Computing

Fiio KB3 infuses a mechanical keyboard with a hi-res DAC

Fiio KB3 mechanical keyboard and DAC.
Fiio

Combo devices are everywhere. We have phones with cameras, earbuds with fitness trackers, and watches with altimeters, so why not a keyboard with a built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC)? That’s the premise behind the Fiio KB3, a mechanical, wired keyboard that features two dedicated headphone outputs, audiophile-grade DAC chips, and a built-in volume dial to control what you’re hearing. It hits retail in December for $149 in two color options: black or silver.

Fiio KB3 mechanical keyboard and DAC.
Fiio

The Fiio KB3 uses a variety of dampening layers in its construction, along with an aluminum-magnesium alloy top cover. The semitransparent keycaps are swappable and sit atop Gateron G Pro 3.0 yellow switches, and the entire 75% design is RGB backlit.

Fiio KB3 mechanical keyboard and DAC.
Fiio

On the back side, you’ll find that the KB3 does triple duty as a USB hub, with a single USB-C port and two USB-A ports for things like wired mice.

Fiio KB3 mechanical keyboard and DAC.
Fiio

For the all-important DAC portion, the KB3 uses a pair of Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs feeding two low-noise SGM8262 operational amplifiers producing 550 thousandths of a watt (mW) per channel of output power when you use the 4.4mm balanced headphone jack. The 3.5mm unbalanced jack gets 170mW per channel. Fiio claims that the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is 122 decibels, with a total harmonic distortion (THD+N) of less than 0.0005% — the kind of specs you’d expect to see on a dedicated DAC costing as much as $300.

To give credit where credit is due, Fiio wasn’t the first to create a keyboard-DAC combo. Earlier in 2023, the Commodore 64-inspired Moondrop Dash arrived with an almost identical set of features to the KB3, but at twice the price.

Other versions of the KB3 exist as well: a wireless version that doesn’t offer DAC capabilities and a custom kit version that includes the DAC, but lacks key switches and keycaps so that you can supply your own.

Most mechanical keyboards are aimed at the gaming community, a group of folks who also happen to prefer wired audio for its ultralow latency. But given the KB3’s audiophile specs, it’s fair to say this keyboard could well appeal to anyone who wants to declutter their desktop and still get great sound for their headphones or earbuds.

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Courtesy by: Digital Trends

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