Not many of you are into silence, because thock, but my gf is not really into any sounds, so I’m looking for a switch that gives me mechanical satisfaction while keeping her happy.
There are many available, but since it’s quite a niche segment, not much thought has been put to it lately. Boba U4 is the most recommended but it’s rarely in stock, so I’m looking for alternatives that you have experience of and can recommend. Outemu has the grey and cream yellow, but how do they compare and is there something I should know before trying out something?
I’m pretty into dampened switches myself. Generally, they do all involve some kind of trade-off between silence and retaining a satisfying feel - though not all the manufacturers do it the same way.
At the softest-feeling, most quiet end is Outemu (and by extension Gazzew) - especially with lubing, these will make the least noise. They also have the most “mush” to the bottom-out feel, in terms of MX-compatible options.
At the opposite end are TTC and Kailh, whose switches use more firm dampening pads - rather than being “silent”, I’d say the dampening in these switches does more to simply “take the edge off” of any harsh sounds. In a loud room, they will recede into the background. In a quiet room they will be plenty audible, but unlikely to annoy anyone. What they sacrifice in silence they gain in crispness.
Somewhere between those extremes lie most of the rest; Cherry, Gateron, JWK (who make the Shrimps). I’m honestly no fan of either Cherry or Gateron’s approach, and while JWK’s is similar, I think it’s better executed.
If silence is your priority, browse Outemu’s selection. For big tactility, you already know about the U4s. For lighter, smaller tactility, Silent Lemons might be worth a look.
If satisfying feel is the priority, I’d recommend TTC. (Kailh’s are also quite good, but may damage keycap stems - so if you swap caps with any regularity, avoid them for now.) For bigger tactility in a similar realm to U4s, check out the Silent Bluish White. For something more moderate, the Silent Brown V2 is quite good - though its spring could use an oil bath to get the most out of it.
If you’re looking for a balance, JWK is probably the way to go right now - so in this vein I’d echo recommendations for the T1 Shrimps. I don’t think JWK has a light silent tactile at the moment, but that’s probably a matter of time.
If you’d like to learn more or take a look at some comparative photos, there’s a silent switches thread here:
And here are a few recordings -
Comparing an Outemu Silent Peach and TTC Frozen Silent in a BBOX60 - an otherwise loud keyboard:
Here are tests with each of those fully populating the board:
Here are the TTC Frozen Silents in a less loud board:
Here are Gazzew U4s in a KBD67L (with badly tuned stabs):
And here are TTC Bluish Whites in the same keyboard (but with different stabs):
Always happy to chat about this stuff - so let me know if you have any questions.
I’ve been experimenting with silent builds since 2018 (not to the extent of the builders on Youtube, though).
The above information is very accurate - pay particular attention to what Deadeye said.
The best current silent LIGHT tactiles are the OUTEMU Silent Lemon/Lime:
They are currently on sale for a few more hours, so go for it! [Or look up the OUTEMU switch tester on AliExpress].
I have experience with two builds using those particular switches. The switches need some modest lube with 3204 to really shine, also springs of course. But they don’t need any ‘mods.’ No films, no re-springing. May be a bit of a pain to open.
They are REALLY cheap, and you’ll hardly find any silent tactiles cheaper. They will be almost the cheapest part of the build.
The most favoured silent heavy tactiles are the aforementioned U4 Boba. The 62 G feels kind of like 45 G Niz. Comparable. I know you think they go out of stock quickly, but they will also come back in stock. They are retooling to prevent plastic discolouration, so are coming out with a whole new line of them.
Best thing is to buy some samples of some of the mentioned items right now, while they are somewhat discounted. The other important thing is chassis: some kits are quieter than others. IKKI68 Aurora is quiet, as is lubed Archon AK87/89. NCR-80 is not, unless you use all dampeners and even then Aurora is quieter. [Still okay, tho.]
I think the OUTEMU Silent Lemon/Lime is similar to OUTEMU Grey. But I only have experience with the green-coloured variant, and it is fine, so I recommend it. The T1 Shrimp is good, as those who have them like them. That’s basically a ‘flavour’ difference, although U4 is probably a better design.
Bobagum linears are ultra-silent if lubed properly. Hard to beat in a stock switch.
I would second what Deadeye is saying; I think that the TTC Silent Bluish Whites are a solid choice. I have some in a Minivan and they’re very punchy and “mechanical feeling” if that’s what you’re looking for.
One thing to note, it may just be due to my weak fingers but I find them slightly tiring to use for a long period of time. That’s just me though.
Like Backspace, I would reiterate that everything Deadeye said in his response above is absolute truth. The TTC Silent Bluish Whites will be quite snappy for a silent switch.
Important to emphasize that U4 Boba has a really good tactile feel by MX standards. It’s the most EC-like. So if you are looking for ‘satisfying feel,’ it’s hard to beat U4 Boba. Yeah, the T1 Shrimp is good, but is it cheaper? U4 at 62 G and above doesn’t even require lube, just the springs. So a novice could prepare solder-worthy U4s in a couple of hours.
As for the Silent Limes, here is a build that worked:
Silent Limes, OUTEMU Bobagum, probably T1 Shrimp and TTC Silent Bluish Whites are all on 11.11 sale RN. Try the 52 G Bobagum if you can, it’s pretty nice for such a light spring.
I’ll have to get my hands on the U4s and T1 Shrimps, maybe even some Bobagums some day, but since the Outemus are on a pretty nice discount and in stock at the moment, I’ll try them first. Lemons and Greys seem like my kind of switches, and from what I read on the product pages, they are pretty similar with the Lemons being bit lighter. Probaby picking the Lemons and mounting them on a Epomaker TH80.
The Bluish Whites only silence on the way down, which isn’t enough at the moment, but it’s an interesting design choice!
I did order a Iqunix OG80 prebuilt with TTC silent browns from a local retailer to test the case design and have an alternative silent benchmark, but the reviews are pretty bad for those switches.
I think you’ll like the Silent Lemons - an above-average silent with a below-average price, even when they aren’t on sale.
Just some more info:
TTC made this kinda confusing; the half-dampened Bluish White came first, and like a year later they released a fully silent version simply called Silent Bluish White - and from more than a few inches away they look identical. There is a slight visual difference, though:
If you look at the middle switch in the photo there, both the silver spring and silicone dampener are visible through the clear housing; these are the fully-silent ones.
The half-dampened ones have a gold spring instead, and don’t have that silicone stripe between the cross-mount and spring.
A few places have them; here’s one vendor’s page:
As an aside, JWK made the opposite version of this - a loud long-pole switch with a silenced top-out. They’re great quality but I found them pretty disorienting to use - way weirder than the half-silent Bluish White.
Yes, you can buy switches in 10 packs, or sometimes smaller, so that’s what I’d advise doing for samples during 11.11.
As Deadeye indicated, the Silent Bluish White variant dampens on both upstroke and downstroke. So that’s the one to go for.
The TTC Silent Brown didn’t receive the highest reviews. Even the improved V2 Pro are said to be scratchy. Best results I had with TTC was to put well-lubed OUTEMU Silent Sky stems in TTC Golden Brown V2 housings, using 60 G 14mm TX springs.
As you guys have used many different silenced switches over the years, have you overcome the scratchy sound profile they all kind of have by nature? Or is it just the recordings, which can be a bit misleading since the gain level can vary and thus revealing also tones that are hidden from ear. But when you dampen the far ends of the stroke, you are only left with the way down and up, which have a sound pattern of it’s own.
Generally this is part of the trade-off with dampening, but there are some partial exceptions.
Cleanest stock silent tactile I know is the TTC Silent Bluish White
TTC Frozen Silent (linear) is even more clean, but they’re light and may need shim material to grip caps properly
In general, you can lube the leaf and stem legs to reduce or sometimes eliminate swish and scratch, but this comes at the price of reduced or nearly-eliminated tactility
With tactile silents, there’s always going to be at least a tiny bit of that scratch - depending on the build and use environment you might not hear it, but get close enough and you will. I think so far the least swishy / scratchy stock silent tactile I know is the TTC Silent Bluish White. (Oddly enough this does not hold true at all for the TTC Silent Brown V2 which is ostensibly similar; it needs a full tuning to sound as clean as the SBWs do from the bag.)
It’s as you said - there’s little else to compete with the movement sound when top and bottom-out are silenced - and with dampened tactiles, it’s often the case that the friction of the stem against the leaf is the loudest part of the action. You can lube the leaf and stem legs which will reduce this sound, but that will also reduce the tactility of the switch. (As you may have picked-up on by now, it’s more about finding your preferred balance of factors than identifying the “best” product or tuning technique.)
The same trade-off is often true of linear silents as well, but a few manage to stand above the rest of the field in terms of clean sound, representing the closest thing to a best of all worlds example in terms of quiet, crisp, and clean.
It isn’t the most quiet thanks to its firm dampening pads, but I think the TTC Frozen Silent might be the most clean-sounding stock silent I’ve tried. A very close second would be the Kailh Deep Sea, which performs similarly with a touch less smoothness. These are both pretty light linears - so if moderate to firm tactiles are what you’re used to, you’ll likely make a lot of errors with both of these until you get good and used to them.
(The Frozen Silents don’t escape the trade-off game - they have a loose grip on keycaps, and there’s a good chance you’ll need some PTFE shower-head tape to make a good fit.)
Other silent linears might be swishy / scratchy in stock form, but those sounds can be tuned-out with lubing and filming - Bobagums, for example. They’re pretty darn quiet stock, but the sound they do make is swishy. Lubed, though, they make almost no sound at all - the loudest part might be your fingers hitting the keys. That said, I find lubed Bobagums pretty tough to use for efficient touch-typing because I’m accustomed to some kind of feedback.
I wish I had a dime for every time someone compared their switch to Holy Pandas - and the switch in question is not even vaguely like Holy Pandas. These might not be too far off, though, if the factory graph is accurate.
I haven’t tried the Cream Yellow, but it does appear to have the same kind of dampened stem that the Silent Lemon/Lime has. So far, every Outemu-made silent I’ve tried uses the same dampeners like you’d find in Gazzew’s, so if you’ve tried any of those you’ll at least have a good idea about that part. (The dampeners are the same but stem dimensions aren’t IIRC)
The top housing looks closer to Gazzew’s switches with the four corner clips as opposed to the wing-latches found on the Peaches and Lemons - probably my only gripe about those switches is how much play the top housing has (they really need thick films), which I wouldn’t say about any of the 4-clip Outemus I’ve tried - those all seem to have a decent fit.
Comparing the factory force-curve graphs, the Silent Cream Yellow does appear to have a bigger, wider, higher, and heavier bump than the Silent Lemon:
I don’t think I’ve actually tried any of the Durock Medium Tactile variants, but if that factory graph is accurate, the Silent Cream Yellow looks to be similar in intensity to the U4 / U4T, but with the peak happening about half a mm later. Just imagining here, I’m thinking that would make it less like simulating a rubber dome (as has been said about U4s) with a steep climb right up-front to collapse-through, and more like a more traditional medium-large bump.
More than a brown less than a T1 (Shrimp) is honestly a pretty wide range - but maybe it would be something similar to one of the more mild T1 variants like the Lilac Tactile or Koala in terms of the bump. Honestly I’m pretty curious about these at this point so I’ve added them to my list of switches to snag at some point. If they’re somewhere in-between U4s and Lemons, I think that would be a great sweet spot for me personally.