Kinetic Labs Gecko Silent Linear Switch
While most people strive to achieve a specific keyboard sound profile, others might want to build a mechanical keyboard that feels great to type on but does not produce audible noise. This is handy when working in an open office or coffee shop setting. Most switches, including popular ones like Gateron Yellow switches, are not silent, and you need to buy a specific type of switch that was designed to be silent from the ground up.
That's where silent switches come in, but what exactly makes the switches silent?
The most common application of making keyboard switches silent is by adding dampening pads to the rails of the stem so that the top-out and bottom-out are significantly quieter. This is seen in Kinetic Labs’ own Silent Gecko linear switches.
Gecko Silent Linear Switches
This application is widely used for a good reason, as it gets the job done well. Now, there can be some downsides to this, as on some switches, it can make the typing experience feel a bit on the mushy side due to the silicone dampeners. This is not the case for all switches that use this mechanism, and it is not the case for the Geckos.
It is hard to figure out what switches will and will not be mushy before buying them as they all use the exact mechanism, so I recommend watching review videos on whatever switch you are considering before making any decisions.
Opened Up Gecko Silent Linear Switch
A newer concept to silent switches can be seen with the “Haimu Silents,” which use a “C” shape design on the stems, which pretty much helps dampen the top-out and bottom-out of the switch. Another thing these switches do is they have two small holes drilled into the bottom housing that act as a way for the sound to escape out of the switch and dampen it even more. This is a unique concept, and I was initially very skeptical, but it works, so I can’t complain.
Screenshot of Kailh Midnight Pro Silent Switches (Credit: Kailh.net)
Another unique way manufacturers are silencing switches can be shown by taking a look at the Kailh Midnight Pro switches. These feature a different silencing mechanism by placing it only in the bottom housing and where the switch bottoms out. This leads to a very silent experience and can practically eliminate the mushy feeling you might get from switches that use the standard silicone dampeners on the stem of the switch.
Screenshot of LICHICX XCJZ LUCY Silent Linear Switches (Credit: SublimeKBD.com)
The LICHICX brand of silent switches are pretty hard to get your hands on, but they feature a silent mechanism made up of a thin strip of plastic on the center of the switch’s stem. I am not sure if that is the only reason why, but this switch practically has no sound when typing at normal speeds. It is super quiet and does not have that mushy feeling you might get on other silent switches. This is pretty much due to it not having that standard dampening mechanism we discussed earlier in the article.
Jwick Semi-Silent Linear Switch
Now, if you are someone who wants a silent switch, but not to the point where they have no sound to them, then some switches feature a “semi-silent” mechanism, such as the JWICK Semi Silent Switches. This works because there is only one piece of dampening material on the top of the stem to help reduce the top-out noise, but not the bottom-out noise. This means that while the top-out might be quieter, the bottom-out volume will stay the same.
There are so many different and unique ways manufacturers are silencing their keyboard switches, and some might work better than others, but that all comes down to what you are looking for. I might have missed some, as companies are always innovating, but this should give you an idea of how exactly manufacturers are creating these amazing silent switches.