In my test: Elgato Wave XLR – why it was returned…

From XLR to USB-C, the Elgato Wave XLR actually does that quite well - with a small problem in handling.

I don't want to write a big review of the Elgato Wave XLR here. I probably don't have the necessary specialist knowledge of an audio technician for this. Nevertheless, I feel like I have to briefly recount the little experience I've had with the device over the last few days.

My use case

I wanted to use the Elgato Wave XLR to... Behringer C-2 XLR microphone Connect to my MacBook Pro or iPad mini via USB-C. It is important that you have an XLR to USB-C converter that also supplies 48 volt phantom power so that the microphone works properly.

Technically speaking, the Elgato Wave XLR offers everything I wanted. There is a USB-C port that supplies the device directly with power. An external power supply is therefore not necessary. There is also an XLR socket and a 3,5 mm jack connection for plugging in monitor headphones.

The Elgato Wave XLR also has 48 volt phantom power, which is important for some XLR microphones (Photos: Sir Apfelot).
The Elgato Wave XLR also has 48 volt phantom power, which is important for some XLR microphones (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Good workmanship

The optics and workmanship are also really good. I like the small device, it fits in front of my monitor and also has a silver look, which in turn harmonizes with my Apple Studio Display.

The workmanship is quite high quality. It doesn't have an aluminum housing, but nothing wobbles and there weren't any functions that I was missing. On the contrary. There is even a mute button on the top that you can quickly reach to deactivate the Mirko.

The level display LEDs turn red when you press the mute button.
The level display LEDs turn red when you press the mute button.

Why the Elgato Wave XLR doesn't work for me...

As already indicated in the title, there is still a reason why I sent it back with a heavy heart.

And this is resetting the microphone input level without my intervention. In practice the following happens to me:

  • I start the audio program of my choice on the Mac or on the iPhone or iPad Mini. This could be Hindenburg, for example, or simply Apple's voice memos app. I have also tried other apps and unfortunately the behavior has not changed.
  • Now I adjust the level of the microphone using the Elgato Wave XLR so that it is suitable for the recording.
  • If I now press the record button, the level simply jumps back to 0 and I have to turn it up while recording.
  • If I stop recording and start again, the level jumps back to zero.

Now you naturally ask yourself: How can a physical control knob jump to “zero”? The answer is, the knob on the Wave XLR is an endless knob. So it has no physical beginning and no fixed end. This means it can be influenced by the software.

And the problem is also known at Elgato, because they have this support entry for one of their microphones with a similar level setting that says “Elgato Wave:3 – The gain control level changes on its own".

The apps' automatic gain control seems to be to blame. I would believe that if I hadn't tried it with apps like Hindenburg, where you can deactivate this control or where there is no automatic adjustment.

And if it's the automatic gain control, why does the level go to zero? This doesn't make any sense.

On the back you will find an XLR socket, a USB-C socket and a headphone output. The mute button can be seen on top.
On the back you will find an XLR socket, a USB-C socket and a headphone output. The mute button can be seen on top.

Clear noise can be heard on the Elgato Wave XLR

Another point that I noticed with the Elgato Wave XLR is the background noise, which was significantly stronger for me than with the Rødecaster Pro 2, which we usually use to record our podcasts.

I didn't try it out properly because the decision to send the device back had already been made. A friend who knows a lot about audio equipment gave me the immediate tip not to use the Elgato thing.

The (not much more expensive) professional solution is the Focusrite Scarlett and he doesn't know any of his colleagues who would use the Elgato Wave XLR. Maybe I should have listened to him straight away.

My solution

You can imagine that recording audio for our podcast or YouTube videos with a problem like this isn't really fun. You really have to pay attention to enough technical things when you record YouTube films so that you don't have to add problems where there shouldn't be any.

Hopefully the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has real knobs that retain their status when you release them.
Hopefully the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has real knobs that retain their status when you release them.

Therefore the Elgato Wave XLR was returned and I bought one Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (4th Gen) ordered. If necessary, we can also connect two microphones and I have great hope that the knobs for the input levels of the microphones are not endless rotary knobs, but real knobs that “remember” where they are.

And I saw that the Focusrite Scarlett also works via USB-C and doesn't require an external power supply. So it does everything I want – and hopefully remembers the microphone gain setting.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.