Just because you don’t have the desk space for a traditional DAC/amp, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer with your computer’s basic onboard audio. Swap out your keyboard for the FiiO KB3 and you’ll have Hi-Res capable circuitry directly under your digits. The wired mechanical ‘board has dual DACs and a pair of outputs that can power audiophile-grade headphones.
The KB3 is machined from aluminium-magnesium alloy, so should withstand the most extreme bouts of gamer rage, and ditches the numerical keypad to keep its desk footprint to a minimum. It uses Gateron’s hot-swappable G Pro 3.0 Yellow linear switches, with semi-transparent key caps to show off the (obligatory) customisable RGB lighting underneath. The combo should deliver a consistent typing experience, 4mm travel distance and satisfyingly audible click with each press.
Not that you’ll hear it once tunes are pumping through the dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs, and out to either the unbalanced 3.5mm or 4.4mm balanced headphone outputs. They support 32bit/384kHz and DSD256 playback, and are sure to be beefier than whatever’s built into your laptop or PC’s motherboard. Twin SGM8262 op-amps also provide 550mW of output oomph, which should be plenty for even the highest of high-end cans. If those specs sound familiar, it’s because you’ll also find them inside the pocket-friendly KA13 DAC and headphone amp.
The KB3 is a bit of a departure for FiiO, which is better known for its desktop DACs and portable audio players – but the firm hasn’t skimped in terms of features or compatibility. It plays nicely with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Dual USB connections then let it act as a passthrough or docking station for other accessories, and the slick integrated volume knob is stepless for fine-grain control.
It’s on sale this month in a choice of Midnight Black and Morning Silver colours, for a surprisingly wallet-friendly $149/£139/€169.