HMX Canglan v2: Review by Vere
Hello, this is Vere.
This review goes over one of the HMX that actually leans towards the slightly deeper side of sound and I recommend everyone to give it a try. This switch should be a no-brainer for those who are already deep in the HMX rabbit hole.
The HMX Canglan v2 is a long-pole linear with an ash grey P3 top housing, dark grey PA66 bottom housing, and an off-white stem of a proprietary blend called T2.
It has a 20mm single stage spring which operates at 42g and bottoms out at 48g with 5g of possible variance on springs. They are factory lubed.
They have a standard long-pole travel at 3.5mm.
(Canglan roughly translates into grey orchid)
Moderate volume, the regular PA66 bottom housing and the proprietary blend stem leads to a balanced sound.
Medium pitch, definitely thanks to the lack of fiberglass in the bottom housing as well as the mix of LY in the stem.
Although the volume is moderate and the pitch is also balanced, this switch shares a similar sound profile with the other LY based HMX switches. It has a glassy type of sound, but more controlled compared to the others. (Cloud, Deep Navy, Swift)
Consistent lube coverage with no notable issues in terms of transient noise. Minor spring ping when tested directly next to ear, but not during typing. Excellent wobble control.
|Rough translation of the name Canglan is "grey orchid" which matches the visual design of this switch. I also appreciate the new blend on the stem.
A switch from HMX that isn't too clacky.
The HMX Canglan v2 uses HMX's standard lubing method which seems to use a thin grease over the stem, spring, and leaf. The bottom housing also seems to have some of this thin grease instead of the Macchiato's slightly thicker version.
Notably they have improved their game as the HMX Canglan really seems to have no transient noises when actually typing, I can only hear spring ping when put directly next to my ear.
Would I re-lube them? Probably not at all, I feel like the stock sound profile is also lively and it would become more muted or quiet after adding more lubricant. The main point of thinner grease and lubricants is to preserve the sound profile in the end.
(Again, seems like a 205 + 105 mix like before)
P3 Material and the effects:
As this material has been seen in many of HMX's new switches, I will go over a short breakdown of the material.
P3 is made up of PA66 nylon with 30% of it being comprised of fiberglass as well as an unspecified amount of PTFE. This addition of fiberglass notably adds a much sharper/glassier sound profile to the plastic. Fiberglass is actually a part of the keyboard hobby in the form of PCBs as well in FR4 plates, both of which are glass-reinforced epoxy laminate material which are comprised of fiberglass.
During sliding travel, PA66's coefficient of friction can go up to 0.65, which is nearly double the amount of POM and almost triple for LY, however, PA66 GF30 which is essentially P3, only goes up to 0.45, which means that it is actually smoother with the addition of the fiberglass and PTFE.
In my experience, FR4 plates (as well as Carbon Fiber plates) usually have a poppy sound profile to them. FR4 tends to mute sounds slightly, but within the sound you can occasionally hear jumps in the pitch. The overall tone of FR4 is on the lower end as a result of the resin however.
So when you use this material in a switch, you can expect a similar effect that would create a glassy or poppy sound, and when combined with PA66 (a stiffer form of nylon compared to other nylons) you will receive a clacky result.
T2 Stem Material:
As described by HMX, T2 is a proprietary blend of POM, LY, and their P3 nylon itself. This is quite an interesting blend as LY is already comprised of POM and a mix of UPE, while nylon is generally an unpopular choice for stems.
First a simple answer as to why we don't commonly have nylon stems: coefficient of friction.
Nylon's coefficient of friction is not bad by all means, however you have to take into consideration when it is put against other specific plastics.
POM and LY both have extremely low coefficients of friction when put against the common switch materials like nylon, polycarbonate, and even each other, however, standard nylon doesn't exactly have the same performance when put against itself or other plastics, this is especially important when you keep in mind that a switch stem is in contact with everything inside the switch.
So what exactly does this blend do? It seems to try and purposefully adjust the pitch and sound profile of this switch by differentiating itself from the other LY or POM stems by combining these materials.
I can say that they achieved half of their goal as the switch does indeed have a different pitch as a result of adding more POM and P3 to the stem, but the sound profile still remains the same as other LY stems (slightly thin and glassy).
The most important thing is the smoothness of the switch has not been damaged as a result of this mix. (P3 actually has good smoothness)
Perhaps instead of using P3, they could have considered POK or other materials that would not generate this glassy sound. (Not that I dislike it though)
As mentioned above, this blend of materials doesn't actually reduce the smoothness of the switch in the end as POM and LY are both incredibly smooth materials and HMX still has their high quality mold.
Something that comes to mind often regarding HMX switches is that smoothness eventually will become redundant after you reach a certain point, almost like a diminishing return. HMX seems to have found the right formula as their stock smoothness is fantastic no matter what materials they use, a combination of good pre-lubing and material usage.
I was worried that the addition of nylon in the stem could produce some stick-slip when typing on these switches, but the HMX Canglan v2 has similar performance with other HMX switches so that's nothing to worry about.
Sound Profile and a note on switch variety.
For the HMX Canglan v2's sound profile, I can describe it as slightly different from the other HMX entries with LY. The reason obviously being the stem and non P3 bottom housing, but ultimately it's not a large difference.
This becomes another conundrum like smoothness, if the HMX switches sound similar to one another, is there even a reason to buy the new ones?
I would say... yes actually, because this hobby is all about preference, and if you have a specific sound that you prefer, then diving into the sea of HMX and trying to find the perfect switch for you is another option.
This might sound strange, but when you compare today to the switches of a few years ago, there were countless recolors of the same switch on the market simply because that switch was popular. With the same materials and mostly same mold, perhaps you could argue there is some difference with the spring weight but that shouldn't matter as much. (Arguably manufacturers were always improving their mold, but they wouldn't bother experimenting)
We're lucky that we actually have a great variety of options to choose from these days, especially the ones that are fairly priced like HMX.
Direct Comparison to other Linears:
HMX Swift (P3/PA3.0/LY Stem) 3.7mm Travel
- With minor differences in composition of stem/housing, these switches also have different travel distances. They are moderately different.
- They are very similar in volume
- The Swift is slightly noisier than the Canglan (scratch)
- The Swift is slightly higher pitched than the Canglan
- They have very similar wobble control. (Good)
- The Canglan is slightly smoother stock.
HMX Macchiato (PA12/Modified Nylon/POK Stem) 3.8mm Travel
- With different stems and different nylons for housings, these switches also have very different travel distances. They are considerably different.
- The Macchiato is slightly louder than the Canglan
- They have similar stock experiences, but Canglan has no spring ping.
- The Canglan is slightly lower pitched than the Macchiato
- The Macchiato has better wobble control.
- They are almost equivalent in smoothness.
Duhuk QK01 (PC+PTFE/PA66/POM+PTFE+MoS2 Stem) 3.5mm Travel
- With different stems and top housings, these switches share the same travel and bottom housing. They are moderately different.
- The QK01 is slightly louder than the Canglan
- The Canglan has a better stock experience than the QK01
- The QK01 is higher pitched than the Canglan
- They have similar wobble control (Good)
- The Canglan is slightly smoother stock.
Time to go over the flaws of this switch.
Besides the HMX mold issue which is usually a non-issue in most cases, there are no real flaws to this switch.
I was expecting some scratch in the travel from the stem, but there was no scratch or bad sounds coming from this switch at all.
The only arguable flaw would be that the switch sounds similar to the other LY based HMX switches, but this is also a non-issue in most cases.
I think this will be the first switch I review with no true flaws.
Personal Build Recommendations: (This is purely opinion/preference based)
With a medium volume and medium pitch with a slightly glassy sound, I can recommend using these switches in a gasket build with either something balanced like Aluminum or FR4. I tested these switches out on an aluminum gasket mounted board and they sounded clean and pleasant without being overly sharp.
With their balanced tone, I will of course recommend POM as well for those who enjoy a deeper sound profile.
To end this review off, I can wholehearted recommend these switches as a slightly different option for HMX. It is a refined product for sure.
Notably the HMX Canglan v2 has a more balanced tone compared to the other clacky HMX switches which helps it slightly stand out amongst the crowd and it even has it's own proprietary stem.
As one of the relatively newer HMX releases, it does seem like they are continuing to improve the quality of their switches as this switch has literally nothing for me to complain about.
If you're already addicted to HMX switches but you want to experience a greyer and more balanced sound, then the HMX Canglan v2 has you covered. These switches are coming close to competing with the Macchiatos for me, especially with their flawless stock experience at $0.35 per switch.
Final Scoring: 8.8/10
[The HMX Canglan v2 has a very simple greyscale design, the mold is high quality as always and the usage of different materials in an attempt to vary the sound profile is important, even if it wasn't exactly successful.]
Sound Profile: 9/10
[Clean and slightly glassy sound profile with no scratches or any flaws, with its more balanced tone, I think that most can appreciate the sound that this switch can generate.]
Stock Experience: 10/10
[Quite literally a flawless stock experience, as even the Macchiatos were not perfect, but I had a good time with these switches.]
[Proprietary and unique material usage will always score higher for uniqueness in my opinion as there are countless switches out there that have miniscule differences from competitors. I can say that these switches are definitely different from the other HMX releases even if only by a small amount.]
[Besides the pre-existing HMX flaws, there are arguably no real flaws to this switch, I cannot give this a perfect score as the possibility still stands that someone can experience an issue with the mold.]