Elgato Wave XLR and Wave DX pickup review: Superior sound input with great value
Elgato is one of the leading PC accessory makers that has been aggressively forging its way into the streaming space.
For those who stream Xbox or PC games on services like Twitch or YouTube, Elgato has a product for virtually every aspect of your setup. Need a green background? Elgato has one. Game recording? Elgato has some of the best capture cards the low. webcam? They just announced that the world more powerfulwhile creating innovative products like the flow bridgecompetitors are trying to catch up.
Now the firm is going deeper into microphone technology with its Elgato Wave DX and Elgato Wave XLR. The “Wave” range includes microphone arms, an XLR PC interface, as well as full XLR microphones and USB options for different price points and needs.
The circuitless Wave DX microphone promises distortion-free sound with phantom power, and when combined with the Wave XLR interface, we get a sound package that can very quickly and easily elevate your broadcast soundstage.
Here is an overview of the Wave DX and the Wave XLR.
Elgato Wave XLR & DX: Pricing & Availability
The Elgato Wave XLR Controller is available in the US at Amazon, Best Buy and more at Elgato.com at the time of writing. However, the Elgato DX microphone is only available in Europe at the time of writing, but is expected to make its way to the US by the end of 2022.
- The Elgato Wave XLR audio controller costs $180.
- The Elgato Wave DX dynamic mic is $99.
- The Elgato XLR cable is sold separately and costs $25.
- Also in this package, you can grab an Elgato Wave mic arm, which costs $100.
Elgato Wave XLR & DX: Advantages
Elgato has a long tradition of creating high-quality products for game streamers and content creators and has expanded into microphones in recent years. I reviewed their previous Wave microphones when they launched and honestly weren’t too incredibly impressed with them. I must say that the situation has changed a bit with the Wave DX.
The Wave DX is a dynamic condenser microphone that, like many other XLR microphones, is plug-and-play. The absence of circuitry guarantees minimal interference on audio processing when the sound is going to a connected interface. For this review, we’re also using Elgato’s Wave XLR audio interface to get a sense of how the two products work in tandem.
The build quality of the Wave DX and Wave XLR is very good. The microphone’s metal body offers minimal spin, which sports dual internal pop filtration and a front pickup with “forgiving” cardioid pattern recognition. Ideally, you’re supposed to speak at the end of the microphone, but it works just fine even if you’re about 40 degrees off in either direction.
The mic comes with a few mounting adapter screws ensuring it can be attached to virtually any mic stand or arm, including Elgato’s own Wave mic arm which features magnetic enclosure rails for wiring and various points of articulation. The Wave DX mic mounting arm can also be swapped to either side of the chassis, saving you from having to reposition your entire setup if you need to place the mic left or right. The cable grip is also stiff and stable, and despite the dense construction, the mic is surprisingly light.
The Wave XLR interface is equally impressive with its build quality. The large dial has various lights around its edge to signify audio levels, and can even track clipping with a tuning adjustment. Press the dial to switch between crossfade, volume, and mic gain levels. Using the connected Wave Link app, you can also configure the lighting colors.
The Wave XLR features impressive software with various sound channel tracks that can be configured on the fly for mixing. Rather than using streaming software, you can use Wave Link to incorporate all your sound effects and inputs into a single stream, making it much easier to manage everything while streaming. There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the rear for microphone monitoring, as well as a standard XLR and USB cable port for connection to a Windows PC.
Additionally (and more importantly, more on that in a minute), the Wave XLR also lets you import VSTs (virtual studio technology) from other sources. With recommendations on the Elgato website, you can incorporate noise reduction, EQ settings, and other post-processing techniques to elevate the soundscape even further.
The Wave DX sounds pretty decent on its own out of the box, with clear voice reproduction with minimal fuss. I couldn’t detect any glitches or distortion during regular use, and the Wave XLR interface’s capacitive mute made it easy to browse incognito without having to touch the microphone itself.
While overall there’s a lot to like about this $99 mic, there are a few things you should know before you splash your cash on it.
Elgato Wave XLR & DX: Cons
While the Elgato DX mic sounds pretty good right out of the box, there are a few notable downsides to the audio profile. Like a podcasterI’ve had live viewers complaining about the mic, saying the sniffles and breaths have gotten worse since I switched Samson mics.
To remedy this, I installed some of Elgato’s VSTs that they offer on their website. The Elgato Noise Gate and Elgato EQ interfaces are very good, and have solved my problem of hissing sound reproduction. The noise gate also eliminated the sound of my open window and the noisy road outside during silent periods with my co-host, which also proved helpful. You can hear some of the VST samples on and off below.
However, since setting up the VSTs, I’ve had a weird window scaling bug with the Elgato Wave software that I haven’t been able to fix yet. Elements are broken and VST plugins no longer scale properly. There is a setting in the Elgato Wave Link software to automatically scale VST windows, but turning it on or off doesn’t actually seem to do anything.
While I was writing this I discovered a workaround: you can minimize and maximize the VST window to fix the plugin scaling, but it shows that there are bugs with the shipping of the software that could probably be fixed quite easily. Elgato is usually quite diligent about offering over-the-air updates of its products. My Elgato Stream Deck and capture software have received tons of improvements over the years, and I suspect the Wave XLR will be no different.
So the main downside to this whole setup is that if you’re someone looking for an instant and easy microphone experience out of the box, this probably isn’t it. It took quite a bit of EQ tweaking to get the Elgato to suit my vocal style well, and that’s without really getting into the thick of things with Reaper VSTs and stuff like that. If you just want a good USB microphone, there are plenty of easier-to-use options.
However, if you are willing to spend time making the necessary setups, the combo of Wave XLR and Wave DX is a great choice worth considering.
Elgato Wave XLR & DX: Competition
The Elgato Wave XLR is a great USB interface that really punches above its weight and works well with other Elgato products, such as the Stream Deck. In this space, it is quite unique. When it comes to the Wave DX mic, however, the competition gets a little more interesting.
The Wave DX competes with many best mic options there, but its $99 price tag is particularly appealing. On the high-end XLR side, there’s stuff like HyperX ProCast XLR. At the more affordable end, there are microphones like the Samson Q2U on Amazon (opens in a new tab), which are often a bit cheaper than that. I’d say the Wave DX competes well in the $99 bracket, though you might want to shop around before settling down.
Elgato Wave XLR & DX: Should You Buy It?
All things considered, the Elgato Wave DX mic and Wave XLR make a great team that improves the input quality of audio streamed to any Windows PC. Whether you want better audio for professional-grade meetings or creating content, these two products will serve you extremely well.
The Wave DX requires some tweaking and investment in VST plugins to get the most out of it, but the Wave XLR and its Wave Link software make it easy to get started with the process, even if you’re a beginner. The Wave Link software could use some improvements, but it’s a great tool and simple to use.
You should buy this if:
- You’re already invested in the Elgato ecosystem, including products like the Stream Deck.
- You want to install an XLR microphone in your setup without breaking the bank.
- You have an existing XLR microphone and need a good audio interface to pair it with.
You should not buy this if:
- You don’t want to deal with VSTs and extra configuration.
The Wave DX has a lot of competition in the $99 XLR mic stand, but for those who are invested in the Elgato ecosystem and want something sturdy and looks great on camera, what Elgato offers here is rock solid.
The Wave XLR makes instant adjustments to your soundstage super easy on the fly, without having to dive into your streaming software. And yes, there’s a setup to get everything you want, but once you’re ready to go, it’s hard to deny how much Elgato Wave DX and Wave XLR have made my content creation life easier . .