One of the best things about having a custom mechanical keyboard is the unique sound accompanying each keystroke. The thocky and clacky sound of keyboards has made many fall in love with the keyboard hobby. Many enthusiasts in pursuit of the best sounding keyboard modify their keyboards with sound dampening material, and one of the more popular materials is silicone.
The silicone dampening mod improves a keyboard’s acoustic profile. The silicone sheet fills the space between the keyboard’s PCB and case, eliminating a keyboard’s hollow and “pingy” sound. Like other sound dampening techniques, the silicone sheet must be custom-fit to your keyboard to get the best results.
One keyboard mod that has become very popular in the keyboard community is the silicone dampener mod. It is very similar to the foam dampener mod commonly used for tuning the sound profile of custom keyboards.
This mod is certainly one of the more advanced customization methods. It involves creating your own silicone sheet to fit in between your case and PCB. But despite its time-consuming process, many prefer it over using foam. It can easily make any keyboard sound more premium without having to shed too much money.
In this article, we will be discussing the innovative use of silicone as a keyboard dampener. We will also be going through all the other details that users have to know to perform this mod, and some of the advantages and disadvantages to consider.
What Are Keyboard Case Dampeners, and Why are They Important?
Dampening materials occupy the hollow space of a keyboard case, preventing a keyboard from sounding tinny or hollow. Dampeners also remove unwanted noise such as case ping.
Most readers may notice that some keyboard kits already include sound dampeners out of the box. One notable example is the Novelkeys NK65, which includes a silicone dampening pad in the kit.
In some cases, the company also sells the dampeners as a third-party accessory. An example would be the RAMA WORKS® W02-A Internal Dampener specifically made for the company’s keyboards. KBDFans also sells foam dampeners for many for their keyboard kits.
Keyboard dampeners have played a significant role in both custom keyboards and pre-built keyboards. Many high-end pre-built keyboard brands, such as Ducky, Filco, and Leopold, have been using sound-dampening materials for many years, even before the rise of the custom keyboard hobby.
In the custom keyboard community, many have experimented with case foams such as packing foam, neoprene, and Sorbothane. With how good the results are, using dampening materials has become mandatory when building keyboards.
What is the Silicone Dampener Mod?
The earliest silicone dampener mod video was created by YouTube user Serendipity. She used this mod with her Tofu60 custom keyboard kit, and her inspiration for the mod came from RAMA WORKS’ use of a silicone dampener in place of its internal weight.
This mod quickly blew up, prompting the keyboard community to test the silicone dampening mod on different keyboards. With the high success rate of this mod, silicone became one of the go-to keyboard sound dampeners.
With the silicone dampener mod, users could eliminate unnecessary noise such as case ping and keyboard case reverberation. It also made gave keyboards an overall deeper and more holistic sound signature.
In addition, the custom-made silicone sheet allows for a more elegant look. As a bonus, it allows RGB underglow to fully shine through, unlike foam that tends to block these LEDs. The sheet is also easy to manage, which is important for those who constantly open up and modify their keyboards.
What Materials Do You Need For the Mod?
We’re sure you’ve already expected it: a silicone-making kit would be needed to create your own customized silicone dampener. Additionally, we recommend using protective equipment when working with any household chemical, so be sure to stock up on gloves and a high-filtration mask to avoid contact with hazardous fumes and liquids. Any kind of sticky tape and an Exacto knife will also be helpful in doing this mod.
Depending on your board’s mounting style and your dampener-making technique, you may also need an erasable marker and some cling wrap to protect your keyboard’s PCB.
How to Perform the Silicone Dampener Mod
The silicone dampener mod uses the case as a mold for your custom silicone sheet. Prepare the case by sealing any holes with tape. Make sure to cover the USB cutout and other possible areas where the silicone may leak.
As most keyboard cases are set at an angle, use any tool (such as a stack of paper or coasters) to level and lay your board flat. This way, the silicone may sufficiently fill the empty space between the case and the PCB. You may also use a dry eraser to set the level where you will be ending the silicone fill if you have your preferred width.
Prepare the silicone by mixing the two containers labeled “Part A” and “Part B” of your silicone kit. Every kit will come with its own set of instructions, and we highly recommend following the recommended measurements. Also, take precautions in handling the liquids by using a pair of gloves and a mask.
Be sure to avoid the screw standoffs while filling the case with silicone to make reassembly easier. Use an Exacto knife to trim as needed so that the sheet fits snugly with the keyboard’s PCB.
Perks and Downsides – Silicone Dampening Mod
Perks of Doing the Silicone Dampening Mod
Doing the silicone dampening mod comes with its own set of perks, other than improved acoustics. One such example is its excellent light diffusion. Because of its transparent finish, boards with RGB underglow (LEDs under the PCB) and clear acrylic cases benefit highly from the sound dampening without sacrificing its beautiful light modes.
Moreover, the well-molded silicone sheet looks more sophisticated than foam dampeners since the silicone fits perfectly in between the keyboard’s case and PCB when the mod is done right. Finally, the silicone dampener is much heavier than the usual foam dampeners, which contributes to the mod’s achievement of a much more premium feel.
Downsides of the Silicone Dampening Mod
The main downside of using the silicone dampening mod is that it is time-consuming, and making a perfect silicone sheet requires tons of preparation. Also, the drying time of the silicone sheet may take anywhere from half a day to a full day at most.
There are also some small risks when doing this mod. You may run the risk of damaging your PCB if you decide to keep the PCB mounted while attempting to cast the liquid silicone mix.
And lastly, the silicone dampening mod can make your keyboard sound too similar to other silicon dampened modded keyboards. Of course, like with the PE Foam Mod, this is very subjective.
Silicone Dampening Mod FAQs
Will the Silicone Dampening Mod Affect the Durability of My Keyboard?
The silicone dampening mod should not affect the durability of your keyboard. The only exception is if you mess up during the process, which has happened to users such as HipyoTech. Again, make sure to take all precautions and follow the instructions, and you should be fine.
What Are Some Alternatives to the Silicone Dampening Mod?
If silicone is not readily available to you or if this mod is not feasible to the shape and size of your keyboard case, you can use traditional dampening foam. One thing to note is that foams such as Sorbothane, EVA, and neoprene are not RGB-shine through. This means that they will certainly block any RGB underglow that you have. And, of course, they do not give the same aesthetic value as a custom-made silicone sheet.
Are There Keyboards Incompatible with the Silicone Dampener Mod?
There are no mechanical keyboards that are incompatible with the silicone dampener modification. However, some kits and prebuilt models may already come with case foam that you need to remove if you decide to switch to a silicone sheet.
Moreover, making a silicone sheet for your keyboard case may vary in difficulty depending on your keyboard’s mounting style. Implementing this mod in tray mount keyboards is easiest because they need little adjustment when serving as a silicone mold.
The silicone dampener mod is a complex technique seeking to replicate silicone dampeners used in high-end custom keyboards. The mod improves on the keyboard’s sound profile by filling the hollow spaces of a keyboard. Silicone sheets function similarly to foam dampeners by diffusing vibrations from each keypress, and this method effectively eliminates reverb and other unwanted noise.
The silicone sheet is best used for keyboards with underglow lighting, especially in cases with acrylic bottoms. The material’s transparent color aids with RGB light diffusion. This mod is also recommended for enthusiasts who regularly customize their boards since it is easy to remove and replace.
Stephen is the head content creator of Keyboardsexpert. His mechanical keyboard journey began in 2014 when he got his Razer Blackwidow. Since then, he has been fascinated with all things mechanical keyboard-related. He later discovered the custom keyboard hobby and fell in love with the vast customization options. He is currently searching for his endgame and is very excited to share his journey and educate other keyboard enthusiasts.