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Article: HMX Macchiato: Review by Vere

HMX Macchiato: Review by Vere

HMX Macchiato: Review by Vere

Opening Words:

Hello, this is Vere.

These HMX Macchiato switches are actually one of the first HMX switches I have ever tried and they still continue to be my tried and true favorite in the end. That doesn't mean I will be completely biased however as some HMX switches do have their flaws. I hope that this review will help you consider this switch amongst the sea of HMX.

 

Switch Introduction:

The HMX Macchiato is a long-pole linear with a creamy white PA12 top housing, light brown modified Nylon bottom housing, and a light brown POK stem.

It has a 20mm single-stage extended spring with an operation force of 42g and bottoming out at 50g. They are factory lubed.

These switches were advertised to be 4.0mm travel but their real travel is slightly shorter than that at 3.8mm, however, thanks to the extended travel they feel slightly different compared to other long poles. 

(On a side note, I'm a big fan of Macchiatos)

Short Summary

Volume

Moderate volume, slightly tempered thanks to the POK stem.

Pitch

Medium-high pitch, the tone is very concentrated because of the modified bottom housing.

Sound Profile

Clean and crisp, these switches likely use an earlier version of HMX's P3 nylon as these switches share the same clacky sound profile seen in other HMX switches.

Stock

Consistent lube coverage, no issues in terms of smoothness, some people have reported some spring ping due to the lubricant not spreading properly inside the housing. 
Excellent wobble control.

Design

Very simple and aesthetic design, matches the clean and creamy sound profile of these switches.

Other

One of HMX's earlier switches but still a certified banger.

 

Stock Experience:

The HMX Macchiato seems to use a type of thin grease for their pre-lubricant, upon first appearance it looks thinner than your average Krytox 205g0 but it doesn't exactly look as thin as an oil lubricant. The oil mostly covers the stem rails, spring, and leaf, while the bottom housing rails seem to have a thicker version of this lubricant.

It seems to have been spread consistently, and among my batch of 90 switches, I only had a handful of switches that had some spring ping. However, some people have reported that after using the switches for a while, the spring ping disappeared as a result. Perhaps the lubricant inside just needed to be spread around after some actual use.

Would I re-lube them? Only for particular switches that may have some inconsistencies but I can say that about pretty much any switch out there. Otherwise I can't find much reason to open these switches up.

     

    

 (Seems close to a 205 + 105 mix like BSUN, but thinner)

Who is HMX?

I've heard a lot of people say many different things about HMX while exploring their background. Most of them connect to KTT which is another manufacturer that excels at producing high quality budget switches. Things such as being a sub-branch of KTT, or HMX being created by former members of KTT which is why their molds are so similar.

While their molds are very similar, there are two key points that set them apart:

First, the pre-lubing method used by HMX is considerably different and in my opinion superior as they are very consistent compared to KTT's dry lube method.

Second, the material usage of HMX is extremely varied and gives insight as to how their creative process works.

If we break down the various "generations" of HMX switches, they have experimented with different materials in batches I could say.

Generation POK: Macchiato / Macaron

Generation POM: Xinhai / Hyacinth

Generation LY: Swift / Deep Navy / Cloud / etc.

Meanwhile KTT generally uses the same formula for nearly every switch, though they have been slightly branching out in recent times. They may be connected in one way or another, but they both produce different results at the time of this review.

 

Modifications to the Nylon Bottom Housing:

The nylon bottom housing used for the HMX Macchiato isn't specified as for which type of nylon they used for it, as there are many different versions such as PA66, PA12, PA6, etc. This means that it is hard to tell exactly what it is made out of, but based on recent additions to the HMX family I can assume that it is likely closest to their P3 variant which uses Fiberglass.

The concentrated sound profile of these switches sound very similar to how the P3 switches such as the Cloud and Swift. Based on this, it is probably an early version of their P3 plastic before they decided to give it a specific name.

 

Smoothness (Phenomenal)

A very important question that all linear enjoyers are curious about, I can honestly describe the stock smoothness of this switch to be alarming. When I first obtained these switches on a whim when I first ordered from Unikeys, I didn't have high expectations, but these switches immediately changed my mind when I tested them out.

The smoothness can be attributed to the POK stem being an excellent option but also the factory lubing being amazing. These switches are amazingly smooth.
An important note is that I have not bothered to re-lube these switches as they are competitive with my other hand-lubed switches when it comes to smoothness, so unless you want to deepen the sound or refine it further, there should not be a need to re-lube.

 

Sound Profile and a note on HMX's stems:

When it comes to the sound profile of the HMX Macchiato, I can describe it as very clean and concentrated. Normally POK tends to have a medium toned pitch which is audible when you hear these switches in action, but the modified bottom housing makes these switches sound more sharp.

That would not be the only reason why these switches sound the way that they do, the secret is in the stem style that HMX uses.

Upon looking closer at the stem, the HMX Macchiato uses a stem that strictly bottoms out with the pole only, and the rails seem to never touch at all, there are various stem types but a lot of long poles bottom out with both the pole and rails at the same time.

(Stems are notably different from other manufacturers)
On top of that, the stem pole itself seems to be ever so slightly thicker than your average pole on the tip, another switch I have seen in the past that had a thicker stem pole on purpose was the Tecsee Darkmoon switch. That switch specifically had a much thicker stem pole which led to a very sharp concentrated sound profile.

 

 

Direct Comparison to other linears:

HMX Cloud (PA12/PA2.0/LY Stem) 3.7mm Travel

  • With different stems and slightly different bottom housings, these switches are very different in composition.
  • The Macchiato is slightly louder than the Cloud.
  • They have almost equivalent stock experiences.
  • The Cloud is slightly higher pitched than the Macchiato.
  • The Cloud has slightly more N/S wobble. (Not much)
  • The Macchiato is slightly smoother stock.

HMX Deep Navy (P3/P3/LY Stem) 3.6mm Travel

  • With different top housings and stems, as well as travel distance, these switch are designed quite differently.
  • The Deep Navy is louder than the Macchiato.
  • They have almost equivalent stock experiences.
  • The Deep Navy is higher pitched than the Macchiato.
  • They both have excellent wobble control.
  • The Macchiato is slightly smoother stock.

HMX Macaron (PC/Modified Nylon/POK Stem) 3.6mm Travel

  • With the exception of top housing and travel distance, these switches are extremely similar in build.
  • The Macchiato is slightly louder than the Macaron.
  • The Macaron has slightly better stock experience. (No crap sounds at all)
  • The Macaron is slightly higher pitched than the Macchiato.
  • They both have excellent wobble control.
  • The Macchiato is slightly smoother stock.

Flaws:

Time to go over the flaws of this switch.

First, they were advertised as full travel switches at 4.0mm travel but in reality they are slightly shorter than that at 3.8mm travel. This can be a turn-off for those who were looking for full travel switches like myself. This isn't an issue if you don't care about travel distance.

The issue with the slight spring ping seems like it can be resolved on its own over time so I won't go over it too much here.

Secondly, there is an issue with HMX's mold itself as their switches don't sit flush inside plates, this is due to the thickness or size of the switch itself which causes it to not be able to go any deeper inside a plate. This can be an issue on flexible plates and hot-swap PCBs as there is the rare case that the switch cannot actually reach the inside of the hot-swap socket and this can prevent you from actuating that key in specific. This has happened to me on my Arc60 with a PP plate, and another person has also reported a similar issue on their Arc60. It also depends entirely on the PCB and what plate you use, but this can possibly come up as an issue for someone.

The third flaw of this switch is that there are some switches with chattering issues. (Chattering means that switches can have mis-inputs or continue to actuate without pressing them) I have had 1 switch in my batch of 90 with this issue but other people have reported about it. This can be a non-issue since we can provide replacements in the case that you have chattering ones.

 

Personal Build Recommendations:
(This section is entirely opinion/preference based, so please take it with a grain of salt)

With the concentrated medium-high pitch sound of this switch, I think you can achieve a very nice and clean sound on a top mounted board. I am personally using these switches on a POM plate in a Top Mount configuration and the sound is very crisp and clean. If you were to use them on a brighter plate like Aluminum or Carbon Fiber, these can easily become very clacky switches.

These can honestly sound great in whatever configuration you choose.

 

Closing Summary: 

To finish off my first HMX review, I still believe these switches are one of HMX's best creation despite the fact that it was one of the earliest. 

Notably, the HMX Macchiato has an addicting sound profile that is clean and pleasant to the ear. Thanks to being made by HMX, you can expect excellent factory lubing and no issues regarding stem wobble.

Surprisingly, despite the fact that HMX is producing so many switches these days, I still don't tire of them at all, they continue to innovate and add more stuff to their switches, especially with their killer price at $0.35 per switch.

If you're new to HMX, or need a good starting point for switches, then look no further than the HMX Macchiato, a deliciously creamy experience with no bitter aftertaste. I highly recommend these switches no matter if you are deep in the keyboard hobby or just starting out.

 

Final Scoring: 8.0/10

Design: 8/10 

[The HMX Macchiato has a very nice design reminiscent of a creamy cup of Macchiato, the mold is very high quality despite its caveats and it leads to a great experience with the switch.]

Sound Profile: 10/10 

[Clean and creamy sound profile that is very concentrated. It is hard to dislike the sound as it full and balanced, and the switch itself is not overly loud or pitifully quiet.]

Stock Experience: 9/10

[Excellent stock experience that defeats other competitors, no wobble, no leaf noise or scratchiness, and the rare spring ping can be solved on its own.]

Uniqueness: 6/10

[The uniqueness of this switch comes from its slightly different stem and increased travel distance, it may not be 3.8mm but it feels very close to a full travel long pole switch. This could have been a higher score if it was actually full travel.]

Flaws: 3/10 

[The flaws mentioned above are mostly non-issues as the mold issue is very specific, the spring ping can solve itself, and we can always provide replacements in the off-chance that you have chattering switches.]

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