Help me type quietly
March 12, 2021 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I need to take notes while unmuted on Zoom calls. My current keyboard is disruptive. Looking for recommendations of quiet keyboards.

I have a standard laptop. Either corded keyboard or bluetooth. Personal experience recommendations would be appreciated!
posted by hepta to Technology (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have a 'quiet' keyboard that is, essentially, a laptop keyboard detached from the laptop. It's really no quieter than the laptop, though.

Have you considered getting a more directional microphone?
posted by amtho at 8:42 AM on March 12, 2021

A mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Red keys would be very quiet, provided you don't bottom-out the keys.
posted by vitout at 8:43 AM on March 12, 2021

At the risk of questioning the intent of your question, I've had much better luck with using a directional microphone than having a quieter keyboard.

I use a cardioid condenser microphone paired with a rather loud mechanical keyboard and no-one notices the keyboard.
posted by saeculorum at 8:43 AM on March 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Intriguing answers re microphones. I am using either airpods or Bose noise cancelling headphones as the microphone.
posted by hepta at 9:04 AM on March 12, 2021

I use fairly loud mechanical keyboards and run Krisp, which runs fancy noise-cancellation AI on all the sound. It works wonders; nobody can hear me typing. It also swallows construction sound outside to the point that I've had to tell people "Sorry, I can't hear you, there's too much jackhammering" and they have no idea what I'm talking about. When it's working hardest my voice comes through a little bit on the robotic side but still clear and understandable.

I work for a fully remote company and enough of us are using it that we're pushing for management to spring for a companywide license.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:06 AM on March 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Zoom offers background noise suppression, under Preferences -> Audio -> "Suppress background noise". Have you tried turning that on, and to a higher setting?
posted by vitout at 9:07 AM on March 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

My husband can't stand my typing, I have this and he hasn't complained since I got it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:32 AM on March 12, 2021

You have two paths you can take: improve the microphone (so it doesn't pick up the noises, or filters them out), or you can make the keyboard quieter.

On the microphone side, pop filter and noise removal software will help. NVIDIA Broadcast is free, but I didn't test it on the typing noises. Pop filter is mainly designed for splosives from the mouth, not typing noise. A microphone with a more limited pickup pattern (more "directional") or even a noise shield is another possibility, instead of an omni-directional microphone that picks up everything.

You can't really make the existing keyboard quieter, though a softer padding under the keyboard may help a little. There are quieter keyboards, like those equipped with MX Silent (which is MX Red with internal dampers) or the Zeal Zilent switches, are quite a bit quieter than normal mechanical keyboards. And membrane based keyboards are also quieter. Apple-type sciccsor switch keyboards are also relatively quiet.
posted by kschang at 10:58 AM on March 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

2nding audio settings as above.
posted by Coaticass at 12:03 PM on March 12, 2021

And membrane based keyboards are also quieter.

Can be. But at work at some point in the past we had Dell membrane keyboards that were as noisy as a Model M (but totally unlike them in every other aspect). They had a rather long stroke that would end abruptly, without damping, and only then register a keystroke. They were also generally rattly, with a bit of slop in the key guiding. So, beware.

Too-Ticky uses a Cherry Stream, which is quite like a laptop keyboard (from just before when they all changed to the Apple-style separated keys) mechanically. It's pretty quiet. Unfortunately they are no longer manufactured, but eBay nearly always lists a few.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:05 AM on March 13, 2021

The desktop app will easily remove that noise from your mic, plus many other background sounds. It's much better then zoom's built in features. I once had an outdoor meeting and someone was using powertools in the next yard, people said they could hear me perfectly and nothing else.

Here's a referral link to that'll give you two months free.
posted by tiamat at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2021

Is there anything preventing you from recording the zoom meeting so you could play it back immediately afterwards and jot down your notes while playing it back?
posted by SquidLips at 10:25 PM on March 13, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks for the recommendations, all. I am going to look into software to limit background noise and a quieter keyboard based on these recommendations.

SquidLips - good idea but I do not have the time or energy to live through these meetings twice! Also I often need to consult my notes while the "meeting" is still ongoing - I am a lawyer and one place I take notes is during proceedings. For example if someone is testifying, I need my notes of what they are saying to be immediately available so I can proceed with cross-examination (typically after only a 5-15 minute break).
posted by hepta at 1:00 PM on March 15, 2021

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