The world’s quietest
Keyboard Name: Matias Quiet Pro
Model Number: FK302Q
Retail Price: $139.95
Weight: 2.81 lbs/ 1.27 kg
Switch Type: Matias Quiet Click (simplified Alps-clone)
Keycaps: ABS with laser-printed legends
Keycap thickness: .91 mm
Matias is a Canadian manufacturer of (mostly) computer keyboards. They were founded in 1989 in the parents’ basemen of Edgar Matias, one of the company’s main founders. They’re better known today for keeping the simplified Alps switch technology alive, and for producing the Tactile Pro keyboard, loosely based on Apple’s original Extended Keyboard. Matias markets the Tactile Pro as a resurrection of the Apple Extended Keyboard, but I consider that a bit of an exaggeration, and not exactly true (I’ll talk about that more in my review of the Tactile Pro 4).
Equally notable is Edgar Matias’ conception and production of the “Half Keyboard,” a keyboard that only requires one hand to use. It’s a really cool idea and I wonder how difficult (or maybe easy) it would be to type using only one hand. I hope to give it a try one day but they’re extremely expensive at $595 USD. Doh! It looks like the Matias logo has a silhouette of the Half Keyboard behind it (pictured below), and my guess is the Half Keyboard is a very special product to Matias (or at least Edgar).
Listening to an interview of Edgar Matias it sounds like he was probably a fan of Apple’s keyboards during the 80’s and 90’s (as many of us were) and took notice (as many of us did) when Apple initiated the cheapification process of their keyboards. In a really awesome move, Edgar picked up where Apple left off and started producing Alps mechanical switch keyboards, and later, keyboards using Matias’ own mechanical switches, which are essentially simplified Alps clones. Thank you Edgar!!!
A bit about Alps switches
Introduced around 1983, Alps SKCL/SKCM mechanical switches were the choice of many keyboard manufacturers in the 80’s and early 90’s. Those of us who are old enough to remember using Alps boards hold them in high regard for their smoothness, tactility, sound and serviceability.
Better known keyboards that used complicated Alps switches were the Dell AT101 “bigfoot” and Apple’s “extended” keyboards. My very first keyboard was an Apple Extended II and I remember my best friend had an Apple Extended. I remember hours typing away on AOL instant messenger or some random BBS, listening to the wonderful, rhythmic sound they produced. It was all good stuff.
“Complicated” Alps were given their nickname due to the high number of parts used in each one, (typically 10-13 pieces). That’s more than in a typical Cherry or buckling spring switch, but it was definitely worth it, considering the wonderful typing experience they produced.
In the 90s and early 2000s, manufacturers looked for ways to make inexpensive switches. As such, Alps developed a “simplified” version of their switches, using fewer parts, and therefor lowering costs.
Simplified Alps weren’t as refined as their complicated brothers, and within about a decade, Alps discontinued manufacturing switches all together, eventually turning production over to Gold Star Alps in Korea, and Forward Electronics in Taiwan. Neither joint venture lasted long and by 2012 (sadly) Alps key switches were no longer in production.
For some really good videos explaining the evolution and mechanics of SKCL/SKCM mechanical key switches are on Chyrosran22’s Youtube channel. There’s also a really good article describing Alps key switches on Deskthority Wiki.
Alps key switches come in many different colors, each one signifying different tactile and auditory qualities, ranging from linear, clicky, tactile, locking and more.
Matias relied on Alps for their keyboards and later, Forward Technology. As production dried up, Matias then committed to an order of one million switches to keep production going. But even that didn’t prevent Forward’s Alps production from ending in 2012. At that point, Matias decided to develop their own key switches, based on the simplified Alps design. Matias became the de facto modern day Alps key torch bearer and kept the dream alive, which is fortunate for those of us who love the Alps design.
It took Matias two years to develop their own cloned version of Alps and they improved Alps’ design in a number of ways. First, they made the switch housing from clear plastic which permitted light to shine through to the key cap. This allowed Matias switches to be tactile or clicky, AND backlit, something Alps key switches weren’t capable of. Second, Matias used gold-plated contacts in the switch plate, upping the lifespan to 50 million keystrokes. Third, Matias used better materials and production methods, reducing the “pinging” of simplified Alps, and creating a more refined, more reliable product.
All this brings us to Matias’ current switch offering: Click Switches, Quiet-Click Switches, and Quiet-Linear Switches.
The Quiet Pro keyboard uses Matias’ Quiet Click switches, which isn’t the best name in my opinion since they don’t actually have click leafs in them. Rather they have a tactile leaf and rubber dampeners. They should probably be called Quiet Tactile switches to be more accurate, but maybe that doesn’t quite have the same marketing ring to it.
Note: for this review, I not only used this keyboard exclusively for 2 weeks prior, I also used this keyboard to write the review itself.
The Quiet Pro by Matias is marketed “the world’s quietest mechanical keyboard,” and that might be true, depending on your definition of what a “mechanical keyboard” is. Some would call Topre switches “mechanical,” and Topre makes some super quiet ones, like their silenced ones. To others, Topre switches are just astronomically overpriced rubber domes and therefor not mechanical.
Regardless of your definition of “mechanical” I would even venture to say the Quiet Pro is one of the quietest keyboards available, period. I’ve heard many rubber dome keyboards that are significantly louder than the Quiet Pro. For those looking to use a mechanical keyboard in a hushed office this might be the keyboard for you. Matias achieves the lack of sound via a rubber dampeners on each side of the plastic slider, which are shaped like an hourglass, illustrated below.
One advantage of having an hourglass dampener on the slider as opposed to Cherry’s very basic o-ring mod, is that it dampens sound on both the downstroke and upstroke. But unlike other keyboards with dampened Alps-style switches, Matias managed to design the key caps and key switches in a way that prevents the keycaps from striking the key switch housing, or switch plate, effectively making them “float,” even when bottomed out. It’s an interesting design, and for my money, I think it’s a little too quiet. I like a little more auditory feedback when typing, and the only thing one hears when typing on the Quiet Pro is the “thud” of rubber on plastic. To my ear the Quiet Pro actually sounds more like a rubber dome keyboard than a mechanical one. Strangely enough, if you listen to the video at the end of this review on my typing demonstration, it actually sounds like an Apple Extended Keyboard II. Maybe my ears aren’t sensitive enough to pick up on the “mechanical” sounds. Bottom line, it sounds slightly louder in the video.
Key Switch Feel
Matias spent 2 years developing the Quiet Pro key switch, experimenting with click leaf shapes, springs, lubricants, dampening mechanisms and more. In the end, they developed something described on their website as “truly unique…” and a “tactile, yet quiet mechanical key switch.” And I think that’s a fairly accurate description. After using the Quiet Pro for over two weeks—and I’ve really thought long and hard about this— they’ve succeeded in creating a mechanical key switch that feels like a very tactile dome with slider key switch. Some people may consider that derisive, but I disagree. Sure, most rubber dome keyboards have the consistency of soggy monkey spunk, but there are some really high quality rubber dome keyboards that achieve very good tactility and key feel. So comparing the Quiet Pro to a high quality rubber dome isn’t exactly a negative to me.
The benefits to choosing Quiet Clicks are they provide a much longer lifespan and a more consistent key feel in the long run. And there IS something in there that feels mechanical, but it’s subtle.
Like rubber domes, Quiet Clicks have a tactile bump at the top, and then a quick drop to the bottom. In fact, it’s very difficult not to bottom on the Quiet Pro because of the strong, initial tactile bump. The rubber dampeners manage to make bottoming out tolerable. It’s only when pressing down on each key very slowly, that you can feel a second tactile bump, somewhere in the middle of the down stroke, presumably when the slider clears the tactile leaf, but it’s almost imperceptible during normal typing.
Quiet Click key switches are weighted at 60g, and because of their tactility I wonder if 60g is too light. Maybe a heavier spring would prevent the bottoming out effect. Alternatively, if Matias reduced the tactility of the leaf, it might make the springs feel more adequate, and prevent bottoming out. Off-center key presses are literally no problem, and Matias switches handle those with absolutely no key binding.
One final thing on Matias’ Quiet-Click switches I thought I’d mention: There is a lot of discussion on message boards talking about some quality control issues with Matias’ key switches, like key chatter and switches basically going dead. I’ve also read that Matias is working to fix those issues, and that switches produced in 2017 are better than those produced in prior years. Anecdotally, I purchased a Quiet Pro keyboard in 2016 and at least 2 keys that went bad on me. The model I’m currently reviewing is from mid-2017 replacement and has been working flawlessly so far, so maybe there’s some truth to it.
Matias produces some of the highest quality keyboard packaging I’ve seen. There’s high quality cardboard, beautiful color photos and they also include a plastic handle to carry it around. It’s the kind of box you’d want to hang on to and actually reuse. Everything about the packaging says high quality.
It took me a while to figure out where I’d seen the shape of Matias’ keyboards before and then it dawned on me. They’re basically clones of Apple Pro Keyboards (model M7803) introduced in the 2000’s. It’s odd that Matias cloned an Apple keyboard almost 20 years ago, and then essentially froze the design it in time, never giving the case a refresh. Maybe changing the tooling is just too expensive, or maybe they really like that design. If you’re going to clone an apple keyboard however, why not copy the gorgeous Apple Extended or Apple Extended II? The end result is the Quiet Pro has a slightly outdated appearance that you can’t quite put your finger on, until you realize where it came from. Ergonomically, the curved profile and key profiles does make the the Quiet Pro very comfortable and easy to type on. Also, there’s no Matias on the top of the board, which I think is kinda cool.
Overall construction is fairly good for a keyboard made in 2017. They Quiet Pro has some heft at 2.81 lbs. It feels solid and has very little flex. The keys are mounted on a black metal backplate. The overall quality isn’t as good as keyboards made in Japan, but it’s damn near close. The case is made from a sturdy plastic that looks like it’s been painted silver. I wonder if Matias simply paints the black PC case silver when making the Mac version. In any case the silver does look pretty cool and because it’s matte, it’s good at hiding fingerprints and dust. Both Quiet Pros I own have small paint blemishes where you can see the black plastic underneath.
On either side of the Quiet Pro is a USB 2.0 port, with a third USB 2.0 port on the back. There’s no such thing as too many USB ports, so having three right on your keyboard is really useful and convenient.
The USB cable is detachable, and I’m glad to see Matias did this. It’s a very recent modification too. I own a 2016 model and it has an attached USB cable instead. The Quiet Pro ships with two 90 degree angle USB to micro-USB cables, one that goes left and that goes right. You can use your own cables, in case you have a nifty braided one, but a word of caution: some of the aftermarket cables I own don’t work well with this keyboard for some reason, and I can’t tell if it’s the cable or the keyboard. Just something to be aware of.
On the back of the keyboard is a sticker with the serial number and model number, along with an 800 number for Matias’ customer support. There are two small rubber pads, to prevent the keyboard from sliding on your desk, and two clear plastic flip out feet that look like they were stolen from an Apple keyboard from the 2000s. They’re very sturdy and once engaged, they create a very comfortable typing angle.
The layout is really good and is one of the best features of the Quiet Pro. This model has a standard ANSI Mac layout with 107 keys in total. The function row has Apple’s media keys for brightness adjustment, volume control, mission control and more. I’m a big fan of function keys and the Quiet Pro gives you 18 of them. There’s also the wonderful Apple-inspired numpad with the small-ass Addition key and also an Equals sign, which is way more convenient than pressing the Equals key next to the Delete key. There’s a Function key next to the Home key, where the Help key used to be on old Mac keyboards and there’s also an Eject Key in the function key row, which seems a little unnecessary nowadays.
The keycaps are thin (.91mm), black ABS plastic with laser-printed white lettering. While the keycaps are cheap and (frankly) the weakest link on this keyboard, they do have a couple of notable features. First, they’re laser-printed white lettering on black plastic. I’ve seen black laser-printed lettering on white keycaps but the inverse is more uncommon. Matias claims that because the lettering is lasered, it won’t wear off. I’m not so sure that’s true. Also, Matias prints the main character for each key as well as the alternate characters or symbols that require the Option key for the bottom right character or Option-Shift key combination for the top right character. This is very useful, especially for someone like a copywriter, graphic designer, or anyone trying to locate the “∞” or the “æ” characters for example. One frustrating thing about Alps keycaps is that they’re damn near impossible to find Mac layout custom ones.
It looks like Matias uses the same condensed font that Apple did in their USB keyboards from the 2000s, only they opted for the regular typeface, rather than italics. I think this is a big improvement—I never really cared for Apple’s choice of italics on their keyboards, except for the ones from the 80’s and 90’s. Lastly, the Caps Lock key has a LED light window that allows light to shine through the keycap. I think this is a really cool feature and a nostalgic nod to old Alps keyboards.
So overall, what do I think about the Quiet Pro? To answer that question I first need to take a step back and talk about Matias’ Tactile Pro keyboard. The Tactile Pro is marketed as “ ‘The best keyboard Apple ever made’ rises again,” and is compared to Apple Extended Keyboard. By extension, one might assume (as I did) the Quiet Pro—with dampened tactile Alps-like key switches—is therefor a reincarnation of the Apple Extended Keyboard II. But if you purchase the Quiet Pro, thinking you are buying a modern-day Apple Extended II, the you’ll be sorely disappointed. It took me a while to get that concept out of my head. The Quiet Pro feels and sounds nothing like the Apple Extended Keyboard II which is disappointing at first. The key switches aren’t nearly as refined or smooth as the original dampened Cream Alps, the key caps are much thinner and aren’t PBT, the case isn’t as sturdy, and in general there’s nowhere near the typing experience. But that’s not how Matias markets this keyboard so it’s a little unfair to compare it to the Extended II.
On it’s own merits, I think Matias has successfully produced an extremely quiet mechanical board with good tactility an a smooth key feel. If you’re the kind of person that needs a little more auditory feedback, then the Quiet Pro might be a little too quiet. Going to the Tactile Pro is like going to the complete opposite end of the noise spectrum, and I think it would be great if Matias offered a keyboard somewhere in the middle.
The more I use this keyboard, the more I started to appreciate the feel and all the little details that make it a great keyboard. Admittedly, I’ll be sad to move on to another keyboard for my next review. If I had to chose one keyboard as my daily driver for the next 6 months, the Quiet Pro would be on or near the top of my list.
It’s very comfortable to type on for extended periods of time. It has a great layout for Mac users. The case is generally well made, with the exception of some minor flaws in the paint. The 3 USB 2.0 ports are super useful. The detachable USB cord is awesome, and the fact that Matias chose micro-USB rather than mini-USB means you have a lot more after-market cables to choose from. And while it gives you a good tactile experience, it comes with almost no auditory feedback, which I consider a pro for those who work in a shared space. The smoothness and tactility of Matias’ Quiet-Click switches is light years better than anything Cherry or it’s “Clones” produce. The only switch I can think of that is smoother or that sounds better is Topre, but Topre boards are typically weighted at around 45g or less, so you don’t get quite the same tactility. Bottom line, I would recommend the Quiet Pro for someone like a copywriter, programmer, someone who does data entry or anyone else that does a shit-ton of typing all day. Because of the full layout, I’m not sure this would be a good keyboard for gamers who generally steer towards TKL or smaller.
The keycaps are piss-poor thin for a keyboard that costs over $100. The case design is a little outdated unless you’re a big fan of Apple keyboards from the 2000’s. Lastly, it’s a little too quiet in my opinion.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope it was informative, helpful and enjoyable. Below is a video of me typing on the Matias Quiet Pro.
A very special thanks to DESKTHORITY for providing photos of Alps switches that I used in this review.