The Search for Topre Perfection15 Apr 2015
From left to right: 1/8”, 3/16” and Limited edition RoastPotatoes silencing pad.
Upon and before purchasing my HHKB I was quite sure there was a sure-fire way to silence the HHKB quite easily with little cost. It is also supposed to be one of the better ways to silence Topre, because of this I thought that I need not look any further to find a method to silence my HHKB.
When I received my HHKB I was wholly enamoured with the feel of Topre. I was like many before my happy with my happy hacking. But In the keyboard world you have to strive for perfection. I just watched a video and couldn’t get the sounds out of my head. In my mind the dental banded HHKB just seemed a little better to me. And at that time I just wasn’t entirely happy with the noise produced by my HHKB. But as I mentioned earlier I went into this purchasing knowing of a ‘sure-fire’ way to silence it. This method is of course dental banding the sliders.
If you have not come across this method before. It is very simple. You have to disassemble your HHKB right to the core. And then once you have removed all the sliders add a dental band to the base.
Originally I had thought of putting together a guide on how to perform the dental band mod. But I feel like it would be redundant to my interests. It is quite a simple method (available guides are quite fine) but I am not at all happy with the product.
I have used ‘sure-fire’ as how I saw this method prior to carrying it out. This is because this is how it is portrayed on every place I can find on the internet. I will credit cookie as one of the people who seems most instrumental in the current effort to find the ideal method to silence Topre avoiding all side effects.
I feel that the dental band mod only gets good press. I would like introduce my alternative view because I feel like people might have the same issues in the future.
When I put the dental bands on, immediately it was noticeably quieter. This was fairly indisputable however when listening closer I heard a quite prevalent pinging sound. It was if I could just hear the spring pinging about. When typing and hearing the “Topre Rain” this is exactly what you don’t want. Once you hear it you will never go back, to how you once viewed the mod. Just in the background you can hear the pinging.
This was the main problem. It was just not what I was looking for. Topre is an entirely different experience than buckling spring. With buckling springs the pinging is a part of the experience (unless you have flossed) and is something that is welcome.
The other issue is the feeling. Alongside the sound I could feel the vibrations in my finger tips. This was very unpleasant and just felt like the tips of my finger tips were vibrating with every press. Putting it into words is not easy but it was certainly the most disagreeable typing experience I have had.
In reference to the reduced travel, I did not have any problem with this. So I will not list this as a problem with the dental band mod.
I honestly do not really know what causes this problem. What I am guessing is that the springs are already compressed (due to the reduced space because of the dental bands) and this effects how they spring back up when further compressed. The bands push the sliders up slightly so when you put the domes and plate on, the plate does not sit flat in the case. It has to be screwed in order for the keyboard to actually become together.
To corroborate what I am saying and give at least some validity to what I am saying. cookie mentions something similar here
My first thought was that I had put the bands on wrong or I had unseated the springs. This is where I lost a lot of time, I have taken my HHKB apart and reassembled it a lot. I was madly trying to find the solution to this problem.
The first trial was to ensure the bands were oriented correctly on each slider. So it was flat and not twisted. This had little effect. The next step I took was to take the domes off and reseat the springs myself. Here is an action that I resent. It did not help with the problem and has made my life a lot harder when disassembling my HHKB. It means you have to put all the domes on correctly and then align the springs yourself. If your domes have not come off by themselves just enjoy it while it lasts. I did briefly look for information on whether it was better to separate the domes or not, but I found nothing. I would like to go on record recommending to not do so.
My next thought was the dental bands I was using. The first I used were 1/8th dental bands. I had seen in the guides that either 1/8 or 3/16 were fine, and both had been used to great effect. I then got my 3/16 bands and repeated the same trials. This did not help anything.
The next step was creating my own silencing ‘bands’ this was done quite spontaneously after finding the perfect material. That material was foam earplugs. The material seemed perfect because they were squishy and resilient from being squashed. I then began slicing them up until I had around 70, just enough to allow for mistakes. I had managed to create some uniformity with having the discs around 1mm. After some extensive testing where I took out some compared to dental bands and reassembled everything. They were no good. I was having a similar problem. The pinging had been reduced but the vibration was still there. When making them it seemed like I was onto the final solution. But it did not turn out that way. They were just too big. These were not a success.
After going back to dental bands and giving them a longer trial around a month. I have returned to stock. I have learned to appreciate my HHKB and am content with its stock thock.
I understand that there are people who still want to find the perfect Topre silencing method. Going on the current research thin foam is the way to go. I would also like to draw attention to this interest check. This is the most promising way you will achieve the ‘perfect’ Topre sound.
I did not find the solution to my problem or even find out the cause. But I have enjoyed the process and am very happy with my current almost stock HHKB.
For me, dental banding did not work, and overall was a bad experience but others may like to try it out. Here are some guides I found most useful:
Here is a nice video demonstrating the nice sound of the stock HHKB Pro 2.