Elgato Wave:3 microphone review: "Full of clever touches"

Elgato Wave 3
(Image: © Elgato/Corsair)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The cat’s out of the bag, and its feature-rich - the Elgato Wave 3 mic is an incredibly good-value option that has a bountiful feature-set.

Pros

  • +

    Built-in limiter

  • +

    …and a pop shield too

  • +

    Polished sound

Cons

  • -

    Awkward mute button

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Branded in Elgato finery, ultimately falling under Corsair’s ownership and manufactured by studio mic company Lewitt, it’s fair to say the Elgato Wave:3 is a bit of a team effort. Its corporate lineage might be confused but the execution is anything but: this is a deceptively feature-rich streamer mic at both hardware and software level.

Now available for about $120/£120, it’s no longer in direct price point competition with the Blue Yeti X - still the USB streamer mic to beat, if we exclude the Shure MV7 on account of its dual inputs - and that’s good for it. Realistically it’s going to take a gargantuan effort for another company to topple Blue and Shure’s position in the streaming for gamers market. Still, the Wave:3 compares favourably to those best microphones for streaming, particularly now it’s notably cheaper.

Elgato Wave 3

(Image credit: Elgato/Corsair)

Design, features, & performance

The construction materials here aren’t perhaps what you’d normally expect for a $100+ mic, comprised mainly from no-nonsense plastics finished in a utilitarian but neat matte. It doesn’t feel cheap though, and also doesn’t show up finger marks easily. Snack dust may be harder to disguise from your streaming audiences, however. It’s not a look many would hold up as an example of wild aesthetic beauty, but its simple black colour scheme and utilitarian lighting mean it looks right in any desk setup and it’s never going to get garish.

One of the best features tucked away up its sleeve is a hard limiter that Elgato calls Clipguard. This kicks in when the gain levels get hot, to ensure you don’t start peaking and that the sound doesn’t distort as a result. And although Elgato has its own app for this mic, Wave Link, you don’t need to install it to access Clipguard. And yes, the frothy branded name levels are getting dangerously high in this paragraph, but it’s a great move from Elgato not to ringfence its features off behind a bit of bloatware like so many manufacturers do. Just plug the mic in and you’ve got a built-in limiter working away by default. It’s not a problem that it can’t easily be toggled off, because first of all it’s very effective and doesn’t kick in when it’s not needed, and secondly absolutely no one - with the honorable exception of early ‘00s Julian Casablances from The Strokes - wants their mic to distort. 

Elgato Wave 3

(Image credit: Elgato/Corsair)

Also in its bag of treats is a built-in pop shield that protects the mic membrane from picking up hard plosives and exaggerating them - bring to mind the ear-shattering “check one TWO” the singer-songwriter who brought their own PA likes to spit into the mic before their 14-minute mashup of Jeff Buckley and Gorillaz, and you’ll immediately know the importance of rolling off those harsh consonant sounds. It’s not the only mic to make such claims, but it is the most effective we’ve tested. This humble reviewer also provides VO and I was able to record broadcast-quality audio without a pop shield. Seriously impressive.

That’s because not only are these functions present in the Wave:3, they also interact so well. The limiter - sorry, Clipguard - adds a nice level of compression so you don’t have to do it with VSTs, squishing out the sound to something palatable and recognisably processed, ready for other ears. The filtering out of harsh plosives just adds another level to that out-of-the-box polish.

Elgato Wave 3

(Image credit: Elgato/Corsair)

Should you wish to get your hands dirty with Wave Link for some deeper tinkering, you’ll find a mixing app with eight channels where you can set levels for game audio, mic gain, chat mix, and additionally up to seven other mics. It’s a streaming tool primarily but also handy for juggling Discord, game audio and a YouTube window explaining the Sea of Thieves quest you’re all stuck on. You can take my word for that.

Overall

The only glaring downside here is the placement and mechanism of the mute button. It’s a touch-sensitive area on the very top of the mic rather than a mechanical button, and its position makes it a bit easier to hit accidentally than anyone would like. It’s not a reason not to buy the mic, but it’s there.

Now considerably cheaper than the Blue Yeti X, and still full of clever touches you don’t find on other mics, the Elgato Wave 3 is a workhorse model for any streamer. 

Check out our full guide to the best Razer streaming gear you can get too.

More info

Available platformsTech, PC
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Phil Iwaniuk is a multi-faceted journalist, video producer, presenter, and reviewer. Specialising in PC hardware and gaming, he's written for publications including PCGamesN, PC Gamer, GamesRadar, The Guardian, Tom's Hardware, TechRadar, Eurogamer, Trusted Reviews, VG247, Yallo, IGN, and Rolling Stone, among others.