This Hi-Fi mechanical keyboard integrates onboard DACs and an amplifier

Daniel Sims

Posts: 1,180   +41
WTF?! Extra DACs usually come as internal sound cards for desktop PCs or as external accessories, but one company has installed them into a mechanical keyboard. Alongside other components, the result promises a high-quality audio experience inside a compact product.

Audio vendor Fiio recently unveiled a mechanical keyboard with onboard sound chips and operational amplifiers to provide enhanced audio without occupying extra desk space. Packaging the equipment in an RGB mechanical keyboard apparently aims the product at gamers seeking better sound, but the company says it also improves voice calls.

The sound setup consists of two Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs and two low-noise SG Micro SGM8268 op-amps, promising a 550 mW output, which Fiio says is comparable to some desktop sound cards. The decoder supports 32bit 384kHz PCM sound and DSD256.

The HiFi Audio Mechanical Keyboard KB3 also supports headphones by including two jacks. The single-ended 3.5mm jack offers 170 mW in each channel, while the 4.4mm balanced port reaches the full 550 mW. Both jacks and the 122 dB signal-to-noise ratio are at 32 Ohms. Users control volume through a step-less knob on the top-right edge of the keyboard.

Not resting on its unique advantage, Fiio's device also includes many other specifications mechanical keyboard enthusiasts would expect. The 1.06kg, 329mm x 140mm x 43.5 mm unit uses a gasket mount design and has a 75 percent layout with 81 hot-swappable keys.

For $149.99, the standard package ships with Gateron G Pro 3.0 yellow switches with clear RGB caps and 15.4mm springs. According to Fiio, the keys have 4mm max travel with 2.0 to 0.6mm pre-travel. Operation force is 50g with 67g of bottom-out force. The company promises a lifetime of up to 100 million cycles.

Alternatively, a keyless edition is available for users who bring custom keys, though the pricing is unclear. Customers who only want Fiio's mechanical keyboard without the audio chips or headphone jacks can buy the $129.99 wireless edition. Battery life for that variant lasts around 18 hours with the RGB lights constantly on, 500 hours without RGB, and at least 2,000 hours on standby.

In addition to a USB-C charging port, the keyboard includes two additional USB ports that support devices like mice and external drives. The KB3 is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

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Mixing two branches of tech that have plenty of snake oil, inflated prices and rely a lot on user feel and perception, great...
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At first I thought that sounded ridiculous, but actually, being able to plug headphones into a keyboard sounds pretty convenient.
That's a pretty good price for just the keyboard alone (assuming it is of comparable quality to other metalbody gasket-mount hotswap boards in this price range), so having that + an entire DAC with balanced output really looks promising.

Hope it turns out well for them, though I probably won't be getting one unless they come out with either a split or an Alice variant.
Mixed feelings to be honest. If the reviews are great then heck yeah, for the price you are getting a really good deal, but that's the thing.... It's cheap for what they are offering so I don't have high hopes