How did clicky switches fall out of favor?

Creating this topic as I’m genuinely curious about the state of clicky switches, and perhaps learn more about the history, trend and preferences with regard to using clicky switches.

I was reading through some old forums and seeing how users tend to enjoy using Cherry MX Blue and Green switches. There was a bit of a resurgence when it came to the Kailh Box clicky switches, with the Box White and Pale Blue, then the Thicc Clicks Box Jade and Navy. I believe there were other clicky switches along the way like the Kailh Speeds and Gateron Ink Blue, but by and large they seem to be “out of meta”, forgotten or even memed about.

On a personal level, my first ever keyboard and beloved workhorse is a Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro S with Cherry MX Blues. Years on, and it still functions like a tank. I’ve also grown fond of Kailh Box Pinks, which I use in rotation with Boba U4

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I’m not really sure, but I’d say likely around the late 90’s. That’s kind of when I recalled keyboards getting quiet. Possibly even before that because I don’t recall the Apple IIe’s or Commodore 64’s ever being clicky either. And that’s predominately what we had in school growing up.

I recently tried to use some clickies, and maybe I went too aggressive, but the Crystal Box Navies were too much for me. I was only using them on some macropads because I knew I wouldn’t be using them as much in that capacity, but still, I had to replace them. I didn’t really need everyone in the house to know I selected the next music track to listen to.

I do like the crisp feel of typing on them, that snappy tic is nice. Which is probably why my favorites switches are tactiles although they’re not nearly as crisp.

Anyway, that’s my take on it at least.

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I love the Kailh Box Pinks, they are a lot of fun to type on. Sadly, I don’t live alone and work in an office and I also believe every fetish is fine as long as it doesn’t bother other people. So there’s that. From time to time, I throw them in my test drive keyboard and have some kinky fun in secret, though.

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I love my Kailh Box Whites and am typing on them all the time at home, close to my family members.
My wife types on a regular rubberdome and her setup is way louder than mine.
Thus, I’m not sure sound is a deciding factor in every situation.

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Indeed, Box Pinks are really nice to type with. The medium clickbar and spring weight makes it snappy yet quieter than other Box Clicky switches. If I’m not wrong, there was a video review by Chryosan22 who mentioned that Box Pinks were the modern switch that’s most similar to a buckling spring. My brother as since taken my Box Pink keyboard to his office and had no complaints from his coworkers

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In terms of the enthusiast community, I think that click-jacket switches started falling out of favor as cleaner, tighter sounds came into favor.

That is, as more of the community focused on tuning the typing experience with lubricants, shims, gaskets, et cetera; the value-focus on eliminating rattle, ping, and other errant vibes made click-jackets stand out like something of a sore thumb. That is, at least for those aiming for that clean, pure, lubricated plastic sound, there wasn’t much room for a literal rattling device inside their keyboard.

I also think that’s why the Box clickies were warmly received and still enjoy some popularity; the click-bar mechanism is free from the rattle inherent to click-jackets.

On that note, I do remember seeing Blue Inks as a head-scratcher when they came out, and I still feel that way. I’ve seen… maybe two Blue Ink builds that I can remember. They’re really nice for a click-jacket switch, but they’re still a click-jacket switch. That said I’ve bought loads of them because they’re killer for tactile frankenswitches.

I’m sure there’s more to it than just rattle bad but that’s definitely what led me away from click-jacket switches. All of that said - I do still enjoy them from time to time, and they are uniquely satisfying. I do have to hand it to Cherry - they set out to emulate a typewriter with their clickies, and there is something about the click-jacket sound and feeling that does remind me of a tiny version of those arms / levers slamming letters onto the page.

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Your comment about sound is dead on. I think the keyboard community has a lot in common with audiophiles (for better and for worse). I am sure there’s a good amount of overlap between hobbies too the deeper you go.

A lot of people, before delving into audiophile stuff consider “big bass” to be a defining feature of good sound. Who cares about detail retrieval when you just wanna bump, right? That’s very similar to consumers associating keyboards with loud clicky switches. The click-click-click is obvious and fun.

Then you go deeper. Now audiophiles are concerned with spikes, dips, and details. It’s not about loudness but the overall quality of the sound. They want a balanced sound that fits exactly their preference. And well all those sentences now apply perfectly to keyboard enthusiasts (keebphiles? Lol).

I think there is a time and place for clickies in general. Sometimes you just want to be loud and proud, just like how you don’t go to a party to hear the music.

I love to go back to clicky switches after fancy builds because I don’t need to be concerned with minutia of sound anymore. I have two Moon TKL, one with franken creams and the other with moyu dark jade, and my third is in production. I plan on using Outemu Phoenix simply to compete the trifecta of linear, tactile, clicky. I already have box pinks, fosen aquamarines, outemu ice clicks, and gatistotles, so those are the next most interesting on the list.

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You’re a kebophile! :joy:

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For me, Using blue switches was about the feeling that they provided. Once tactile switches like the Zealio and now the Zilents caught up to that clean brake away feeling, I transitioned away from clicky switches, eventually to Zilent V2’s.

Zilent V2’s also provide a more thocky deep sound, that doesn’t carry as far, that is more satisfying, doesn’t bother my ears, and is less likely to get picked up by my microphone.

I won’t lie, it would be fun to type on an IBM model M or F, for a stretch, but at their prices these days, even for the re creations, I can’t justify the expense for something that’s going to sit in it’s drawer 90% of it’s live span, like I could when I was younger.

Your probably right, so you might get this comparaison.

MX Blue’s are like the DT1990, they are super detailed, but sibilant. where as the Zilent v2’s are like the HD600 and they provide a soft intimate sound.

I daily drive Zilent V2’s and HD600’s I sold off my keyboards, with MX blue Switches and my wife now uses my DT1990’s because they were hurting my ears but don’t bother hers.

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Personally, I love clicky switches. But it’s really hard to love them when they get the slimmest fraction of the experimentation other switches get; there’s significantly fewer folks playing with fancy materials or new methods of producing clickiness (even Zeal isn’t exactly exploring these in his perpetually-upcoming clickies, as best anybody can tell, but rather bringing old ideas into refinement).

The biggest thing that killed clickies outside of our community, though—what took them from their position as the platonic ideal of keyboards and productivity to their new position as The Coworkers’ Nemesis—was the immense shift in the interior structure of offices. The removal of cubicles and shift to open offices meant an enormous decrease in aural privacy and a corresponding increase in sound pollution in office spaces, and clicky keyboards quickly got scapegoated as a menace.

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Management: It’s open to encourage team work.

Employees: I’m going to stab you if you don’t quit clicking your pen.

Managers: I saw that get back to work.

Edit:

Next week:

Managers: Personal effects are not allowed, because they are distracting to you team mates:

Average Employees: Expletive (insert employee name).

Enlightened Employee: Expletive Management, this wasn’t a problem, until Management took our walls so they coud observe us while we work.

Manager: Enlightened Employee, We don’t think your the right fit for the company. Collecte your things and leave.

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adjective

making or characterized by a hissing sound.

“his sibilant whisper”

PHONETICS

(of a speech sound) sounded with a hissing effect, for example s , sh .


TIL a new word. Thanks!

HUH-DUH SIX HUNGE-O’S

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Alps, Topre, and Buckling Springs all have deeper, crunchier sounds than MX clickies and were the clickies that you would find in offices. I wouldn’t even describe them as clicks. You rarely encounter an MX clicky in a commercial product even in the 80s-90s.

MX Blues were always a weird minority only showing in odd products like Bondwell laptops and the occasional Ortek or Focus keyboard.

When mechanical keyboards became an enthusiast community it coalesced around Cherry, as the sole, major supplier of a wide variety of switches and keycaps.

By the time I joined the hobby 5 years ago the popularity of Blues and Greens were already fading fast.

Maybe because the hobby has been driven by two things - GAMERZ who realized linear switches are faster than clickies for gaming, and by well-compensated programmers and IT specialists who wanted to bring their toys into the office without getting hell from their coworkers.

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Yeah, I remember typing on old Alps keyboards back in the cubicle days. It’s a major part of why I’m excited for Zeal to follow in ProWorld’s footsteps in attempting to bring Alps-style internals to the MX switch world, although I’m hesitant in equal measure due to my dislike for their polycarbonate-heavy housing blends. Unfortunately they will likely have zero frankenswitching capability, so I may just have to live with whatever sound profile they have.

I’m also cautiously optimistic about the newer beamspring switches from Input Club, but those will only be usable in their own boards and will also have as little frankenswitching capability. Unfortunately, it seems the only clickies I’m excited about are very likely to be complete outliers and oddities moreso than they will be new standards for clicky switches.

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I remember MX blues always being targeted at professional typist as a way to prevent bottoming out the switch and increase typing efficience, because of the audible click.

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I remember this too. It was something to do with hysteresis too I think.

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Sounds about right.
https://deskthority.net/wiki/Hysteresis

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I would say clickys is making a comeback this year.

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It’s in the air… We might see some real innovation or improvement in quality - or even just a re-emergence of older good things that aren’t readily available now.

Great to see Box Pinks finally getting the love they deserve in this thread. I’ve stumbled upon them when they were quite new, back then everybody was raving about Navies and Jades, and rarely anybody was mentioning Pinks.

They’ve been and remained my favourite switch ever since I first tried them, and I still use them in my daily driver at home. I’ve got Drop Holy Pandas in the office board because I wanted to be more considerate to my coworkers, although I’m not quite convinced the Pandas are any quieter than Pinks, that THOCC is quite something. The frequency profile of the sound is completely different, but volume wise, sometimes I think the Pandas might even be louder.

I’m a big clicky switch fan, it goes back to an early childhood memory of visiting my Mom’s office and typing on a Model M keyboard… This was forever since ingrained in my mind as the way a proper keyboard is supposed to sound and feel.

BOX Pinks come quite close, but they’re not perfect. I’m sad to see a decline in the popularity of clicky switches and lack of recent innovation in the space compared to tactiles and linears.
I’ve tried many other new(er) clickies including BOX Navies, Jades, Chinese Royal Yellows, NK Sherbet … but BOX Pinks are still the best at nailing that sweet spot of crisp tactility and sound.

Excited to see what Zeal and others will bring in the future.

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