The KB3 is a new mechanical keyboard from audio brand FiiO with a built-in headphone jack that has a good chance of sounding better than the existing 3.5mm output on your desktop or laptop. That’s because the headphone jack not only transmits analog audio from your computer, it’s plugged into a DAC and headphone amp combination built into the keyboard itself.
So rather than having a headphone cable snaking across your desk to reach your machine, or cluttering your workspace with a separate DAC and headphone amplifier, all of these devices can theoretically be integrated directly into the keyboard that lies beneath your hands. And it comes from a company that knows its way around audio (even if its keyboard-making capabilities are less proven).
I can see the argument that you’ll get better results buying equipment like this separately, but the KB3’s audio and keyboard specs don’t hold any major red flags for an all-in-one device at this price. On the audio side, the keyboard is equipped with two Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs and supports audio up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256. Besides the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, there is also a balanced 4.4mm output. Tom’sMaterial notes that the audio specs appear to match FiiO’s $80 KA13 headphone amp.
The device doesn’t seem to be a slouch in the keyboard department either. It is gasket-mounted, with hot-swappable switches (meaning they can be replaced without the need for soldering), supports Mac and Windows, includes RGB lighting, and is compatible with popular VIA configuration software . It comes in a barebones option without switches or keycaps, but if you want to include them, you get Gateron G Pro 3.0 Yellow switches and what appears to be a set of translucent keycaps. It uses the very popular compact 75% layout, similar to what you’ll find on many laptops, and of course there’s a wheel at the top right to control the volume.
FiiO is far from the first brand to have thought of integrating a 3.5mm headphone jack into a keyboard. The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016, for example, could plug into your computer’s 3.5mm jack and output audio to a port on the keyboard itself. But the general wisdom has been to not rely on headphone jacks like these due to the audio interference that an analog signal through a keyboard might add. By taking a digital audio signal from a computer and converting it using a built-in DAC, FiiO’s approach is similar to that of the Moondrop Dash, another recent keyboard with a built-in headphone jack.
FiiO sells the KB3 through AliExpress, where it can be had for $129.99 without switches or keys, or $149.99 as a fully assembled model. It’s also available as a wireless keyboard, for $129.99 fully assembled, but that model doesn’t have any of the cool audio features.