When I did my unboxing and first impression- of my new Leopold Tenkeyless Brown keyboard, I mentioned that the keys seemed kind of loud. Turns out, I was right. Well, the Cherry MX ? brown switches may be quieter than the Cherry MX blues, but they are still loud enough to bother my girlfriend while shes sleeping. The first night, I couldnt avoid annoying her. I just got my new keyboard and I was banging away. It took me about a day to get use to the engagement points and that made the second night of my typing more? bearable. I could type lightly and quietly fine but it was a chore and I didnt enjoy the feeling. It was too much work. instead of typing away, I was too busy worrying about how loud my keyboard was. I looked on Elite Keyboards and they sell soft-landing pads that you can put under the key caps which reduces the noise of the keys bottoming out. I read reviews on both the soft and the firm pads and the consensus seems to favor the firm pads. they were only $12 for a set and I made the mistake of not picking them up with my order. I wasnt going to wait for shipping so I decided to try the O-Ring Mod.
The O-Ring Mod seems to be a popular modification on the Geek Hack forums. Basically, you get a bunch of o-rings at the hardware store and put it under your key caps. The idea is that the rubber o-rings muffles the *Clacking* sound when you bottom out the keys. The plastic caps hitting the plastic base creates a harsh and loud clacking sound. Personally, I like the sound but for the sake of a good sleep, I decided to go through with this mod.
I went to my local hardware store and headed down to the plumbing section. The forum said? to look for size -008 standard o-rings but I could not find them anywhere. The o-rings I found used OD (Outer Diameter) and ID (Inner Diameter) measurements. I settle for 4 little boxed of #36 O-Rings which were 5/16 OD, 3/16 ID, and 1/16 in thickness. These o-rings were rather expensive at $2 per box and it only came with 10 o-rings each. If you can get it cheaper online, I would suggest you do that if you dont mind the wait.
Installing The Silencers
Installation was easy. First, remove your key caps. Either use a special tool or improvise. I used the wire from a pair of cheap headphones and a nail clipper. I pushed the wire under the key cap with the help of the nail clipper. Then I spaced the wires evenly and carefully pulled upwards until the key caps popped out. Pay special care when doing wide keys like the spacebar, shift, enter, and backspace. I then placed one o-ring for each Cherry MX switch. Wider keys have stabilizers which need more o-rings for even distribution. For example, the spacebar has the Cherry MX switch in the center and two stabilizer pylons so I used 3 o-rings. Same goes for the backspace and shift keys. Refer to the picture for an idea of how I do this. Then, repeat. I only had 40 o-rings so I wasnt able to do my complete keyboard. I will probably finish that up in the weekend. For now, I have o-rings under my most used keys omitting the numbers, F-keys, arrow keys, and right-side keys.
At first, the results were underwhelming. They only appeared to muffle the sound slightly. Almost as if it was still the same volume, just at another pitch. It was a lower sound. After a few day, I did notice it was noticeably quieter. I suppose, during the daytime, there was a lot white noise in the background which distracted from the performance. At night, the slightest sounds are amplified. At first, I wasnt too sure if the mod was worth the effort and cost. Now, I can say for sure that they’re worth it. The keys bottom out sooner. About 1/16th of an inch sooner but it is barely noticeable. This mod does not change the switch activation point, just the bottoming point. The keys do feel slightly different. The unmodded keys feel lighter while the silenced keys feels a bit mushy. Its not bad. I think the audible *clack* had a psychological impact on the feeling. Overall, I think this was a good mod. If you dont want to wake up a college roommate or want to be more discreet while typing, then this mod is worth the time and effort. If you can, order or buy in bulk. It should save you more money. I also noticed that I typed a bit faster. Maybe I was getting used to the keyboard but when taking a typing test, I scored higher than average. This mod is fairly easy to do. If you want to make your mechanical keyboard quieter, give this mod a chance. You will like the results.