Elgato Wave:3: Two-minute review
USB mics are rarely a thing of beauty, which is why the Elgato Wave:3 already has an edge over the competition without even trying. This stunner has a retro-esque air about it, with its rounded rectangular design suspended on an elegant yoke and alloy grille as if it just popped into existence from the 60s. My review unit is even more unique, as it’s a special edition one from Corsair’s 10th anniversary collection.
But, it takes more than good looks to be one of the best USB mics on the market, and being a top content creation peripherals brand, Elgato of course knows this. So, what you’ve got here is a USB microphone that not only looks good but feels and sounds good as well.
While the competitor mics can sometimes feel flimsy, Corsair’s sister company seems to have spared no expense in producing a top-quality product in the Elgato Wave:3. That yoke, stand and mount are made of solid steel then beautifully painted with matte paint to give in a refined yet still industrial finish.
The grille itself is made of steel as well, and its multifunctional dial feels robust, which likely means it won’t break or fall off anytime soon despite the number of functions it handles. It’s the dial for changing settings like input gain and crossfade between mic and PC mix.
Elgato, understanding that a chunk of its users find visual cues helpful, also slaps on light indicators here so you know what setting you’re controlling and what level it’s currently on. And, in the back is a 3.5mm headphone jack for direct monitoring so users can get zero latency. To the uninitiated: many users prefer to hear themselves as they’re talking into the mic. However, with external mics, the audio signal that you’re hearing back will always have some amount of latency that results in you hearing an echo of your voice, which can be confusing. Connecting a pair of headphones directly to the Elgato Wave:3 via this headphone jack takes away that delay, allowing you seamless recording.
I also appreciate the almost 360-degree articulation that the yoke allows, giving the mic a bit more flexibility. However, the stand is also removable so you can attach it to a more ergonomic stand or a shock mount if you want to really minimize vibrations.
You’d be surprised at how good the Elgato Wave:3 is at minimzing or stifling vibrations, like someone tapping on the surface it’s on. It’s also pretty effective at reducing sound pickup from the side and back – something that many mid-range cardioid USB mics often fail at – and rejecting background noise, speaking volumes to the mic’s quality of construction.
More importantly, it boasts impressive performance. After a series of recording tests, I have found that the audio quality is very clear and full, making it one of the best-sounding USB mics I’ve had the pleasure of using. I have noticed a tiny bit of distortion when my voice gets loud, but nothing too obvious that it’s a deal-breaker. Just be sure to temper your voice when you’re recording.
Using the Wave Link software adds more functionality to the Elgato Wave:3. It’s a little finicky, especially in the beginning, and it’s not a recording software. However, exercise a bit of patience, and you’ll be rewarded with access to things like the monitor mix gain, stream mix gain, and effects like reverb and pitch shift.
Elgato Wave:3: Price & availability
- How much does it cost? $149.99 / £129 / AU$269
- When is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia
With so many budget and mid-range rivals on the market, it might be hard to justify spending $149.99 / £129.00 / AU$269 on a USB mic that only has one polar pattern. But, listen, that’s Elgato for you. The brand may not be cheap, with one of its latest releases, the Elgato Facecam Pro, costing creators a lot more money than they’d expect to pay. However, the quality speaks for itself.
That’s what you’re getting from Elgato Wave:3. This is a premium investment with premium-quality build and performance. And, if you plan on taking your TikTok, YouTube, or Twitch content to the next level, it’s worth the splurge.
However, if money is really tight, the JBL Quantum Stream Dual Pattern is almost half the price, and the HyperX SoloCast is even cheaper. Neither can compete with the Wave:3 in audio performance, but they will do until you’re making a mint from your videos.
- Value: 4.7 / 5
Elgato Wave:3: Specs
|Sample rate:||24-bit / 96 kHz|
|Connection type:||USB-C to USB Type A|
Should you buy the Elgato Wave:3?
|Value||The Wave:3 isn’t cheap, but you’re getting excellent quality, making it worth the extra $50/£30.||4.7 / 5|
|Design||I appreciate its beautiful, retro design, robust build, and nice controls and light indicators.||5 / 5|
|Performance||It records clear and full audio while doing a great job rejecting background noise and minimizing vibrations.||5 / 5|
|Avarage rating||Terrific all around, the Elgato Wave:3 is one of the best USB mics I’ve ever tested.||5 / 5|
Buy it if...
You want a USB mic that has both style and substance
The Elgato Wave:3 screams quality inside and out, with its elegant retro design and terrific audio performance.
You can afford a pricier USB mic
It may be a little on the pricey side, but it’s actually a terrific value for what it offers. If you’re not penny-pinching, this is the mic to get.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a tight budget
If you really can’t afford anything above $100 / £100, then there are cheaper options available. Just don’t expect the same level of quality.
You hate good audio recordings
Do you have very clear and full audio? If you do, then look elsewhere. Otherwise, is there really any other choice?
Elgato Wave:3: Also consider
|Elgato Wave:3||HyperX SoloCast||JBL Quantum Stream|
|Price:||$149.99 / £129 / AU$269||$69.99 / £64.99 / AU$109||$99.95 / £99.99 / AU$119|
|Polar pattern:||Cardioid||Cardioid||Cardioid, omnidirectional|
|Sample rate:||24-bit / 96 kHz||24-bit / 96 kHz||24-bit / 96 kHz|
|Connection type:||USB-C to USB Type A||USB||USB|
|Weight:||10.76oz (305g)||0.57lb (mic only)||0.55lb|
The HyperX SoloCast is slim on features, but it picks up sound clearly, offers a decent amount of background noise rejection, and is easy for a beginner to use.
Read our full HyperX SoloCast review
JBL Quantum Stream
The JBL Quantum Stream is a surprisingly capable USB mic, with a streamlined design, intuitive ease of use, and great audio performance.
Read our full JBL Quantum Stream review
How I tested the Elgato Wave:3
- Tested the Elgato Wave:3 for a couple of days
- Used it for recording and chatting
- I talked, tapped, and made background noises then I listened to recordings
Using the Elgato Wave:3 for a couple of days to talk to people and record myself was the best way to test its audio performance. During recordings, I spoke from the front, as well as from the back, from the sides and from different distances. I also checked how it handled things like vibrations and background noise by tapping on the surface it was on and on its stand and by making noises in the background during recordings.
After, I listened to those recordings, playing close attention to sound quality and any artefacts it might have picked up. I also made sure to test its control, light indicators, and Wave Link software to see how easy it is to use, especially for beginners.
I’ve been testing devices like computing peripherals for years. Mics are a newer thing for me, having only started testing them last year, my experience with audio devices like gaming headsets, headphones, and speakers made it easy for me to understand USB microphones and what matters most to users during testing.
First reviewed March 2023