Mechanical keyboards are appreciated for their tactile feedback and durability. Yet, there's a trade-off that often comes with the unmistakable click-clack noise of mechanical keys. Whether you're working in a shared office space, gaming late into the night, or simply looking for a more tranquil typing experience, the cacophony of a loud keyboard can be more than just an inconvenience; it can disrupt your focus and harmony.
You're fed up with the noisy clatter of your beloved mechanical keyboard, right? You're not alone. Many crave the tactile experience without the racket.
But there are custom keyboard mods that allow you to savor the best of both worlds---the pleasant tactile feel of mechanical switches and the serenity of silence. In this guide, we'll find ways of dampening the sound of the keyboard. From selecting quieter switches and installing dampening materials to exploring DIY sound-reduction techniques, we'll provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to transform your clattering keyboard into a stealthy, quiet computer peripheral.
Best Silent Mechanical Keyboards in 2023
Let's explore some of the best silent mechanical keyboards available in 2023 that you could consider purchasing.
Each of these keyboards is a testament to innovative design, offering you the tranquility you seek in your typing experience.
Why You Should Make Your Keyboard Quieter
You might be wondering why you'd want to tone down the noise of your mechanical keyboard. There are several reasons why someone might want to make their mechanical keyboard quieter:
You reduce noise pollution. When equipped with clicky switches, mechanical keyboards can be quite noisy, especially in shared or quiet environments such as offices, libraries, or homes with family members or roommates. Quieting your keyboard can help reduce noise pollution and maintain a more peaceful atmosphere.
A quieter keyboard improves your focus. A quieter keyboard can help enhance concentration and focus, especially for tasks that require deep thinking or involve close proximity to others. It's less distracting to both you and those around you.
It shows that you respect others. Using a loud mechanical keyboard in a shared workspace or living situation can be inconsiderate to others who may find the noise disruptive or annoying. Quieter typing is a way to show respect for others' needs and preferences.
Typing comfort is enhanced. Some people find that a quieter keyboard provides a more comfortable typing experience. The softer keystrokes can reduce fatigue during extended typing sessions and result in less strain on your fingers and wrists.
You can hear online meetings and calls clearly. When participating in online meetings or video calls, a loud keyboard can be picked up by your microphone and disturb the conversation. Quieter typing ensures that your audio remains clear and focused on your voice.
You comply with workplace rules. Some workplaces or co-working spaces have policies in place that restrict the use of loud keyboards. Adhering to such rules can prevent conflicts and maintain a harmonious work environment.
You can maintain privacy. In certain situations, like when working on sensitive or confidential information, reducing keyboard noise can help maintain privacy by preventing others from overhearing what you're typing.
Replace Your Switches
So how do you make your mechanical keyboard quieter? One of the most effective ways to make your mechanical keyboard generate less noise is to replace the switches themselves. Replacing switches can reduce keyboard sound primarily because different types of mechanical switches have varying noise profiles. When you replace switches with quieter options, you change the way the keys sound when pressed and released.
Switch design: Different mechanical switch designs produce varying levels of sound. For example, switches with tactile bumps and audible click mechanisms (like Cherry MX Blue switches) tend to be louder because they generate a distinct click sound during actuation. Quieter switches, such as linear switches, are designed to minimize or eliminate this audible click.
Less actuation force: Quieter switches often require less force to actuate compared to louder switches. This can result in softer keypresses, which, in turn, produce less noise when the keys are pressed and released.
Dampened keypress: Some switches, like Cherry MX Silent Red or Gateron Silent Brown, are specifically engineered to dampen the sound of the keypress. These switches include dampeners or silencing mechanisms that reduce the noise created by the key's movement.
Keycap material: While not related to the switches themselves, the material of the keycaps can also affect the sound. Thick PBT keycaps tend to produce a softer and quieter sound compared to thinner ABS keycaps.
Examples of Quiet Switches
Several quieter mechanical switches are designed to reduce keyboard noise. Here are some great options to make the keyboard quieter:
Cherry MX Silent Red: These switches are known for their soft, linear keypress with no tactile bump or audible click. They use a dampened slider to minimize the noise of both keypresses and key releases.
Zealios V2/Zilent V2: Created by Zeal PC, Zealios V2, and Zilent V2 switches are known for their smooth, tactile keypress and reduced noise. They have a dampened design that minimizes sound during typing.
Topre Silent Switches: Topre switches, while not traditional mechanical switches, are known for their silent and smooth keypress. Topre offers various silent switch options, including silent versions of their popular Realforce and HHKB keyboards.
Matias Quiet Click: Matias switches are known for their quieter typing experience compared to some traditional mechanical switches. The Quiet Click switches offer tactile feedback and are relatively quiet.
NovelKeys Cream: NovelKeys Cream switches are quiet linear switches with a unique self-lubricating design that helps reduce friction and, consequently, noise.
Kailh Choc Quiet Pink: These low-profile switches are quieter versions of the Kailh Choc Pink switches. They offer a quieter typing experience suitable for compact and slim keyboards.
Install Silicone or Rubber O-Rings
Keyboard modding is a great way for keyboard enthusiasts to reduce mechanical keyboard noise. One of these mods is installing silicone or rubber O-rings. O-rings are a popular and relatively simple modification for mechanical keyboards, making them a practical choice for users who want to maintain a mechanical feel while reducing the noise associated with keypresses and key releases.
Shock absorption: When you press a key on a mechanical keyboard, the keycap hits the keyboard switch housing at the bottom of its travel. This impact generates a small but audible noise.
O-rings are soft rubber rings that are placed on the keycap stems. When you press a key with O-rings installed, the rubber O-ring absorbs some of the force, acting as a shock absorber. This reduces the intensity of the impact and the resulting sound.
Keycap landing: Using O-rings also creates a soft landing point for the keycap. As the keycap descends after actuation, it contacts the O-ring before it reaches the switch housing. This gradual landing reduces the "bottoming out" noise that occurs when the keycap hits the hard surface of the switch housing.
Reduced key travel: O-rings effectively shorten the key travel distance because they stop the keycap's descent earlier than it would without them. This reduced key travel can lead to a quieter and more controlled typing experience since you don't have to press the keys all the way down for them to register.
Less vibrational noise: Mechanical switches can produce vibrations and resonance when the keys are pressed and released, which can contribute to the overall noise. O-rings help dampen these vibrations, reducing the reverberation and resonance that cause additional noise.
Lube Your Keyboard Switches
Lubing switches is a popular modification among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts who want to make the mechanical keyboard quieter while preserving the tactile feel and responsiveness of their switches. Properly lubed switches can contribute greatly to a less noisy keyboard.
Friction reduction: Lubricating the mechanical switches with a suitable lubricant creates a smooth and slippery surface between various moving parts, such as the stem, slider, and housing of the switch. This lubrication reduces the friction that switches make when these components interact during keypresses and key releases.
Dampened impact: Lubrication can dampen the impact of the keycap hitting the switch housing at the bottom of its travel. This impact is one of the primary sources of noise in mechanical keyboards. By reducing friction and providing a cushioning effect, lubed switches create a softer landing for the keycap, which lessens the noise generated when the key is pressed all the way down.
Silenced key release: Mechanical switches can also produce noise when the key is released and the stem returns to its resting position. Lubrication helps reduce the sound of the stem sliding against the switch housing during this phase, resulting in quieter key releases.
Vibration damping: Lubrication can dampen vibrations and resonance that occur when keys are pressed and released. By reducing these vibrations, lubed switches minimize the noise caused by the resonating keyboard components.
Consistency in sound: Lubing switches can help maintain a consistent and predictable sound profile for each keypress across the keyboard. This can be especially useful in creating a quiet keyboard to experience smoother and quieter typing.
Modify Your Stabilizers
By addressing stabilizer-related noise issues through modification and customization, you can make your keyboard quieter and more pleasant to type on, especially for keys like the spacebar and enter key, which tend to produce more noticeable noise due to their size and stabilizer design.
Rattle reduction: Stabilizers can produce rattling or wobbling noises when the larger keys they support are pressed. This rattling noise is especially pronounced when the key is pressed off-center. Modifying stabilizers involves adding lubrication and/or dampening materials to minimize this rattling effect, resulting in a quieter keypress.
Lubrication: Applying a suitable lubricant to the stabilizer mechanism can reduce friction and dampen the sound produced when the stabilizer parts move against each other. Lubrication helps create a smoother and quieter keystroke, as well as a more consistent feel across the keyboard.
Band-Aid mod: The Band-Aid mod involves placing a soft, dampening material (such as a small piece of Band-Aid or similar material) between the PCB (printed circuit board) and the stabilizer's contact points. This mod absorbs some of the impact and sound when the stabilizer strikes the PCB.
Clip and Band-Aid mod: This modification combines the Band-Aid mod with the use of small clips that stabilize the keycap on the stabilizer stems. The clips reduce wobbling and contribute to a quieter and more stable keypress experience.
Stabilizer replacement: Some mechanical keyboards come with low-quality or noisy stabilizers. Replacing these stabilizers with higher-quality, pre-lubed, or custom-designed stabilizers can significantly reduce noise and improve typing feel.
Dampening materials: Some enthusiasts use additional dampening materials like foam or silicone in the keyboard case, particularly around the stabilizer areas. These materials absorb sound and vibrations, further reducing noise.
Add Foam Inside Your Keyboard
Foaming your keyboard is a popular modification among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts looking to achieve a quieter typing experience without sacrificing the tactile feel and responsiveness of their switches. It involves adding a thin piece of foam inside your keyboard between the plate and the PCB. You need a bit of technical expertise as this requires you to take apart your keyboard.
Sound absorption: Acoustic foam is designed to absorb sound waves and vibrations. When you add foam inside your keyboard case, it absorbs the sound produced by keypresses, key releases, and any vibrations generated by the keyboard components. This prevents sound waves from bouncing around inside the case and being reflected back into the environment, resulting in a silent keyboard.
Vibration damping: In addition to sound absorption, foam can also dampen vibrations that occur when the keys are pressed and released. Mechanical switches and keycaps can produce vibrations that contribute to the overall noise level. Foam helps reduce these vibrations, making the keypress quieter.
Reduced echo and resonance: Mechanical keyboards can produce echoes and resonances inside the case, especially if the keyboard case is hollow or made of materials that amplify sound. The foam acts as a barrier, absorbing sound waves and preventing them from bouncing around, which reduces echoes and resonance.
Improved sound isolation: Foam can help isolate the sound produced by the keyboard, making it less audible to people in the immediate vicinity. This can be particularly useful in shared workspaces, libraries, or quiet environments where reducing noise is essential.
Customizable Sound Tuning: Depending on the type and placement of the foam, you can fine-tune the keyboard's sound profile to match your preferences. Thicker foam or foam placed strategically around the switches can have a more significant noise-reducing effect.
Use a Desk Mat
Using a desk mat can help reduce keyboard noise in several ways:
Sound absorption: Desk mats are typically made from materials like cloth, rubber, or neoprene, which have sound-absorbing properties. Placing your mechanical keyboard on a desk mat allows the mat to absorb and dampen some of the sound generated during keypresses and key releases. This absorption prevents sound waves from reflecting off hard surfaces like desks, reducing the overall noise level.
Vibration damping: Mechanical keyboards can produce vibrations when the keys are pressed and released. These vibrations can contribute to the overall noise level and may even be transmitted through the desk to nearby objects. A desk mat provides a cushioned surface that can dampen these vibrations, reducing the sound that reaches your ears and surrounding objects.
Surface isolation: Desk mats create a barrier between the keyboard and the desk's surface. This isolation prevents direct contact between the keyboard and the desk, which can amplify noise. The soft surface of the desk mat absorbs some of the impact when keys are pressed, resulting in a quieter keypress experience.
Surface texture: Some desk mats have textured surfaces that can help reduce the noise created by the movement of the mouse. The texture can provide a smoother and quieter tracking experience compared to using a hard, smooth desk surface.
Whether it's switching out your keyboard switches, installing O-rings, lubing your switches, tweaking your stabilizers, adding case foam, or using a desk mat, there are countless ways to reduce the sound of your keyboard.
Explore these options and keyboard mods, and find the best solution for you. And remember, if all else fails, there's always the option of investing in a silent mechanical keyboard.
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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