After nearly a decade, Elgato has become one of the top names for video game streaming and recording. With popular products such as the Elgato Stream Deck and the more recent Elgato 4K 60 S+, it’s been often wondered why microphones weren’t part of the company’s repertoire. That absence has come to an end with the release of the Elgato Wave:3 microphone.
This product was provided by Elgato for the purpose of this review. All prices listed are in USD.
Unpacking the Elgato Wave:3
The first thing you notice when unpacking the Wave:3 is how heavy it feels. But don’t worry — the weight is mostly from the attached desktop stand, which will be touched on later. As for the mic itself, it’s quite light and gives a feeling of being easily breakable, but that’s a personal feeling that may differ with other users.
The Wave:3 comes with the aforementioned mic and desktop stand along with an adapter to attach it to a boom arm, plus a USB-C-to-USB-A cable for connection.
The mic itself features three LED indicator lights for three different elements: mic gain, volume monitor, and mic/pc mix. Pushing the main knob will switch between the three options, allowing you to adjust the levels accordingly with an overall level indicator sitting just above.
On the top of the mic is a mute button that requires a simple tap to mute/unmute. While you may be worried about accidentally muting yourself, the position of the button makes it close to impossible. Lastly, the back of the mic features the USB-C port along with a 3.5mm jack for headphones.
One physical annoyance comes with utilizing the boom arm adapter. It took quite a bit of effort to initially unscrew the desktop stand in half in order to attach the adapter. After the first time, however, the conversion was much easier.
Quality sound at a quality price
Running at a cost of $159.99, the Elgato Wave:3 is a condenser microphone that records the audio happening directly in front of it. Unlike other mics that offer abilities to record omnidirectionally, the Wave:3 keeps it simple, which helps avoid things like key presses, mouse clicks, and fans being picked up in the background.
Elgato advertises what it calls “Clipguard,” which is supposed to automatically soothe overdriven sound waves before they reach your recording software. While you could catch the levels hitting the red when recording your audio, the actual audio itself rarely, if ever, hit the levels of clipping, making it a fairly worry-free recording experience. That said, if you yell into the mic, no amount of anti-clipping software will help you.
For sound quality, it’s recommended that there be a gap of two fists between the mic and your mouth. Though that’s clearly the best distance for recording with no audio mixing, it wasn’t hard to get quality sound when sitting a foot or so away from the mic, and makes it one of the better distance-recording mics available for the price. And even with the gain being at 60% to 75%, there was no real noticeable background noise being picked up when recording.
There’s also a built-in pop filter that — for someone like me who really emphasizes the “P” in almost every word that has it — comes in extremely handy. Plus, it eliminates the need to have one attached to a boom stand, giving the setup a much cleaner look.
Another benefit of the mic is using it with the included mic stand. No matter how hard the desk was bumped, it didn’t impact the audio recording in any noticeable way.
Other than the mic quality, the Wave:3 is a feature-rich product on the software front. The mic can utilize two proprietary pieces of software and hardware from Elgato: Wave Link and Stream Deck.
The Wave Link software may seem a bit daunting at first, but it’s straightforward. It’s a digital mixer that allows you to get the perfect mix of audio for their streams, podcasts, videos, or whatever you’re creating. The software allows you to create two separate output mixes — one for you and one for your audience — with up to eight channels that can all be quickly monitored and adjusted.
One cool ability with multiple mixes is the option to have a local mix for you to listen to, such as music, while also providing a second mix for your stream or video that mutes just the music while keeping everything else. It’s a small but key touch for those who need music when playing but don’t want to risk a copyright strike.
What makes the software a home run is the lack of resources it requires on your PC. Having it run alongside software like OBS, Audacity, Premiere, and more caused no strain whatsoever.
With the Stream Deck functionality, you can simply control everything in Wave Link with a push of a button. From mix muting to general volume settings, it’s all there for you with little to no setup as the software will automatically install the appropriate Wave:3 profiles for usage.
Elgato Wave:3 — ride the wave
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. What people see from someone initially is likely to stick with them forever. The same can be said about entering a product market for the first time: That first product is sure to leave its mark on consumers one way or another.
With the Wave:3, Elgato couldn’t have made a better first impression. Even with some of the minor hiccups experienced, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Wave:3 is a microphone that shines right out of the box. It’s as plug-and-play-friendly as any device at the mid-$100 price range and can easily compete with some of the higher-priced devices available.
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