[Review] Perfect Content Creator Microphone: The Elgato Wave 3
Known for their streaming accessories such as the Stream Deck, Key Light, and more, Elgato has finally taken the next logical step and ventured into the microphone segment, another key item in every streamer's setup.
The Elgato Wave 3 is "tailored for creators", and features a condenser with a cardioid pattern most suitable for streamers and podcasters, though those who enjoy the casual singing stream will find the Wave 3 adequate as well.
Design and build quality
The Elgato Wave 3 is made of a mixture of solid metal and smooth, matte plastic. It's bottom-heavy with most of the weight concentrated on the wide metal base, so you can rest assured it won't tip over easily. The mic itself comes pre-assembled, perched on a plastic U-shaped mount which can be easily detached by simply unscrewing the hinges. This makes sense as Elgato sells a suspended shock mount separately should you prefer one.
Design-wise, Elgato has opted for a clean and intuitive interface. On the front, you'll find a multifunction control dial; you can press to switch between mic gain, audio output, and the crossfade between your mic and PC audio mix - these are clearly indicated by a series of LED lights and icons.
On the top, you'll find a capacitive mute button which is pleasantly responsive, but not sensitive enough that you'll find yourself accidentally muting it. While muted, the front LEDs will turn red, and while you can actually hear the tapping motion right as you mute it, it's not a big issue, and it's still better than a noisier mechanical button anyway.
On the back, you'll find a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring, as well as a USB-C port to house the included cable that connects to your PC via USB-A.
If you're tall and prefer your mic positioned a little higher up, you can buy extension rods that will elevate it closer to your mouth.
Sound quality and user experience
Now, most importantly, how does the Wave 3 sound? Simply put, it sounds fantastic for spoken word recordings, which is perfect for the audience Elgato is targeting - streamers, podcasters, and content creators.
The 24-bit 96kHz analog-to-digital conversion means that voices sound clear and rich, especially the highs and mids. Elgato also has built-in Clipguard anti-clipping technology to prevent peaking if you get too rambunctious.
Here's an excerpt from our upcoming review video featuring Christina (headphone user warning):
There is also a low-cut filter which de-emphasises low frequencies to counter boomy noises when the user moves in too close and causes the audio levels to spike:
Do take note that your voice will sound slightly flatter when the low-cut filter is in effect.
Basically, you can do your settings just once, and use it worry-free from then on. While the standalone Elgato Pop Filter is sold separately, the Wave 3 also features a built-in pop filter under the grille which - surprisingly - does help to soften plosives (sounds like 'p', 't', 'k', etc.)
Elgato Wave Link software
Of course, a creator-focused microphone won't be complete without a solid mixing software. The Elgato Wave Link software is basically a virtual audio mixer that allows you to control up to eight channels, including game audio, voice chat, music, and more!
So what you can do with this is create 2 separate audio mixes - 1 for your audience, and 1 for yourself. Let’s say you want to listen to your favourite music while streaming - Taylor Swift la, Jay Chou la, Disney soundtrack la - but you’re scared Facebook or Twitch is going to copyright strike you. With Wave Link, you can send your favourite tunes to your headset, while playing another playlist of *cough* boring *cough* copyright-free music for your audience. Isn’t that great?
Another example would be when you’re playing multiplayer games with your usual stack, and you need to have them on Discord to communicate, but you don’t want your audience listening to their random nonsense and noise pollution, so you can create a mix just for you WITH the discord audio, and output another mix for your stream audience WITHOUT your noisy team in the background.
Overall, it’s a great microphone with lots of streamer-friendly features, as well as a great mixing app to make your life much easier. Although it’s not fully metal like some other mics out there, it still has great build quality overall, and the sound quality is exactly what you’d expect from Elgato - perfect for content creators who want to up their game to the next level.