I can come up with some very vivid prose to describe the noise of mechanical keyboards, but nothing beats actual audio recordings. Here's a couple: one for the Type Heaven and another for Rosewill's RK-9000BR, which features Cherry MX brown switches. You can switch between the two by clicking the buttons under the embedded YouTube video.
The recordings are of me pressing a single key three times, then typing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" once at my usual typing speed.
I've said it, and the recordings confirm it: the Type Heaven's Topre switches have a much quieter, softer sound than the Cherry MX browns. In fact, most of the Type Heaven's noise is from key cap chatter, not the switches themselves. The Rosewill keyboard couples key cap chatter and switch noise, and there's a sharp clacking sound at the bottom-out point. (It is possible to dampen the Cherry switches by ordering and installing o-rings, but I haven't had a chance to try those yet.)
If you've been holding off on using a mechanical keyboard due to noise concerns, the Type Heaven could definitely be an option worth considering. My only gripe with it is that some of the function keys, including left and right shift, tab, and backspace, make a louder snapping sound than the other keys when they spring up. The difference isn't huge, though, and it's hardly a deal-breaker.
We'll render our final verdict in a minute, but first, let's take a quick run through the Type Heaven's other features and peculiarities. This is, after all, more than a mere repository for exotic key switches.
You may have noticed that the USB cable comes out the right side of the keyboard. The cable actually starts in the middle and runs through a little gutter with snaps to keep it in place. The gutter goes both ways, so if you like, you can route the cable so that it comes out the left side. For what it's worth, having the cable on the right didn't disrupt my mouse movements.
The Type Heaven also has the requisite feet on the bottom to angle it up. I don't think people are supposed to do that, though. Typing with your wrists at too steep an angle is a surefire way to contract some manner of RSI. Or, you know, to inflame your tendon sheath or whatever.
What else? Well, the cable measures 1.5 m, or 4.9 feet, which is plenty long. The num, caps, and scroll lock indicators have little green LEDs that won't blind you if you look directly at them. Also, the rubber pads on the bottom of the keyboard do a good job of keeping the thing anchored. The left side actually slid around a little more than the right out of the box, but grabbing the plastic casing and twisting it slightly fixed the problem. Now, relocating the keyboard to accommodate my typing position takes a fair bit of effort—as it should.
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