The Elgato Wave microphones, formerly known as Project Wave, have arrived, finally completing your Elgato-based capture needs. And this Wave: 3 is one of the best pure mics on the market.
Directional Patterns: Cardioid
Controls: Volume Control, Gain Control, Capacitive Mute
Recording Sample Rate: 96kHz
Frequency Response: 70-20000 Hz
Bit Depth: 24-bit
Warranty: 2 year
Year after year, Elgato has slowly expanded its product line to take over every aspect of your streaming needs. Currently, its products include a full suite of capture cards, key lights, green screens, rigging systems, and live switchers. Most serious streamers and content creators will likely have one, or all, of these products in their setups.
Back at CES 2020, Elgato teased something called Project Wave, which most people assumed would be Elgato finally making USB microphones. Turns out we were all right.
To become the one-stop-shop for all things streaming, Elgato has launched (surprising no one) the Wave microphones in an effort to annex a new streaming category….audio.
The Elgato Wave series of microphones, the $130 Wave: 1 and $160 Wave: 3, are designed explicitly with streamers in mind. Elgato sent us the Wave: 3, and the big difference is a 96kHz sample rate over the Wave: 1's 48kHz, and a handy capacitive mute button that lets you cut the microphone with the lightest of taps.
The Wave 3's design finds an excellent middle ground between looking modern while still hitting the same aesthetic notes as an old-timey microphone. It's a look that's grown on me over time. But what I especially like is how easy it is to set up on even the cheap $18 boom scissor arm I have mounted on my desk. There's an included boom arm adapter that didn't require me ordering any special shock mounts or anything.
As you can hear from the lines I recorded, the Wave: 3 sounds pretty great. Even with the gain set on the lower end, you can listen to every little detail in my post-date night hungover voice, right down to the smacking of my dry lips. I should drink more water.
My party members in Call of Duty Warzone said I sounded pretty clear along with my coworkers during conference calls, though I will recommend again keeping your gain low, so it doesn't pick up the hum of your PC while you're trying to talk to teammates.
The $160 price puts the Wave: 3 wedged in between with the Blue Yeti X ($170) and HyperX Quadcast ($140) as far as premium USB microphones are concerned. The Wave: 3's sample rate of 96kHz sits at double that of the Yeti X and Quadcast's 48kHz, which results in a pretty accurate representation of your voice. Despite being so close in price, the Wave:3 has some neat features you don't see anywhere else, such as the Clipguard tech.
Clipguard "automatically soothes overdriven soundwaves before sending them to your computer." This means the microphone will automatically adjust your levels as you stream. So, even if you're blowing out your microphone in real-time because you're having a screaming fit after a BS death in Fortnite, the Wave: 3 will do its best to make sure anyone listening to your stream isn't blown out by your loud screeches of defeat.
The idea is you can set your levels once and never have to worry about it during your stream. In practice, this is useful for streamers who like to partake in any singing related shenanigans without the need to keep an eye on your levels continually.
Elgato's custom software, Wave Link, works as a digital audio mixer that controls all aspects of your stream from one place. You can put up to 8 channels for game audio, multiple microphones, even game chat. Xsplit and OBS users can add Wave Link as a master audio source, which is a lifesaver. Most streamers will tell you that the most annoying and unpredictable part of a stream is always the audio.
While I like this software in theory, it did take a while to wrap my head around how to assign the different apps to each channel. But once I did I found it to be a pretty useful tool, it just needs a better tutorial to teach the user how it works.
I never use any other polar patterns aside from cardioid for streaming, so the lack of any other patterns doesn't affect me too much. Though I know plenty of content creators who use different types for interviews, round tables, and ASMR silliness, who will be turned off by the Wave: 3's single condenser capsule, especially if they are looking for a one-size-fits-all microphone.
But Elgato's approach with the Wave has been to hyperfocus on the things that derail most streamers, and that's the audio. From the digital audio mixer to the control dial with LED indicator lights, the Elgato Wave: 3 is the best no-nonsense microphone you can use for your next stream.