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I am fortunate enough to have a dedicated work and production space, plus I have a dedicated desk and the computer for all my peripheral testing and gaming. In this article we want to go over our mains for keyboards, mice, and audio, with both Mike and Eber throwing in their picks.
My editing setup behind me has not changed in about a year in terms of peripherals, I have changed around the audio stuff. Now for gaming my main game right now is Escape from Tarkov, so I really need precise aim and tracking and good movement within the map. For more single-player stuff I tend to gravitate towards more environmental and immersive titles, like Little Nightmares II to Observer: System Redux. I am not ashamed to say that I am still playing Half-Life: Alyx with VR, because you just want to take it all in. In all those titles audio is also super important, so I’m excited to share what I have been using.
I’m going to start with my two main keyboards, for my editing desk I have the XTRFY K4 RGB Retro Edition and for my gaming desk the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro. The K4 Retro choice was really simple, I love the colorway, I can cycle between desired colors quickly, it’s driverless, and there is a simplicity behind the keyboard. It is also quite heavy so the base is stable. Really the main reason is dampening of all the larger keys, the Spacebar/Backspace/Shift keys all have very satisfying softness when you bottom out so they both feel and sound pleasant. Now you may think is the sound dampening really worth it when you’re talking about non-PBT keycaps, non-renewable cable, no drivers, so no precise color adjustment either? And yes, the dampening makes a whole lot of difference. This is why it’s been on my editing desk for a year now. We published the review in March 12th of 2019, and I’ve been using it ever since. I love this keyboard.
My gaming keyboard choice though is another TKL: The Vulkan Pro from Roccat. I absolutely love the design with floating keycaps, exposed switches, removable USB-C cable, a fantastic volume wheel, standard bottom row, and optical red switches. The switches are very light and smooth, my fingers are always left satisfied after a few raids in Escape from Tarkov. In game I can do quick peaking, I can bunny hop once in a while, and these linear/light/fast switches are just my style of switches for gaming.
Eber: For my main keyboard I was actually using the Varmillo VA87M, which was custom built with Cherry MX Speed switches along with custom designed PBT Double Shot keycaps. I wanted to try something different so I decided to switch things up to the Razer Huntsman Mini. Now I have to be be honest with you, I wasn’t really a fan of 60% keyboards because I love having dedicated arrow keys and the tilda key, which I used a lot when it came to creating text elements for certain videos. I really missed them a lot when I switched over to the Razer Huntsman Mini, but I think I have sort of gotten used to it. Now I just have to use the function key and I think I have trained my muscle memory to hit those arrow keys when I need to. That tilda key is something that I still haven’t got around to, because if I need to get one of those signs into my one of my videos I’m just going to have to Google it and then copy and paste it.
Dmitry: Uh editor here, I will interrupt this because the tilda on 60% keyboards usually is activated with a Shift + Function + Escape key. The ESC key usually doesn’t have the tilda function written on the keycap, but it should because that’s how you activate the tilda. Ybor. Now back to Eber.
Eber: To be honest with you, I think at the end of the day what I really love about this keyboard is its form factor, because it’s so compact that it gives you so much room around your desk to place other things on. As you can see right now, my desk is clean, but typically it’s not because I have so much stuff on it. It also gives me that minimalistic vibe every day when I walk into the office with a fresh mindset. It also compliments my Wooten palm rest by Keychron really well, and overall it’s just an amazing comfortable typing experience.
Eber: The Chroma lighting is also something that I appreciate since it comes in super handy when I’m working later into the night. As you can see I have customized the keyboard just a little bit. I have swapped out the spacebar for something that’s a little bit contrasty, this is the chalk white version that I swapped out from the Varmillo keyboard. And then the ESC key was something that I picked up from the Ducky One 2 Mini. Yes, I do just have keycaps laying around, so I just find stuff and I put them on to make it look cool.
Mike: Well for keyboards I guess I’m a little bit of a yin and yang type of person. When it comes to gaming I’m really not picky, but I will hang on to that cheap and cheerful keyboard probably forever because I get used to it. Right now that is the G.Skill KM360 TKL keyboard. It is a really back to basics keyboard, only has white backlighting, and it was on sale 2 years ago for only $50 USD. I have replaced the keycaps with HyperX Pudding Double Shot PBTs, but otherwise it just suits my needs. On the other hand, what I have been using for productivity for almost 2 years now is a downright weapon. It is a Varmillo TKL keyboard with MX Silence that has been lubed, and it it’s just a beautiful, beautiful keyboard for productivity, but I don’t use it for gaming. It’s been really good to me for a couple of years now, even after spilling a bunch of wine on it, so at least there’s that.
Dmitry: Let’s move into the mice now. The staple for all my production work has been the G305 Wireless from Logitech for years. I have the white one on my editing desk and a black one with my Razer Blade. I even have a wired version hanging off my shelf just in case something happens with my wireless one. The G305 or the original G Pro is just such a fantastic shape, wireless performance has never disappointed me, and it runs for almost a year of a single AA battery. There is nothing more to say other than it’s a fantastic mouse for the price point.
Dmitry: My gaming mouse of choice is probably not so popular, and that is the new MM720 from Cooler Master. It is based on the Xornet Shape from years ago, but with all the updated modern guts to satisfy anyone in 2021. It’s lightweight, has one of the best sensors, optical switches, a light cable, and very pretty illumination. One negative is that the perforations on my white copy are getting clogged up a bit. It also comes with optional grip tape, which helps to further secure the mouse in hand and massive PTFE feet for a satisfying glide. It is the shape though that really gets me going, it is a slightly wider and shorter body, but for my wider hand it is absolutely perfect. I played 800 DPI with really good precision and tracking, and I can’t really think of anything else that has given me such confidence in my aim in my entire history of reviewing mice.
Eber: For my main mouse I’m still using the Logitech MX Master 3. I absolutely love this thing because it’s a perfect tool for all the applications that I use on a regular basis. I’m going to start things off with the horizontal scroll wheel, because it is an amazing add on, especially when I’m scrolling through the timeline in DaVinci Resolve, and even just scrolling around a certain frame within Photoshop. It’s such an awesome feature and you can actually custom program a lot of these buttons with those respective applications through the software. The ergonomics are just perfect and that is super important to me given the dangerous amount of time I spent in front of a computer. This mouse is also wireless, so you can use it in either 2.4GHz mode or Bluetooth, and you can pair it with up to 3 devices which is good given that I usually use Bluetooth mode with my laptop and then 2.4Ghz mode when I’m at my main PC. The transition is super fast, you simply click a button at the bottom of the mouse and it switches really, really well.
Eber: The battery life is also phenomenal, I think the last time I remember plugging in this mouse was maybe 2 months ago, which is just great. This is a tool that doesn’t give me any issues and it helps my work flow really well. If you are a professional who’s looking for a plug-and-play solution that has great battery life, that is feature rich, and that will help your productivity you just can’t go wrong with the MX Master 3 from Logitech. In fact, I have done an entire review on this mouse, so if you are interested in that you can check it out right here.
Mike: This is the Logitech G403, and it is basically my work productivity mouse when I’m home, but not here at the office. Basically what has started to happen is it started to sort of peel off on the dies and no matter what I do with glue or whatever it starts to peel off again. As a result, I have sort of switched to the Razor Pro Click. Everything about it is what I like right now for ergonomics. It’s the right length, it has the right amount of grippiness, and the buttons are placed well for my relatively small hands. The only thing that I don’t like about it is it rattles a bit, so it feels a little bit cheap. Nevertheless, it was obviously designed with human scale and you can feel that it actually fits your hand really, really well from an ergonomics perspective, but not for gaming.
Mike: For gaming I like a little bit smaller mouse, and again this is a little bit of an older one but I have become so used to it. I’m not an FPS player, I’m mostly into strategy games like Warhammer 2, but the HyperX Pulse Fire Surge just really fits my gameplay really well. It is an older basic mouse, but it’s relatively well-built, it doesn’t have a ton of RGB all over the place, and for my grip style the design is absolutely perfect. Would I change anything about this? Yes, the HyperX Ingenuity software is an absolute steaming pile of crap, but other than that just as a regular plug-and-play mouse I absolutely love it.
Dmitry: Our final ‘main’ is audio. I have been absolutely in love with the Phillips Fidelio X3 headphones, powered with the Mayflower ARC Mk2 DAC. The headphones are open-style, incredibly comfortable, despite the heavy build at 380 grams. You can see I have used these for a while because of all the crap that has accumulated on the ear cups. For an open pair they have fantastic bass delivery and very smooth treble. That is a good thing because I generally prefer the brightest sound signature for games, but if I’m listening to this with music/podacsts while editing I want something that’s pleasant, smooth, and won’t give me fatigue even if I increase the volume for certain genres. And so the bass here is so good for an open-style headset, so much better than my HT58X, which I thought had beautiful bass for an open-back design, but the X3 here are just really satisfying. The headphone amplifier is also very powerful for the X3, has a 4-pole headset jack in case I’m doing calls on this main computer, and a very cool design that kind of fits into this space.
Dmitry: Now for my gaming machine I have embraced wireless freedom with the Cloud II Wireless from HyperX, which I would consider to be the best wireless headset in its class. I did a full roundup which you can check out over here. They isolate very well, last for at least 30 hours with a precise battery indicator in the software, charge with a USB Type-C cable, and have not the support to me at all when it comes to audio and games. Whether it’s directional or more environmental, I tend to gravitate less towards my open-back HD58X because the Cloud 2 Wireless just sounds so good. However, if I need to hear the doorbell like when I’m expecting a delivery, then I would wear the HD58X.
Mike: For headsets, one of the things I value the most is sound isolation. Headset are something that I have a problem with because I have a narrow head and frankly I think headsets look bloody ridiculous on me. The Razer BlackShark V2 are just right for me, with a nice blend of comfort, good enough sound, and a decent microphone. On the other hand, usually when I’m traveling I’m not really wearing these things what I have is the Sennheiser PXC50. All around, this is an amazing travel headset. My main problem with them over the last 2.5 years is Bluetooth connectivity. A lot of that is due to the fact that Windows Bluetooth connectivity sucks, but when it comes to phones these things have started acting up too lately so I think I might have to change them out or I might need to get them replaced by Sennheiser. Nevertheless, from an all-round perspective, and especially if you are on a plane, that active noise cancellation really, really comes in handy. And yes, I still look a little bit ridiculous, but at least in this case I think I found my perfect all-round headset/headphones for productivity and daily tasks.
Eber: Okay, so my audio setup has actually been the same for the past 3 to 4 years. My main audio interface is the Apogee Duet which I initially picked up to pair with my iPad Pro because I used to do a lot of vocal recordings on the go along with acoustic recordings as well with some of my friends. Later on Apogee actually added support for Windows – they rolled out drivers – so I decided to just pair that with my main PC and it has been rock solid since then. The whole unit is made out of aluminium, the dial is super smooth with consistent scroll steps, there is a small LCD display that shows your audio levels, and you can adjust both the input and output gains on the fly, which is great. It has 2 analog inputs with great preamps and 48V passthrough that I can simply enable that by clicking a button in the complimentary piece of software, which is great.
I paired that with the Audio-Technica 8035 condenser microphone. This microphone brings me back a lot of memories because back then when we used to make YouTube videos we used to do a lot of those voiceover setups, and this was the microphone that got it all started. It was my first mic, it still works, I love the sound quality, I think it’s a piece of history for me personally.
As for outputs, there are 2 balanced 1/4″ jacks that are paired with the Creative SoundBlaster Katana soundbar. Now I remember reviewing this thing 4 years ago and it still sounds amazing. I mean for the price you just can’t find better solution. I still think this is one of the best sounding soundbars that you can find in the market, and if you can find one I would a 100% recommend it. It’s such an awesome investment.
Now for headphones I’m using these Sennheiser HD8 DJ. This particular pair was handed to me by Dmitry when he used to live here in Toronto, but I really enjoyed the sound signature of these headphones. They sound great, it’s a great studio pair when it comes to editing videos, I love the seal that it provides, especially with these cups. However, they are not in the greatest shape as you can see the cups are completely worn off, you can see the form material inside, and obviously it does look like it’s been through a lot. I did look through third-party replacements on Amazon, but I just couldn’t find the right fit that gives me a proper seal on my ears. I’m still looking and if I can find it or if you have any perfect solutions then I’m all ears.
Dmitry: All right, so those were our mains, a pretty diverse selection I might say. What are your main peripherals? Let us know in the comments. Again, everything will be listed in the description below. Thank you very much. Check out this other relevant content. Subscribe for more. I will talk to you in the next video recordings. Quiet on set.