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Damping your computer for silence
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Damping your computer for silence
Midiot
In a pro studio or even bedroom studio environment, there is usually a computer somewhere.... and it can be noisy (fans, etc)

Some PC case makers have "silent" cases that use tricks to dampen noise....
* Quiet fans.
* Rubber or silicone fan mounts (instead of screws).
* A somewhat closed environment (reduced air flow).
* Rubberized sound-deadening material adhered to the large metal panels.
* Use solid state drives instead of mechanical storage drives.

I'm building my 3rd PC.
In my prior builds, I added thin adhesive-backed sound deadening sheets where needed..... 1/16 inch (or 1/8 inch) thick .
The product that worked the best was found at a speaker supply store, and it was NOT tar-based...it was some sort of inert plastic sold in sheets that I could trim with a mat knife and a metal straight-edge.
The brand was "Blackhole", but I don't think it's available anymore. Those sheets have lasted more than 10 years without peeling off at all.

Here is what I found on Amazon...
* Silverstone Sound Dampening Acoustic EP0M Silent Foam sheets.
* XCEL Value Pack,Neoprene Foam Anti Vibration Pads.
* Scotch (brand) makes 2 inch tape called, "Rubber Mastic Tape #2228".

I want to stay away from the many tar-based solutions made for car sound insulating. I also want to stay away from the various sound deadening paints (too much hassle).

I'm sure there will be some people that think such damping is almost useless, but in my experience, it helps a great deal. If it wasn't for a power indicator light on my PC (3 ft away)....I would never know it was running. A tap on my PC case results in a dull "thud".

Any more ideas or products ?

Thx
JohnLRice
Many years ago I gave up trying to make a totally quiet PC and just put a hole in my studio's wall to run cables through so that the computer now sits in an adjacent room.

I realize that option would likely not be possible if you don't own your home.
SynthBaron
The Arctic Silent series case fans really are such, and still draw enough air to cool the case sufficiently.

My power supply (EVGA B3) has a switch on it that turns the fan off below a certain load. I don't think I've ever heard it come on, because most of the time I'm drawing less than 70 watts on a 450 watt power supply.
Midiot
SynthBaron wrote:
The Arctic Silent series case fans really are such, and still draw enough air to cool the case sufficiently.

My power supply (EVGA B3) has a switch on it that turns the fan off below a certain load. I don't think I've ever heard it come on, because most of the time I'm drawing less than 70 watts on a 450 watt power supply.


You are right, some of the more modern components with fans, also have integrated apps that allow you to adjust fan speed based on power usage and heat.
I've seen many people claim, "My GPU (graphics card) fans were running high all the time, until I adjusted the curve to a reasonable level"....using the card's performance application.
Midiot
Found this from Parts Express......

Sonic Barrier AB-4

0.2".....(5 mm) thickness)

....or thinner....

0.05".....(1.27 mm)

Sonic Barrier VE-1
Rex Coil 7
Build a heavier case (wood).

Use 200mm Noctua fans.

Larger diameter fans move a lot of air at reduced RPM levels. So you need to compare "CFM" vs "RPM" when selecting fans. Noctua makes about the best.

And since you'd be building your own wooden case, you may easily work out air flow as well as where/how each fan is mounted.

An uprated motherboard with a current chipset (Z370 will do fine) will have fan speed management built into the "bios". A well designed system will manage the fan(s) speeds relative to the CPU's heat output ... or even just the overall internal case temp.

Combine those notions with what John said here ....

JohnLRice wrote:
Many years ago I gave up trying to make a totally quiet PC and just put a hole in my studio's wall to run cables through so that the computer now sits in an adjacent room.
Add it all up, and you've got a pro-studio setup that will outlive you.

meh. meh. meh.
SynthBaron
Many newer video cards don't even turn their fans on until they reach a certain temperature. For normal desktop/video use, they may never turn on at all.

The background noise coming through my studio monitors is louder than my computer. And I don't use any special damping material. Everything seems to be good at running cool and quiet these days.
Rex Coil 7
SynthBaron wrote:
Many newer video cards don't even turn their fans on until they reach a certain temperature. For normal desktop/video use, they may never turn on at all.

The background noise coming through my studio monitors is louder than my computer. And I don't use any special damping material. Everything seems to be good at running cool and quiet these days.
... whatever works ...
SynthBaron
This thread makes me want to mention that I bought two collections of old Mac computer equipment a few months ago (II's, Quadra's, G4's, etc.) and I absolutely can't stand to be around them long when they're running. Nothing is malfunctioning in them, but the combination of their old style loud fans and old hard drives is painful to my ears. And I used these same type of machines back 20+ years ago, I don't know how I put up with them running all day long.
Midiot
Since I am building my own wood case....
whoa wait....... I'm not.

But you brought-up an idea..... make some decorative wood side panels, simply glued to the PC tower's metal side panels.

It can match your furniture !!
Rigo
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Build a heavier case (wood).

I don't understand the "wood" part ... a heavy metal case would be much better in getting away the heat from the electronics inside.
JohnLRice
SynthBaron wrote:
This thread makes me want to mention that I bought two collections of old Mac computer equipment a few months ago (II's, Quadra's, G4's, etc.) and I absolutely can't stand to be around them long when they're running. Nothing is malfunctioning in them, but the combination of their old style loud fans and old hard drives is painful to my ears. And I used these same type of machines back 20+ years ago, I don't know how I put up with them running all day long.
The old computers probably seemed quiet to us since we were used to enduring the volume of dot matrix printers? hihi
SynthBaron
JohnLRice wrote:
SynthBaron wrote:
This thread makes me want to mention that I bought two collections of old Mac computer equipment a few months ago (II's, Quadra's, G4's, etc.) and I absolutely can't stand to be around them long when they're running. Nothing is malfunctioning in them, but the combination of their old style loud fans and old hard drives is painful to my ears. And I used these same type of machines back 20+ years ago, I don't know how I put up with them running all day long.
The old computers probably seemed quiet to us since we were used to enduring the volume of dot matrix printers? hihi


Jeesh, immediate audio flashback to those printing sounds. They're permanently sampled in my brain...
Midiot
Sticky backed Lineoleum or vinyl floor tiles.

Ideas keep coming.

Years ago, I sprayed metal parts with car "undercoater" or "undercoat"....from spray cans from an auto paint store.
But it would take a day or two to dry enough. It's a flexible thick coating.
Solvent based.
JohnLRice
SynthBaron wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:
SynthBaron wrote:
This thread makes me want to mention that I bought two collections of old Mac computer equipment a few months ago (II's, Quadra's, G4's, etc.) and I absolutely can't stand to be around them long when they're running. Nothing is malfunctioning in them, but the combination of their old style loud fans and old hard drives is painful to my ears. And I used these same type of machines back 20+ years ago, I don't know how I put up with them running all day long.
The old computers probably seemed quiet to us since we were used to enduring the volume of dot matrix printers? hihi


Jeesh, immediate audio flashback to those printing sounds. They're permanently sampled in my brain...
Mr. Green
SynthBaron
Plain old cheap 2 x 4 ft office acoustic drop ceiling tiles at Home Depot that you then cut to size seem like they might be a good option if you really needed serious dampening. Spray paint if you want.
Rex Coil 7
Rigo wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Build a heavier case (wood).

I don't understand the "wood" part ... a heavy metal case would be much better in getting away the heat from the electronics inside.
Properly placed fans and well designed air flow will be far better than a metal case will ever be. Don't rely on the case material to move heat, that's what the fans and moving air are there to do.

If you make a case from wood, it's far simpler to design and build your self in your shop. You don't want the case material to radiate any internal heat, you want that heat to leave the case completely and be distributed to where ever is best for your studio/your situation. Besides, a metal case doesn't remove very much heat at all (just touch the case, it's warm but not hot ... which means it's not moving heat effectively at all). Radiated heat from the case will also be sucked right back into the case when the fans run. Bad idea. A wooden case allows the fans to do what they're designed to do in a computer ... move the hot air out of the case without radiating it so the intake/cooling fans can suck that heat right back into the computer.

A wooden computer case with well thought out intake/exhaust holes and fans will move far far more heat than the case material ever will. Why wood? Because it makes it much easier to mount drives, motherboards, power supply, and fans. New motherboard comes out on the market? No problem with a wooden case ... just redrill the motherboard mounting holes and install the new board. The same goes for every other internal component. Also, the wooden case will not be rendered obsolete if/when some new storage system with all new mounts is introduced.

Or, go "open frame" ......










Those are just a few examples of open frame PC systems, depicted here to make a point ... wood computers exist, work well, are ridiculously flexible, and very easily modified. And ~no~ a wooden computer case presents no danger of the case catching fire. Most plywoods or "MDF" have flash points well above 350F degrees. If anything in your computer is getting up to or hotter than 300F the case catching fire will be the last thing you'd be worried about because you'd have far bigger problems to deal with than your computer case getting hot. Most plastics used in commercial computer cases will begin to melt before a wooden case will catch fire. And how many plastic cases is anyone aware of that have melted down due to internal heat? Oh that's right ... none.

How many modular synth cases are made of wood? Nearly 95% or so? No fires going on with those either.

seriously, i just don't get it
Rex Coil 7
SynthBaron wrote:
Plain old cheap 2 x 4 ft office acoustic drop ceiling tiles at Home Depot that you then cut to size seem like they might be a good option if you really needed serious dampening. Spray paint if you want.
Good idea. And in a wooden case you could line the innards with ceiling tiles, adhered to the inside using 3M Spray-On contact cement.

cool
JohnLRice
There are a lot of special 'silent' cases and soundproofing parts etc on https://www.quietpc.com/ I've never used them or the products they sell so I can't say if they are a good dealer or not.
Midiot
Wood....
there are fire-retardant sprays or paints that can provide extra protection to wood. $15 for a spray/spritzer bottle type.

Or make your own fire retardant paint....mix one part sodium silicate with 4 parts house paint.
Rigo
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
You don't want the case material to radiate any internal heat

Why not ? Less heat to be removed by the fans, which means less noise ... and that happens to be the point of this thread.
There used to be a company in Germany specialised in (expensive) silent PCs (Hush Technologies), and guess what material they were made from ? It wasn't wood.

edited quote and typo
Midiot
Solid hardwoods can absorb internal heat, and if thick, can act like a heatsink.
......but not better than metal, esp aluminum.
Soft woods contain more trapped air, and are more insulative. (Pine, Fir, Poplar, Cedar, Redwood, etc.).
Plywood contains the most air (usually). So they insulate more.

But honestly, if you are relying on your PC case to dissipate unwanted heat, then your airflow is the bigger problem.
Rigo
Midiot wrote:
But honestly, if you are relying on your PC case to dissipate unwanted heat, then your airflow is the bigger problem.

But if you have 2 identical computers, only one with a metal case and one with a wooden case, in which one the fans will have to do less effort (and thus produce less noise) ?
And airflow definitely is a very important part of case design, I'm not saying it isn't.
Midiot
Rigo wrote:

But if you have 2 identical computers, only one with a metal case and one with a wooden case, in which one the fans will have to do less effort (and thus produce less noise) ?
And airflow definitely is a very important part of case design, I'm not saying it isn't.



Steel is better for RFI reduction, but aluminum is a better for heat dissipation. Wood is better for noise reduction, surely.

You could line a wood case with copper foil or fine mesh, for a top-notch RFI Faraday cage, grounded to the PSU.
Panason
I easily fixed the issue by just getting a Mac Mini.
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