The KB3 is a brand new mechanical keyboard from audio model FiiO with a built-in headphone jack that stands an excellent probability of sounding higher than the prevailing 3.5mm output in your desktop pc or laptop computer. That’s as a result of the headphone jack isn’t simply passing by way of analog audio out of your pc, it’s plugged into a mix DAC and headphone amp that’s built-in into the keyboard itself.
So relatively than having a headphone cable snaking throughout your desk to succeed in your machine, or cluttering up your workspace with a separate DAC and headphone amplifier, all these gadgets can theoretically be constructed proper into the keyboard that’s sitting beneath your arms. And it comes from an organization which is aware of a factor or two about audio (even when its keyboard-making skills are much less confirmed).
I can see the argument that you simply’ll get higher outcomes from shopping for gear like this individually, however the audio and keyboard specs of the KB3 don’t comprise any main purple flags for an all-in-one gadget at this value. On the audio facet the keyboard is provided with twin Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs and helps as much as 32-bit / 384kHz and DSD256 audio. Alongside the usual 3.5mm headphone jack, there’s additionally a 4.4mm balanced output. Tom’sHardware notes that the audio specs seem to match FiiO’s $80 KA13 headphone amp.
The peripheral doesn’t seem like a slouch within the keyboard division both. It’s gasket-mounted, with hot-swap switches (that means they are often changed with out the necessity for soldering), helps each Mac and Home windows, contains RGB lighting, and is appropriate with the favored VIA configuration software program. It’s obtainable in a barebones choice that comes with out switches or keycaps, however if you would like them included you get Gateron G Professional 3.0 Yellow switches and what seems to be a set of translucent keycaps. It makes use of the ever-popular compact 75-percent structure, much like what you’ll discover on lots of laptops, and naturally there’s a dial on the top-right to manage quantity.
FiiO is much from the primary model to have considered constructing a 3.5mm headphone jack right into a keyboard. The Razer BlackWidow Final 2016, for instance, may plug into your pc’s 3.5mm jack and cross by way of audio to a port on the keyboard itself. However the normal knowledge has been to not depend on headphone jacks like these due to the audio interference passing an analogue sign by way of a keyboard may add. By taking a digital audio sign from a pc and changing it utilizing a built-in DAC, FiiO’s strategy is much like the Moondrop Sprint, one other latest keyboard with a built-in headphone jack.
FiiO is promoting the KB3 by way of AliExpress, the place it may be had for $129.99 with out switches or keycaps, or $149.99 as a fully-assembled mannequin. It’s additionally obtainable as a wi-fi keyboard, for $129.99 fully-assembled, however this mannequin doesn’t have any of the fascinating audio options.