A bargain mic for yellers
Kevin and Bobby started a new podcast: Essentially Useless.
Kevin hit me up for a mic recommendation — budget: $150/person.
Bobby is a yeller. Yelling is a nightmare to mix. It's also a big problem for streams — where platform compression can make digital peaks unlistenable.
Elgato Wave has the only reliable (software limiter) I've tested. Limiting is something I've spent hundreds to solve with hardware. At $150, the Elgato Wave is a bargain mic for yellers looking to improve their stream.
Why it I recommend it #
This mic is the pinnacle of USB-mic technology, sporting a classy design, in an affordable package.
Elgato Clipguard anti-distortion technology is the killer feature of Wave. I've never recommended a USB-only mic until the Elgato Wave announcement. That's because USB-mics aren't extensible.
When I started podcasting and streaming, the first first piece of outboard gear I needed was a limiter/compressor. But that's all I've needed.
To keep a strong and peak-free audio signal, I tried the DBX 286s ($229) — which I do not recommend. I eventually landed on the SoundDevices MixPre-3 ($899) — which I love.
But, $229 is the entry point for solving this issue with hardware. And that's outside of the $150 budget.
Elgato to the rescue with the only software-powered clipping solution I've seen that works. I'm not sure how they do it but, in my tests, Clipguard is a reliables limiter. Making it well worth the $150 price-tag.
Lewitt inside #
Wave was designed my Lewitt. If you don't know much about audio, Lewitt makes incredible microphones. As an A/V nerd, this is what captured my attention.
I trust them just as much as industry titans Shure, Rode, and Audio-Technica.
The mic has an incredibly low self-noise, sounds great, and does an admirable job (for a condenser) at rejecting background noise.
This thing looks nice and is small enough to disappear from the frame.
I lke the old RCA-style look in a contemporary matte black.
The competition #
There is no competition in this space.
Should I buy a Wave:1 or Wave:3? #
The street price of the Wave:1 is $130. The Wave:3 is regularly discounted to $145.
At a $15 difference, absolutely get the Wave:3. But if you can only find the Wave:3 at retail ($159), and that $30 is a deal-breaker, here's what you need to know.
There are 3 major differences:
- Wave:1 lacks a capacitive mute button
- Wave:1's hardware dial only controls headphone volume (not gain or mic/pc mix)
- Wave:1 has a max sample rate of 48kHz
Other than that, it's the same mic and all features can be controlled via Elgato WaveLink software.
The compromise with this mic is that build quality.
I think that's a great compromise because folks can't feel your mic thru the stream and you won't be touching it a whole lot.
Compare that to the Shure MV7 which retains a high build quality but at the expense of shit sound.
Elgato Wave Pop Filter #
Elgato Wave Pop Filter ($29) is an attractive design pop filter if you want to get right up on your mic. But I had no trouble with the build-in pop filter — with the mic placed about 6" from my face at a 45 degree angle.
Elgato Wave Shock Mount #
Elgato Wave Shock Mount ($39) is in attractive minimal shock mount. I like it. But the included crap-plastic mount isn't terrible either. Try it without and see how it does for you.
Bottom Line #
Elgato Wave:3 is the best microphone for streamers and podcasters on a budget. Clipguard is worth every penny, even if the mic didn't sound great. But it does. At ~$150, it can't be beat.
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