A keyboard enthusiast built a $3,400 electro-capacitive keyboard that supposedly gets rid of stabilizer noise

Official product render of the Seneca keyboard from Norbauer.
Official product render of the Seneca keyboard from Norbauer. (Image credit: Norbauer.co)

One issue that plagues silent keyboard enthusiasts everywhere are noisy stabilizers common to most keyboards, even mechanical ones. The Seneca is a "retro-futuristic" electro-capacitive keyboard with reportedly silent stabilizers, poised for a summer 2024 release at an expected price of "around $3,400." [Checks notes...] Yes, that's over three thousand dollars, and roughly the amount you'd pay for a complete top-tier gaming PC.

Other electro-capacitive keyboards like the Epomaker NIZ WP87 have been on the market for some time now. Except, that particular model "only" costs around $200, though in our review we noted the load noise from the stabilizer bars. So, for just $3,200 extra, you can potentially avoid that pitfall.

Fixing the so-called "stabilizer problem" is apparently expensive and difficult, considering the asking price, five-year development time, and extensive development log available on Ryan Norbauer's website. Cheaper attempts like the Staebies mods precede this, but those won't always work without additional mods and effort on existing keyboards.

Official render of the Seneca key switches and their silent stabilizers, extended.

Official render of the Seneca key switches and their silent stabilizers, extended. (Image credit: Norbaeuer.co)

One of the main problems introduced by standard stabilizers — besides a certain minimum level of additional key noise if you don't lubricate them — is the additional key rattle. Even premium Cherry MX designs still typically have this issue, and other designs may have even worse stabilizers, like the aforementioned NIZ WP87.

While working to address the stabilizer problem, Norbauer needed to try to balance three key aspects: good acoustics, good mechanical performance without binding, and support for keycap width variations. The difficulty was that "optimizing one always seemed to mean sacrificing the others." The final design represents the compromise Norbauer ultimately settled on, after five grueling and expensive years of development.

Besides this incredibly expensive albeit innovative keyboard project, Norbauer also provides an assortment of other highly-customized keyboards and keyboard accessories, including full custom builds. Most of the other keyboards cost less tha $1,000, though the Titanium Edition housings for some keyboards can go as high as $3,800. If you don't mind paying a premium for highly-custom hardware, this may interest you. Otherwise, a highly-rated gaming and/or wireless keyboard may suit you better.

So, does this custom $3,400 keyboard accomplish everything Norbauer set out to achieve? He apparently thinks so, but it's not yet available for purchase — in case you have several grand burning a hole in your pocket. The keyboard should go on sale this summer, at which time any PC enthusiasts that are still interested can decide whether to take the plunge on a silent typing experience, or instead purchase a complete extreme gaming PC.

We suspect anybody considering spending this much on a keyboard will be looking for something more than just a premium typing experience. Most keyboard enthusiasts would likely prefer lubing their own stabilizers, or replacing them entirely with a solution like Staebies that starts at $22. However you want to slice it, $3,400 is an extreme price to ask for a keyboard, no matter how good it is.

Freelance News Writer
  • Avro Arrow
    You know something's up when the word "futuristic" comes right after the word "retro". That makes this keyboard a product that can only be called oxymoronic.
    Reply
  • BillyBuerger
    I found a much easier way to get rid of stabilizer rattle... Just don't use any. Ortholinear keyboards where every key is only 1U means no stabilizers to deal with. It is a "non-standard" layout and there is some adjustment to it but not having to even think about stabilizers for the last 8 years or so has been very nice.
    Reply
  • HaninTH
    BillyBuerger said:
    I found a much easier way to get rid of stabilizer rattle... Just don't use any. Ortholinear keyboards where every key is only 1U means no stabilizers to deal with. It is a "non-standard" layout and there is some adjustment to it but not having to even think about stabilizers for the last 8 years or so has been very nice.
    Do they make any that aren't designed for Minimalist? All of the ones I have seen have all of the extra keys, an office user needs, removed. And should I also assume that ergonomic form factors are out with this layout?

    The noise from my keyboard is nothing in comparison to my office peers and everything else in my life. I really do not understand this. Ear plugs are far cheaper?
    Reply
  • Avro Arrow
    HaninTH said:
    Do they make any that aren't designed for Minimalist? All of the ones I have seen have all of the extra keys, an office user needs, removed. And should I also assume that ergonomic form factors are out with this layout?
    Whenever they drop things like that, it's because it makes production cheaper and they make more money. I personally would never buy a keyboard that wasn't at least a full 104-key setup.
    HaninTH said:

    The noise from my keyboard is nothing in comparison to my office peers and everything else in my life. I really do not understand this. Ear plugs are far cheaper?
    Yeah, but it's pretty clear that this keyboard is for people with lots of money but not enough sense to question the term "Retro-Futuristic". :ROFLMAO:
    Reply
  • Alpacalypse
    HaninTH said:
    Do they make any that aren't designed for Minimalist? All of the ones I have seen have all of the extra keys, an office user needs, removed. And should I also assume that ergonomic form factors are out with this layout?

    The noise from my keyboard is nothing in comparison to my office peers and everything else in my life. I really do not understand this. Ear plugs are far cheaper?
    nuphy makes quite a few keyboards with ghost keyboards with no rattle. They're a bit on the expensive side at just under $200 but they're not 3500 expensive
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    A $3,400 keyboard is a fashion statement.
    Reply
  • BillyBuerger
    HaninTH said:
    Do they make any that aren't designed for Minimalist? All of the ones I have seen have all of the extra keys, an office user needs, removed. And should I also assume that ergonomic form factors are out with this layout?

    The noise from my keyboard is nothing in comparison to my office peers and everything else in my life. I really do not understand this. Ear plugs are far cheaper?
    There's the BFO keyboard which is a grid of 6 rows by 18 columns or 108 keys in total. That's enough to do a full sized keyboard without loosing any keys and having them mostly in the same place. But personally, one of the advantages of ortho is that the number row makes a lot more sense making it easier to use with it not being offset awkwardly. So I don't see any need for a num pad with an ortho keyboard. If all you do is enter numbers, then yeah, a numpad is useful. But I can enter in numbers plenty fast. And with plenty of keys to define a function layer, the function row keys can easily be placed on the number row where F2 = Fn+2 and so on. So yes, most ortho keyboards are smaller-er at least because once you get used to it, you find it's easier and makes sense to not have those extra keys.

    But you don't have to jump right into a 40% Planck keyboard which maybe what a lot of people think about when they here ortho. I started with an Atomic keyboard which has 75 keys and is mostly like a 65% layout where you remove the function row and number pad but keep everything else. But once I got used to using layers for some some things, I found I didn't need that much and moved to a Preonic sized keyboard. I currently have 71 keys and that's enough to do everything I need. And my keyboard is balanced in that I have the same number of keys for both my left and right hand. Standard keyboard put a lot of extra stuff for the right had to do which tends to require moving around a lot instead of staying on home row.
    Reply
  • hemimandan
    Admin said:
    Keyboard enthusiast Ryan Norbauer has detailed the creation of "the ultimate keyboard" — at least in his eyes. After five years of development and difficult manufacturing hurdles, it's nearly ready. And it can be yours this summer, assuming you're willing to part with "around $3,400."

    A keyboard enthusiast built a $3,400 electro-capacitive keyboard that supposedly gets rid of stabilizer noise : Read more
    I use a steelseries keyboard a friend pulled out of a dumpster that had a few sticky keys that I roll over on a dolly and use a winch to put it in my lap. What key stabilizer noise?
    Reply
  • slightnitpick
    HaninTH said:
    The noise from my keyboard is nothing in comparison to my office peers and everything else in my life. I really do not understand this. Ear plugs are far cheaper?
    Home use when someone else is sleeping. Even the softest and smallest earplugs that still work can be difficult to sleep in constantly.
    Reply