Elgato Wave 3 USB Microphone | Mic Tests and Review | Project Wave
Today I’m going to tell you about a brand new USB microphone from Elgato – the Wave 3. This thing is absolutely awesome, it’s designed specifically for creators and if you’re looking to start streaming, if you’re gaming, doing a podcast, or if you need a voiceover mic for youtube videos or tutorials, the Wave 3 is an excellent option. What’s exciting here is that Elgato combined this microphone launch with a new piece of mixing software called Wave Link which again, is designed for the type of work a lot of us do, vs what you might need in a recording studio. So it’s really the combination of the mic and the software that together create a simple but very powerful workflow for creators.
I’m going to walk you through all the features, and then I’ll do several different mic tests and comparisons so that you can hear this microphone before you pick one up for yourself. I’ll cover most of the specs as well, but I’m focused more on the actual sound because specs are kinda useless without actual performance.
If you’re into gaming or streaming, you probably already know Elgato from their capture cards, the streamdeck and more recent additions to their lineup like the Key light and Multi mount. I was pretty stoked when they announced project Wave – and I can tell you that I’ve been happy with the results – so let’s get going with what’s in the box.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Alright, to start out with the box which is consistent with the Elgato branding in terms of look and feel. I have the Wave:3 – and there’s also a Wave:1 so I’ll discuss the differences later on in the video to help you choose. The Wave looks really clean – it’s all matte black so it should fit with any setup and has a little bit of an old-school look. It comes attached to a desk stand which raises the mic a couple of inches off of the surface of the desk and also lets you pivot the microphone to get it at the right angle.
This is what’s called a side-address mic which means that you don’t want to have the top of the microphone pointed at your mouth, you want to have the side – in this case the front – pointed at your mouth. And again, that’s because the capsule is pointed this way and not up. One last thing, for the best results, position the mic about 8” away from your mouth.
This microphone has a cardioid pattern meaning that it’s going to pick up sounds coming from the front, and then start rejecting sounds and distracting noise that come from the sides, and definitely from the back. To put it simply, if you have the side of the mic pointed at your mount, it will focus on what you’re saying, and it will try to block out the rest of the sounds coming from other directions.
A feature I was super excited about and that you should really care about, is Clipguard. Essentially this works like a hard-limiter so that your audio doesn’t clip – and let me explain what this is and why it’s important. If you’ve ever seen audio waves, or an audio meter, you know that they move up and down depending on how loud your recording is. And if you get too loud, based on the gain level you selected, you’ll start hearing this horrible distortion in the audio – that’s called clipping. You can easily replicate this by turning up the volume beyond what a pair of headphones or a speaker are supposed to output. Now, with a speaker or headphones, it’s not a huge deal, because you can turn the volume down and continue to listen. But when you’re recording, if you record audio that’s distorted, because you got really excited during a part of a game, or when you’re talking about something in your video, that’s it, your source is now ruined.
So Elgato, who designed the Wave in collaboration with the audio experts at Lewitt, integrated what they call their proprietary Clipguard technology into the analog-to-digital converter. This means that the Wave will automatically compress those super high sounds before they clip, and then deliver the proper levels to your computer. Essentially, you can dial in your levels one time and completely forget about them.
Another neat feature that I’m glad Elgato added to the Wave 3 is the capacitive, or tap-to-Mute at the top. I have this feature in another one of my USB mics and it’s so convenient to quickly tap it if you need to quickly mute or unmute the mic. When you press it, you’ll see that the LED around the multifunction dial turns red, and then goes back to white when you tap the top of the mic again.
Moving on, there is also a multilayered internal pop filter which will help knock down some of those plosives and makes your audio easier to listen to. If you want to take the next step, Elgato sells an external pop filter for 29.99 that fits on the front of the mic.
The bottom of the mic and the frame seem to be made of plastic and the grate is metal. There is a control panel on the front with a multifunctional dial. This dial lets you adjust input gain, output volume and the crossfade between your mic and the PC audio mix. And I really like what they did with this design, because instead of adding a separate dial for each function, you can press this dial and then toggle between all three options.
The first option is mic gain, which adjusts the volume of your voice. The second option, so the monitor volume. So on the back of the mic, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can throw on a pair of headphones and monitor your audio while you’re recording. This second position, will adjust your headphone volume. Then the third option adjusts the mix between the realtime monitoring and the audio coming from your computer as it’s being played through the headphone.And with all three options, you’re going to use this knob to make adjustments, and you’ll see the LEDs light up to indicate the levels.
The stand is made of metal and it’s nice and heavy, there is also this rubbery material on the bottom that will keep the mic from moving around and provide some dampening so less of the sounds you make by hitting your desk or moving your mouse are transferred to the microphone. Ideally we would want a shockmount for the best results and if that’s something you’re interested in, Elgato sells an optional Shock Mount for 39.99 which you can attach to a boom, or microphone arm. Whether you use a shockmount or not, the Wave does come with an adapter so that you can attach it to an existing boom arm, link this Compass from Blue. This gets the mic off of the desk so it’s not in my way and lets me position it in any angle that works for me.
The last thing we have in the box is an 8’ USB to USB-C cable which will plug into the back of the Wave and connect it to your computer – and I like the fact that we have a long cable so that we can easily get it to reach without needing an extension cable.
ELGATO WAVE 3 MICROPHONE SOUND TESTS
Alright, so now let’s move on to some sound tests. First we’ll just listen to the unedited sound coming from the mic at different gain levels. Then we’ll do some tests with the mouse and the keyboards. We’ll compare it to what we get from the built-in microphone on the camera. And then I’ll add a little bit of post processing so that we can compare the RAW audio to the Post Processed version.
Audio from the mic at different gain levels
Mouse and keyboard (with and without talking)
Canon C100mkii Audio vs Wave 3
RAW vs EDITED
ELGATO WAVE LINK SOFTWARE
Next I want to talk about the Wave Link software. As I mentioned before, it’s custom built for content creators with the goal being a streamlined workflow, excellent audio quality and simple control for Twitch streams, youtube videos or podcasts.
Here are a couple of important features. You can create two independent output mixes, one for you to listen to and another for your audience, and you monitor them on the fly. An example where this would come into play is that let’s say you want to play while listening to your favorite playlist – but you don’t want that included in your stream mix, because of copyright issues. You can still listen to your music on your mix, and then use royalty-free music in your actual stream.
You can incorporate up to eight channels, so you can have multiple mics, Game audio, voice chat, music, alerts and samples. Then in real-time mix your vocals with those eight other sources which is crazy powerful. Once you have everything set up and mastered, you can bring Wave Link as a master audio source in OBS – and it’s these types of workflow improvements that remove friction from the creative process.
You can also set up audio profiles, so you can instantly mute your mic and turn on music during a break, or mute your mic but turn up the in-game audio during a cutscene. Essentially, you can create multiple profiles and then quickly and easily switch between them whenever you want. And since Wave Link works with Stream Deck, you can have access to your audio features at the touch of a button. Finally, Elgato says that Wave Link will use less than 1% of your CPU and of course there is no need for any audio processing hardware.
ELGATO WAVE:3 USB MICROPHONE FINAL THOUGHTS
Alright, so all in all, I think this is a very powerful combo and let me know in the comments section if you have any questions. We’re getting great audio quality, a very user-friendly interface with very intuitive controls, sound distortion protection with Clipguard and an easy-to-use but powerful digital mixer. I mentioned that there are two versions, the Wave 1 and the Wave 3 and there are just a couple of differences between them. The Wave 1 does not have a tap-to-mute button, the Control dial only controls headphone volume and mute, rather than input gain, and mic/PC monitor crossfade, and the max sample rate is 48 kHz vs 96kHz on the Wave 3.
The Wave 3 sells for $159.99 and the Wave 1 sells for $129.99 so you can decide if those extra features are worth it for your particular setup or if you’d rather spend that money elsewhere. If you want me to create more content around the Wave Project or if you want to see comparisons with any other mics, let me know in the comments section. I’ll put links in the description to where you can pick up both of these mics. There are always specials and discounts and the links will be automatically updated with the lowest pricing.
I really hope I was able to give you a good overview of this new mic from Elgato if I did, please let me know giving this video thumbs up, tweet it, share it, and if you haven’t yet, join the community by hitting the subscribe and notification buttons. You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @techgeartalk. You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice! Good luck and see you soon.