Which of these two audio interfaces best suits your needs? The Elgato Wave XLR and the Focusrite Scarlett Solo are two of the most popular audio interfaces for gaming and they both serve different use cases. One has fancy new features for live streaming while the other boasts longevity and studio reliability. Let’s jump into this and find out which of these two works best for you.
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What are the Elgato Wave XLR and Focusrite Scarlett Solo?
Both the Elgato Wave XLR and the Focusrite Scarlett Solo are audio interfaces with a single XLR input. This allows you to power an XLR microphone for your gaming and streaming experiences. XLR microphones require specific hardware attributes that audio interfaces are designed to provide.
One major feature are the preamps provided by both the Elgato Wave XLR and the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. A microphone preamp is designed to prepare the microphone signal to be processed by other equipment, and in this case the audio interface prepares the signal from the microphone so your gaming PC and therefore OBS Studio can process the signal, mix it and send the audio to Twitch’s ingest servers so you can be heard.
From a basic hardware perspective, this is what these two audio interfaces have in common. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is by far the more popular of the two, and is often touted as a best-seller in various online marketplaces.
However, the Elgato Wave XLR is far newer.
Corsair, which owns the Elgato brand, has been expanding into the streaming space for several years now. They have been producing relatively high-end products marketed to meet the needs of the everyday live streamer. How does the Elgato Wave XLR compare with the incumbent, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo?
Let’s take a closer look.
- Microphone Interface: premium XLR to USB-C connection.
- Wave Link App: mix multiple audio sources and create two independent mixes.
- Proprietary Clipguard Technology: prevents microphone distortion.
- Demo 2x2 Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface
Elgato Wave XLR Setup
With a clean and sleek gain or volume knob on the front of the audio interface, the Elgato Wave XLR makes it incredibly easy for a novice to plug in their XLR microphone and get started. The most important information is front and center, and they use universal icons to clearly display their function.
The Elgato Wave XLR uses a USB-C out connector, which is considered more durable and current USB technology. Whether or not the bandwidth improvements of a USB-C connector will ever come to fruition is another issue entirely, however it shouldn’t break and that’s the important part.
The XLR input is fixed on the rear of the audio interface — allowing for a very clean gaming desk setup and will help to minimize the amount of clutter you’re adding to your live streaming setup. Additionally, you will also notice the Elgato Wave XLR has a capacitive touch mute button on the top of the audio interface. This is extremely convenient for muting your microphone during real life interruptions, dogs barking, or what professional broadcasters refer to as a ‘cough button’.
Between the USB-C and the XLR input is a headphone jack – this is designed to provide near zero latency monitoring of the microphone.
The 48V on the bottom right of the Elgato Wave XLR refers to ‘phantom power’ and it’s a term used to explain the amount of power required by a condenser microphone and it has to be provided by an audio interface or audio mixer.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of phantom power and its use cases, then Sweetwater has a wonderful resource to help you learn more about it.
Elgato Wave XLR Specifications
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Dynamic range: 100db
- Headphone DAC Resolution and Sample Rate: 16/24bit 48/96 kHz
- Interface: USB-C
- Requirements: Windows 10(64-bit), macOS 10.15 or newer, USB 3.0
Here’s a link to the Elgato Wave XLR technical specifications if you want to read more.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Setup
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo has a simple, utilitarian front faced design. All the important connections and dials are on the front, in addition to any color indicators. On the far right of the audio interface, you will notice the headphone jack input, this is for zero latency monitoring.
The gain knob located closest to the XLR input is color coded, and is responsible for the microphone gain or volume. Next to the XLR input, there is an additional input designed for musical instruments, guitar, bass, etc.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is capable of powering high-end XLR condenser microphones with 48V phantom power. For such a small and compact audio interface, it’s a powerful and incredibly flexible piece of streaming kit. You can literally tuck this away, stack it above or underneath nearly anything, and the metal chassis frame will withstand the rigors of any live streaming setup.
This audio interface is designed for portability and to withstand the hardships of studio use. It’s one of the major reasons it’s a perennial best-seller. Reliable and durable, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo shines in nearly any gaming and live streaming scenario.
From a purely hardware perspective, these two audio interfaces appear identical. You plug your XLR microphone, press 48V phantom power and start streaming. If you’re solely focused on gaming and live streaming then the biggest differences lie not with the hardware inside, but with the software that brings them together with the rest of your live streaming setup.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Specifications
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Dynamic range: 111db
- Resolution and Sample Rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Requirements: Windows 10(64-bit), macOS 10.15 or newer, USB 2.0
Here’s a link to the Focusrite Scarlett Solo technical specifications if you want to read more(scroll down to the bottom for the full list).
Let’s take a closer look at how these two audio interfaces work with their respective software packages.
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Elgato Wave XLR Software
Right from the hop, there is one major caveat that needs to be discussed with Elgato Wave XLR software. Elgato has created a software mixer called Wave Link, and it is designed to be a software hub for all connected Elgato devices. However, the Wave Link software will not start without an Elgato device.
It’s unfortunate more people can’t take advantage of really cool software like this, but if you have an Elgato Wave XLR it’s simple and easy to install.
Any XLR microphone should work with the Wave Link software once connected to the Elgato Wave XLR. Thankfully, you can connect the Elgato Wave XLR with OBS Studio without any further hassles.
We’ll discuss OBS Studio compatibility further down the page.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Software
Focusrite Scarlett Solo comes with drivers for both Windows and MAC, in addition to DAW software. As the Focusrite Scarlett Solo and most of their product line was developed and designed prior to the explosion of live streaming, their software still focuses on studio applications.
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation, and it’s designed for users to record music on PCs.
Unless you’re creating music or podcasting, there are not many practical applications for DAW’s within gaming and live streaming.
And I think this is where most of the disappointment comes with the software side of these audio interfaces. The Wave Link software mixer will only work with an Elgato hardware, and the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is still designed with studio recording in mind.
However, if you need a software mixer, there is Voicemeeter Banana, and has only increased its popularity with those streaming to Twitch and YouTube. It comes with a few restrictions, namely multiple virtual audio cables. However, this is only an issue for those with dual PC streaming setups or large and expansive live streaming setups. Most users will be perfectly fine with one virtual audio cable, and that’s free.
Now, let’s talk OBS Studio compatibility, because that’s what actually matters.
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Elgato Wave XLR and Wave Link with OBS Studio
Once you have the Elgato Wave XLR connected and Wave Link installed on your PC, it’s time to configure OBS Studio. This is fairly simple and easy to accomplish, even with minimal PC experience. Make sure to have the latest version of OBS Studio installed.
Follow these steps:
- Open OBS Studio
- Open the Settings window in the bottom right section of OBS Studio
- Select Audio
- Select Wave Link Stream as the Mix/Auxiliary device
- Make sure the sample rate in OBS Studio is set to 48khz
By adjusting the sample rate in OBS Studio you avoid any potential same rate conversion issues.
Now you’re all set to stream with the Elgato Wave XLR and Wave Link with OBS Studio. Let’s take a closer look at how to configure OBS Studio with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo with OBS Studio
This will require a few more steps than the aforementioned audio interface, however it’s not more difficult and does not require more experience with a PC to complete.
Make sure you’ve connected the Focusrite Scarlett Solo with your PC and installed any necessary software/drivers.
Download and install OBS Studio, once this is completed we can begin configuring the software for this audio interface.
Follow steps in this order:
- Open OBS Studio
- Under the Sources panel click on the +(plus) sign
- From the drop down menu select Audio Input Capture
- Name your input, preferably Focusrite Scarlett Solo and press OK
- Select your Focusrite Scarlett Solo from the drop down menu
- Under the Audio Mixer panel you should now see your audio interface
That’s it. You have successfully configured OBS Studio to accept audio input from your Focusrite Scarlett Solo and therefore your XLR microphone audio is passed through and you’re ready to go live.
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Warranty and Additional Information
Warranty Information first:
Focusrite Scarlett Solo comes with a 3-year warranty and you can read more about their warranties here: https://focusrite.com/en/news/three-year-warranty-all-focusrite-products
Elgato Wave XLR comes with a 2-year warranty, and more information can be found here: https://help.elgato.com/hc/en-us/articles/360027964252-Warranty-info-for-CORSAIR-and-Elgato-Gaming
The Elgato Wave XLR has limited headphone powering capabilities, 77mw @16ohm impedance. If you have the Wave XLR and have 250 ohm + headphones, it would be smart to purchase a dedicated headphone amplifier instead.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo is capable of powering 200-ohm headphones
Resource here: https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360021413360-What-impedance-headphones-should-I-use-with-my-audio-interface-
These are two of the most popular audio interfaces for gaming and live streaming. The Elgato Wave XLR is incredibly user friendly and designed with gaming in mind. It’s about as plug and play as you can get. In addition to Wave Link software, it makes the Elgato Wave XLR stand out in the crowd.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo on the other hand is still designed primarily for studio use and although it doesn’t come with fancy mixing software, it packs more hardware and more capability than the Elgato Wave XLR. This is the main issue between the two, do you prefer ease and convenience or do you want the more powerful and potentially longer lasting audio interface with the Scarlett Solo?
This depends entirely on your use cases, however both of these are good choices for anyone streaming to YouTube or Twitch.
Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about a software mixer, check out how to use Voicemeeter Banana, and if you want to learn more about the best streaming software for Twitch, then we have you covered.