Value and Conclusion
- The Elgato Wave:1 is available online for $120/€115.
- Great overall sound quality
- Excellent Clipguard technology
- Effective internal pop filter
- Extremely useful digital mixer
- Stealthy aesthetics and good build quality
- Lag-free microphone monitoring through built-in 3.5-mm headphone port
- USB-C cable support
- Additional polar patterns would be a nice touch
When developing their first two audio products, the Wave:1 and Wave:3 condenser microphones, Elgato took a smart approach. They collaborated with Vienna-based LEWITT, a company specializing in professional microphone technology and live and studio recording, while adding their own expertise with streaming gear to the mix. I thought that the end result was impressive back when I reviewed the $160 Elgato Wave:3, and my opinion hasn't change after spending time with the $120 Elgato Wave:1. It's a great USB microphone accompanied by a powerful piece of software, which transforms it into a complete streaming solution.
By buying either of Elgato's microphones, you're not only getting a great-sounding microphone, but also the ability to fine-tune your streaming audio sources in an intuitive and very functional way. I cannot stress the significance of the Wave Link software enough. While there are many other excellent condenser microphones on the market, even less costly ones, they don't come with a digital mixer, which means they don't offer a comparable level of customizability for streaming.
There are other things to like here as well. The Clipguard technology is excellent. As mentioned in the microphone performance section of this review, a second audio channel runs inside the microphone at a reduced volume, so the microphone automatically switches to that quieter channel when it detects clipping. With microphone gain set to a normal level, making it clip is pretty much impossible, which means content creators have one less thing to worry about.
The Elgato Wave:1 microphone performs virtually the same as the more expensive Wave:3, making this an excellent $120 USB microphone. Choosing between the two shouldn't come down to sound quality as features are what set them apart. With the Wave:3, you're getting a capacitive mute button and a more functional dial, which lets you adjust headphone volume, input gain and balance between microphone and PC sound monitoring, so you can fully control it without opening the Wave Link app. The Wave:1's dial only lets you mute the microphone and either adjust headphone volume or input gain (you get to decide which). The Wave:1 keeps the mic/PC monitoring crossfade functionality, but it can only be accessed through Wave Link. Is that worth an additional $40? That's something you'll have to decide for yourself.