Synapse software in the Profiles tab. It goes on.

Next is configuring the mixes. In the Mixer tab of Synapse, you’ll see the Stream Mix channel. This mix combines all the channels you want to broadcast. Set it as the input for your streaming software.

In OBS, you can do this by adding an audio input source and selecting “Stream Mix (Razer Audio Mixer).” Additional mixes include the Playback Mix tied to the headphone port, the Line Out Mix tied to the line-out port, and the Voice Chat Mix tied to chat apps. Once your mix sources are set up, use the sliders to adjust each source’s volume. 

Yes, this is incredibly dense, despite the “fuss-free setup” marketing claim. Nevertheless, it makes life a lot less complicated once you’ve got it down. Where before you’d need a handful of audio sources on OBS to manage all of your audio sources, now you only need one controlled with tactile sliders that are buttery smooth. 

The Achilles heel of the Razer Audio Mixer is its inability to adjust the volume of the mixes via the sliders directly. It’s possible to do in the software with the virtual sliders, but it’s not the same.

This device would be nearly perfect if there was a way to toggle between controlling sources and controlling mixes. It would allow me to change the output of any mix individually from the others via the sliders. This feature is at the top of my wish list for the Razer Audio Mixer V2, assuming a follow-up. 

Worth the Trouble? 

The static/distortion issue definitely soured my experience, but it seems the worst is over. After nearly a month of back-and-forth emails with Razer and hours of troubleshooting both on the hardware and software side, I may have finally solved the issue. It seemed a Windows program running in the background was corrupted and somehow interfered with the audio.

I figured it out when looking at the Event Viewer and noticed the program error and audio distortion were happening simultaneously. Uninstalling and reinstalling the program (Gaming Services) fixed it. I know correlation doesn’t imply causation. On the other hand, the issue hasn’t popped up once since. 

It was a headache to deal with, and it took hours of my time to fix it, but it’s definitely looking like a one-off problem, or at least one impacting a minimal subset of the user base. Razer confirmed with me that there had been no other reports of this issue, nor have they been able to replicate it.

Apart from a comment I found on this product’s Amazon page, there’s no other evidence that points to a widespread problem.

These reasons combined are why I can’t discount the Razer Audio Mixer, despite the ordeal it put me through. Though the issue was likely caused by a random software error so far removed from the Razer Audio Mixer and Synapse, it’s concerning and definitely something Razer should look at. 

I no longer have to put an asterisk beside the Razer Audio Mixer with that resolved. It’s still overly-complicated to set up, and I’d have liked better functionality for USB microphone users.

Putting that aside, there’s still the matter of price. On top of the Razer Audio Mixer’s $250 cost, you’ll spend at least an additional $100 to $200 for a good microphone and pair of monitoring headphones.

None of those reasons are deal-breakers because this product has a particular audience in mind. One that doesn’t mind paying top-dollar for good gear that will make the act of creating content more convenient. Don’t overlook the Razer Audio Mixer if you make any content that involves audio. 

This pair is quite a knockout, and I can tell you one thing: I’m not looking back. It may not have been the original, but it executes everything promised.

With the right XLR microphone, in my case, the RØDE PodMic, the Razer Audio Mixer will take your audio to the next level. There’s a lot to look forward to if this is what we can expect from Razer’s expanding streaming category. 

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