- 1. Add Rubber O-Rings to the Switches
- 2. Invest in a Desk Mat for Your Setup
- 3. Add Film to the Inside of the Keyboard
- 4. Add Film Under the Keycaps
- 5. Replace the Keycaps
- 6. Lubricate the Switches
- Key Takeaways
The gaming keyboards that you hear from a professional gamer’s setup likely cost a lot of time and money to achieve the desired sound. However, if you don’t have an extra $500 to spend on a top-of-the-line gaming keyboard with all of the high-end mods, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the sound of your keyboard!
Here are 6 ways to make a gaming keyboard sound better:
- Add rubber O-rings to the switches.
- Invest in a desk mat for your setup.
- Add film to the inside of the keyboard.
- Add film under the keycaps.
- Replace the keycaps.
- Lubricate the switches.
The following methods for improving your keyboard sound are ordered in potential cost, from cheapest to more expensive. Read on to learn which method, or combination of methods, is right for your gaming setup!
1. Add Rubber O-Rings to the Switches
A really easy and inexpensive way to improve the click in your gaming keyboard is to install some rubber O-rings on the switches underneath the keycap.
These are great for those who don’t want to spend very much and feel that they just need a small amount of sound help.
Rubber O-rings work by providing a “dampening” effect on the sound from the switches. The rubber rings lessen the empty space within the key, resulting in less echo from the sound bouncing around inside the plastic material.
Some benefits to the rubber O-ring method: fairly quick, very inexpensive, and easy. However, there can be potential drawbacks since the rubber O-rings make the keys feel squisher to press. So, if you like the way your keyboard feels and don’t want any changes to occur there, this might not be the solution for you.
If a slight change in feel is not a dealbreaker for you, then these Three Bull Rubber O-Rings (available on Amazon.com) are a great option. These are affordable and come in a range of colors, making it easy to choose ones that suit your keyboard.
How To Add Rubber O-Rings to Keyboard Switches
Before installation, you will want to gather the O-rings as well as a key-cap puller. Some people find that regular tweezers work or even just your fingers if you don’t have the latter.
Once you have the materials needed, all you do is the following:
- Pull the key cap off of the switch.
- Find the node underneath the key cap.
- Stretch the O-ring over the node.
- Put the key cap back on the switch.
- Rinse and repeat for each key.
Once you’ve added the rings to each key, you are all done! A helpful tip for this method is to record a sound test before and after adding the O-rings, just for comparison. The dampening effect to the sound can be quite subtle, so this will help you determine how much of a difference this made to the overall sound of your gaming keyboard.
2. Invest in a Desk Mat for Your Setup
This is probably the easiest thing you can do to help the sound of your keyboard. If you have your gaming keyboard directly on the desk or table surface, this can result in an echo from the hard surfaces vibrating against one another.
Adding a desk mat to your gaming setup will create a cushion between the keyboard and the hard surface, resulting in less echo.
Similar to the rubber O-rings discussed above, the desk mat will have a dampening effect on the click-clack sound of the keyboard.
The addition of a desk mat will make a difference to the sound your gaming keyboard produces and can be very inexpensive, depending on the mat you choose.
Also, adding a mat doesn’t have many drawbacks other than being a still subtle fix. If you are looking for a sound overhaul, this might be one small step but won’t make miracles happen.
The range of prices for desk mats is very large, so the cost will depend on what you ultimately decide to buy. Personally, I like this Aothia Leather Desk Pad Protector from Amazon.com. It comes in a great selection of colors and sizes. It’s also made from a durable, waterproof material so it’s easy to clean.
3. Add Film to the Inside of the Keyboard
Adding film to the body of your keyboard is another easy and relatively inexpensive way to improve the sound.
When you are pressing the keys, the vibrations from the sound of the switch will bounce around in the empty keyboard body. Adding film will mean that the sound is absorbed, resulting in a cleaner and lower pitch clicking.
There are many different options for films, but the best choices will be those made specifically for sound absorption. These films are, of course, also the more expensive options.
Who knew keyboards were such an expensive hobby?
Anyways, I typically try to do things as effectively as I can the first time, so I went with this Isolate It! Dampening Film from Amazon.com. It comes in a large sheet so I can trim off as much as I need for my keyboard, and I even had some left over.
However, if you do need to cut some corners (pun intended) and save the cash, plenty of people have added shelf-liners from their local dollar store and reported decent results. These are only a few dollars at most stores. Basically, the foamy material does the same job, just less effectively.
How To Add Film Inside Your Gaming Keyboard
Before you add the film, there are a few tools you will need. This will depend on your particular keyboard, but you will probably need some sort of small screwdriver. My keyboard had some plastic clips as well, so I used a butter knife to help pry it open.
Once you have the tools you need, grab the film. Here is how to get it inside your keyboard:
- Flip your keyboard key side down so you are looking at the bottom.
- Unscrew all screws holding the body together and place them somewhere safe — you will need these again!
- If applicable, pry open clips and open any other fasteners.
- Cut the film to fit in the inside of the keyboard, including any small holes where the body lines up and fastens.
- Put the keyboard back together in the same way you took it apart!
Once you are done, grab any remaining film you have and put it aside for safekeeping. Our next method will utilize any scraps!
4. Add Film Under the Keycaps
I highly recommend this method, but only if you have already added film inside the body of the keyboard. Alone, it is still effective but not enough to justify the price of the pricier films, in my opinion.
Adding the film to the keys will do the exact same sort of work that it did in the body of the keyboard. The film absorbs sound vibration, resulting in cleaner clicking and clacking.
Personally, I would not combine film and rubber O-rings in the keycaps. The squishiness would be too much for a good keyboard feel.
How To Add Film Under KeyCaps
This process will look very similar to the one for adding to the keyboard body but won’t require the same tools.
If you have a keycap puller, you will want it for this method. Otherwise, some tweezers and your fingers should work.
Here is how to get started:
- Gather all of your film, scraps and all.
- Remove a keycap
- Cut the film to fit inside the cap.
- Optional: use this cut as a stencil to make uniform cuts for the rest of the matching keys. If you are not as nitpicky as me, you can skip and just go one by one.
- Fill each cap with film cut to fit and put it back onto the switch.
Once all of the keycaps have been filled with film, you are all done. This can be a bit time-consuming, but I did find that using the stencil method made me able to work more quickly!
5. Replace the Keycaps
Replacing the keycaps won’t be the cheapest way to improve the sound of your keyboard, but I think that it is definitely the most fun! I switch up my keycaps a few times a year, just to try out new colors and patterns.
The options for keycap replacements are pretty much endless, and there’s every color and design under the sun available!
Here, I will just talk about the different available materials and how they will affect the sound of your gaming keyboard.
Before purchasing new keycaps, make sure that your selection will work with your keyboard body. Depending on the layout, size, and whether it is lighted, some keycaps might not fit onto the switches.
Some brands don’t have standard key-cap shapes. Double-check measurements and keyboard design before trying to cram keycaps in that don’t fit properly; otherwise, you might end up needing to replace the whole keyboard!
As long as the keycaps fit correctly, replacing them should be a very easy process. Simply remove the keycaps with your tools (keycap puller, tweezers, phalanges) and then replace them with the new keycaps.
This may also be a good time to add film or rubber O-rings if you so choose! If you had them in the old keycaps, just move them over if they are still in good working shape.
How Different Keycaps Affect Keyboard Sound
Replacing the keycaps will give you the opportunity to change the material, thickness, and profile of your gaming keyboard’s keys.
Depending on the sound you are looking to achieve, you will want to make the appropriate change in these keycap traits to accomplish it.
Keycap Material: ABS or PBT
Several materials exist for keycaps, but the vast majority will be either ABS or PBT. Both of these are plastics, and both have pros and cons.
Stock keys are almost always ABS since this is the cheaper plastic. If you still aren’t sure you can think of the feeling of ABS, think of the keyboards in your high school computer lab or lego blocks — both would have been ABS plastic!
ABS keycaps are thinner, which can be responsible for a higher-pitched clickity-clack, which most people, including me, dislike. However, they are also typically a bit quieter.
PBT keys, on the other hand, will be made of thicker and more rigid plastic. This gives the sound a cleaner click and quieter clack. The PBT plastic keycaps stay matte, keep their texture, and last longer overall.
It all boils down to what you are looking for in your gaming keyboard’s sound, but a quick search through the Mechanical Keyboard subreddit makes it clear that PBT is the popular choice among gamers.
For a more in-depth overview of all the pros and cons of PBT and ABS keycaps, outside of just the sound quality, here is a great YouTube video breaking it all down:
There are tons of different keycap profile types, which refer to the keycap’s curve and height.
Most of these will be a matter of comfort, but there are ways that the profile can make a difference to the sound of your keyboard.
Higher profiles produce a higher bass sound, while some of the lower profiles produce a higher-pitched sound, according to the sound tests in this Youtube video:
6. Lubricate the Switches
If you are looking to get your gaming keyboard to ASMR sound quality, you will want to lubricate the switches on your keyboard.
The above methods will do a lot of great work in reducing the high-pitched, echoey plastic noises. However, if you notice that your keyboard is making a lot of scratchy, squeaky, or pinging noises, then this will be a job for lube.
The cost of the lubing method is going to depend greatly on how many of the tools you already have. If you have most of them, this is going to be relatively inexpensive. If not, this initial investment can be a bit pricey.
In both cases, this is quite time-intensive but also kind of relaxing! So, it might take a few hours, but at least it will be a pleasant few hours!
Make sure that you have a large, clear, and clean surface to work at before starting. You will need a switch opener or a screwdriver, a small paintbrush, a soldering tool, tweezers, and lube!
The best way to lubricate switches will require a more in-depth explanation than can be included here, so I recommend this great written guide for lubing switches, which is an excellent resource!
If you’re an avid gamer, the constant clicking and clacking of your keyboard can be particularly annoying. Fortunately, there are a few ways to alter your keyboard’s sound to make it softer and more pleasant. Some of the most popular methods include adding O-rings to the switches, installing film on the inside of the keyboard, or lubricating the switches.
Before altering your keyboard or trying out any of these methods, always be sure to work carefully on a clean surface to preserve your keyboard as much as possible.