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Computer noise driving me mad, Building a silent system
shuhtala
post Oct 5 2005, 19:55
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I recently bought a good soundcard (ST audio DSP24 value) and hooked it digitally to Sony MD-player for decent DA-conversion. I use the player's amp to drive my open Sennheiser 570's... the sound quality is really impressive rolleyes.gif

But,

My computer was giving me pains by being soo loud (hums, chirps and the usual) - with otherwise good system I came acutely aware of the noise. It drove me to buy Nexus Breeze case. I wasn't satisfied at all until I noticed the case indeed was almost noiseless - it was the cpu-fan and hard drives that were noisy.

Now I'm obsessed with the silence and planning to buy a new cpu-fan (Nexus AXP-3200), new hard drive (one of reputedly silent Samsung Spinpoints) coupled with Nexus Drive-a-way hard disk Enclosure... and maybe even Silverstone PP02 power supply acoustic cover blink.gif

What kind of (if any) steps have you made to block the noise from your computer or is it annoying at all?
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zima
post Oct 5 2005, 20:33
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In my case, I didn't went the route of sound dampening, I simply have components that are silent from the start. Chieftec 350W PSu (the one made by Delta, with 12cm fan at the bottom of PSU), Zalman 7000 (AFAI remember; works on lowest RPM)...those are all fans in my system. There are also HDDs of course - two Seagate Barracuda 7200.7. The whole thing is inaudible unless the HDDs are seeking, there is very subtle noise then. The way I see it: discs enclosures can be...problematic, problems with tempareatures, etc. And anyway, when you want absolute silence (in my case: listening to music, watching a movie or writing something/reading), the HDDs really aren't seeking much...this happens mostly during boot up/starting of applications etc., when it's not irritating in my case.

But it's you system, your call.


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Yaztromo
post Oct 5 2005, 20:48
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How cheap and easy to get your machine silent really depends on how fast your computer runs. I managed to get mine totally silent with only one fan in the whole system. (to the point where you have to put your eart next to the PSU to hear anything)

CPU
I got an Athlon XP 1800 and dropped the front side bus to 112mhz. By doing this I could then drop the CPU voltage to 1.2v. It ran cool enough to remove the CPU fan and just leave the heatsink on. At full load it gets to about 55 degrees C.

Hardrive:
Seagate barracuda with one of these http://www.quietpc.com/uk/harddrive.php#zm2hc2

PSU:
Modded the rear fan from 12 to 5v. You can do this by wiring the 5v out from a HDD connector to the fan.

GFX card:
I use an old GF2 that has no fan.
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shuhtala
post Oct 5 2005, 20:48
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Maybe I need to rethink the use of hard drive enclosure... low noise hard drive and rubber grommets may be all I need. I'll buy the hard drive first and then decide if any additional dampening is necessary.

Both Seagate and Samsung are claiming to be really silent. Has anybody heard these side-by-side?

I'm too trying to 1) buy the most silent parts and only after that 2) to dampen the remaining noise.
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spoon
post Oct 5 2005, 20:53
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See:

http://forum.dbpoweramp.com/showthread.php?t=6869

A very quiet system, so quiet you do not hear it switch on / off (the true test).

All sans a hard drive you can get 100% silent, the best quiet hard drives are laptop drives, have a Spinpoint - crap (it is in a satelite dvr), had a Seagate Barricuda latest model and binned it (was incredibly noisy, in comparison to a queit system), Western Digital scorpio drives are your friend smile.gif


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beto
post Oct 5 2005, 21:03
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Personally, I think you are being too picky. The easiest solution is to boost the volume. tongue.gif
Otherwise you will spend too much time (and money) "personalising" your system rather than enjoying your music.... but that's just me.... laugh.gif


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shuhtala
post Oct 5 2005, 21:09
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QUOTE (Yaztromo @ Oct 5 2005, 09:48 PM)
How cheap and easy to get your machine silent really depends on how fast your computer runs. I managed to get mine totally silent with only one fan in the whole system. (to the point where you have to put your eart next to the PSU to hear anything)

I need to use the computer in other things than music/video too so I need it reasonably fast. I don't play any 3d games though so I don't need the latest cpu (currently having AMD Athlon XP 2400+)
QUOTE (Yaztromo @ Oct 5 2005, 09:48 PM)
GFX card:
I use an old GF2 that has no fan.
*

Neither has mine, which is nice smile.gif
QUOTE (spoon @ Oct 5 2005, 09:53 PM)
the best quiet hard drives are laptop drives, have a Spinpoint - crap (it is in a satelite dvr), had a Seagate Barricuda latest model and binned it (was incredibly noisy, in comparison to a queit system), Western Digital scorpio drives are your friend  smile.gif

Yeah maybe... but I need decent capasity too (around 200-300GB). Here in Finland they are selling only 40-80GB Scorpios huh.gif
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picmixer
post Oct 5 2005, 21:11
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QUOTE (shuhtala @ Oct 5 2005, 09:48 PM)
Both Seagate and Samsung are claiming to be really silent. Has anybody heard these side-by-side?
*


Am running 2 Samsung Spinpoint 160 gig here and all I can say is they really are extremely silent. Almost impossible to notice when running.

Most people I know will recommend this as a good harddrive for building silent pcs.

Not sure about Seagates since I haven't heard one myself in a long time, but from what I have heard of other people they are not as silent as the Samsungs. Don't take my word on that one though.
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spoon
post Oct 5 2005, 21:18
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>Yeah maybe... but I need decent capasity too (around 200-300GB). Here in Finland they are selling only 40-80GB Scorpios

Thats why I have 2x 80 Gig scorpios smile.gif also laptop drives run on 5V and run cool to the touch, not some 50W cooker drive that needs heat venting (to vent heat = noise).


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shuhtala
post Oct 5 2005, 21:19
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QUOTE (beto @ Oct 5 2005, 10:03 PM)
Personally, I think you are being too picky. The easiest solution is to boost the volume. tongue.gif
Otherwise you will spend too much time (and money) "personalising" your system rather than enjoying your music.... but that's just me.... laugh.gif
*

I'm listening mainly classical in which silence is IMHO extremely important. And my appartement being small I'm forced to almost huddle the computer during my listening sessions tongue.gif

I'm trying to do this a bit more cheaply (budget couple hundred euros) and easily as in link posted by spoon (It seemed a bit extravagant rolleyes.gif)
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OnyxRev
post Oct 5 2005, 21:23
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If you had more space, I'd recommend shoving it in a closet and using keyboard, mouse, and monitor extension cables. That's a pretty simple and cost effective solution.
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ATWindsor
post Oct 5 2005, 21:42
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QUOTE (shuhtala @ Oct 5 2005, 10:55 AM)
I recently bought a good soundcard (ST audio DSP24 value) and hooked it digitally to Sony MD-player for decent DA-conversion. I use the player's amp to drive my open Sennheiser 570's... the sound quality is really impressive  rolleyes.gif

But,

My computer was giving me pains by being soo loud (hums, chirps and the usual) - with otherwise good system I came acutely aware of the noise. It drove me to buy Nexus Breeze case. I wasn't satisfied at all until I noticed the case indeed was almost noiseless - it was the cpu-fan and hard drives that were noisy.

Now I'm obsessed with the silence and planning to buy a new cpu-fan (Nexus AXP-3200), new hard drive (one of reputedly silent Samsung Spinpoints) coupled with Nexus Drive-a-way hard disk Enclosure... and maybe even Silverstone PP02 power supply acoustic cover blink.gif

What kind of (if any) steps have you made to block the noise from your computer or is it annoying at all?
*



As a rule of thumb, always go for silent components, as dampening is difficult to do in a case, that beeing said, most modern HDs are around the same noise level, not to loud but not incredibly quiet either. (of course this depends on what you mean by quiet). That beeing said, the drive-away in combination with putting it on something soft or suspending it helps a good deal, a suprsing amount of HD-noise is vibrational hum, the drive-away and supspension/dampening helps aainst whine, low frequency hum, and to some extent seek-noise. My HD was my noisiest somponenent, now my system is virtually noiseless. (I have the drive-away)

AtW
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Omion
post Oct 5 2005, 22:57
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Does anybody know how well the drive-a-way alone helps the noise?
As ATWindsor said, I have found that much of the HD noise is from vibrating. However, according to Nexus the drive-a-way plasters the drive up against the top of the enclosure, for acceptable cooling. This also ensures that the vibrations will go straight out of the enclosure and make noise by rattling everything connected to it. Seems like it would make the enclosure pretty much pointless...


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Mr_Rabid_Teddybe...
post Oct 5 2005, 23:04
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I also have two Samsung SpinPoint 160 gig HD's. Then I got this fanless watercooling system with this bit for the graphics card. I also got a Fortron/Source FSP400-60PN PSU. My system are very close to silent now. Some almost indistinguishable sound from the fan in the PSU if I lean in close. Some sounds ofcourse from the HD's with high activity. My Plextors make a lot of noise when going full speed, but if you limit the speed theire very silent too. I just have an ordinary case, no padding. Getting rid of the jetplane noise of the CPU and graphics card fans in my former PC have been a real blessing. smile.gif


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shuhtala
post Oct 5 2005, 23:06
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I found a videoreview about drive-a-way from 3dGameMan.com. There is a real-word example (with microphone) how well it works. I'd say it's not bad at all. Coupled with decent rubber grommets it seems to me quite good choise.
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jrbamford
post Oct 5 2005, 23:22
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look at http://www.silentpcreview.com/ for all things on silent computing..

i've tried to battle with making it silent, and have done reasonably well.. but i recently went for a laptop based on a pentium M which i use software to undervolt it to 0.7v, and pull the clock speed down to 600mhz. It's never now span up the fans significantly and is effectively silent past 1m or so.. any hint of noise/music/headphones etc and its gone.

Cheap too, and fairly convenient!!!

This post has been edited by jrbamford: Oct 5 2005, 23:26


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grav
post Oct 5 2005, 23:31
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Go for a laptop, preferable with Centrino mobile technology.
The components in those machines are most often "real" portable components, which means that they don't create much heat, which again means that the cooling system mostly stays passive, which again mean that they don't consume much power and thus don't create much heat. It's a good circle :-)
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yahknow1
post Oct 5 2005, 23:46
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Antec Sonata PC Tower Case

Fairly low-cost solution to noise.... I bought this case at Circuit City and the thing is amazingly quiet, even with FIVE fans running at once!(2-120mm case fans+ VPU fan+CPU fan+ PS fan) Of course I went overboard on my cooling, I mean, all 5 aren't really needed, but it's nice to know everything is well ventalated AND quiet too! wink.gif

From CC Website:

"Antec Sonata PC Tower Case" mid-size tower comes with a low-noise 380-watt TruePower ATX12V power supply already installed, and features vibration-absorbing drive mounts to keep your system stable and quiet. It has room for nine drives, two 120mm fans."

Anyway, that's just what I found....actually just stumbled onto it and thought I'd pass it on?

This post has been edited by yahknow1: Oct 5 2005, 23:48
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Pepzhez
post Oct 5 2005, 23:56
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If you want a dedicated setup for listening to music, an Apple G3 iMac is impossible to beat. It's fanless, the HD is dead quiet, a 500 MHz G3 runs OS 10.4 just fine, and they're quite cheap in good condition.

I use one in conjunction with iTunes, an M-Audio Transit (to the hi-fi), and a 250 GB firewire HD (the OWC Elite series are practically silent).

You can spend a lot more money and get a lot less.
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jrbamford
post Oct 6 2005, 00:03
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i've got various silent pcs.. 1 that is impressively quiet with elastically suspended hdds, and a very quiet PSU.. almost inaudible, but only 450mhz p3.. so i use it as a backup PC running linux.

I've tried watercooling, and fanless.. its all difficult and expensive.

There is quiet, and there is silent.. to get silent you really have to buy pentium M or similar.. either in a laptop or build your own in a big case. And also you really have to use a laptop hdd.. elastic suspension can do wonders but the bigger drives get the noiser they becom, even when suspended.

The laptop is cheaper, more convenient and more than capable as a music player. Just like Pepzhez suggests, but depending on what formats you want to play a mac ain't great... plus a 500mhz G3 if you do get round to encoding music on the machine, doesn't really compare to a Pentium M.. even when its downclocked silently to 600mhz.

I dont think i elaborated enough before.. i've spent thousands trying to silence big computers.. as i said i'm happy with how they are, but when i really want to just listen to music etc... my new laptop is SILENT.. i cannot hear it when i turn it on!!!

And it only cost me £450 ... for silent you want onboard graphics etc.. anything to keep the heat down. I'll buy another in an instant if silence was my real aim!!


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CSMR
post Oct 6 2005, 03:30
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QUOTE (shuhtala @ Oct 5 2005, 10:55 AM)
I recently bought a good soundcard (ST audio DSP24 value) and hooked it digitally to Sony MD-player for decent DA-conversion. I use the player's amp to drive my open Sennheiser 570's... the sound quality is really impressive† rolleyes.gif

Better to use an analog connection to a decent amp.
QUOTE
My computer was giving me pains by being soo loud (hums, chirps and the usual) - with otherwise good system I came acutely aware of the noise. It drove me to buy Nexus Breeze case. I wasn't satisfied at all until I noticed the case indeed was almost noiseless - it was the cpu-fan and hard drives that were noisy.

You need to do two things:
1. Locate the computer in another room from the one you listen to music in, and use long USB/firewire/DVI cables to have the computer away from where you use it. This is the most important step and the most cost-effective.
2. Go to SPCR and look at their recommended components

If you are starting from a noisy computer you need to do both things. If you can't relocate the computer it is rather expensive and time-consuming to silence.

This post has been edited by CSMR: Oct 6 2005, 03:31
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JeanLuc
post Oct 6 2005, 05:07
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QUOTE (shuhtala @ Oct 5 2005, 06:55 PM)
I recently bought a good soundcard (ST audio DSP24 value) and hooked it digitally to Sony MD-player for decent DA-conversion. I use the player's amp to drive my open Sennheiser 570's... the sound quality is really impressive
*


I did so once ago and hooked up my EWX 24/96 to my MD player as well (which is a Sony MDS-JE 700QS) to use the Sony's DAC's ...

Guess what I found out ... the ATRAC circuitry is active when no disc is inserted and DA-conversion is selected via the "Record" button ...


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dreamliner77
post Oct 6 2005, 05:28
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I have both Seagate and Samsung HDD's and find that both are fairly quiet. The Seagate is noisier when seeking. Get a Zalman "flower" for your CPU and a quiet (Antec or Zalman) power supply. Rubber grommets on everything. This should help you get down to a "barely audible" state.


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shuhtala
post Oct 6 2005, 08:08
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QUOTE (JeanLuc @ Oct 6 2005, 06:07 AM)
I did so once ago and hooked up my EWX 24/96 to my MD player as well (which is a Sony MDS-JE 700QS) to use the Sony's DAC's ...

Guess what I found out ... the ATRAC circuitry is active when no disc is inserted and DA-conversion is selected via the "Record" button ...
*

ohmy.gif

This is bad news. While I cannot hear the compression/decompression (never even suspected this) I don't like the idea at all. I'm certain this 'feature' is not documented anywhere by Sony. Have you seen any discussion about this on any forum (here or elsewhere) or is this only your own judgment (I don't doubt it).

If I were putting in analogue signal I could understand this (if the AD-conversion and ATRAC-compression were made in same circuit or something), but with digital too... On the other hand, usually all signal coming to the player is meant (by Sony) to be recorded on MD. Still I don't like it.

I have Sony MDS-JE 500.
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ATWindsor
post Oct 6 2005, 08:13
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QUOTE (Omion @ Oct 5 2005, 01:57 PM)
Does anybody know how well the drive-a-way alone helps the noise?
As ATWindsor said, I have found that much of the HD noise is from vibrating. However, according to Nexus the drive-a-way plasters the drive up against the top of the enclosure, for acceptable cooling. This also ensures that the vibrations will go straight out of the enclosure and make noise by rattling everything connected to it. Seems like it would make the enclosure pretty much pointless...
*


IMHO the drive-way helps a lot (that beeing said, thats is in my rig, where to undervolted 120mm-fans are the only other moving parts) . But it mainly helps on the most difficult noise to remove, the idle-whine. As you say, it just transferes the vibration-hum, and does little for seek noise, so it needs to be combined with either som kind of "fluffy" base for it to rest on, or decoupling, for optimum results.

AtW
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