Review of The Sound Blaster K3+
An Excellent Piece of Gear For Live Streaming
I recently did a review of the new Creative Sound Blaster K3+ audio interface. It's more than your typical interface unit. Here is how Creative define it on their site: "An external sound mixer module with hardware audio processing such as reverb, autotune, and voice morphing effects." They also call it a "USB-Powered Recording and Streaming Mixer with Sound Effects Processing and Soundboard."
What does all that mean?
Let's start with what it is at its heart, which is an audio interface. By that, I mean that the K3+ is a "unit" (a box of some sort) that allows you to plug microphone into it. An interface uses its analog-to-digital converters and mic preamps to allow you record high quality audio.
Most interface units plug into a computer, usually with a USB cable. Then you can record the audio into your computer and produce that audio in whatever way you want (music, video, voiceover, etc.).
How is the K3+ Different?
The K3+ was designed primarily for people who do lots of live streaming, especially musicians. And because folks who do live streaming often want to use their mobile devices to create live streams or videos on the go, they would need something that allows them to be mobile, but still be able to produce professional quality audio in their streams/videos. The K3+ allows you to do just that.
The K3+ can be powered by a USB "power bank." I wasn't familiar with that term. But what it basically means is those portable USB things you carry around to recharge your mobile devices when their batteries die on you while you're nowhere near an outlet.
If you have any mobile devices at all, you probably already have one. The one I have had for years - the Insignia Portable Charger (~$25) worked perfectly.
So you can use the K3+ literally anywhere! No need for a computer and no need for an outlet. Also, you can connect the K3+ to a mobile device and have the ability to make your live streams and videos sound WAY WAY better than 90 percent of the other folks out there doing live stream broadcasts. Check out the video below to hear just how much better.
In order to connect the K3+ to your mobile device, you'll need a special kind of cord with a pin called a "4-pole 3.5mm." This is not (currently) included with the K3+. So you'll have to buy that separately.
You cannot use just a regular 3.5mm cord. It must be the "4-pole" type like this Archeer cable. These have 3 black lines on the pins at the ends.
What Can The K3+ Do?
The K3+ allows you to plug your good studio condenser mics into it so you can get awesome sounding videos (or podcasts, etc.). The unit lets you record "Hi-Res" too, offering 24-bit/48KHz recording. Of course there is 48V phantom power for your condenser mics.
But there are several features you don't see on other interface units. One of those features is reverb to spice up your live musical performances (which I demo in the video below). There are several available reverbs, each with the ability to control amount of reverb and delay.
There is also an "autotune" feature. This allows you to do things like mimic the T-Pain/Cher effect and/or make your voice sound like those robots in the TV show, Legion. You can probably come up with several creative uses for this effect.
Another interesting feature is the Sound Board. This could be handy if you're a podcaster and want some quick sound effects, like a few seconds of dramatic drums, applause, laughter, and a few other sounds.
There are two headphone jacks, each with it's own volume control. This can be handy if you're doing a podcast interview or performing with 2 musicians.
Also, there is a VoiceOver mode. The K3+ not only has inputs for microphones, but also for external sources. So you could have music coming in from another mobile device or CD player while you are using the mics.
When you engage the VoiceOver mode, that background music will fade into the background whenever you speak into the microphone. This ensures the vocal is always the prominent sound and can be heard over the music.
There is a term for that in audio recording and broadcast called "ducking." You can read more about ducking in our post What is Ducking In Audio Recording?
If all you want to do is record audio on your computer, then you're probably better off with a standard interface unit such as a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. But if you do live streaming and want to be mobile and able to record quick videos that sound awesome, and get them immediately onto YouTube, Facebook Live, etc, then the Sound Blaster K3+ is what you want.
See the video below to hear for yourself what the K3+ can do.
If you want to find out more or buy one for yourself from Amazon, CLICK HERE
What kind of audio cable livestream for iPhone that you use on that video , I also want to buy that cable please
It was a "4-pole" cable pretty much exactly like this: https://amzn.to/2OHhSOf 4-pole TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) connector, which is needed for smart phones. The one in the video was actually provided to me by Creative/Sound Blaster for the review. Hope that helps.
you advised to use 2i2 interface that if we want to record directly to computer ... is that mean k3+ probably not working good in direct recording on computers >> is there alot of latency ? or same of 2i2 interface for recording
Chico - my point was that if you already have something like the 2i2, it would probably work better for computer recording than the K3+. But if you are trying to record direct to your mobile device, THAT is where the K3+ is better. You can't do that with the 2i2 without having to add a whole bunch more adapters and things. The K3+ is designed to be used with mobile devices and works well for that. I hope that helps.
you advised to use 2i2 interface that if we want to record directly to computer ... is that mean k3+ probably not working good in direct recording on computers >> is there alot of latency ? or same of 2i2 interface for recording ? waiting for your advise
Hello Ken, great review and video! I have a slightly different need for a device like this, I am trying to connect an audio source to my iPad to sample sounds into Beat Maker 3. Mostly I will be using 3.5mm headphone cable from an ipod, will this work for what I am needing?
Thanks! I'm not sure how what you mean by "headphone cable." Is it the headphones on one end and the plug on the other? Not sure how that would work. The kind of cable mentioned in the review - a 4-pole 3.5mm cable - is what is needed to connect an audio source (like the K3+) to an iPhone or iPad. A headphone cable is going to just be a stereo jack with 2 lines on it. So that wouldn't work for input on an iPad. Only output. Hope that helps.
My wife wants to purchase this unit for mobile karaoke recording, we have a condenser mic and a crappy Chinese sound card currently and it died.
Now if we want to buy the k3+ what cables would we need to make this setup work(we have two iPhones, one to input music via YouTube and a second to record to)
In the article I know you mentioned one 4-pole TRRS to input audio from one phone, but what about the cable for recording? Does that need to be a rca to 4 pole?
Hi Boris. It's been awhile since I've used mine. I believe the TRRS cable is for Live streaming, primarily, or for direct audio recording. I'd have to look into it to be 100% sure, but I don't think there is any way to connect 2 or more mobile devices. It might be faster to go to the Creative site and ask their directly to get a faster answer, since I've never used it for this purpose.
I bought K3+ 2 days ago and I found that the sound of the microphone is very soft even I had the 48v turn on and mic volume to full. I am hearing it using a headphone and my mic is a AKG P220. Is this normal? Please advice~
No I don't think that is normal. Are you sure you have the monitor knob turned up high enough?