Page 3 - Audio Performance Tests
While a typical user may not need a dedicated microphone or an audio interface, there are very common use cases for one, especially for those who work from home. In addition, dedicated studio-grade microphones are often the audio input of choice for content creators, streamers, and gaming enthusiasts. Audio interfaces enable a wider selection of microphones that include ones for professional audio recording. In our tests today, we will be looking at the audio interface for how it is able to record audio as a demonstration of its capabilities. The audio interface was connected directly to my motherboard via USB and all of the recordings were made with this connection. I used the Neat King Bee II microphone for the tests connected via XLR.
One setting I had to change was to set the input as single-channel mono instead of stereo. This is because in stereo mode, it will assign input A to the left channel and input B to the right channel. Otherwise, you can hear how it is able to record everything clearly with the Neat King Bee II. Things like the slight puff of air from plosives and the background clicks of my mouse were easily picked up. I had the gain set to around 67%. Everything sounded natural and generally quite good. Compared to my Focusrite Scarlett Solo, I found the Audio A3 to be clear and capable at letting the King Bee II pick up my voice.
Moving to testing two inputs, I plugged my guitar into the second input. Unlike my usual singing tests for microphones, I recorded both my singing and guitar at the same time. As such, if you are listening with a pair of headphones, you will hear my voice in your left ear and the guitar in your right ear. You can hear the Creative Live! Audio A3 was more than capable of handling both inputs clearly. I did switch input B to instrument, and I am appreciative of having the separate switch for each input. Otherwise, there were no notable deficiencies when I recorded with both of the inputs. You can distinguish my guitar and my voice easily, although this is aided by the fact they are output on their own side. The guitar input was good in capturing the audio and was generally accurate to what I was playing, both in tone and capability. There were no muffles or unexpected noises like buzzing or static.
The final recording test was trying out the 3.5mm input along with my voice. It was a bit cheesy to do, but I wanted to test out how easy it was to make adjustments on-the-fly. I started by playing a song, which was "Miles Away" by Wontolla, Kasger & Limitless, and adjusting the input knob while speaking. I ended the recording by fading the song out. Everything worked as expected, although I will say the recording of the song did not sound as good compared to listening to it directly. While the knob was easy to adjust, I think I would have preferred a slider for more precise and faster movement for fading. Even so, it was easy to do, and I can see this being helpful for podcast creators to quickly mix intros and outros live.
In addition to the inputs, I used the Creative Live! Audio A3 as a DAC with my headphones as well. Creative does not provide any specifications as to the maximum headphone impedance it can drive. Both of my headphones, the Philips SHP9600 and Sony MDR-7506, are relatively low impedance headphones, so the Audio A3 was more than capable for this job. Otherwise, the output was again clean with no background static or buzz to be heard.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Audio Performance Tests