Life is routinely governed by Murphy’s law. You think you’ve got everything in hand, only to realize that everything is the exact opposite of what you thought it was. Have you been in the position where you have a top-notch XLR mic that you love, only to realize you seriously need a USB mic option instead? You’ve spent an absolute fortune on your XLR mic, but now you need to buy a USB mic. Or is there a solution to the problem? Of course, there is.
My in-depth Elgato Wave XLR review will hopefully turn out to be a positive one because this exquisite little box might be the digital answer to your analog prayers. This cool little XLR audio interface can not only save you a fortune but also gives you a bunch of other options that can simplify your home recording studio experience. Are you ready to find out what it’s all about? Let’s do it!
What is the Elgato Wave XLR Audio Interface?
This Elgatto Wave XLR is a value-for-money audio interface that is ideal if you are looking for a multifunctional product that can do the job of several different devices. For sure, it might look like a standard audio interface, but it offers a bunch of features that you won’t find on most similar devices of this type.
It can convert XLR mics into USB mics. So straight off the bat, it’s already a winner for those operating with an analog setup who need to switch to digital without the expense of replacing a bunch of studio equipment. But aside from the mic conversion features, it can also be used for digital mixing and has anti-distortion capabilities.
It’s a great option for streaming and recording while also offering preamp functionality and 48V phantom power, all for under $200.
What’s in the Box?
This is a very streamlined and simple audio interface that has a minimalist look and feel. I must say I was very surprised when the box arrived in the post because it seemed so small and compact. But as they say, the most explosive things come in small packages. Or at least that’s what my friend’s wife tells me. There was nothing fancy about the packaging, just like my friend’s wife, but here is what was inside the box:
- Wave XLR Audio Interface.
- USB-C cable.
- User instruction manual and guide.
- Warranty card.
How Does It Look?
Once I took the Elgato Wave XLR out of the box, it didn’t blow me away with its aesthetics, but I already knew that looks can be deceiving. I’ve already used similar products before, like the TC-Helicon GoXLR and the AverMedia Live Streamer interfaces. So, in all honesty, this wasn’t my first time at the fair.
When the Elgato Wave is compared to those two aforementioned interfaces, it might appear a bit Spartan in looks. But I have always preferred a minimalist design that doesn’t distract you with a bunch of whistles, bells, and flashing lights.
This Elgato Wave XLR might look like a simple black plastic box, but it’s more than that. I was immediately impressed by its smooth touch and strategically placed controls. Some say basic; I say neat and tidy. The large center dial is large and round, and doubles as a press-style button. Don’t confuse a streamlined design with a lack of functionality, or you might get caught off guard.
Looks can be deceiving…
The first impressions of the design didn’t blow me away, but it’s more about how it works than how it looks. There are some nice visual touches, though. For example, there are some customizable LED lights on the dial that have different colors and mimic an RGB style that you might see on some kind of gaming device.
That gives it a nice warm and friendly vibe, so in effect, it’s not too stone-age in its appearance. But it’s the features that make this such a viable option for home studio recording bedfellows and budding podcasters.
Elgato Wave XLR Key Features
This review of the Elgato Wave XLR is more about how it works than how it looks or its price range. The truth is that this audio interface has more functions and features than similar devices that are way more expensive, so it was already a positive experience for me. Here are some of the best features that really made it stand apart from some of its more-expensive contemporaries.
Converts XLR Mics to USB
Around eight months ago, I purchased a relatively expensive Blue Bluebird SL XLR Cardioid Condenser Mic for my largely analog studio setup. It cost me the best part of 300 bucks, so it wasn’t cheap. It’s a fantastic mic, but at the time, I didn’t realize I would need digital recording options in the near future. So instead of biting the bullet and buying a USB mic, I read that the Wave XLR could convert my pre-existing Bluebird XLR mic into a USB mic with a USB-C connection with minimal fuss.
In my opinion, this was worth the money alone, and that’s before I even considered the other features you get with this Elgato audio interface.
Powered Up to the Max…
For such a little box, it’s very powerful in every conceivable way. For example, you can use it to boost or enhance your mic volume and quality without needing an external preamp. It can take the sound of any dynamic mic and maximize its clarity and loudness with an ultra-low noise gain feature of around 75 dB. And when you consider that it offers phantom power of 48V, it can take any standard condenser mic and elevate its overall sound quality.
Multifunctional Control Dial Options
The multifunctional control dial is extremely easy to use. You can use it to control both the volume and input gain simultaneously, and that’s not all. It lets you perfectly toggle and balance the crossfader that works between the PC mix and the mic’s phantom power.
Multi-Channel Mixing Options
I essentially needed to switch from analog to digital recording because of a podcast streaming project. This device gave me excellent control over all my audio in one place with its Wave Link features. It allowed me to blend and mix a number of things at once, like my samples, mic audio recordings, music, voice chats, alerts, and even multiple mics at once.
The Wave XLR made submixing a cinch. It let me mix on the fly while also letting me create two independent mixes at once for me and my audience. I could blend everything perfectly in real time with minimal fuss in the heat of the battle.
Excellent Headphone Output Power Monitoring
My home recording studio is located in an apartment that sometimes limits my volume output via external monitor speakers. This means I am constantly using headphones to monitor my audio. This can be a dangerous game when using inferior-quality interfaces because you can get an unreliable sound that can negatively affect your mix.
One of the most impressive parts of the Elgato Wave XLR is the excellent headphone output power monitoring functionality. It offers zero-latency headphone monitoring that was amazingly clear that gave me a surprisingly high-powered output experience.
Low-Cut Filtering and Clipguard Technology
The ability to record and create crystal-clear audio is what makes this one of the best audio interfaces in this price range. Take advantage of the dual low-cut filters that operate at 80Hz and 100Hz. If you are streaming a podcast live, these filters can massively help to eliminate unwanted low-frequenting sounds from a distance.
The Wave XLR also uses its own Clipguard Technology to manage your audio levels when you are streaming live or in post-production without you even watching. It does it all for you. All you need to do is to set up this feature correctly, and it will automatically reroute using a second signal path that keeps all the audio in line when the input levels get increased.
This essentially means you can stream really loud, and you still get balanced and crystal-clear audio with no distortion.
What Are the Specifications?
For such an affordable audio interface in this price range, the Elgato Wave XLR has loads of top-notch specifications. I’ve already covered the majority of its design features and functionality, so all that is left is the specifications that are listed below:
- Dimensions: 3.46 X 4.65 X 3.31 (inches).
- Product weight: 10.6oz.
- Connectors: XRL, USB-C, and 3.5mm jack.
- Dynamic range: 100dB, 120dB with Clipguard.
- Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz.
- Range of gain: 0 to 75 dB.
- Phantom power: 48V.
- Sample rate: 48-96 kHz.
- Voltage: 1V.
- Battery: Lithium Ion required.
- Power source: Electric cord.
Elgato Wave XLR Review – Pros & Cons
- Compact audio interface.
- Excellent audio quality.
- Can power most mics.
- Easy to use controls.
- Streamlined design.
- Converts XRL mics to USB.
- Excellent mixing options.
- Top-notch headphone output monitoring.
- Ideal for live streaming and podcasting.
- The software doesn’t support VST.
- Less control than a GoXLR Mini.
Looking for more Quality Audio Interface Options?
Or, if you’re thinking of a microphone upgrade, how about our reviews of the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Kick Drum Mic, the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals, or the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar currently available.
Elgato Wave XLR Review – Conclusion
Should I Buy Elgato Wave XLR Audio Interfaces?
If you have an expensive XLR mic that you love and don’t want to replace, but you’re being forced to convert to digital recording, the Elgato Wave XLR is the perfect purchase. It might not perform as well as some other high-level audio interfaces that cost almost twice as much. But it still does a great job nonetheless, especially for its value-for-money price tag.
Personally, I absolutely loved it. I could keep my favorite old condenser mic for my podcast stream with no hassles. Some might think the overall design and layout are basic, but I prefer to call it minimalist and streamlined. When you are steaming live in the middle of a battle, you need something easy to use with simple controls. This is a super-convenient audio interface that will boost and enhance your mic, giving your crystal-clear audio. What’s not to love?
Happy recording, streaming, or podcasting!