Elgato Wave 1 Review
When we're discussing headsets we always like to say that going for a regular ol' pair of headphones along with an external mic is definitely a viable alternative to a headset combo. If you're planning on being a streamer or content creator (or you just use your mic often for conference calls and what not) it's even a borderline necessity since even the best headset mics just cannot match dedicated microphones built for broadcasting.
Today we're taking a look at one such mic. The Elgato Wave 1 has been teased for a while but now it's finally here. Made for streamers, content creators, and for people who just want to get themselves a top quality mic Elgato are offering this Wave 1 as an entry-level mic bundled with an intuitive piece of software to make life easier for you and for the people who are listening to you. Is this Wave 1 everything that Elgato promises it to be or should you close your ears and run away? Read our full review to find out!
"You're ready to give your voice the soundstage it deserves. You need a broadcast-grade microphone that plugs directly into your setup, and a mixer to blend audio sources with ease. Meet Wave:1 - your complete solution"Elgato, on their website
Elgato Wave 1 - First Impressions
There's not a lot to unpack about the Elgato Wave 1: inside the box you get the mic along with the included stand, a USB-C cable, and a boom arm adapter but that's about it. That's fine since it's everything you need and this is, after all, an entry level audio solution. The packaging might not be very remarkable the build quality definitely is.
The Wave 1 is made out of sturdy materials all throughout and none of it feels cheap. From the heavy and wide base to the tactility of the volume wheel: this is one nice looking and feeling product. What I also like is the subtle look they've gone for. It's a stealthy black microphone with no crazy design cues or odd protrusions and the relatively small form factor (for an external mic of this type) means that it won't cover half your face or part of your monitor in case you want to use it on a boom arm for streaming or something like that.
One small note I've got is that the connection ports at the back of the mic could've been placed a bit higher. Right now the cable inevitably comes into contact with the stand if you're trying to angle the mic, preventing your from angling it any further. I didn't really have a problem with this since there are enough degrees of tilt even with this cable obstruction issue for most use cases but placing these ports a bit higher wouldn't have changed anything about the overall look of the product so there really aren't any trade-offs here.
The Wave 1 is being marketed as an all-in-one solution for budding streamers and content creators or for people who just want to invest in a better mic so it comes with a bunch of neat futures that are supposed to make it the ideal starter package.
I'll start off with the overall sound quality of the mic, and I can be short here: it's good. It's not the absolute best sounding microphone I've ever heard but then again those better mics do live in a higher price segment than this Wave 1 so I can't really fault it for that. If you're coming from a headset mic this will definitely be an immense upgrade and the quality that Elgato has managed to put on the table is pretty darn impressive. I wouldn't even think twice about using this if I was a streamer, content creator, or someone who is talking to people over the internet a lot.
The Wave 1 manages to stay away from that overly thin and tinny sound that a lot of budget mics provide and instead produces a nice and full sounding output which makes it punch a bit above its weight in this price class if you're asking me. Things to note is that it can't always filter out loud keyboard noises (but it manages to keep the noise to an acceptable level if you're asking me) and that you need to keep the mic pretty close to your face if you want it to sound at its best. That last part is something that happens with most of these types of microphone so I'm not holding that against the Wave 1 but I am mentioning it to be complete.
People who are a bit into audio or content creation know that the raw sound quality of a mic isn't where it ends: you've also got to worry about clipping, plosives (that popping sound you get when you pronounce words such as 'plosives') and all of that so in the interest of making this the ultimate 'one stop shop' Elgato have included a bunch of extras to help you out on that front.
The mic comes complete with an internal pop filter as well as anti-clipping technology that they've christened Clipguard. If you're even a tiny bit into watching streamers or (gaming) YouTubers you know how annoying it can be if their mic is constantly popping or distorting when people raise their voice so these definitely aren't some gimmicky additions.
It works perfectly fine as well. The pop filter does a more than decent job (unless you've got the mic extremely close to your mouth you won't be having any real issues with plosives) and the Clipguard tech works like a charm. I've got a pretty deep and loud voice so when I scream things get noisy to say the least but even then the Wave 1 managed to keep the volume and, more importantly, distortion well within acceptable levels. Be warned when checking out the Clipguard sound clip though: I am still screaming so the volume goes up.
It's safe to say that I'm extremely impressed with the consistency and overall quality of the sound that Elgato has managed to pour from this mic, and while I'm not a trained audio engineer I do have some experience with audio and mics due to the fact that I play in bands and have some experience with content creation. It's hard to think of anything Elgato could have added in the sound department to make this a better intro to streamer-level microphones so kudos to that.
My apologies for the sometimes loud exhales in the sound tests: I've been struggling with allergies for a couple of weeks now.
Overall sound test
Clipguard test (volume warning)
Pop filter test
Features and ease of use
The Wave 1 comes bundled with Elgato's Wave Link software, which is a program that you can only use if you've got a Wave mic attached to your PC. Wave Link is pretty simplistic but it works like an absolute charm. It allows you to tweak the volume levels of pretty much anything that's making noise on your PC, both for yourself and your audience (the stream output).
This, for example, allows you to have the volume of your teammates in your voice chat program of choice be louder for your than for your audience so they don't have to listen to a cacophony of voices every time a fight happens, or you could have music playing in the background for your audience while you can't hear any of it so that you can fully focus on the game. The possibilities are nearly endless.
It all works very intuitively (I just downloaded the program from Elgato's website and got to using the mic) and there's basically no learning curve. I particularly love how easy Elgato have kept it here. Many peripheral manufacturers have software that is needlessly bloated and difficult to navigate and while I know my way around a bloated program or two after having experienced so many of them over my career it's still a breath of fresh air to see something like Wave Link, doubly so because setting all of this up can be daunting for people who are new to audio/streaming. Wave Link also integrates flawlessly with OBS and other popular streaming programs, by the way.
On the microphone itself you've got a volume wheel that handles your monitor mix and can be pressed to mute the mic. Doing so turns the white LED ring around the volume dial red which can help prevent those slightly embarrassing 'mic muted' moments. It's a bit of a shame that this dial can't be used to adjust the gain or something like that but that seems to be a function that's included in the Wave 3 so it's not like Elgato didn't think of this at all.
All in all Elgato have managed to create an extremely impressive package here, and the Wave Link software is beautiful in all its simplicity. I thoroughly love this.
Conclusion & Recommendation
If you're someone who is looking into becoming a streamer or content creator and you're looking for an all-in-one microphone and audio mixing solution that doesn't break the bank you absolutely have to look at the Wave 1.
The mic itself provides great clarity and sound quality, but the Wave 1 really starts to shine when you consider all the extras you're getting. The included pop filter works as advertised and Elgato's Clipguard technology really does help prevent overly distorted ear-bleeding passages when you're screaming or being loud. That all makes this a pretty much perfect mic to buy for (beginning) content creators or people who just want to upgrade to a good external mic but it doesn't end there either.
The included Wave Link software is one of my favorite pieces of software I've seen bundled with a peripheral so far. Not because I'm a content creator or anything like that but because it's an extremely easy to use piece of kit that absolutely elevates the product that it comes with and it does so without bloat.
Buy the Wave 1 and you've got yourself an all-in-one microphone/audio solution that does everything you'd expect an entry level external mic to do and much more. Thoroughly recommended!