With Silent Tactile Switches do we still need Topre/EC boards?

So I am using a set of Aliaz 70g switches and in terms of sound as compared to Topre ones I hear from sound tests, I think both sounded very similar and I know Topres/ECs are tactile too. With that said, would silent tactile switches be good enough and don’t need to bother trying topre/ec type of boards? :smiley:

Just a thought here, those with experiences on both types of switches do give your comment!

1 Like

They feel very different.

If the experience of lubed, silenced topre is like walking on a cloud, then the experience of typing on the Aliaz silent tactile switch is like walking with a pebble stuck in your shoe.

12 Likes

IMHO, the closest bottom-out feel/sound to Topre are MX Zilents. However the thing that I don’t like is that you can’t hear the bottom out that much. I just wish it was a little louder because I think the sound will be pretty good.

However, I don’t think anything beats the feel and sound of lubed, silenced, and broken in Topre. There’s just something with the sound and the feel that make it feel so different and satisfying. The tactility is also so round that you really can’t compare with any other MX-style switch.

Ergo Clears and Holy Pandas come close, but those are missing the “thocky” sound that comes from Topre. If you want something that’s linear and that is still Topre, my 30g Leopold 980c has a really nice sound as well as significantly subdued tactile bump (imo its pretty much linear lol).

tl;dr Topre is polarizing, but worth the try to see wher you land on the subject :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Topre and MX silenced tactiles feel very different.
I can’t easily explain how/why but it is a fact, you have to try a Topre board to understand that :stuck_out_tongue:

Definitely still need Topre/EC switches around, much different feel & sound (to me at least with the sound) to Topre vs silenced MX tactiles. Also all MX silenced switches still have a scratchy feeling & sound to them that is completely absent in Topre. Now some strides are being made by GazzeW in the MX silent tactile world as the boba U4s are easily the best silent tactile I’ve tried, but being honest I’d take Topre over even them everytime.

4 Likes

I feel like this question is coming from a legitimate place considering that every time I see Topre fans pop up in threads people are being told they just need to buy a Topre board to give it a try; I’d love to see a community document about them with force graphs or more detailed descriptions of the tactility of Topre/EC switches so folks have any kind of bridge whatsoever for understanding what to expect.

I’ll do my best to try to sum up the very scattershot understanding I have: Topre switches have a “high”/early tactility (little pretravel?) and actuate immediately at the tactile event (due to the EC switch design’s inherent mechanism?) rather than during the falloff after the bump (so there’s essentially no possibility of experiencing the bump without actuating), which sets it apart from the MX switch design; the MX switch design requires (I believe?) that the stem have falloff post-bump to give the leaf space to decompress from its initial position to its actuated position.

Is that (any of that?) correct? Am I missing something? I’d love for us to get better at giving people reasons to try things and identifying those differences rather than telling them our faves are just indescribably different from what they’re used to feeling.

2 Likes

With Topre/EC boards, do we still need Silent Tactile Switches? :wink:

But seriously, that was my thinking as well, and pretty recently realized that comparing graphs and data on paper is something different than actually trying it myself (side by side).
I decided to keep one Topre board for daily usage (Heavy Grail​:fire:) , and one “MX” board to experiment with switches, keycaps, etc. (Thermal). So for me, there is a place for both :nerd_face:

But maybe I’m lost my humbleness somewhere.

1 Like

I would not disagree with that at all! But right now Topre is talked about primarily in a mystical way (I’d say Alps is generally similar in this regard), and I’d like to see us demystify it at least a little bit; I don’t think the mystique is helping sell anybody on it who doesn’t have significant disposable income, and it directly contributes to questions like this one existing.

Put differently, the OP is expressing a question because all they have to frame Topre is some videos featuring their typing sound. They are not being provided a better frame for thinking about Topre, so of course they will ask a question that seems silly to people who are in the know.

6 Likes

I don’t think the confusing explanations of topre are meant to obfuscate the feel of the switch, but rather that it’s much harder to explain or compare to someone than an mx switch is to another mx switch, as people above have said, it feels nothing like mx, and the distinct rounded tactility is hard to describe any other way in my opinion. This and the high price tag of real Topre boards does lead to it feeling like there are a lot of Topre Elitists, and there definitely are some out there. However, I read plenty of reviews and looked at all the force curves before buying topre boards, and I was still unprepared for the switch feel, it is simply exquisite.

Also is this not the same situation with MX switches? A common mantra in the reddit community is try before you buy, and it seems to be for this exact reason, for people who lack the context to appreciate a comparison, telling them what any given switch feels like is going to be more confusing than helpful if all they’ve tried is a membrane board. I think the exclusivity and snobbishness perceived mostly comes from the related price tag, where trying someone to buy and try Topre entails buying a $200 board, telling someone to do the same with mx switches could go as little as 60-100 bucks to try a clicky, linear and tactile variant of mx switches, if you buy some dirt cheap prebuilts.

3 Likes

I would personally love to explain what the difference is but I’m simply not able to do it :smiley:
From your description, it looks like Topre is like a Zelios v2 (tactile event at the top for ex).
It partially is (with a less pronounced bump), but feeling wise they are completely different beasts.
My coworkers have been surprised typing on my Topre board, having used Cherry switch boards before.

Not telling to buy one to test, but maybe find someone who owns one to make an idea :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe @Manofinterests could one day make a force graph of a Topre switch ?

2 Likes

Super fair point! I suppose part of the difference to me is that with MX switches one can easily get a switch tester, and there is nearly no limit to what MX switches could go in a switch tester. For Topre, I can get some individual switches to test (I believe somebody directed me to Niz for those?) but there’s no way (afaik) to test a single “genuine” Topre switch the same way.

Honestly would be rad if we could sell the manu on making something like that; an EC switch tester would be a helpful (if, obviously, susceptible to the same problems as MX switch testers) product to direct folks toward.

2 Likes

I think this experience gap @Dr.Doof mentions is why descriptions of what topre switches feel like end up sounding like copy from the GOOP catalog.

Descriptions about it’s high tactility point and rounded overall tactility aren’t wrong. But the reason why force graphs aren’t enough is because they don’t capture why I actually enjoy typing on Topre.

Rather than shy away from the “woo”, I’ll channel my inner Gwyneth to describe it:

You know the feeling of using a tool like a hammer, where you’re so in the flow of hammering that you stop thinking about the hammer as an object? Topre switches lend themselves to a similar feeling of immersion in utility.

In terms of describing Topre’s feel, the “good feeling of oneness with cup rubber” is goofy, but they kinda nailed it. Ok, “woo” over.

Anyway, I keep a number of different MX-style linears, tactiles, and clickies in the rotation, spice of life and all, but whenever I need to write a lot, I reach for my fancy rubber domes.

3 Likes

I’m always hesitant to recommend switch testers, I think if you’ve never tried a mechanical keyboard they can add helpful context, but the feel and sound of any switch is completely different in a board vs in a keytester, as there are so many things that can impact the keyfeel that a switch tester simply lacks. However, I saw someone selling topre switch testers on r/mm a month or so ago, with various weightings, and authentic topre domes, I think more of those is a more likely eventuality than getting Topre to listen to the community, since its a niche of a niche in both our hobby, and their overall product line.

4 Likes

I’m sure about one thing, namely;
I cannot explain the feel differences between Topre/MX Switch using only verbal expression (too limited mental strength). I can feel it, can’t explain it.

I would prefer if Topre were more accessible, that would erase the “elitism label” and push more innovation. I sincerely hope this will happen, thanks to people like Lord Norbauer :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

I love Norbauer’s products to an irrational degree but how do $500 keyboard housings make Topre more accessible and less elitist?

He’s catering to people looking for (and who will pay for) the ultimate Topre experience. By definition that’s kind of elitist.

Edited to add: I think Topre clones like Niz definitely make topre more accessible. Yes, there are differences but Niz keyboards feel nice out of the box and with a bit of TLC you can make ‘em sing.

6 Likes

Hahaha! You got some point here!

What I meant to say is thanks to Norbauer more people will hear about Topre, and because of the appearance of his products (attractive shiny, things), more people will jump into the Topre experience (I did exactly that).
I think Topre only feel “elite” from the side because it’s not. Of course, $500 housing is only an optional upgrade over what we get in the standard package (HHKB for example), wish it could be cheaper!

For me, Norbauer housing is a kind of investment into a comfortable tool (vanity vibe here), which helps me spend those 14h each day comfortably (touching nice thing). But as an inspiration as well – It’s like using well-crafted tools for your profession :wink:

1 Like

The Topre or rubber dome is impossible to replicate with a single spring switch. Still in preliminary stages but you can get pretty close with two springs.

2 Likes

Tell me more :eyes:

EDIT: Is there a sort of “two-stage resistance” thing going on in Topre switches, then? Like a larger force to overcome the dome’s resistance that then gives way to the spring as the only resistance (after actuation?), or is it something else?

2 Likes

@iaman the so called ‘mystique’ around topre is exactly the reason I haven’t been attracted to it at all as a newbie. That’s not so say I’m put off by it, just not drawn to it.

When so many things are a matter of preference, it’s just not compelling enough for me to pursue personally.

Also, because I’m so new, I don’t know enough to look at specs and graph charts to relate that to how it would sound and feel. So much of this is relative to experience and preference - it IS really hard to capture and share.

But back to topre, I just resign it to something I may one day get around to trying. But because of that, it’s not high on my list.

1 Like

do you mind sharing which two boards you kept and what about them you like?