After years of typing on thin Apple keyboards, my fingers started to hurt. First a little, then badly. Fearing for my career, I looked for solutions to fix that, and ended up splurging on a Kinesis Advantage 2.
I swear by it now, but damn, that thing is loud.
As with all mechanical keyboards, there are two main sources for the noise:
To get rid of the noise, both of these problems have to be addressed.
The best way to reduce the vibrations from the case is to line it with dampening foam. The dampening material will absorb the vibrations instead of letting them bounce around until they hit your ears.
There are various options here: Dynamat, Sorbothane, Neoprene or plain old packing foam. The trade-offs are cost and weight: the heavier the lining is, the stronger the dampening — more weight equals more vibrations absorbed. But these materials can get expensive pretty quickly.
I lucked out and found some cheap Dynamat Xtreme on a small local auto parts website, and installed it inside the case:
A classic drawback of mechanical keyboards is that the switches themselves are loud. Fortunately, this is an almost-solved problem, with solutions like the Uniqey QMX clips made to solve exactly this problem. So we can just throw money at it.
The clips come in two flavors: plate mounted and PCB mounted. The Kinesis Advantage needs both variants: the thumb cluster switches are mounted directly on the PCB, whereas the keywell ones are mounted on a plate.
After putting everything back together, the keyboard is much more silent. It’s also significantly heavier — and expensive 😬.
Here’s a before/after audio sample. Unfortunately the levels between recordings aren’t normalized, so the “after” doesn’t sound much quieter :( It’s definitely the case in real life though! If you pay attention, you can notice that the sound got less “clicky” after the modifications.
Overall I’m really happy with the result and it made for a good weekend project!
I considered other alternatives to further silence the keyboard, but ultimately decided against them because I was happy enough with the result: