Discover the Benefits of Using Mechanical Keyboards in Music Production

May 22, 2024

You might be familiar with the hype around mechanical keyboards. They are most often used in computer gaming. A lot of professionals use them for typing. But have you ever thought about their role in music production?

The use of mechanical keyboards is not well-known in the music industry. However, we believe that sound engineers, music producers, and other specialists involved in the production of music should include these robust tools.

In this article, we will explain how mechanical keyboards can improve efficiency and streamline your workflow during music production. We will discover how their adaptable features can be beneficial in the industry.  

Overview of Mechanical Keyboards

A mechanical keyboard is a high-quality input computer peripheral. Functionally, it works the same as a traditional computer keyboard. But unlike a membrane keyboard which uses a single silicon rubber sheet for all keys, a mechanical keyboard uses individual mechanical switches beneath each keycap. The use of switches makes the keyboard's actuation precise. 

The switches also come in different types: 

  • Tactile switches provide a noticeable bump during key presses.
  • Linear switches deliver smooth and quiet keystrokes for rapid input.
  • Clicky switches offer both a tactile bump and an audible click, giving clear feedback.

Mechanical keyboards once faced a decline with the advent of cheaper membrane keyboards. But they are making a comeback due to their admirable features:

  1. Durability: With switches rated for tens or hundreds of millions of keypresses, mechanical keyboards are extremely robust.
  2. Customization: Users can personalize their layout, keycaps, and even switches to suit their preferences.
  3. Ergonomics: Mechanical keyboards can be of different layouts. They have features such as wrist rests or tenting pegs for long-term comfort.

Why Mechanical Keyboards Matter in Music Production

It's not common to find mechanical keyboards used in a music studio. However, we highly recommend using one in such facilities. That's because Mechanical keyboards can make a significant impact on music production:

  1. Enhanced Tactile Feedback and Precision
    • Mechanical keyboards provide consistent and precise tactile feedback. This is useful for sound editors, sound engineers, audio special effects personnel, and producers who rely heavily on shortcuts and macros.
    • The distinct actuation point helps minimize missed keystrokes. This leads to fewer input errors while navigating Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) or controlling plugins.
  2. Improved Ergonomics and Reduced Fatigue
    • By customizing layouts and choosing switch types, sound engineers and producers can create an ergonomic setup that reduces strain and strain during long recording or editing sessions.
  3. Efficient Workflow Customization
    • Producers can map frequently used shortcuts to specific keys and create dedicated macro layers for their frequently used DAW functions.
    • Repetitive tasks like switching tracks, applying effects, or managing automation can be streamlined using separate macro pads and programmable layers on the keyboard.
  4. Durability for Intensive Use
    • Mechanical switches are built to last. Usually, it takes 50 to 100 million key presses before the switch needs replacing. 
  5. Community Support
    • A vast online community of enthusiasts offers support, sharing tips and resources to help producers create their ideal keyboards and sound setup.

Customizability for Studio Efficiency

an image of a mechanical keyboard

One of the best aspects of mechanical keyboards is their large degree of customizability. Keys and macros can be programmed to create shortcuts for complicated functions. Tailoring key mappings and sequences to suit unique production requirements becomes a simpler process. 

A. Flexible Key Mapping for DAW Shortcuts

  • Programmable Shortcuts: Mechanical keyboards have software or built-in functionalities that let users reprogram each key or group of keys to perform specific tasks. Music producers, engineers, and editors can assign DAW commands such as cutting, pasting, muting tracks, or adjusting volume levels to specific keys. This drastically reduces the need to memorize cumbersome keyboard shortcuts and speeds up common tasks.
  • Layered Functionality: Some mechanical keyboards support multiple function layers, which enables users to switch between sets of shortcuts quickly. For example, one layer can be dedicated to general track editing while another is set up specifically for mixing and mastering.

B. Macro Pads for Streamlined Workflow

  • Dedicated Macro Pads: Separate macro pads or built-in programmable macro keys make it easy to pull off complex or repetitive tasks. Music producers can toggle effects, switch between recording sessions, or apply automation with a single key press. 
  • Custom Macros: Users can create their own macros that combine several functions into a single keypress. A macro could launch a specific DAW, open a project template, and set up audio routing all at once. This lessens setup time and reduces interruptions to creative flow.

C. Tailored Layouts for Individual Needs

  • Ergonomic Layouts: Different keyboard layouts such as split designs or ortholinear (grid-style) arrangements can be more ergonomic for long production sessions. Producers, engineers, and editors can maintain natural hand and wrist positions, reducing stress, strain, and exhaustion while increasing productivity.
  • Personalized Keycaps: Keycaps can be color-coded or labeled with symbols representing specific functions or DAW tools. Producers can quickly identify keys and access frequently used commands without needing to look away from their screens.

Choosing Mechanical Keyboards for Music Production and Audio Editing

Music production is quite different from gaming and typing. There's rarely a need to use to pound keys repeatedly (as in gaming) or use all keys frequently (as in typing).  Thus, when choosing a keyboard for music production and audio editing, there's a different set of factors to keep in mind.

  1. Select linear or tactile switches: Music studios and audio production facilities are specially designed to enhance and capture recorded sound. Thus, a keyboard that clicks with each key press is going to be a nuisance.

    Rather, choose a keyboard with a linear switch. Pressing these switches is smooth without any tactile bump or clicks. Thus, these switches won't inadvertently add noise or distractions during a recording or editing session. 

    If you prefer a tactile feeling, choose tactile switches without the audible click.
  2. Include sound dampening: Studio-grade microphones are extremely sensitive and can pick up tiny bits of sound. In addition to using a keyboard with quieter linear switches, you may need to use O-rings or sound-dampening foam to further reduce noise. This is especially true if you need a keyboard in the live room.
  3. Consider a compact keyboard: A keyboard with a 60% or 75% layout is convenient, especially in the myriad of mixers, synthesizers, effects units, and other equipment in a music studio's control room. If you need a numeric keypad, attach a separate numeric keypad. Of course, if you have extra space Opt for TKL if you need dedicated arrow keys and navigation keys, or full-sized if you rely on a numeric keypad.
  4. Programmability and Macro Support: Choose keyboards that can customize key mappings and macros for DAW shortcuts, effects toggling, or project management. Dedicated macro pads or additional function layers can further streamline your workflow.
  5. Ergonomics: Since audio engineers, producers, and editors can spend hours working on a recorded composition, it's a good idea to choose an ergonomic keyboard to minimize strain and exhaustion. Consider keyboards that include built-in wrist rests, tenting, or split design for better ergonomics.


It may not be obvious at first, but mechanical keyboards have a significant impact on music production. Their pinpoint accuracy, customizability, and comfort-oriented design streamline the work process. They can be a useful addition to your digital studio equipment.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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