Having a good audio mixer unit can be an absolute asset to content creators out there interested in creating their own music, web shows, podcasts, etc. Unfortunately, good audio mixers can be costly and big, making them poor choices for home content creators without a big budget. Also, they can be complicated, which also adds a steep barrier to entry for most home content creators who might not have much experience with these kinds of devices. Enter: The Creative Labs Sound Blaster K3+ USB powered audio mixer. The Sound Blaster K3+ is very portable – in terms of both size and weight. It is easily carried by hand and the weight or transported in your bag. It features a black base unit with both shiny and matte surfaces as well as a small reverb and soundboard setting legend sticker on the unit’s top side. As far as looks alone go, the Sound Blaster K3+ is a very stylish device that will look terrific on your desk. The K3+ features 10 rotary knobs on the top of the unit as well as 7 buttons – each has their own functions but all of the physical controls feel solid and well-built. The knobs have a smooth, yet slow rotation resistance which will help you get the precise level or setting you are looking for.
Setting up the Sound Blaster K3+ is straightforward and easy however that process, as one would guess, changes slightly depending on your particular needs. If you’re a musician, you will probably be using the K3+ differently than if you are creating a two-person podcast or a single-person game stream. So what options do you have in using the K3+? On its user-facing side, the Sound Blaster K3+ has two XLR microphone input jacks as well as two 3.5mm headphone output jacks – each of those headphone outputs has their own volume control. It also features 1.4 inch jack input line on the front which could be used for a guitar, keyboard, etc. On the reverse-facing side, the Sound Blaster K3+ features a 3.5mm mobile i/o input which allows you take audio from, say, your mobile phone and put it into your mix! Next to the mobile i/o jack, you’ll also find stereo line in and line out jacks, as well as micro USB port!
There are a number of controls on the top of the K3+ which control all of its audio magic. The Sound Blaster K3+ features a button that, when pushed, sends 48 volts of Phantom Power through its XLR ports to your condenser microphones. A warning, this should not be used with dynamic microphones – it will damage them! Also on the top side of the K3+ is the Voice Over button. This suspends any line in audio to just focus on the audio from the XLR inputs. The Sound Blaster K3+ features six different sound effects which can be dropped into your mix at your command. These sound effects feature the sound of gunshots, a baby laughing, applause, a crow, and a couple others. Your mileage may vary with how much you use these. I was hoping that the K3+ would allow you to flash the device with custom sound effects via the USB cable but unfortunately, at least right now, do that. The Sound Blaster K3+ also features auto tune functionality, and it does work fairly well, if not being a bit heavy sounding. To expand your audio board even more, you can daisy chain up to four Sound Blaster K3+ units together, however, I only had the one to test with.
All of these are good features, but perhaps my favorite thing about the Sound Blaster K3+ is that it is a USB powered device. This is special because it means you can take your K3+ into the field for remote recording, whether it be a convention booth, coffee house, hotel room, the choice is yours. Being USB powered means that you do not need AC power – you can run the K3+ straight from a USB power bank! Plans are in the works for new GamingShogun streaming content options and the Sound Blaster K3+ is definitely going to be our go-to audio mixer in these endeavors.
Overall, the Sound Blaster K3+ USB powered audio mixer retails for $129.99 and is available now.