Home Phones Android Fiio KB3 HiFi Audio Mechanical Keyboard review: This keyboard doubles up as a fantastic DAC

Fiio KB3 HiFi Audio Mechanical Keyboard review: This keyboard doubles up as a fantastic DAC

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Fiio KB3 HiFi Audio Mechanical Keyboard review: This keyboard doubles up as a fantastic DAC

Fiio had a busy 2023 on the again of a number of product releases, and the Chinese audio producer has no indicators of slowing down this yr. What’s fascinating about Fiio’s displaying final yr is that it entered numerous new classes, and it is persevering with that development into 2024 with the introduction of the KB3, a mechanical keyboard that has a DAC built-in.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The KB3 debuted on the finish of final yr, and joins the likes of the FT3 and FT5 headsets in constructing out Fiio’s desktop portfolio. The mechanical keyboard market has by no means been stronger, and there are dozens of nice decisions if you would like a gasket-mounted keyboard with loads of customizability. By including a DAC to the combo, Fiio is trying to differentiate the KB3 to a substantial diploma.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Fiio is not the one model that determined to go this route — Moondrop additionally rolled out a keyboard with a DAC final yr. But Fiio operates at a wholly completely different scale, and the KB3 is aimed on the finances section. The keyboard is offered for $149 on Amazon, and whereas that is loads for a mechanical keyboard, the inclusion of the DAC turns this right into a two-in-one that does not have many parallels.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Before we get began, a phrase on the branding. The KB3 is offered below the Jade Audio label, very similar to the KA1, KA2, KA3, KA5, KA11, and KA13 DACs and JT1 headset. Jade Audio merchandise are aimed toward a youthful viewers, and the main focus is to ship an excellent worth. I examined a lot of the merchandise branded below the Jade Audio umbrella, and I’m but to run into one which I did not suggest — the $29 KA11 dongle DAC particularly is excellent. (Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)I’ll get to the DAC facet of issues shortly, however earlier than that, let’s take a look at how the KB3 holds up as a keyboard. My day by day driver is Angry Miao’s ridiculous Cyberboard R4; the keyboard has a singular design and prices $750. The KB3 has a way more subdued design, and it’s on the smaller facet contemplating you get a tenkeyless configuration.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The high plate is customary out of aluminum and has the identical brushed metallic texture because the K9 Pro DAC and different high-end Fiio merchandise. Like different gasket-mounted keyboards, the KB3 makes use of two layers of sound absorbing foam together with silicone gaskets and a dampening layer to scale back sound resonance throughout the chassis.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The KB3 would not have anyplace fairly the identical degree as bounciness that may be a attribute of one of the best gasket-mounted keyboards just like the Keychron Q1 Pro. If something, it’s simply as inflexible as a daily mechanical keyboard, and if Fiio did not explicitly point out that it’s utilizing a gasket design, that reality would not have been apparent.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Another quibble is the selection of supplies; the KB3 makes use of a backside case that is made out of plastic, and it would not fairly have the identical really feel as different mechanical keyboards on this section, which use all-metal designs. That mentioned, I did not see any points with construct high quality in any respect.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Fiio did not go overboard with the design itself, and the KB3 has a minimalist aesthetic that appears nice. The solely design aptitude is the red-accented quantity knob that is positioned on the correct, and aside from a small Fiio brand subsequent to the F12 key, you do not get any branding.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The keycaps are the particular star of the present, with Fiio providing a clear design that brings one of the best out of the RGB lighting results. The keycaps have a matte end and are nice to make use of, and if something, I favor these to the Glacier keycaps that come as customary on the Cyberboard. The keys use the usual OEM profile with markers on the F and J homing keys, and the see-through design is terrific at diffusing gentle.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Fiio bundles the KB3 with Gateron’s G Pro 3.0 yellow switches, and so they’re a superb pairing. The linear switches are pleasant to make use of, and so they have a excessive actuation level (50g) together with a 2mm pre-travel and 4mm complete journey. Having used Gateron’s Box Ink V2 Black and Oil King switches extensively over the course of the final 12 months, the G Pro 3.0 yellow positively has loads to supply.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)It would not fairly have the identical easy tactility as the dearer Gateron switches, but it surely holds up extremely effectively throughout the KB3. And for those who do not like the texture of the linear change or need to use one thing else, you’ll be able to simply swap them out.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Like different tenkeyless designs, the KB3 has a complete of 81 keys; you do not get a devoted quantity pad, and the navigation keys are restricted to Insert, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down. While I used to be excited to see that the keyboard has VIA integration, it would not truly hook up with the software program. The keyboard exhibits up within the VIA gadget record, but it surely would not join, so I wasn’t in a position to customise the keys and tailor RGB lighting.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)That mentioned, the keyboard has numerous preset RGB lighting results out of the field, and you’ll modify the brightness of the RGB LEDs or disable them completely. Fiio did an excellent job with secondary legends, and you’ll change RGB results by way of keys F1 via F4, and use F9 via F12 to regulate music playback.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The keyboard connects by way of a removable USB-C cable, and what I like is that you just get two USB-A passthrough ports, so if you wish to join different equipment, you are able to do so with ease.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Coming to the audio facet of issues, the KB3 has two ports on the left: single-ended 3.5mm and a balanced 4.4mm connector. It makes use of a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chip mixed with an SG Micro SGM8262 amp, and it handles as much as 384kHz/32-bit over PCM and DSD256.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)There’s no scarcity of energy, with the DAC offering 170mW by way of the 3.5mm port at 32Ω, going as much as 550mW over the balanced 4.4mm port at 32Ω. The KB3 is ready to drive any IEM available on the market in addition to demanding headsets, and I used it with Fiio’s personal FT3 headset and JH5 screens, and it held its personal.I examined all of the DACs that Fiio launched over the past 18 months, so I’m conscious of the model’s tuning and sound traits. The KB3 shares numerous similarities to the KA13 when it comes to the sound, and that is not astonishing when you think about they share the identical {hardware}. The DAC delivers a clear sound with a large soundstage, and also you get good dynamics total.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The KB3 tends to ship a vibrant low-end that is pleasant, and that is joined by pure mids and clear highs with no trace of sibilance. Overall, the bundled DAC is a superb alternative if you would like one thing that may drive demanding headsets whereas delivering a fascinating sound.Ultimately, the KB3 is a singular providing that mixes two niches right into a single product. It is an honest mechanical keyboard in its personal proper, and the inclusion of a DAC makes it that rather more fascinating. As a two-in-one gadget, it’s unchallenged on this class.

Fiio KB3 HiFi Audio Mechanical Keyboard

The KB3 is an honest alternative if you would like a mechanical keyboard. The gasket-mounted design is not as bouncy as among the different merchandise on this section, however that is offset by the truth that you are getting a built-in DAC.