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Better speaker/mic to use with my phone, video calls for family gaming across the world

SerpentSerpent Sometimes Vancouver, BC, sometimes Brisbane, QLDRegistered User regular
edited July 19 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi All,

Just looking for some advice on external speakers/microphones i can connect to my phone for use with group video calls.

My son and I play Mario Kart with his Aunt and cousins and we prop up phones/ipads and the like to transmit video and voice while we're playing. Out of interest, we live 12 timezones away from each other so this is how we connect.

As anyone with kids can imagine, getting actual social connection this way is REALLY HARD. The kids get really excited and keep chattering and have no idea what's happening with the others on the other side of the world with the a) small screen b) crappy phone speakers and c) crappy phone microphones. I mean this is normal even in person with small kids and video games and even harder this way. Add on the fact that my son has a slight hearing impairment and he can't hear anything my other family are saying during an actual game and sometimes they can't hear him. The hearing impairment is just slight, but it means he needs to focus a bit more on what people are saying which most certainly doesn't happen when it comes from my crappy phone speaker, and we're also in the middle of a game!

Sometimes it almost feels like we could just be playing other random people with no video/sound and it would be almost the same due to the sound challenges which is a real shame.

Better equipment is most certainly NOT going to fix this completely as it's just a fact of life, even in person with kids (hah). But I want to remove as much impediment to this avenue of connection as I can. I want to make it better.

Any ideas?

Maybe two sets of bluetooth headsets for me and my son?

I'd rather make it a bit more natural and just connect up decent speakers/microphones but if headsets are the way to go we could do that.

Serpent on

Posts

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited July 19
    Bluetooth will add some amount of latency, which may compound your problems. Also, cheaper/older Bluetooth headsets have shitty codecs which give you "phone voice" when listening on a call (the voice sounds like its going through a cheap telephone, because high and low frequency information is lost using the codec), which may make it more difficult to hear. Your best bet is probably a wired headset or headphones of some sort. The problem, of course, is that you need to be able to hear your video games at the same time you are hearing the chat program. I would recommend either open-back headphones (sound from the video game will probably be slightly muffled, but you should still be able to hear it) or bone conduction headphones plugged into the phone. Bone conduction is particularly good for human voice, although I'm uncertain if they will fit your son's head (since most are made for adults). Aftershokz makes a wired version of their Sportz Titanium model of bone conduction headphones (I use these, and they work great), which goes for around 40-50 bucks.

    If two people need to hear the chat, you can get two sets of headphones (they don't need to be identical, obviously) and a splitter. Both of you can use the phone as the microphone, probably, as long as you have the phone propped close enough to you. Phone mics tend to be omnidirectional, which means they can catch a lot of stray audio, but that's usually not too much of a problem on a video call.

    What program are you using for your group video chats? Facetime or what? I mean, there's no reason you have to do a video chat over a phone. You can set up a laptop with webcam at both ends and run a video chat off of Discord or something. Getting non-tech savvy people to do this is a challenge, of course, but you'll get better sound quality. You may also consider having each person at your household connecting to the video chat from their own device and having a gamer headset connected to each device (it's difficult to connect two gamer headsets to a single phone because of the TRRS jack type not supporting a splitter easily, due to needing plug-in power for the microphones).

    Hahnsoo1 on
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    PSN: Hahnsoo | MH Rise: Hahnsoo, Switch FC: SW-0085-2679-5212
  • SerpentSerpent Sometimes Vancouver, BC, sometimes Brisbane, QLDRegistered User regular
    Hey that gave me some ideas. Some of that is a bit too.... 'into it' for the environment we're trying to create, especially considering sometimes toddlers walk up and need a go and all that. We're basically trying to connect two rooms together, not connect 4 people, espescially as the number of people interacting is somewhat fluid. In my house it's a bit simpler but not over at my sisters.

    I've got a headset splitter I could use with my son. That might help heaps if the problem is mostly his own hearing so worth a try.

    Anyone ever used the bluetooth speakerphone systems like the Jabra 510 or Anker Powerconf S3?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    We have a blue snowball from my animation days that picks up everything in our living room. Because the mic is so strong, When we play games with people I have that mic on one PC with headphones, and the other person is on another PC in the discord with no mic. You can mute individual people, so I mute the account with the mic on it. When I bought a noise cancelling pair of headphones, I actually turn up the room sound a little bit so I can hear my partner, the only downside to this is I can hear myself talk.

    This has the affect of a splitter but would give you multiple output options. If you put a pair of noise cancelling headphones on your kid, and had him in the discord without a mic, he could have everyones volume up (including the one recording the room) and use the noise canceling to filter everything else out. I'm not sure if he'd feel isolated if he was the only one with headphones on.

    This is a snowball:
    https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Snowball-Microphone-Textured-White/dp/B000EOPQ7E

    I have one from....2009, so I'm not sure if the quality has changed, but I'll be damned if the thing isn't sturdy. If you don't have laptops/PCs, I don't know that this will work, as its a USB mic.

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