Hello everyone, and welcome back to TechNuovo. My name’s Stef, and today I want to talk the Wave XLR, and how it’s taken over my content creation workflow. I used to use a GoXLR, and have recently swapped to the Wave XLR, and have definitely found it to be an extremely capable device.
The Wave XLR is a small plastic box that’s been designed to angle up at the user for easy use. It’s smooth to the touch, with one big round dial in the centre which doubles as a button press, and on top is a capacitive mute button. Compared to say the GoXLR, it’s an incredibly neat package, but its neatness does mean it’s sacrificed functionality, and I’ll explain why in a moment. It’s branded Wave XLR on the front, and the dial has LED lights which can be customised in the software to different colours, to give it that RGB-like gamery feel. It looks absolutely stunning and I must say Elgato has done a great job with its design.
Around the back are three inputs, keeping things nice and simple. The first is the XLR input to use with pretty much all XLR microphones out there, and yes, there’s enough power, including phantom power to pretty much run all mics you throw at it. There’s a USB Type-C input which is nice to see and finally, a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can monitor your audio and listen to your mix. Although minimal, and great if you’re streaming from a single PC setup, you will start to run into issues if you’re wanting to run a dual-PC streaming setup as there’s no line out. Also, I would personally have liked the headphone jack to be on the front of the device. It makes it easier to plug your headphones in every time you’re wanting to stream, and in my case here, when I’ve got two speaker setups on my system, so I’m not locked into permanently using headphones. Some kind of speaker out would have been nice here too, so I could run a set of monitors, or at the very least, a line-out.
So, with that being said, it’s probably best to save complications and just run this device to a single PC. Forget about dual-streaming here. There are other products out there capable of doing that. Everything you need to mix here, from your voice and Discord chat to game sounds to desktop videos to your music is done using the Wave Link software. It uses digital routing devices and needs to be used in conjunction with your Windows Sound device settings which is fine. A bit clunky but there’s no real way around this. Inside Windows, you’re given loads of virtual audio devices to really break up your audio into their own individual mixes. The Wave Link software was extremely simple to set up, and everything you need to fine-tune your mix is in front of you on its home screen. Under each heading are two sliders. These represent loudness in your headphones and loudness in the overall mix being sent to your stream. And at the bottom, you can find an overall volume level for each output, and an equalizer so you can see if you’re clipping or hitting the red. Pro tip when setting up your mix… set your sound output in the bottom right-hand corner of Windows to Elgato System. This ensures that the overall mix you’ve created will come through your headphones. Ignore the Elgato Wave XLR Headphones option. It did not work for me, and looking at content online, it doesn’t look like it works for anyone else either as no one seems to be using it.
One giant caveat to this software though is changing these settings on the fly can be a little bit of a pain. Coming from something like the GoXLR, which has physical sliders, and you can map certain sounds outputs to each slider, so if for example you’re the last one alive in a game of Valorant, and your friends just won’t shut up, you can quickly turn down your chat slider there and then. With the Elgato Wave XLR however, you’ll need to Alt+Tab to the Elgato software and turn them down there before returning to your game. And that’s really the only downfall that I can think of with the Elgato Wave XLR. A get-around in their next iteration could be to include these audio outputs on the dial to scroll through with button presses. Right now, the only things that can be changed via the dial when you click it in are your microphone gain, your headphones volume, and the mix between audio and voice but only for monitoring, not your overall mix.
Inside of the microphone settings themselves you do have a whole host of options to choose from, including your overall gain, your monitoring, the sample rate of your voice and your input levels. There’s a clip guard feature found here too which allows you to scream into your microphone and it did not clip. There is a 20dB of clip protection included which is nice, and I never found that any of my yelling caused much of an issue with my content. There’s even now the chance to use VSTs within your microphone settings directly from the Wave Link software, something that they’ve added as it wasn’t available on release, so kudos to you there Elgato. A few specs as well if you’re interested here: it’s a 24-bit 48 or 96kHz interface that includes 48v of phantom power for those condenser microphones that need a bit more drive. There’s 75dB of gain, again for the harder-to-run dynamic mics, with 52dB of analogue and 23dB of digital gain. You’ve got 100dB dynamic range too, and with that 20dB of clipguard, it makes the Wave XLR a pretty capable audio interface that can handle pretty much every type of microphone you throw at it.
The Elgato Wave XLR, paired with the Wave DX microphone is an extremely capable audio solution if you’re wanting something to really start your journey into live streaming, or content creation. I love that it comes in such a small package, as it really helps with space on the desk. However, I do not like the fact that you cannot change your audio mix on the fly like you can with the GoXLR. I even think that this is a bit of a hindrance, to be honest with the product, especially in crucial moments in a game of Valorant. But, if you’re a solo streamer, playing through single-player RPG games, you’re generally going to have your settings keyed in before you start anyway. Saying this though, the Wave XLR has definitely taken over my desk. I love it and the space I’m saving compared to a GoXLR is unreal. The software is great, and I love having virtual audio inputs on my system so I can really break out and dial in each piece of software I’m running, and it’s pretty self-explanatory in the app too. I for one love this product, and just a thought off the top of my head, a Stream Deck and a Wave XLR all in one product? Giving you the capability to press a button to access each input to turn them down on the fly? Elgato, you need to get on this. But for now, we’ve got the Wave XLR, and what a decent capable audio interface it is. Check out more info on the Elgato website.