Elgato Wave Neo Review – An Unbeatable Entry-Level Desktop Mic

Simple and clean.

The Elgato Neo series has to be one of my favourite initiatives from the company in a while. After making huge waves (pun intended) in the markets for streaming gear in a bunch of categories, it almost felt like there was not enough room for improvement for Elgato to keep refreshing existing lines, so this side-step to a broader home office/content creation segment with a focus on affordable and environmentally-conscious products is a winning move.

In the spirit of recycling, you’ll read that same opening paragraph in my reviews of the company’s Stream Deck Neo, Key Light Neo and Game Capture Neo, but as someone who’s done almost-weekly podcasting for quite a few years now it’s the Wave Neo microphone that’s most had my attention. I’ve been using Elgato mics for as long as I’ve been uploading my voice to the world wide web, and while I don’t think I’ll be permanently swapping out my Wave XLR any time soon, the Wave Neo does a lot that I love.

Like all of the other products in the range, the Wave Neo comes in some very nice, sustainable packaging. It can sometimes feel odd to talk at length about the “unboxing” experience of a product considering it’s something that happens once and is quickly forgotten about, but Elgato deserves a lot of praise here. Not only has it managed to make packaging that looks attractive and sets the tone of the product but it’s also just really nicely constructed and well-packed to make the setup feel fun and easy.

Of course it helps that the microphone itself is a snap to put together, with just a couple of stand pieces and a nicely braided USB-C to USB-A cable to worry about. It’s all wonderfully-designed and can be assembled to sit lower or higher depending on preference, with a handy cable holder at the back of the neck and a nice, weighty bottom plate to keep it in place. The front simply has one, big, touch-sensitive mute button which changes colour to let you know it’s safe to cuss out the people on the other end of your Teams call and there’s a 3.5mm port on the back to connect wired headphones. Simply having a pop filter included and a taller stand makes this thing feel a lot more thoughtful than competing mics in the price bracket.

One thing I really appreciate about all of the Neo range is that despite being more “affordable,” there’s no skimping on the quality of construction. The Wave Neo looks and feels clean and sturdy, all minimalist and stark white made from premium (60% recycled) plastics and metal. Aside from the optional riser and one tilt axis there’s not a huge amount of on-desk flexibility, but the simplicity is a conscious design choice and it looks and feels phenomenal as a result. I’d say that if you’re the target customer for a mic like this then it’s those things that matter more. You can even remove the included pop filter, if you’d prefer to look at it naked or swap to a different colour if you live in a region where they’re sold.

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What matters most of course, is how well this thing records voice, and the great news is that for under $150 it does a bloody good job. Again, it shouldn’t come as a shock that it doesn’t outperform the likes of the Wave:3, Wave XLR or something like the SteelSeries Alias, but for an adorable little USB condenser mic it’s shockingly decent. Crucially, it’s totally plug-and-say, with no fussing about needed to record nice-sounding audio, though Elgato’s excellent Wave Link software on PC is available if you would like to install plugins and effects to further fine-tune things.

Spec-wise, the Wave Neo isn’t too dissimilar from its older siblings, with a cardioid pickup pattern, 24-bit resolution, up to 96 kHz sampling, and a slightly wider 20 Hz – 20 kHz response but a more narrow range of sensitivity from -23 dBFS to 7 dBFS. What all of that means in real terms is it records audio that’s pretty comparable to the more expensive Elgato mics, though maybe not quite as detailed and crisp. In my use I found that it also captures a little more background noise than my other mics, especially my keyboard, though the pop filter does a great job at handling those nasty plosives so I can stand to have it a bit closer to my face when speaking into it.

All in all, for those basic content creation tasks, zoom calls or gaming it’s quite a capable little thing and easily better than anything else under the $150 mark. The fact that you can use it with a PC, iOS and other handheld devices or even a PS5 also makes it very versatile.

If I had any gripes, the main one would be the lack of any on-board controls aside from the touch-to-mute. Just a simple gain knob would’ve been nice, but I can appreciate that Elgato wanted to keep things very svelte and simple for those that just want to sit it on their desk and speak. If you’re going to be streaming or doing anything moderately complex it might be a good idea to also grab something like the Stream Deck Neo as an external means of having more control.

Conclusion
The Elgato Wave Neo is a gorgeous, thoughtfully-designed little desktop mic that packs great recording into a sleek and simple bit of kit. It's incredibly easy to recommend to anyone shopping in the sub-$150 price point and a no-brainer for content creators, home workers, budding streamers or those that just like a good desk aesthetic.
Positives
Looks gorgeous
Made with sustainable practices
Super easy unboxing and setup
Sounds fantastic for the price and size
Negatives
Lack of external controls