Damping refers to reducing the noise made by a keyboard. There are two points within each keystroke that are inherently noisy: bottoming out (pressing the key all the way down until it comes to a stop, with the sound being the so-called "clack") and when a released key comes to a hard stop in its home position.
Keystrokes can be damped either by using keyswitches with internal damping, or by designing or modifying the keyboard to cut down on sound.
- 1 Damped key switches
- 2 External modding
- 3 Internal modding
- 4 Other
- 5 References
Damped key switches
The Alps SKCM Cream Damped and White Damped switches achieves damping by way of small rubber dampers fitted into channels on either side of the slider. The new Matias quiet switch resurrected this idea.
Topre switches are inherently quiet when bottomed out, due to the use of rubber domes. Some keyboards with Topre switches provide upstroke damping as well — this cuts out the sharp sound when the key returns to its rest position.
The "Cherry MX Silent" variants of the Cherry MX achieve damping on bottoming out and topping up with a rubber part inside the slider, similar to how it is done in some Alps. Damping is only available in the linear Red and Black variants and their "RGB" counterparts.
Small rubber O-rings can be fitted around a key stem to cushion the impact of bottoming out: Instead of the slider reaching its bottom, the O-ring hits the switch housing.
The effect of using O-rings is a distinctly cushioned landing when bottoming out, when the O-ring makes contact with the switch housing around the slider. The resulting reduced travel (related to the diameter of the O-ring's cross section) and feel is similar to typing on some scissor switch keyboards.
On Cherry MX and clones, O-rings are fitted inside keycap stems against the internal struts in the keycap. Keycaps without internal supports around the stem are not suitable. The O-ring must be pushed some distance up into the keycap, otherwise it completely impedes slider motion.
The thickness of the O-ring should match the keycap used, or it will impede key travel (and feel) too much or not cushion at all.
|Part number||Hardness||Travel reduction|
Cherry-profile is more often used with orthodontic bands: very thin O-rings originally intended for dental braces. The size to get is 3/16" Medium.
Soft-landing pads are small square pads of rubbery material placed over the top of a switch. The work the same as O-rings except that they are not tight around the key stem.
Soft-landing pads placed onto Cherry MX switches
A silencing clip works like a soft-landing pad by muting the bottom of the stroke but they also dampen the slider's return. They clip onto pre-existing switches.
- UNIQEY's QMX-clip. Made only for PCB-mounted Cherry MX switches.
- Zeal PC's Zealencio silencing clips. For both PCB and clones from Gateron that have compatible housings including Zeal PC's own switches.
Like with O-rings and soft-landing pads, bottoming out is cushioned against internal struts in the keycap which requires that the keycap has them. Both QMX-clips and Zealencios are made for Cherry profile keycaps and would need an additional O-ring for use with OEM profile.
Because QMX-clips and Zealencios surround the tops of Cherry MX switches, thick-walled keycaps work with these clips should be mounted only on key switches with the LED window facing towards the user or else the clip's plastic wall would be in the way and greatly reduce key travel. This means that they are unsuitable together with thick keycaps on many keyboards, including almost all keyboards made for backlighting as those typically have the switches oriented with the LED window facing the other way.
The clips also don't work with clicky Cherry MX Blue or Green because those have small pins in the base of the slider that would get in the way. Clicky clones from Greetech also has those sprues but Gateron does not.
A regular Topre switch can be turned into effectively a Silenced Topre switch by placing a thin ring of foam around the slider inside the housing.
One such aftermarket product are the Hypersphere rings .
The bottom of the slider inside a Cherry MX switch is a pin that plunges into a tube. The "trampoline mod" involves opening up a switch and placing a small piece of rubber inside the bottom of that tube.
The original mod used a section cut from an O-ring but silicone balls have been sold especially for this purpose. Clicky Cherry MX switches have different sliders from other variants, requiring different lengths (or number of balls). The mod can be difficult to reverse.
A small amount of liquid latex "milk" can sometimes be brushed on the inside top of switch housing switch to dampen the sound of the slider's return.
This is often discouraged because latex being a natural material is susceptible to spoiling after a time. Latex is especially sensitive to oils - which could be in lubricants.
Coiled springs can in some instances be lubricated to reduce reverberation. Too much lube on a spring could interfere with the switch's operation and electrical contacts must never be lubricated.
Dental floss mod
Reverberation of buckling spring switches can be reduced by placing a piece of dental floss inside the coiled spring. If done right, it should leave only the sound of the click.
Some PCB-mounted keyboards can be further damped by placing rubber drawer liner underneath the printed circuit board.
Cushioning under the keyboard
Hard plastic feed on a hard desk surface will amplify the sound of key strokes. Soft rubber feet underneath the keyboard prevents that.
If a keyboard does not have soft feet, the keyboard could be placed onto an extra wide mouse pad or desk pad that would provide some cushioning. Desk pads can be acquired where office furniture are sold. Mousepads that are 60 cm or wider are now getting common.
Sound can transfer and reverb inside the voids of a keyboard case. Noise can in some instances be somewhat reduced by filling that void or to reinforce weak parts by gluing a solid rib onto it. Some modders have even put lead weights inside their keyboards to make them more solid.
- WASD Keyboards — Cherry MX Rubber O-Ring Switch Dampeners (125pcs)
- Deskthority thread: Help:Interest Check: Silencing Rings for Topre RF or HHKB