Elgato Wave DX Dynamic Microphone Review

I’ve reviewed a number of microphones in my day and none has confused me as much as the new Elgato Wave DX. It’s not that it’s a bad microphone, quite the opposite actually. The confusing thing is this isn’t a microphone you just plug into your computer and start chatting away. For the $169.99 that it costs, this XLR Dynamic microphone doesn’t even come with a connector cable in the box; you have to buy that separately for an additional $30.

XLR is a tried and trusted format that has existed for ages but lo and behold, isn’t a format that your computer or laptop understands; you’ll need to spend extra to buy an XLR interface like the Elgato Wave XLR Interface which is another $250. Lastly, the microphone needs a stand or boom arm because, you guessed it, there isn’t one in the box.

As you can see, what started as $170 mic quickly becomes a $400 setup to even start using it. The Wave DX therefore is a very measured and intentional purchase aimed at a very specific type of user and not the person who just wants a microphone for Zoom calls and game chat. Elgato’s marketing says the Wave DX is designed for broadcasters, podcasters, commentators and content creators. Interestingly, it doesn’t say gamers or streamers. So is it worth all the bother? Yes. And no. Let me explain.

Elgato Wave DX XLR Dynamic Microphone

The Elgato Wave DX is a very minimalistic looking microphone that’s purposely designed to not draw attention — a choice that is clearly contrary to the gamer mindset of flashier is better. This is a serious microphone for serious people. It’s a black, cuboid capsule made from a hardened steel and unlike most USB microphones, is completely devoid of any buttons or knobs. The most you get is a removable Elgato logo badge that you can position on either side of the mic for best optics.

To control the microphone, you’ll need to do that on your XLR interface which you’ll connect to by plugging an 3-pin XLR cable into the port on the base of the microphone. On one side of the mic is a mono swivel 5/8-inch mounting arm with 3/8” and 1/4” thread adapters so it should work with almost any off-shelf microphone boom arm. The mounting arm has great range of motion so you can set up the mic in almost any way you prefer. You can mount it hanging down towards you or standing up. If you don’t have a boom arm, Elgato sells the Wave DX as a bundle which includes one of their arms, an XLR cable, and the Wave XLR interface.

Whatever your preferences and setup, the top of the capsule must be positioned close to your mouth for the best audio. Elgato says Wave DX uses a ‘forgiving cardioid polar pattern’ which allows you to speak off axis and still be heard. For me this also meant the mic was picking up unwanted audio from behind and around it far more than I’d like. Keyboard typing, the train passing outside the window behind my desk setup and more. This is probably why it’s not explicitly targeted towards gamers/ streamers who are typically bashing away at a keyboard a lot.

Speaking of audio, the Wave DX really does sound wonderful. It captures your voice with a richness and warmth that makes you sound soulful and sultry the closer your mouth is to the microphone. It’s a nice sounding microphone that leans slightly towards the bassier side which makes you sound much more professional I guess. The sound is designed to be as accurate and neutral as possible so that you have room for sculpting it with various EQ and effects in the software of your choice.

The Wave DX has a zero circuitry design for pure analogue output. Additionally, Elgato has built in a pop shield using acoustically engineered nylon fibre sandwiched between two layers of foam to reduce plosives and breath sounds. It works very well in my experience, cutting out spikes in speech, something that can come in handy during heated podcasts or excited event coverage. As a bonus, it means you don’t need one of those ugly foam socks messing up your clean aesthetic.

Elgato Wave DX Mic sample

However, despite the excellent audio capture, I’m not pleased with how easily the Wave DX picks up unwanted background sounds as I already mentioned. I can’t tell you how many times on Zoom calls I had colleagues ask me to mute because they could loudly hear my typing or my kids talking in the background. This isn’t something I’ve experienced with cardioid USB microphones like the Razer Seiren or the MSI GV60 which do a much better job of ignoring background noise.

Maybe I’m just not smart enough to configure my gains and settings to ignore this but again, this is why the Wave DX isn’t really for the average user. In a controlled environment like a sound-treated room or studio, the audio you can get out of this mic is stellar. But in your regular work from home setup or gaming den, the mic will just pick up way too much ambient sound.

Verdict

So, like I said at the start, the Elgato Wave DX is definitely worth the hassle but only for a particular niche of people. For the average consumer and gamer, it’s certainly not worth it because of the additional $200 and more in peripherals required just to use the mic. But for serious podcasters and content creators who want professional, malleable audio required for quality content, the Wave DX is definitely worth considering. I’m not convinced that the Wave DX is necessarily better than what you can get out of cheaper USB condenser mics though so if you want to save several hundred dollars, you have plenty of great options.


Corsair Australia kindly provided the Elgato Wave DX, Wave XLR to PowerUp Gaming for the purpose of this review.

Elgato Wave DX Dynamic Microphone Review
Reasons to buy
Excellent audio quality
Clean, elegant design
Malleable audio for post processing
Great for podcasters and content creators
Reasons to avoid
Requires so many extras to work
Picks on background sounds easily
4
Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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