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Review: Elgato Wave: 3 microphones



As entertainment and mass communication redefine in an age of social distancing, the tools to create your own professional content have never been more affordable. Anyone who has decided to finally start the podcast or livestream will be faced with a confusing number of choices. Setting up a mixing board with advanced microphones and cameras that for successful professional podcasters and streamers will cost thousands of dollars. Until your podcast or stream attracts the same listeners and viewers as the top levels show, it̵

7;s hard to justify the original cost of matching these studios. At the same time, if your sound sounds like it was recorded on a cheap USB headset microphone, listeners will not tolerate your content for very long. Elgato, a company that has invented itself as a digital broadcasting equipment company, has in my opinion made one of the best microphones for aspiring podcasters and streamers without costing a fortune. Read on to discover why I give Elgato’s Wave: 3 microphone ($ 159.99) premium microphone and digital mix solution a five star rating.

Related: Review: Podcast Friendly Focus Headphones from ONANOFF

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Wave: 3 microphone

Wave: 3’s quality level and elegant construction are evident the moment you lift it out of the box. The weight of the base and the solid, compact construction of the microphone itself reminds you that this is not a toy. From the front push-button and white LED indicators to the sleek metal speaker grille and angle-fixing side screws, the design is professional and elegant. To further emphasize Elgato’s professional ambitions for the Wave microphone series, the company also offers a shock mount and a custom Wave Pop filter. Adding both of these pro-level accessories is as simple as mounting them in the Wave: 3’s detachable base, attaching the accessory and tightening it down with the base screws. It took less than two minutes to install the shock absorber.

Wave: 3 shock mounting

Included in the box is a 5/8 to 3 / 8–1 / 4-inch screw that can be used to attach the Wave: 3s microphone bracket to a standard microphone stand or table arm. This will help eliminate sounds from accidental typing or recording, and will also help place Wave: 3’s large internal cardioid condenser microphone closer to your mouth.

As for the external pop filter, it was unavailable when I submitted my review, but it is not very necessary since Wave: 3 has a built-in pop filter built into the microphone that spreads everything but the most explosive popping. It is really only needed for those who prefer that the microphone practically touches the lips and speaks with lots of enthusiasm and volume. It also contours the microphone perfectly, unlike the generic pop filters that partially cover the faces of many Twitch streamers. Even with the addition of this accessory and a separate boom or microphone stand, the cost of setting up Elgato’s professional-class audio recording configuration is several hundred dollars less than a pro studio broadcaster or musician equivalent.

Wave: 3 pop filters

Wave: 3 mic connects to your Mac or PC via a USB-C to standard USB cable. Next to the USB-C port on the back of the microphone, there is a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack that can be used to monitor sound from your computer and mix in the microphone yourself. This is done via Elgato’s free mix software Wave Link. It is noteworthy that all of these features are available directly on the microphone itself via the push button on the front of the Wave: 3. It takes some practice to get used to the meaning of the white LED indicators as you scroll through the custom options.

In addition to mixing up to nine separate audio sources on your computer, Wave Link software can also remotely control the audio settings on the Wave: 3 microphone, from amplification to attenuation. Instead of fiddling with the microphone control, I just used the Wave Link app to dial in the optimal recording and mixing settings. Wave Link can also interface with various streaming solutions, such as the very popular and free Open Broadcast Software (OBS).

After getting everything together and setting up a recording software such as the free open source Audacity program, the 24-bit / 96 kHz analog-to-digital conversion of the microphone’s built-in circuit is so clear and sharp that I thought it sounded better than most podcasts I listen to. The same circuit includes Elgato’s proprietary Clipguard technology to prevent over-modulation and high-input audio clipping. It also has a Low Cut Filter to minimize low frequency background noise.

Benefits

  • Fantastic sound recording quality
  • Solid construction
  • Easy setup
  • Competitive prices

Disadvantages

  • Configuring mix settings requires practice to master

I have used the microphone in several scenarios, from recording live streams and interviews to online meetings and podcast segments, and was each time surprised at how clear my sound sounded. My listeners also commented on how impressed they were with the sound quality, even when I spoke so quietly that the recorders barely perceived any input. I have not been so impressed with a piece of audio recording hardware since I received my first recordable cassette player in the early 70’s. If you want to sound like a pro without spending the money the pros spend, the Elgato Wave: 3 mic should be your first and most important device to include in your audio recording.


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