Author Topic: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?  (Read 3485 times)

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Offline Flaubertt

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The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 01:28:34 »
Hi! I'm a piano enthusiast, and I've recently fallen in love with mechanical keyboards. So, I've started the search for the ultimate typing keyboard. (Does such a thing even exist? Does that concept even make sense?)

Currently I'm using a BlackWidow, and it has served me well. However, not to be snobbish, it feels like a cheap kitchen utensil. The build is uninspiring, the plastic is bland, the keycaps are wobbly and the touch is horrible to my fingertips.

Yesterday I ordered a Filco Minila, but it's still days away and I'm already thinking that it will not deliver upon expectations. So, I've started considering options such as HHKB P2, HHKB Professional JP (I LOVE small spacebars), Leopold FC 660C, Poker II, Realforce 86U/87U, Tex Beetle, Choc Mini...

I want a keyboard with personality (a deep one, at that), a keyboard that is an absolute pleasure just to lay your hands on! And when you sit down and type on it... you're overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction. I want a keyboard that can become an extension of my hands, to the point that when I'm typing I no longer feel an artificial plastic interface connecting me to the computer, but rather I feel it as part of me, in the same way that when you use your hands you don't consciously think "I wanna move my hand here, or there", you just do it! Hands don't feel artificial because they're PART of you! For the piano and other instruments, I know that this sense of connectedness can be achieved.

With the BlackWidow I never lose awareness of its presence. It's so rough as to be distracting when typing!

I want a 60% keyboard, but a 75% wouldn't be bad. I also don't mind if the switches are MX, Topre, or freaking moonstone, I just want it to be an ABSOLUTE, PURE and UTTER pleasure to type on.

Am I way over my head here? Do keyboards like this exist? Are mechanical keyboards used for some other purpose and I've gotten it completely wrong? Should I stick to pianos if I want instruments of fine craftsmanship and sublime personality? I am talking total nonsense here?

Offline Sifo

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 01:33:15 »
Hello again.

It'll be up to you to figure it out yourself which kinds of switches can give you this feeling. I have found my own, but it may not be the same as what it is for you. Through the combination of stems, springs, lube, material, key caps... everything will add up and factor into the feel.

The perfect mechanical keyboard relies too much on preference. You'll have to spend lots of time experimenting.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 01:36:31 »
If the question is, "is there a keyboard worth a few million dollars"

NO..

A keyboard is a computer interface.  Where all current implementations completely exceeds the user's capacity.

No keyboard will actually improve your "technical" performance,   


If you want to argue that it improves your "mood", therefore your productivity and willingness to "work"
That's a whole other thing....

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 01:41:44 »
Well. In short, you need to try and find out what you like........

Some people prefer Strads, some prefer a del Gesu, or others.

We only can point you towards a few main types of switches, and you need to try them to know if you like it or not.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 01:44:07 »
Well. In short, you need to try and find out what you like........

Some people prefer Strads, some prefer a del Gesu, or others.

We only can point you towards a few main types of switches, and you need to try them to know if you like it or not.

Good thing there are only 6 or so different switches..

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 02:11:28 »
Well. In short, you need to try and find out what you like........

Some people prefer Strads, some prefer a del Gesu, or others.

We only can point you towards a few main types of switches, and you need to try them to know if you like it or not.

Good thing there are only 6 or so different switches..

And within the 6 types there's still different sub-sections.

So, go ahead and experiment, and your wallet wont exist anymore once you hit the classifieds :p :p

Offline rootwyrm

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 03:54:40 »
Okay, I too am a pianist, so I can put this in terms that will make things very easy.

Do you prefer Bosendorfer, Yamaha, or Steinway action?
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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 03:57:56 »
Okay, I too am a pianist, so I can put this in terms that will make things very easy.

Do you prefer Bosendorfer, Yamaha, or Steinway action?

Where's my Mason :(

Offline TheSoulhunter

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 03:59:22 »
May I suggest a GH60? You could build it to match your taste/preferences, so it would be a unikat and also reflect n contain your personality! :)

Offline rootwyrm

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 04:02:55 »
Okay, I too am a pianist, so I can put this in terms that will make things very easy.

Do you prefer Bosendorfer, Yamaha, or Steinway action?

Where's my Mason :(

Out in the trash where it belongs.  Carbon fiber indeed... ;P

I'd have included Aoelian but very few people have actually played one in good shape. :(
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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 04:06:14 »
Okay, I too am a pianist, so I can put this in terms that will make things very easy.

Do you prefer Bosendorfer, Yamaha, or Steinway action?

Where's my Mason :(

Out in the trash where it belongs.  Carbon fiber indeed... ;P

I'd have included Aoelian but very few people have actually played one in good shape. :(

Well, tsk. But issnt Bosendorfer like Yamaha anyway, since they got bought over......... :))

Offline TD22057

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 08:40:23 »
I think you should split up your search into two parts - 1) the mechanical side, 2) the enclosure/artistic side.  1) is straightforward - find a keyboard you like the feel of (keycaps, switches, layout) or design and build your own.  For 2), find a local wood worker (or learn to do it yourself) and have them build a wooden enclosure for the keyboard.  Something nice and rich (mahogany, walnut, etc) or maybe with inlays (ebony, etc).  I think a really well done wooden enclosure will go a long way towards that rich, one of kind feel it sounds like you're looking for.

Offline Flaubertt

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:11:06 »
Thank you so much for the replies! Although no concrete opinions on the keyboards I mentioned? Well, after some pillow talk I THINK I've settled on the HHKB Pro JP and the HHKB Pro JP Type S, which I would buy in 3 months time. I want both because I HAVE to know which one is more pleasurable to type on! I'm (tentatively) passing over the Realforce 87U and the Leopold FC 660C (both Toe-PRAAHS, right?), and I'm assuming that no Cherry MX will sweep me off my feet much more than what I think my Filco Minila will. After all, my favorites are Browns, and since all Browns are the same, with the other major deciding factor being (for me) build quality, then the Filco should be somewhat close to being the best in its kind, right?

I mean, if I where to get both the Realforce 87U and the Leopold FC 660C, I'd have to get the HHKB Pro 2 AND the HHKB Pro 2 Type S (to soothe my conscience, right?), but that makes 6 keyboards, and I still need to get food from time to time.

Also, this talk about HHKB Pro JP's is nice and all, but, how do I actually get them? I've seen them in Amazon JP, but I don't think they ship to South America? Regular HHKB Pro 2's seem much easier to find.

Can somebody please spare my wallet the pain and tell me what keyboard can I buy with my eyes closed? I think the keyboard cravings are getting the best of me!!

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:30:58 »
I love your description in your search for the perfect keyboard.  An extension of oneself.  Beautiful.

Also, you might want to consider the microTron keyboard, if you are comfortable with the Japanese layout. 

http://www.personal-media.co.jp/retail/utronkb/

Also I am I huge proponent of the Maltron keyboard.  But the stock model comes with Cherry MC black.

http://www.maltron.com/keyboard-info/dual-hand-fully-ergonomic-3d-keyboards.html

Both of these keyboards are very expensive and will cost a boatload to ship to South America.
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Offline Schattendolch

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:32:24 »
You'll probably either end up with a topre or a BS board. I wouldn't experiment with alps, it sounds like an expensive unfulfilling journey. Try not to waste too much money on mx boards.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:34:10 »
You'll probably either end up with a topre or a BS board. I wouldn't experiment with alps, it sounds like an expensive unfulfilling journey. Try not to waste too much money on mx boards.

I honestly think Alps boards are cheaper than Topre and Buckling Spring boards.

And OP, I sincerely hope that the KMAC1 I just got matches the description you wrote. I'll let you know once I build it :D

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:40:06 »
Oh yea, the Maltron is by no means artistic.  It looks straight from the Soviet era.
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Offline Schattendolch

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:41:19 »
You'll probably either end up with a topre or a BS board. I wouldn't experiment with alps, it sounds like an expensive unfulfilling journey. Try not to waste too much money on mx boards.

I honestly think Alps boards are cheaper than Topre and Buckling Spring boards.

And OP, I sincerely hope that the KMAC1 I just got matches the description you wrote. I'll let you know once I build it :D

Yeah, but there are so many switch types you would probably end up spending more money.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:44:44 »
I honestly think Alps boards are cheaper than Topre and Buckling Spring boards.

And OP, I sincerely hope that the KMAC1 I just got matches the description you wrote. I'll let you know once I build it :D

Yeah, but there are so many switch types you would probably end up spending more money.
[/quote]

If you look in my profile, I'm doing a Switch Try tour. I bought a Mr. Interface Switch Try bag for the tour (Review in my Sig as well) which has many types of Alps boards. And I've tried a multitude of Alps switches at the Chicago meetup. So I spent a very minimal amount of money to try out a ton of switches and I know what I like in terms of Alps, Cherry MX, Buckling Spring, and Topre.

Offline Flaubertt

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 09:49:56 »
You'll probably either end up with a topre or a BS board. I wouldn't experiment with alps, it sounds like an expensive unfulfilling journey. Try not to waste too much money on mx boards.

I honestly think Alps boards are cheaper than Topre and Buckling Spring boards.

And OP, I sincerely hope that the KMAC1 I just got matches the description you wrote. I'll let you know once I build it :D
Oh please do! haha :)

Offline CommunistWitchDr

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 10:03:41 »
There is a strad of the keyboard world you all overlook, the stenograph.

The by far fastest (hand based) input out there. Faster in the hands of an experienced user than many people usually speak.

Free (in both ways) software like plover lets you use it on any computer. Though the machine itself makes topre look cheap. Good models go for thousands.

Offline hashbaz

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 12:03:19 »
Surely as a piano connoisseur you know that there is no one universal best that we can just tell you to buy and guarantee your satisfaction.  It sounds like you are willing to put in the money and time necessary to find your One True keyboard, which is good.  I always say in threads like these that ultimately you have to catch 'em all to know what's best for you.

That said, a lot of people love their HHKBs in the way you are describing.  The combination of layout and feel and that exquisite thock sound is pretty unique.  And I wouldn't disregard MX keyboards out of hand.  I love Topre keyboards, but my favorite is probably my KMAC which has lubed 62g black switches.  The smoothness the lube provides combined with the solidity of the heavy titanium case can't be beat imo.

Offline aggiejy

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 12:08:21 »
If you are considering the HHKB, and don't mind the lack of arrow keys, and like fine craftsmanship... perhaps a KMAC Happy?

Note that is only the kit.  You'd still need to source some high quality keycaps and have it assembled by a reputable and expert assembler.  And then put some special korean springs adjusted to your tention preference.  And lubed with the finest quality lube and technique. 

That'd be pretty bad ass.  If you don't like the small layout, could do the same thing with any other board, but the aluminum work on some of the koreans like KMAC is amazing.

Offline Lastpilot

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 12:19:38 »
Yes, I agree with aggiejy, you would be surprised at how much a difference an aluminum case will make. Try out a lot of different switches with varying travel patterns and resistance.

The best keyboard is a keyboard fabricated from long hours of research and a closet full of failed test subjects lol.

And by the way, I wouldn't use the word "ultimate" around these parts to describe a good keyboard. :P

Offline mkawa

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 12:43:17 »
hashbaz has a board. it is what you are looking for.

it is true klaxon.

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Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 12:45:07 »
Oh yeah and the Datahand.  One day it might cost as much as a strad.

http://www.datahand.com/
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Offline Lbeuol

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 13:42:08 »
This thread makes me feel like I've made a terrible mistake and spent too much on mx keyboards  :(

Offline Binge

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 14:02:13 »
This thread makes me feel like I've made a terrible mistake and spent too much on mx keyboards  :(

I'm really not sure what you've been reading on this thread.  There's a bunch of feels involved and none of them are yours... your mx may make better music than any other switch for you.  I'll tell you when my fiance handles my expensive guitars she really seems to be out of place, but when she uses her old acoustic it gets sounds I would never achieve with the same guitar.  She says her hands feel right on it....

This is a thread about preference.  Be careful regretting what you enjoy sir.
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Offline Flaubertt

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 16:35:59 »
This thread makes me feel like I've made a terrible mistake and spent too much on mx keyboards  :(

I'm really not sure what you've been reading on this thread.  There's a bunch of feels involved and none of them are yours... your mx may make better music than any other switch for you.  I'll tell you when my fiance handles my expensive guitars she really seems to be out of place, but when she uses her old acoustic it gets sounds I would never achieve with the same guitar.  She says her hands feel right on it....

This is a thread about preference.  Be careful regretting what you enjoy sir.
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Offline CommunistWitchDr

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #29 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 17:54:34 »
There is a strad of the keyboard world you all overlook, the stenograph.

The by far fastest (hand based) input out there. Faster in the hands of an experienced user than many people usually speak.

Free (in both ways) software like plover lets you use it on any computer. Though the machine itself makes topre look cheap. Good models go for thousands.

Now that I'm not posting from my phone-

https://www.stenograph.com/category.aspx?id=100001&subid=6140001

Five grand. We're all entry level keyboarders compared to the stenos.

Offline tooki

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #30 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 19:23:55 »
Am I way over my head here? Do keyboards like this exist? Are mechanical keyboards used for some other purpose and I've gotten it completely wrong? Should I stick to pianos if I want instruments of fine craftsmanship and sublime personality? I am talking total nonsense here?
Are you wrong for wanting such a thing? No. But 99.9% of people don't care, they just want cheap.

If money and practicality are no object, I suppose you could buy one of those $15,000 Yamaha digital pianos that has a full weighted hammer mechanism under each key, use the MIDI output to go to a MIDI interface on your computer, and hack some software to make it act as a text keyboard. (Hey, you could use a light touch to type lowercase and a fast, heavy stroke for caps!)  ;D

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #31 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 19:45:16 »

I want a keyboard with personality (a deep one, at that), a keyboard that is an absolute pleasure just to lay your hands on! And when you sit down and type on it... you're overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction. I want a keyboard that can become an extension of my hands, to the point that when I'm typing I no longer feel an artificial plastic interface connecting me to the computer, but rather I feel it as part of me, in the same way that when you use your hands you don't consciously think "I wanna move my hand here, or there", you just do it! Hands don't feel artificial because they're PART of you! For the piano and other instruments, I know that this sense of connectedness can be achieved.


I want a 60% keyboard, but a 75% wouldn't be bad.


This kills it. Does your piano only have 5 octaves?


I also don't mind if the switches are MX, Topre, or freaking moonstone, I just want it to be an ABSOLUTE, PURE and UTTER pleasure to type on.

Am I way over my head here? Do keyboards like this exist? Are mechanical keyboards used for some other purpose and I've gotten it completely wrong? Should I stick to pianos if I want instruments of fine craftsmanship and sublime personality? I am talking total nonsense here?



You are describing the IBM Model F.

After using a Model F everything, and I repeat, everything else, is just cheap plastic toys.

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Offline Burz

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #32 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 19:56:05 »
As a musician, would you opt for a keyboard that sounds (and feels) a bit like castanets?

These use a new variation on ALPS switches. They are medium weight and have a pronounced tactile bump along with the click and clack. A quiet version is also available as well as compact form factors. Both the clicky and quiet versions get a lot of raves. The sound of MX blues doesn't seem to bother you, so I thought I'd suggest clicky ALPS switches, which have lots of character.

Two other types of ALPS you should try are blue CM and Monterey blues. You can only get them used, and I think only the Montereys are found on a compact model like the MiniTouch 1903.

Boards bearing Topre switches are a must-have on your short list, although I doubt that more than 1/3 of the people who read GH have tried them (I haven't). Probably most of the people who have tried them consider them to be the best. For compact models the FC 660, Realforce 87u, HHK2 Pro and uTron are available. Strictly speaking, these switches are not mechanical.

Buckling spring (BS) switches are up there in terms of feel, but they are on the stiff/heavy side as well as being among the noisiest. I think you want a vintage IBM (model M or model F) board if you go this route, because the current mfg hasn't held up the quality. Compact models are the Space Saver Keyboard (SSK) and the M13:
http://deskthority.net/wiki/IBM_Adjustable_Keyboard

If you really want to go far in your search, there are the more experimental types like the DataHand and AlphaGrip.

A word of caution: The general GH mindset regards Cherry MX as de rigueur because so many here lurrrrvvve their novelty alternative keycaps, and cap traders have mostly standardized on MX. But the MX switches themselves--while very solid-- are pretty mediocre to the touch because they tend toward linearity even when they're meant to be tactile. That linearity gives MX an advantage with gamers. I would not bother getting another MX board unless it had "ergo clear" switches or featured an ergonomic layout (Maltron, Kinesis, TrulyErgonomic) that you find compelling.

Final notes: Picking a keyboard for 'oneness' is a very difficult undertaking if for no other reason that it may take a month tickling those ivories before you realize how suitable the board really is. You may be tempted to pick the HHK2 Pro for its reported qualities, however I've noticed more than a few people reject that board because the odd arrow key scheme was ultimately not to their liking. Like you, I crave that oneness and after trying a few inexpensive boards (and also recalling my 80s/90s mechanical experience) I've decided to make my first substantial purchase a Matias mini Quiet Pro.
Matias Mini QuietPro  \\ Dell AT101W - Black ALPS  \\ SIIG MiniTouch x2 White XM - Monterey  \\ Colemak layout.

Offline tooki

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #33 on: Fri, 07 June 2013, 22:19:21 »
As a musician, would you opt for a keyboard that sounds (and feels) a bit like castanets?
Oh my god it does sound like castanets, now that you pointed it out!!
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Offline rootwyrm

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #34 on: Sat, 08 June 2013, 01:44:31 »
Am I way over my head here? Do keyboards like this exist? Are mechanical keyboards used for some other purpose and I've gotten it completely wrong? Should I stick to pianos if I want instruments of fine craftsmanship and sublime personality? I am talking total nonsense here?
Are you wrong for wanting such a thing? No. But 99.9% of people don't care, they just want cheap.

If money and practicality are no object, I suppose you could buy one of those $15,000 Yamaha digital pianos that has a full weighted hammer mechanism under each key, use the MIDI output to go to a MIDI interface on your computer, and hack some software to make it act as a text keyboard. (Hey, you could use a light touch to type lowercase and a fast, heavy stroke for caps!)  ;D

... dude, you do realize that the Roland FP-7 digital stage piano has all of these things at a $2K pricetag, right?

And the instruments I was requesting comparisons to start at around $100,000USD before freight and insurance.

However, they are different enough that I can determine reasonably well what action he's going to prefer from which piano action he prefers. Yes, they are VERY different. (Before you get into the sound, but I digress. And smack people who think carbon fiber belongs in a piano. Okay fine, maybe non-acoustic elements of the outer shell BUT THAT'S IT!)
"I remain convinced I am the only person alive who has successfully worn out an IBM Model M mechanically."
Daily Drivers: Adesso 625 (NPKC PBT / Kailh Blue), Rosewill RK9000V2 (KC PBT / MX Brown), 1994 Model M13, Sun Type4, and the rare IBM 1394540.

Offline aggiejy

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #35 on: Sun, 09 June 2013, 19:14:25 »

But the MX switches themselves--while very solid-- are pretty mediocre to the touch because they tend toward linearity even when they're meant to be tactile.

Interesting observation. I agree. Even after adding the tactile bump with stems, they still feel linear overall. It doesn't make them bad, but that's a good way to describe. Especially we compared to buckling spring or topre.

That said, I'd pick Cherry easily if I could only pick one switch. Easy to mod, keycaps, range of behavior.

Offline noisyturtle

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Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #36 on: Sun, 09 June 2013, 20:16:36 »
Funny thing is in a blind test trained musicale ears couldn't tell a difference between a Stradivarius and a regular run of the mill violin. There's a report and video all about it.

Offline ptramo

  • Posts: 3
Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #37 on: Fri, 26 June 2020, 20:57:21 »
No keyboard will actually improve your "technical" performance,   

Demonstrably false.

Besides the obvious importance of layout for ergonomics, speed and error rate can vary greatly from one keyboard to the next.

I can exceed 110WPM with a PFU HHKB on http://typeracer.com/ but can't reach 100WPM with a Unicomp Model M or Apple Wireless Keyboard, despite having used both for years in total.

Not saying one is objectively better, just that I'm much faster with one that the others. Your mileage will vary.

Offline rxc92

  • Posts: 415
Re: The mechanical Stradivarius of the typist?
« Reply #38 on: Sun, 28 June 2020, 01:15:56 »
Man, people make some really god damn cringey threads.