If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you watch our video review of the Soundblaster K3+, as it showcases some of its features, as well as some pros and cons of the product.
I’d like to elaborate on some of those pros and cons. The Soundblaster K3+ seems to be a very niche product. It sports basic features that one would expect from a USB sound device, like two XLR inputs that support phantom power, as well as headphone ports for monitoring your recording levels. However, the K3+ adds several features that many consumers might not need or use, increasing price and alienating potential customers.
The sound effects that come with the Soundblaster K3+ are of questionable value. When am I going to need the sound of a crow or a laughing baby? I can see the laughter, cheers, and gunshot sounds getting their use on gaming streams or podcasts, but that’s only three of the measly six sounds that the K3+ sports. One could source more and better sounds from the internet, and access them through a software or programmable hardware device. This would give the user a lot more flexibility to adjust and grow their sound library for their stream or podcast. One google search netted me at least seven options for sound effect software, almost all of which support keyboard commands (and then you can just buy a macropad to go along if you really want).
If you choose to use the onboard effects, be prepared for a learning curve. Everything is accessed by the knobs. This means that users need to take the time to learn what each knob does (some have multiple uses depending on the mode) and what the two letters or numbers on the LED display are telling them. Effects are an absolute pain to try to manipulate on the fly, so if they are used, it’s best that they are used in a “set it and forget it” manner. To complicate matters more, the K3+ takes up an appreciable amount of desk space. Users will likely want to push it out of the way to keep spaces uncluttered and prevent a mess of cables falling on their lap, but doing so makes the numerous controls of the K3+ harder to access.
The K3’s reverb and autotune seem like odd additions in my opinion, but I can see how they would appeal to certain users. If you are a music streamer or want to record something directly with reverb while on the go, this will happily accommodate you. However, if you are a serious content creator who doesn’t stream, then you probably already know that better results can be achieved by recording dry and taking the time to adjust software effects to taste.
If you are a music streamer, mobile content creator, or solo/duo podcaster, then the K3+ sports extra features that you may find useful and won’t normally find built-in. However, if you don’t fall into these sorts of demographics, then these extra features offer little value to justify the $130 price tag. Many people might be better suited to buying a cheaper alternative such as the Behringer UMC22 ($40) or investing in the well-respected Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($150)
This article was a collaboration between two of our News Team members. Video review shot and edited by Stingray Schuller. Written review written by Alex Heuer.