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Are Cherry MX Blues too loud?

Posted by Matt Bell on

If we were irresponsible, we could simply say "Hell to the NO" and point you to our list of mechanical keyboards featuring Cherry MX Blue switches.

But seeing as we are responsible and we'd never do a thing like that, what we've decided to do is to break the question down and get into the details.

Skip to the TL;DR summary


The fear of Wrath

Most people's fear when they consider a mechanical keyboard with Cherry Blues, particularly for use at work, tends to be, "Will my co-workers want to strangle me with my keyboard cable?"  (This is not a problem with the Minila Air; it has no cable. #winning)

It's a fair question and the answer lies within a number of considerations which we've detailed below.


Cherry MX Blues are not quiet

There's no getting around the fact that Cherry MX Blues are not designed to be quiet. Because of the level of tactile feedback the Cherry Blue's afford, it is very intentional that they make the sound they make.

If quiet is your priority, Silent Reds (or Cherry MX Pink) are the way to go. Cherry MX Browns are a happy medium.


Loud is relative to Environment

If you are in the State Library of Victoria and you start bashing out a serverless application on your Minila with Cherry MX Blues, you are going to raise eyebrows. Before long, someone will come along and ask you politely to take your noisy keyboard and find internets elsewhere.

In contrast, if you are in a large, open-plan office, filled with the Sound of Collaboration(TM) then eyebrow raising will be replaced with admiration of your supreme keyboarding and jealousy of your sweet, sweet rig.


Surface dynamics can create loudness

The surface on which you place your keyboard can have an affect on how far the noise from key striking propagates.

The more solid the surface, the less the noise will carry.


The design of the keyboard

Properties of the keyboard two which the switches are mounted can play a big part in determining how loud it is. The more solid the unit is, the size and thickness of the plate and the presence/lack of sound dampening between the plate and the PCB can make a massive difference to the volume and sound.

Further to this, the difference in sound between ABS keycaps and PBT keycaps can be quite dramatic.


The way you type

Perhaps the single biggest determiner of loudness, other than environment is actually the way you type.  If you are exuberant types for whom bottoming out the switch is #TheWayYouRoll then those around you will look for ways to involuntarily decommission your pride and joy. (Probably also involving your face)

If you are more regulated in your approach to striking keys then Cherry MX Blues can deliver the tactile feedback you desire without the hidden cost of facial reconstruction.


Making Cherry MX Blue switches quieter

Apart from changes to typing habits and clever environment choices, the use of Sound Dampening O-rings can also soften the edges on some of the noise generated.

We'll be getting a selection of these in soon and will update the article when they drop, with videos and links.

Update: We've shot some video testing a selection of noise dampening o-rings on a Minila with Cherry MX Blues.


Summary (or TL;DR) 

In short:

  • Loud is relative to environment
  • Blues not great if you have bear claws for hands and work in a quiet environment
  • Blues great if your environment has ambient noise and you show restraint in your actuation-antics.
  • Blues can be quietened with sound dampeners.

Got some Near Death Experiences with Cherry MX Blues? We'd love to hear about them over on Twitter.

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