A versatile yet compact streaming microphone, though its limited when not paired with other Elgato gear.
Elgato has made things difficult on itself by making the Wave 1 and Elgato Wave 3 so similar and so similarly priced as to possibly confuse potential buyers (or maybe it’s all about the upsell). The two microphones look almost identical and have almost identical hardware, with only a $20 price difference between them too, but thankfully digging a little deeper quickly reveals what sets them apart.
The Elgato Wave 3 adds two key features over and above the Wave 1. Firstly, its interface can sample at up to 96KHz rather than the 48KHz limit of the Wave 1, and as upgrades go, that’s about as minor as you can get for a mic that’s as focused on streaming as these are.
While a quality microphone, the entire use case of the Wave range is to get decent audio for live streaming or uploading to YouTube. Occasionally they might be used for recording voice overs or simple ‘guitar and voice’ music setups. Those sorts of use cases simply don’t benefit from the higher sampling rate, in the vast majority of cases. All that said, it’s a nice to have, if you start getting into more sophisticated mixing and recording setups.
The other features are more useful and tangible, with the Wave 3 including a capacitive touch sensitive pad on its top to mute the microphone and a dial on the front that’s more versatile than the one on the Wave 1. Tap it and the dial will cycle through controlling microphone gain, headphone monitoring level and a blending feature for panning between mic monitoring and PC output audio levels. Turn the dial and it’ll adjust each setting up and down while a row of eight lights above the dial indicate the level of each option as you go. A ring of light around the dial again glows white when the microphone is on and red when it’s muted.
Nearly everything else about the Wave 3 is the same as the Wave 1, except it’s slightly taller to accommodate those extra physical features. So, you get the same single mic pickup pattern (cardioid), frequency response, sensitivity rating and bit rate. It might’ve been nice to see something else to make the Wave 3 feel like slightly more of an upgrade – extra pickup patterns or an XLR output, but then again that’s why the price difference is only $20.
One very slight advantage of the larger Wave 3 is that the address position sits just a little higher, though it is less than a centimetre. Like the Wave 1 and most of the other mics on test, longer term you’ll probably want to invest in a movable boom arm along with a pop shield and anti-shock mount. The latter being something that would ironically would be more beneficial for these desktop mounts than the boom arms they’re often used with, as any knock of your desk will travel straight up through the rigidi stands.
In our testing the Wave 3 did indeed sound as identical to the Wave 1 as you’d expect, with the same slightly less prominent bass pickup than some of the other mics but still a generally pleasing, clear sound that lends itself very well to voice recording.
Elgato Wave 3 pros and cons
- Extra functions are useful
- Compact design
- Good sound quality
- 96KHz sample rate unnecessary
- Not amazing overall value
- No analog output
Elgato Wave 3 specs
The Elgato Wave 3 specs list is:
|66 x 40 x 153mm (W x D x H)
|585g (305g stand, 280g microphone)
|Sample rate 48 / 96KHz
|1 x 17mm electre condenser capsule
|70Hz – 20kHz
|-25dBFS (min gain) | 15dBFS (max gain)
|120dB (140dB Clipguard engaged)
|Headphone amp with 3.5mm output, Multi-function control dial, capacitive mute button
Elgato Wave 3 price
The Elgato Wave 3 price is $160, making it an expensive streaming microphone option, though it offers a decent amount for its price.
Elgato Wave 3 review conclusion
The extra features of the Elgato Wave 3 over the Wave 1 are probably not going to be essential for most buyers. The higher sample rate is almost entirely unnecessary but the extra mix/monitoring controls on the mic are certainly more convenient than settings these in software. For an extra $20, it’s an easy upsell, though in terms of overall value, neither Wave is outstanding. That said, for sheer ease of use and sound quality for gaming use, the Elgato Wave 3 still does enough to claim a spot as the best USB microphone for gaming on our best USB microphone guide.