The KB3 is a new mechanical keyboard from audio brand FiiO with a built-in headphone jack that has a good chance of delivering better sound than the existing 3.5mm output on your desktop computer or laptop. This is because the headphone jack isn’t just passing analog audio from your computer, it’s plugged into a combination of DAC and headphone amp that’s integrated into the keyboard itself.
So instead of having to trail a headphone cable across your desk to reach your machine, or cluttering your workspace with a separate DAC and headphone amplifier, all of these tools could theoretically be built into the keyboard sitting directly beneath your hands. Is. And this comes from a company that knows a thing or two about audio (even if its keyboard-making abilities are less proven).
I can see the argument that you’ll get better results buying such a device separately, but the KB3’s audio and keyboard specifications aren’t any major red flags for an all-in-one device at this price. On the audio side the keyboard is equipped with dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs and supports up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 audio. Along with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, there’s also a 4.4mm balanced output. Tom’s Hardware Note that the audio specs appear to match FiiO’s $80 KA13 headphone amp.
The peripheral doesn’t seem to slack in the keyboard department either. It’s gasket-mounted, with hot-swap switches (meaning they can be replaced without the need for soldering), supports both Mac and Windows, includes RGB lighting, and supports the popular VIA configuration software. Is compatible with. It’s available in a barebones option that comes without switches or keycaps, but if you want to include them you get Gateron G Pro 3.0 Yellow switches and what appear to be a set of translucent keycaps. It uses the ever-popular compact 75-percent layout, as you’ll find on many laptops, and of course there’s a dial at the top-right to control volume.
FiiO is far from the first brand to think of building a 3.5mm headphone jack into a keyboard. The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016, for example, can plug into your computer’s 3.5mm jack and send audio to a port on the keyboard. But common wisdom is not to rely on such headphone jacks as passing analog signals through the keyboard may cause audio interference. By taking a digital audio signal from a computer and converting it using a built-in DAC, the FiiO’s approach is similar to that of the Moondrop Dash, a more recent keyboard with a built-in headphone jack.
FiiO is selling the KB3 through AliExpress, where it can be purchased without switches or keycaps for $129.99, or as a fully assembled model for $149.99. It’s also available as a fully wireless keyboard for $129.99, but this model doesn’t have any interesting audio features.