Wave XLR audio mixer: questions

On the last MPU podcast David (@MacSparky ) mentioned how much he liked the Wave XLR from Elegato. The price point ($150) is very good so I started looking into more. As a result I have 3 questions. Each of these questions is informed by my use of the Sound Devices USBPre 2 for many years. I’m less looking for an audio preamp for myself, but an affordable one for my students.

  1. On Amazon many folks complain about how hard it is to install/use the software. My question: does one need to use the software? (with the USBPre 2 no software is needed)
  2. A few folks complain about poor sound coming into their wired headphones. (Either tinny sound or extra background noise.) Is this a problem anyone has faced?
  3. The limiter. On the USBPre 2 the limiter is simply amazing. If I talk too loud then there’s no clipping. Never had a problem. Is the limiter about as good as the USBPre 2 or similar devices. I’m not expecting it to be exactly as good, but if it’s pretty close then that’s good enough.

Hopefully some of you beyond David have tried out this device. Who knows, maybe by this time @ismh has also tried the Wave XLR.

Hi @Mathew_T_Mitchell

In response to your questions:

  1. I’ve never used any of Elgato’s software on it. I just plugged it in.
  2. The headphones sound fine to me. I only, however, use them for podcast recording (people talking). They don’t sound particularly bad (or good) to me.
  3. The USBPre 2’s tech is better. That said, my editor likes the sound of me through the XLR.

I’d recommend buying one from a place with an easy return policy and kick the tires for a few days.

David: Thanks so much for your advice.

The software was the big concern on my part. If I suggest for my students then I don’t want them having to deal with fiddly software.

Good to know re: limiter. In this case I’d set the gain to be a little more conservative (lower) so any chances the limiter really needs to be used is decreased.

I’ll kick the tires!

@SpivR Thanks for the suggestion of the Rode AI-1. Very interesting product!

Zooms are not a good fit as I always have students use/buy a proper microphone. And I’ve honestly been pretty unimpressed with Zooms: preamps do not seem very good to me.

All of my students are educators so this is for audio setups for podcast-like situations or screencasts.

@MacSparky and @SpivR First, thanks for the input from both of you. I really appreciate it.

I received the Wave XLR this week and have played around with it briefly. The most disappointing thing about it is the headphone output. I find it very tinny and frankly unusable. That said it’s easy enough to use the headphone jack on a laptop so not a huge deal to me.

Yes, the preamps seem to be quite nice. That’s the main thing and I’m really pleased.

There are some extras I enjoy about it. I like the shape which gives it a smaller form factor. I like the rubberized bottom which mean I can easily put it a lot of places and not worry about it slipping or sliding. And the mute button works really well and is 100% clear about when on/off.

I’ll do some more testing but I’m very likely to recommend this to students and to keep this for myself. It will help me for those times when I want to do some recording on my laptop in another location in my house (i.e. where there’s sunlight instead of the dark corner where my iMac is located) or when traveling at times.

I will probably purchase and test out the Rode AI-1 as well. Doing due diligence for my students. But I never knew the Wave XLR existed and if I did know then I probably would have dismissed it. So truly thanks for answering some of my initial questions and concerns. I’m glad I took a flyer on this!