Elgato’s entry into the USB microphone space continues with the $129 Wave 1 USB microphone. The Wave 1 is the company’s entry-level device for streamers. It has many of the same design elements as its higher-tier Wave 3 USB Microphone with fewer bells and whistles.
Elgato Wave 1 design
The satin-black Elgato Wave 1 sports an extremely elegant design.. Similar to the Wave 3, the Wave 1 is constructed of plastic and aluminum, All the weight is in the metal base, and like it’s larger sibling, it takes up a small amount of space on your desk or work area. The mic comes out of the box already assembled and ready to go with a USB-C cable and a mount adapter to connect the Wave 1 to a boom arm of your choosing.
On the front, you have the multifunction knob that controls the headphone monitoring volume, while a quick press will enable/disable mute indicated by the LED ring light... Along the right, there’s an embossed Wave 1 and on the mic’s rear, you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone monitoring jack and the USB-C input.
Elgato Wave 1 microphone quality
Elgato teamed with the sound engineers at Lewitt to design the Wave 1 from the ground up. If you’re unfamiliar with Lewitt, it’s known for producing high-quality microphones for professional studios, streaming and content creation.
With a condenser capsule tuned specifically for speech and a tight cardioid pattern, recordings are crystal clear and precise. With up to 24Bit / 48 KHz analog to digital conversion, 70- 20,000Hz frequency response, and a 115 decibels of dynamic range, my test recordings picked up all the nuances of my voice, including a solid capture of the timbre and bass. However, it’s not as sensitive as the Wave 3.
Although I could record from a few feet away, if the gain is all the way up in the Wave Link software and it’s a clear crisp recording but, you should remain within the suggested two to three fist distance to get the best recordings. The Wave 1 does a solid job recording inside and outside, but excels indoors. I find the Wave 3 is a bit more sensitive than the Wave 1 but the difference is almost negligible to the ear. The other wonderful feature of the Wave 1 shares with its big sister is its built-in pop filter which helps prevent plosives while recording. With their proprietary Clipguard technology, you also don’t have to worry about your levels or deal with distortion when working with your recordings in post, so don’t be afraid to get loud.
The Wave 1 offers many great qualities, however, the Blue Yeti Nano (opens in new tab) matches or exceeds the Wave 1 in recording and broadcasting quality, while also delivering the same plug-and-play capabilities. The Yeti Nano also offers two pick-up pattern modes instead of one, it has an equally small footprint, it’s better looking, made of quality materials throughout, and only costs $99, making it the better entry-level choice.
Like other premium mics on the market, the Wave 1 comes with its own proprietary software. Unlike many of its competitors, the Wave Link software enhances the overall performance of all the audio I’m streaming or recording because it lets me control up to 8 different audio sources or USB mics on my computer. Wave Link also allows you to create two independent output mixes, one for yourself and one for your audience, in real-time.
It also plays nicely with other audio and content creating software such as OBS, Audacity, and Elgato’s own Stream Deck. It is a truly seamless experience that removes a lot of the stress of creating, and grants the user fine-tuned control of their audio recording and streaming environment.
The Elgato Wave 1 is an entry-level microphone that delivers solid but not mind-blowing performance. Its lightweight form factor makes it great for recording on the go or in the workplace. However, at $129, it’s pricier than other entry-level USB mics that record at the same broadcast quality level, such as the Blue Yeti Nano ($99).
However, the added value of Elgato’s proprietary Wave Link audio-mixing software can’t be overlooked. By allowing you to not only fine-tune the Wave 1 recording but also control up to eight audio sources on your computer, it does a lot of heavy lifting, which should be music to the ears of entry to mid-tier content creators.