Mode Envoy Review

my thoughts

keyboard by: Mode Designs
Photos taken in House by alex

Intro

Having to follow the Sonnet would be hard for any keyboard. Having to follow the Sonnet while also keeping price in mind is another challenge altogether. Enter the Mode Envoy by Mode Designs.

The Envoy stands out for its price point, starting at $189 USD, it certainly is an attractive offering. Despite its lower price point, Mode did not steer away from tons of customization options and even a new mounting system.

What's New

The Envoy uses a new weight design, new accent piece, and a most interesting mounting system. Thanks to these combinations, there is something here for everyone—just like big brother Sonnet.

Let’s start with the weight. The weight is small and, at first glance, I wasn’t sure if this was going to help with the sound profile of the keyboard. The weight also houses part of the feet on the board, which is something refreshing to look at and assemble.

 

A flat lay of some of the Envoy parts.

A demonstration of the Envoy’s feet.

The accent piece is similar to the Sonnet, but instead of being visible while happily typing away at your computer, it is tucked away on the back of the board. It’s also a slight bit longer but shares pretty much the same shape as the Sonnet.

Now to talk about that mounting system. Mode calls it the Lattice Block Mount and here what they have to say:

…you can tune your typing experience to be more flexible or responsive in minutes by simply swapping out the blocks used.

Mode offers two blocks for this: a stiffer block mount, as well as a softer lattice block. I can only imagine the possibilities for different materials and structures here in the future. I agree with Mode’s statement here though, you really can change the board rather quickly to suit your typing preferences.

Lattice vs solid block mounts.

Envoy plate placed on top of lattice mount.

Lattice block mount set in polycarb Envoy.

Build Experience

The Envoy is a single piece design for the case. This is much different than Mode’s usual direction (especially versus its sibling in the size category, the Sixty Five).

As someone who builds keyboards daily (check out my stream), I found the build experience to be frustration-free. is wonderful. One-piece keyboards are always a simple process, but Mode makes it even easier with its lattice block mounts. To use these new mounts, you simply push them into place. To change them, just pull them out and add the new ones.

Because of the new mounting system, the Envoy doesn’t have familiar mounting options like all the other boards in the Mode family. That’s totally fine because you can tune the mounting option thanks to the lattice block mount system. This keeps it simple while also allowing you to find a firmness you enjoy for your typing. And please remember, it’s what you and only you like best.

One pain point during my live stream assembly of the Envoy was the daughter board. The FR4 material had small protruding ‘mouse bites’. These are part of the manufacturing process and are made when you cut out the part. This is normal, but in the case of the Envoy, the tolerances where the daughter board had to sit were very tight and these needed to be filed down to get the board to fit in. Again, not a huge deal but it takes me out of the build process slightly. The mouse bites are not representative of the daughterboards that will ship with production units. Mode always takes feedback constructively from initial prototypes, and this issue will be corrected for mass production. That’s another reason I enjoy building boards from Mode.

Knowing those mouse bites will be addressed, I am confident you’ll find it to be a fun build. A great feature of the whole assembly is how easy it was to swap out a whole PCB/plate assembly from one case to another since all you need to remove is two screws. This adds to the experience of the board, especially for people who like to try new things or like to experiment with their boards.

Side profile of the Envoy.

Other Notes

Something you should make sure you know before jumping on the Envoy. The accent piece is on the rear of the keyboard and you just don’t see it when you are using the keyboard. That’s completely different from the Sonnet which places the accent front and center. Without a visible accent the visuals of the Envoy are rather simple. It’s up to you if that’s your cup of tea, but I don’t mind it being different from the Sonnet. It gives the Envoy its own personality and I like that.

Let’s talk polycarbonate (PC). Yes, Mode is offering a full PC version of the Envoy! That means the underglow RGB should light up the PC version quite nicely. I know: PC and RGB underglow. One worry of PC boards is the screw mount. Mode took care to add inserts so the PC material won’t be worn down from the potentially many assembly/disassemblies you’re bound to do.

 

RGB single row sample, screenshot taken from my live stream on Twitch.

Side angle of the Envoy.

Things I loved

Despite this being a price conscious board, it looks, sounds, and feels premium. On my stream, I built the board with no foam and the sound signature definitely leans to the brighter side of sound compared to other Mode builds. I love it. Once you build yours, let me know what you think.

I tried adding some bottom foam off stream and found it to tame some of the “clacky” sound signature. Make sure to embrace experimenting so you can find the sound you like best and tune the board to be your own.

I very much liked the Envoy’s typing experience. With the lattice mounts installed, it isn’t bouncy but it’s a dreamy kind of soft. It almost feels like an o-ring mounted keyboard (but in a lot of ways better). It offers more flex in with the lattice mounts and it makes typing really fun.

Things I Didn’t Love

There is so much I like about the Envoy, I’m having a hard time finding issues. In fact, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel keyboard. Yeah, those adhesive feet. The Envoy feels so wonderfully modular that it’s a shame if you want to change the color of your Envoy you have to tear off the feet to add new ones. It feels wasteful. And, like the Sonnet, I am missing the days of an easily accessible reset button on top of the PCB. I’m also missing stabilizer cutouts on the plate which allow them to be swapped easily out without interference. In the case of the reset button, you can easily take apart the keyboard with two screws, but it still means taking things apart.

The Bottom Line

The Mode Envoy is such a solid board I can’t imagine anyone regretting it if they bought one. With its friendly price and unique mounting system there’s something here for the budget conscious as well as the experimenter.

If you want to pick up an Envoy and also support my content, please consider using my Mode affiliate link when purchasing. It helps me to up my content game, continue to create video reviews, and post articles like this one. 

While Mode Designs is a sponsor of mine, this review was not paid for and Mode Designs had no input into the review.

Top down of the Envoy.