Elgato is known primarily for its capture cards, but the Corsair-owned company also produces a range of industry-standard streaming tools, including the Elgato Green Screen, and the handy Elgato Stream Deck.
To complete the set, the firm has now unveiled a range of condenser microphones, including the Elgato Wave 3 we're reviewing here today.
This microphone touts a range of useful capabilities for streamers, but is it worth the asking price? Let's take a look (and listen).
A streamer's best friend
Bottom line: Elgato's first foray into condenser microphones is an impressive one, sporting great sound and built-in production features well-worth checking out.
- Great recording quality
- On-board essential tools
- Lightweight but well-made
- Needs to be quite close for best quality
- No way to control the lights
What you'll love about the Elgato Wave 3
It's an odd thing to comment about a microphone's design, because who cares as long as it works, right? But the Elgato Wave 3, as microphones go, is quite a sexy piece of kit. It's not overstated or distracting, but it's also pleasant to look at, with a premium finish that will look at home on any stream or video.
|Sample rate||96 kHz|
|Connections||USB-C to USB-A, 3.5mm audio jack (headphones)|
The Wave 3 is an all-in-one solution with a built-in pop filter, on-board controls, and powerful audio mixing software called Elgato Wave, which lets you control the different sound sources on your PC for the best stream output mix possible. The software package works well, with the ability to control what sounds go into an audio monitoring mix, and what gets output to your stream, with minimal recording latency. It's actually quite impressive how well this works, and it reduces the amount of configuration you need to do you in your streaming software.
The Elgato Wave 3 sports on-board controls that are intelligently designed. There's a capacitative mute control on the top of the mic, allowing you to mute yourself without a loud click or switch. A circular LED around the volume control knob lights up in red to let you know it's muted, as well. The dial on the front lets you easily control the gain of the mic, the volume of the monitoring component, and the mix between voice chat and monitoring, giving you a large degree of control.
On quality, I found the Elgato Wave 3 to be an impressive mic with good sound reproduction, which does a good job at passively focusing on your voice, cutting background sound to a minimum. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the proprietary anti-clipping technology, which prevents your voice from creating sound clipping from increased volume, ideal if you're a more animated, excitable streamer. I tested it by yelling into Audacity and was pleased to discover it certainly isn't a gimmick.
I do have some issues with the positional versatility, though. It's quite tough to get the microphone into a position that gives it maximum audio quality, which could be an issue in some set ups.
What you might dislike about the Elgato Wave 3
The Elgato Wave 3 can produce truly great audio reproduction, but only when it's positioned very meticulously. Using my previous microphone as a direct comparison, the cheaper Samson Q2U lacks many of the Wave 3's features, but doesn't need anywhere near as much babysitting when it comes to positioning.
Both microphones sport a cardioid pattern which focuses on what's in front and minimizes sound from the sides and back, but again, I feel like the Q2U does a better job at ignoring keyboard taps and controller button clicks while being in the same position. The Wave 3 quality drop off is quite immense the further away you get, and I feel like it really needs to be up close, within 8-15 cm to get the best audio quality out of it. You can hear a longer sample of me using the microphone on my latest podcast here, (listen for the guy with the British accent).
That said, when you do play around with it, pick up a proper mount, and are able to position it correctly, it produces some truly great audio. It also includes all the standard screws and adapters for practically any sort of mount you could think of, too. My only other gripe with it is, like most Elgato products, you can't disable the lights without unplugging it completely. It's a minor problem, but something worth being aware of if you work out of a bedroom office like myself.
Should you buy the Elgato Wave 3?
The Elgato Wave 3 is an impressive piece of kit, with great audio mixing software and features. If you use a lot of audio effects in your streams, this adds a layer of control and convenience that is often missing in streaming software solutions. The fact you also have a lot of these tools at your fingertips, right on the mic itself, is also a great boon.
The audio quality is excellent, but I do wish it was a little bit more versatile when it came to positioning. The included stand didn't bring the microphone close enough to my mouth to produce the sound quality the mic is capable of, meaning you may want to invest in an additional mount.
As a first foray into condenser mics, Elgato has done a great job. There are cheaper options out there, but few microphones will offer the sheer volume of features and high-quality software solutions in this price range.
Mix it up.
The Elgato Wave 3 is a great product for streamers of all shapes and sizes, with great sound and quality without breaking the bank.
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