Audiophile keyboards are actually a factor: Fiio has built-in a twin DAC+ twin op-amp into a brand new HiFi variation of its KB3 keyboard. Fiio has one main edge over different keyboard makers- it could possibly combine one in all its personal headphone DAC/amps throughout the keyboard. The KB3 is listed on the market in AliExpress, with the HiFi wired model promoting for $149.99 and the wi-fi model, which doesn’t have the built-in DAC+amp, for $129.99. The KA13 headphone dac+amp prices $79.99. Let’s cowl the small print.
Audio-functionality of the AMP+DAC
Armed with twin Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs with two low-noise SGMicro SGM8262 op-amps, the FiiO HiFi Wired KB3 is a 75% mechanical keyboard with a completely useful DAC and AMP for headphones, supporting as much as PCM384KHz/ 32-bit and DSD256 output by way of the Savitech SA9312L DAC USB chip. FiiO makes among the finest headphones, IEMs, amps, DACs, and all-in-one models for audiophiles. After all, they want each parts to be ok for the worth whereas with the ability to energy their headphones.
This patented design permits the KB3 to supply 500mW excessive output energy by means of 3.5mm single-ended +4.4 balanced headphone outputs. Fiio would not point out if it built-in parts from a headphone DAC+amp it sells, however the principle options and parts match the one on the FiiO KA13 headphone DAC+amp. It additionally has the desktop energy mode enabled by default, a operate you possibly can swap on or off on the KA13 as it’s meant to be a conveyable machine for smartphones.
The built-in desktop DAC+amp operate is unique to the HiFi wired model of the KB3. There’s a barebone model with out the keycaps and switches, enabling customers to customise their decisions with the KB3.
The Brilliant Facet of this Keyboard
Nothing seems to be compromised on paper with this mechanical keyboard. The KB3 makes use of all of the options you count on on a mechanical keyboard in 2023 – silicone gaskets with sound absorbing and IXPE swap foam with a silicone dampener to provide extra comfy actuation and provides a extra ‘thockier’ sound profile when typing. Naturally, that might additionally rely upon the swap and keycap paired with this keyboard, and therefore, having the barebone HiFi wired possibility helps customers select most well-liked switches and keycaps broadly obtainable available in the market – one other two large rabbit holes.
That is not the solely promoting level, because the keyboard additionally supplies twin USB outputs. The totally constructed FiiO KB3 makes use of a gasket mount design for a extra comfy typing expertise. The totally constructed KB3 has a Gateron GPro3.0 linear switches rated with 50±15 gf operation power and clear keycaps. The KB3 makes use of an aluminium-magnesium permit casing with a textured end with an built-in step-less quantity knob on the fitting. The keyboard makes use of VIA firmware and is suitable with each Home windows and Mac. The wi-fi model is built-in with a big 4,000 mAh battery.
The keyboards are fairly chunky, weighing 1060g for the wired and 1115g for the wi-fi. It must be famous that JadeAudio talked about Andriod OS help with Home windows and macOS, whereas FiiO solely lists twin OS Win/ macOS help. Each FiiO and Jade Audio must be on the identical web page, particularly since it’s normally a typical characteristic with many desktop mechanical keyboards.
Fiio will promote these keyboards in 4 versions- a completely constructed HiFi Single Mode, which is a wired keyboard with the built-in desktop DAC+amp; a wi-fi three-mode model, which helps you to swap between three wi-fi gadgets; and a barebone model with no keycap or switches. All three variations use black faceplates. The fourth is just the identical three-mode wi-fi keyboard with a silver faceplate. There’s additionally a restricted Founder’s version, which makes use of Kailh Deep Sea Whale switches. It isn’t identified if the totally constructed and barebone HiFi wired model could have a silver faceplate variation on the time of writing.
For now, the KB3 is listed on the market in AliExpress, with the HiFi wired model promoting for $149.99 and the wi-fi model, which doesn’t have the built-in DAC+amp, for $129.99. The KA13 headphone dac+amp prices $79.99. On this keyboard, you get its fundamental capabilities and full options with energy output sometimes from the KA13’s desktop mode, which is enabled by default. This explains why a HiFi wired model prices greater than the wi-fi model because you get the principle bits from the KA13.
Contemplating the mechanical keyboard’s 75% kind issue, one of many few kinds of customers concerned about such keyboards shall be those that need a greater typing and listening expertise on a laptop computer with no need to have a number of gadgets so as to add the majority. Naturally, they would wish each the keyboard and the dac+amp to be ok. This can attraction to each keyboard and audiophile fans who want to strive the perfect of each worlds. Certain, PC avid gamers would think about this keyboard whereas enjoying in tournaments, but it surely largely will depend on its efficiency and general expertise, one thing that may solely be decided in testing.
After all, it would additionally attraction to on a regular basis customers because it permits them to get a desktop dac+amp-like integration with a twin Kind-A USB hub. The mixture helps to have a cleaner output. Because the KB3 makes use of the principle operate of the KA13 headphone, which has the choice to activate desktop mode for extra energy, it makes absolute sense to have the identical parts, capabilities, and options from it whereas having the desktop energy mode enabled by default.
Not the First HiFi Keyboard
Seeing FiiO stretch its wings over the keyboard market could appear daring, however it isn’t the primary to take action. The Moondrop Dash75 keyboard with the identical 75% keyboard structure was launched a couple of months in the past. It makes use of an aluminum housing with Poron dampening and extra layers under the PCB similar to the KB3. It makes use of its personal Moonriver 2 headphone DAC/amp, because it was recognized by the system as soon as plugged in. There are some distinctive promoting factors because it has QMK/ VIA help, making the entire keyboard programmable. This seems to be extra interesting to many as its design is impressed by the Commodore 64.
Regardless of the saturation within the keyboard market, we have observed an inflow of firms making new keyboards, comparable to OnePlus, which is usually identified to make Android smartphones. What differentiates between all of them is the important thing options a number of keyboard makers have introduced forward- programmable QMK/ VIA keyboards, programmable knobs, extra switches, gasket mounts with foam panels, three-mode wi-fi with built-in battery, the power to swap between a number of gadgets on the fly and varied others. Many of those have been streamlined and built-in by default primarily based on person suggestions and modders who share a number of concepts, such because the duct tape and foam methodology.
HiFi keyboards are certainly a distinct segment and we’ll merely should see if the general keyboard group is prepared to just accept these as choices. This should not be a problem, as each keyboard and audio fans love innovation and the space-saving choices obtainable in the marketplace. With firms like FiiO and Moondop being those to start out HiFi keyboards, it’s off to an excellent begin.