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Welcome to Influenced, where we interview creators of all kinds about the gear they use to do their job — and their advice for aspiring influencers. This week, we caught up with popular gaming content creator Parris Lilly, whose work across the podcast world earned him a spot hosting one of Xbox’s biggest events of the year.

Here’s the cool stuff Parris Lilly does

Lilly has been covering the games industry since 2006, recording his early podcasts with “some generic Logitech headset with a microphone on it; the audio quality was horrible.” Flash forward to today, and you’ll see his talking head in a professional-looking home studio every time he appears on shows such as “Gamertag Radio” and “Kinda Funny Xcast” in addition to his own YouTube channel. Here are some of the key parts of Lilly’s current setup, and his advice for those dreaming of becoming the next big gaming personality.

Parris Lilly’s favorite gadgets

For simple stream management: GoXLR Mini ($199; amazon.com)

A frequent favorite amongst the creators we talk to for Influenced, the GoXLR Mini is a physical mixing board designed to make it easy to balance multiple audio sources (such as your microphone, game and anyone chatting with you) on the fly while streaming.

“It’s really great because I can bring in Discord audio, I can bring in Spotify audio, obviously, the audio that I’m using when I’m on my microphone as well,” says Lilly, who prefers the simplicity of the Mini model over the standard $499 GoXLR that features more knobs and buttons for real-time production.

“I’m not that sophisticated, so I try to keep it as simple as possible,” says Lilly with a laugh.

For true wireless freedom: Astro A50 ($299; astro.com)

It’s hard to find a Twitch streamer or gaming YouTuber these days who isn’t using the Astro A50, one of the most popular and beloved gaming headsets on the market. The A50s have gotten lots of praise over the years for their impressive sound and comfort, but for Lilly, it’s all about the freedom that comes with being untethered.

“I really like them because the sound quality is great and it’s wireless, so it allows me the freedom to not be chained to wired headsets,” says Lilly.

The A50 has long been a favorite amongst creators and reviewers alike, due in part to its crisp, balanced sound, variety of customization options and lightweight, comfortable design. It comes in PlayStation and Xbox variations, both of which work with PC.

For sounding great in any situation: Shure SM7B Microphone ($399; amazon.com)

If there’s a single centerpiece to Lilly’s setup, its his Shure SM7B microphone, which allows him to sound crisp and clear during the hours of podcasts, streams and videos he appears on every week.

“The No. 1 thing that I’m always using no matter what type of content that I’m creating … is this SM7B,” says Lilly, who upgraded to Shure’s high-end mic earlier this year. “This is kind of just the default go-to microphone that everyone uses professionally. And it’s [delivered] fantastic sound reproduction and everything.”

A staple across every corner of the content creation world, the SM7B can be found in streamer setups, podcast booths and music studios all over, thanks to its highly praised audio quality, reliable noise isolation and sturdy construction. We tested the SM7B’s more affordable sibling in the $249 Shure MV7 when seeking out the best microphones, and while we consider Shure’s mic to be overkill for the average person, it easily delivered some of the best recording quality of any model we got our hands on.

For capturing great gameplay anywhere: Elgato 4K 60S+ ($399; elgato.com)

As someone who makes a lot of YouTube videos about games, being able to capture high-quality gameplay is key for Lilly. The Elgato 4K60 S+ lets him do just that, packing the ability to record crisp 4K HDR gameplay at up to 60 frames per second — a bunch of fancy terms that means that footage of the latest PS5 and Xbox Series X games will come through at the highest quality possible. And this capture box is portable, allowing creators like Lilly to save pristine console footage directly to an SD card without even having to bring a laptop.

“I like it because it’s portable… If I’m capturing footage off of my Xbox, which is in another room, I can just take it in there and plug it in,” says Lilly. “I’ll have my SD card and I can capture all that footage there, then bring it back to my PC and edit it.

“But if I also want to use it for streaming purposes, I have the capability of plugging that into my PC over USB [and it] works just fine. When the world does open back up and we can start going to events, I can take that 4K60 S+ with me on the go and easily be able to capture whatever footage that I’m using.”

If the 4K 60S+ is out of your price range, Elgato has plenty of other options out there for those looking for a way to capture gameplay for Twitch streams and YouTube videos. The $159 HD60 S — which has been our personal go-to for years — records crisp 1080p gameplay at a smooth 60 frames per second. Stepping up to the $199 HD60 S+ gets you the added bonus of 4K HDR passthrough, which means that you can still play your games at 4K while you record or stream at 1080p.

Pro tips

As with every creator we’ve talked to, Lilly didn’t find success overnight — and he certainly didn’t have a $400 capture card and professional-grade camera on day one. His advice? “Use what you have,” and if you’re going to invest in anything early on, you should start with a good mic.

“If you want to upgrade the quality of your content, your microphone is going to be a godsend,” says Lilly.

A 15-year veteran of content creation who really came into the spotlight over the last few years, Lilly also stressed the value of being patient and consistent.

“I always tell people when you first start doing this, there’s only going to be a certain amount of people that listen to it, you, your mom and maybe your significant other,” says Lilly. “Do it because you love it, don’t do it because you think you’re instantly going to have this big, giant audience that’s consuming your content.

“That’s how you’re going to organically grow an audience over time,” Lilly continues. “Because the more you do this, the better you’re going to get at it, the more engaged that you’re doing at it, your audience is going to pick up on that and they’re going to want to tune in every week to your content, every month, whatever your cadence is going to be.”

Lilly also shared some valuable words of wisdom when it comes to using criticism as a chance to grow and improve.

“You don’t just want praise when you’re doing this,” says Lilly, who’s no stranger to giving some blunt feedback of his own. “I honestly, I say it all the time, I’d rather people tell me when I’m doing wrong than to praise me and tell me what I’m doing right.

“Listen to the critical feedback, because that is very useful.”

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