Monday, December 11, 2023

This mechanical keyboard has a headphone jack you might actually want to use

The KB3 is a brand new mechanical keyboard from audio model FiiO with a built-in headphone jack that stands a superb probability of sounding higher than the prevailing 3.5mm output in your desktop laptop or laptop computer. That’s as a result of the headphone jack isn’t simply passing by means of analog audio out of your laptop, it’s plugged into a mixture DAC and headphone amp that’s built-in into the keyboard itself. 

So quite than having a headphone cable snaking throughout your desk to succeed in your machine, or cluttering up your workspace with a separate DAC and headphone amplifier, all these units can theoretically be constructed proper into the keyboard that’s sitting beneath your palms. And it comes from an organization which is aware of a factor or two about audio (even when its keyboard-making skills are much less confirmed). 

I can see the argument that you simply’ll get higher outcomes from shopping for gear like this individually, however the audio and keyboard specs of the KB3 don’t comprise any main pink flags for an all-in-one system at this worth. On the audio aspect the keyboard is provided with twin Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs and helps as much as 32-bit / 384kHz and DSD256 audio. Alongside the usual 3.5mm headphone jack, there’s additionally a 4.4mm balanced output. Tom’sHardware notes that the audio specs seem to match FiiO’s $80 KA13 headphone amp.

The peripheral doesn’t look like a slouch within the keyboard division both. It’s gasket-mounted, with hot-swap switches (that means they are often changed with out the necessity for soldering), helps each Mac and Home windows, consists of RGB lighting, and is appropriate with the favored VIA configuration software program. It’s out there in a barebones choice that comes with out switches or keycaps, however if you need them included you get Gateron G Professional 3.0 Yellow switches and what seems to be a set of translucent keycaps. It makes use of the ever-popular compact 75-percent format, much like what you’ll discover on lots of laptops, and naturally there’s a dial on the top-right to regulate quantity. 

FiiO is much from the primary model to have considered constructing a 3.5mm headphone jack right into a keyboard. The Razer BlackWidow Final 2016, for instance, might plug into your laptop’s 3.5mm jack and move by means of audio to a port on the keyboard itself. However the normal knowledge has been to not depend on headphone jacks like these due to the audio interference passing an analogue sign by means of a keyboard would possibly add. By taking a digital audio sign from a pc and changing it utilizing a built-in DAC, FiiO’s method is much like the Moondrop Sprint, one other current keyboard with a built-in headphone jack. 

FiiO is promoting the KB3 by way of AliExpress, the place it may be had for $129.99 with out switches or keycaps, or $149.99 as a fully-assembled mannequin. It’s additionally out there as a wi-fi keyboard, for $129.99 fully-assembled, however this mannequin doesn’t have any of the attention-grabbing audio options.

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