Everyone knows Creative Labs as one of the go-to manufacturers for computer soundcards, but they’ve come to make a wide array of other peripherals as well, and they’ve just upped their game in a big way. This month, they’ve released their first audio interface mixer: the brand-new Sound Blaster K3+, custom made for streamers. It's time to dig deep and see what their first offering brings to the table.
- MSRP $129.99
- Dimensions: 160 x 160 x 55mm
- Product Weight: 19 g / 0.7oz
- Sampling Rate (Playback): 16/24-bit / 48.0, 96.0kHz
- Sampling Rate (Mic-In): 16/24-bit / 48.0kHz
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): ~93dB
- Platform: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Line-In
- Supported Headphone Impedance: 32-300 Ohms
- Provides up to 48V phantom power
- 2 x RCA (L/R) jack for Line-Out
- 2 x ¼” gold-plated TRS jack for headphones
- 2 x XLR/TRS combo connectors for Mic In
- 1 x 3.5mm 4-pole Mobile In jack for Android/iOS devices
- 2 x RCA (L/R) jack for Line-In (shared with Mobile In)
- 1 x ¼” gold-plated TRS jack for guitar input (shared with Mic 2)
- 1 x micro-USB port for PC/Mac or portable battery pack (5V 500mA)
If you've spent any time watching people stream on Twitch you may have seen them fiddle with a something an awful lot like the K3+, something small and square, off to the side with a bunch of knobs to adjust their audio or change how they sound. This is what’s called a “mixer” and is used connect one or more inputs, such as an XLR mic and, say, a music player, equalize them and perhaps apply a few effects, and to send that combined signal to your computer with clear audio quality. Other times, they might keep it simple and use a USB mic connected straight to their PC. There are advantages to both. The main plus of using a mixer is the amount of control you have over your mics sound level and characters, as well as possible special FX you can throw in. The biggest con to using a mixer though is its price, size and that they aren't the easiest thing to set up. The SoundBlaster K3+ aims to fix those points.
The SoundBlaster K3+ weighs in at a small 1.1 pounds with a 6.3” x 6.3” size. It fits quite easily on your desk with little space taken up. The process to set up the mixer was as easy as connecting the USB cord and making sure your XLR mic is firmly plugged in. From there, all you have to do is figure out how you want to sound by turning the bass, treble and overall volume knobs to get that perfect sound for your voice. Coming in at a MSRP of $129.99 doesn't make it the cheapest mixer on the block, but it comes in with a solid performance with ease of use.
The K3+ has two input ports for XLR and TRS microphone types. If your mic has a zero-latency monitoring jack, you can also run this into the K3+ with a 1/4" adapter, using USB as the power source – just make sure that you have the K3+ selected as your default device. From there the basics of volume are easy to control with both a bass and treble knob. You can also adjust the overall volume pickup of the mic. All of this is while using one or both of the two gold plated TRS jacks for headphones to monitor your own levels in real time. Couple that with the knobs to adjust the volume your monitor and the presence of any FX used, and you quickly find a huge amount of versatility to this mixer.
That’s right, the SoundBlaster K3+ also gives you the ability to add sound effects to your broadcast. First, you have a knob for reverb. It starts with nine basic settings that include Room, Hall, Plate, Stadium, Concert, Chorus, Reverb + Delay, Echo and Cathedral. Moving on from that you can go in to each setting and customize the amount of reverb and its individual delay. This can lead to some fun voice options while streaming, recording podcasts, or making videos. For even more fun, Creative also included an auto tune knob. With this you can change the tune of your voice based off of 24 different auto tune keys ranging from C Major to B Minor. Lastly, you have a soundboard button that gives you the option of six different things. You have Entrance, Cheers, Baby, Laughter, Gunshots and Crow. The range of these options can make for some unique voice overs while streaming.
Add to this the option to plug in a guitar or and keyboard piano for more sound and you see that the SoundBlaster is made not only for streaming purposes but can be used for such things as home recording for aspiring musicians. It's a sturdy little box of solidly constructed audio engineering.
Here’s a sample of how it sounds:
Overall, the SoundBlaster K3+ is a solid addition to the world of audio mixers and a great streaming tool from Creative Labs. If you're considering taking your first step into the world of XLR mics, want some extra control over your sound, or just to take your streaming setup to the next level, the SoundBlaster K3+ is a solid choice.
- Small footprint
- Quality design and construction
- Great options for audio FX
- Easy to use for those new to audio mixers
- Might be a priced a little high for those starting out in this field