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 listening to. It will hit retail shelves in December for $149 in two color options: black or silver.
The Fiio KB3 utilizes an aluminum-magnesium alloy top cover as well as a variety of damping layers in its construction. The semitransparent keycaps are swappable and sit atop the Gateron G Pro 3.0 yellow switches, and 75% of the entire design is RGB backlit.
On the back, you’ll find that the KB3 does triple duty as a USB hub, with one USB-C port and two USB-A ports for things like wired mice.
For the all-important DAC part, the KB3 uses a pair of Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs, which feed two low-noise SGM8262 operational amplifiers, output power per channel when you use the 4.4mm balanced headphone jack. 550 thousandth watt (mW) is produced. The 3.5mm unbalanced jack gets 170mW per channel. Fiio claims the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is 122 decibels, with total harmonic distortion (THD+N) less than 0.0005% – the kind of specifications you’d expect to see on a dedicated DAC that costs that much. Will be same 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 almost the same features as the KB3, but at twice the price.
Other versions of the KB3 also exist: a wireless version that does not offer DAC capabilities and a custom kit version that includes a DAC, but lacks the key switches and keycaps so you can supply your own.
Most mechanical keyboards are targeted towards the gaming community, a group of people who prefer wired audio for its ultralow latency. But looking at the KB3’s audiophile specs, it’s fair to say that this keyboard may appeal to those who want to declutter their desktop and still get great sound for their headphones or earbuds.