What Do Membrane Switches Sound Like?

What Do Membrane Switches Sound Like

Introduction Unveiling the Sounds of Membrane Switches: Exploring their Acoustic Characteristics

What Do Membrane Switches Sound Like? When using electronic devices with membrane switches, have you ever wondered about the sounds they produce? Membrane switches are known for their silent operation compared to mechanical switches, but they still generate some acoustic feedback. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of membrane switch acoustics, exploring what they sound like and the factors that influence their auditory characteristics. By understanding the sounds of membrane switches, we can gain insight into their performance, user experience, and suitability for different environments.

Section 1: The Basics of Membrane Switches

Before exploring their sounds, let’s briefly understand what membrane switches are. A membrane switch is a thin, flexible panel with multiple layers, including a graphic overlay, spacer, and circuit layer. They employ a simple yet effective design, allowing users to activate functions by applying pressure to specific areas of the panel. Membrane switches offer advantages such as low-profile design, durability, moisture resistance, and ease of customization.

Section 2: The Quiet Operation of Membrane Switches

Compared to mechanical switches, membrane switches are known for their quiet operation. The absence of individual mechanical components reduces the noise generated during key actuation. However, it is important to note that membrane switches still produce some sound.

  1. Tactile Bump: Membrane switches with tactile feedback have a slight audible sound as the key is pressed and the switch actuates. This sound is generally quieter than the clicks produced by clicky switches but can still be perceptible.
  2. Bottoming Out: When a key reaches the bottom of its travel distance, it can create a sound due to the impact. This applies to both membrane switches and mechanical switches. However, membrane switches tend to produce a softer and muffled sound compared to mechanical switches.

Section 3: Factors Influencing the Sound of Membrane Switches

Several factors contribute to the auditory characteristics of membrane switches:

  1. Keycap Materials: The material of the keycaps can influence the sound produced during typing. Thick keycaps made of materials like PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) can dampen the noise to some extent. However, thin keycaps or those made of materials like polycarbonate may amplify the sound.
  2. Dome Design: Membrane switches can have different dome designs, such as metal domes or polydomes. The dome design impacts the sound produced when the dome collapses during key actuation. Metal domes tend to generate a crisper and slightly louder sound compared to polydomes.
  3. Mounting and Housing: The way the membrane switch is mounted and housed in the device can affect the sound. A sturdy and well-insulated housing can absorb and dampen the noise, resulting in a quieter operation. On the other hand, a loose or resonant housing may amplify the sound.
  4. Typing Style: The user’s typing style and force exerted while typing can influence the perceived sound. Individuals who type more forcefully may generate a louder sound regardless of the switch type. Light typists may experience a quieter typing experience with membrane switches.

Section 4: Environmental Factors and Perception of Sound

The perception of sound can also be influenced by environmental factors:

  1. Ambient Noise: The surrounding environment plays a significant role in sound perception. In a quiet room, even the subtle sound produced by membrane switches may be more noticeable. However, in a noisy environment, the sounds of membrane switches may be masked or less noticeable.
  2. User Sensitivity: Individual sensitivity to sound varies. Some individuals may be more sensitive to even slight sounds, while others may not be as bothered. Personal preferences and tolerance levels for sound also play a role in the perception of membrane switch noise.

Section 5: Comparing Membrane Switches with Mechanical Switches

While membrane switches are generally quieter than mechanical switches, it is important to highlight the differences in sound between the two:

  1. Membrane Switches: As mentioned earlier, membrane switches produce a softer and muffled sound compared to mechanical switches. The absence of audible clicks and the damping effect of the membrane contribute to a quieter typing experience.
  2. Mechanical Switches: Mechanical switches are known for their distinct click sound, especially in clicky switch variants. The sound produced by mechanical switches can range from subtle to noticeably louder, depending on the switch type and design.

Section 6: Application-Specific Considerations

The auditory characteristics of membrane switches may influence their suitability for specific applications:

  1. Noise-Sensitive Environments: In environments where noise reduction is crucial, such as offices, libraries, or shared spaces, membrane switches are often preferred due to their quieter operation.
  2. Gaming and Feedback: Some users prefer the audible feedback provided by mechanical switches, as it can enhance the gaming experience. However, membrane switches with tactile feedback can still provide a satisfactory gaming experience while offering a quieter operation.


In conclusion, while membrane switches are quieter compared to mechanical switches, they still produce some sound during operation. Factors such as tactile feedback, keycap materials, dome design, mounting, and user typing style can influence the auditory characteristics of membrane switches. Understanding these factors and their impact on sound perception can help users make informed decisions when selecting keyboards or devices with membrane switches. Whether it’s for noise-sensitive environments, gaming preferences, or personal comfort, the sounds of membrane switches play a role in the overall user experience and should be considered when choosing the right keyboard or device.