If you’ve ever been in a quiet office or library and heard the loud clacking of a mechanical keyboard, you may have wondered, “Are mechanical keyboards really that loud?” The answer is, it depends.
Mechanical keyboards have gained popularity in recent years due to their durability, tactile feedback, and customizable options. However, one of the most common concerns about mechanical keyboards is their noise level. In this article, we’ll explore the noise levels of mechanical keyboards and what factors contribute to their sound.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Louder Than Regular Keyboards?
Understanding Decibel Levels
Before we dive into the noise levels of mechanical keyboards, it’s important to understand decibel levels. Decibels (dB) are a unit of measurement used to quantify sound levels. The higher the decibel level, the louder the sound.
For reference, a normal conversation is around 60 dB, while a rock concert can reach up to 120 dB. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for extended periods of time can cause hearing damage.
Measuring Keyboard Noise Levels
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When it comes to measuring keyboard noise levels, there are a few factors to consider. First, the distance between the keyboard and the microphone can affect the decibel level. The closer the microphone is to the keyboard, the higher the decibel level will be.
Second, the type of microphone used can also impact the decibel level. A microphone with a higher sensitivity will pick up more sound and register a higher decibel level.
Lastly, the typing style of the user can also affect the noise level. Someone who types with more force and speed will produce a louder sound compared to someone who types more lightly.
Factors That Contribute to Mechanical Keyboard Noise
The type of switch used in a mechanical keyboard is one of the biggest factors that contribute to its noise level. There are three main types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky.
Linear switches have a smooth keystroke with no tactile bump or audible click. These switches tend to be the quietest of the three types.
Tactile switches have a tactile bump that provides feedback when the key is pressed. These switches can produce a slight noise, but it is not as loud as clicky switches.
Clicky switches have a tactile bump and an audible click when the key is pressed. These switches are the loudest of the three types and are often the ones associated with the loud clacking sound of mechanical keyboards.
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The material of the keycaps can also affect the noise level of a mechanical keyboard. Keycaps made of ABS plastic tend to produce a higher-pitched sound compared to keycaps made of PBT plastic. This is because ABS plastic is a softer material and can produce a higher-pitched sound when it comes into contact with the switch.
As mentioned earlier, the typing style of the user can also contribute to the noise level of a mechanical keyboard. Someone who types with more force and speed will produce a louder sound compared to someone who types more lightly.
How to Reduce Mechanical Keyboard Noise
If you’re concerned about the noise level of your mechanical keyboard, there are a few things you can do to reduce it.
Switch dampeners are small rubber rings that can be placed on the stem of the switch to reduce the sound of the key hitting the bottom of the keyboard. These can be purchased separately and added to your existing mechanical keyboard.
O-rings are small rubber rings that can be placed on the stem of the switch to reduce the sound of the key hitting the top of the keyboard. These can also be purchased separately and added to your existing mechanical keyboard.
Sound Dampening Foam
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Sound dampening foam can be placed inside the keyboard case to reduce the overall noise level. This foam absorbs the sound and prevents it from echoing inside the case.
Lubricating the switches can also help reduce the noise level of a mechanical keyboard. This involves adding a small amount of lubricant to the switch to reduce the friction between the stem and the housing.
Quietest Mechanical Keyboards
If you’re in the market for a quiet mechanical keyboard, there are a few options to consider.
Cherry MX Silent Red Switches
Cherry MX Silent Red switches are a type of linear switch that have been designed to reduce noise. These switches have a built-in rubber dampener that reduces the sound of the key hitting the bottom of the keyboard.
Topre switches are a type of electrostatic capacitive switch that are known for their quiet operation. These switches have a tactile bump and a smooth keystroke, but produce minimal noise.
Rubber Dome Switches
Rubber dome switches are a type of membrane switch that are often found in low-cost keyboards. These switches are known for their quiet operation, but they do not offer the same tactile feedback and durability as mechanical switches.
In conclusion, mechanical keyboards can vary in noise level depending on the type of switch, keycap material, and typing style. However, there are ways to reduce the noise level of a mechanical keyboard, such as using switch dampeners, O-rings, sound dampening foam, and lubrication. If you’re in the market for a quiet mechanical keyboard, consider switches such as Cherry MX Silent Red or Topre switches. With the right knowledge and tools, you can enjoy the benefits of a mechanical keyboard without the loud noise.