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Material for Acoustically Insulating Hard Drives?

  1. Apr 7, 2006 #1
    I have a desktop with two hard drives in it. I'd like to use it for audio recording, so it must be exceptionally quiet. At the present time the loudest components in my computer are the already quiet hard drives.

    In order to contain this sound I plan to surround my hard drives, with some around absorbing material, on as many sides as possible. Perhaps I will even encase the hard drives in a home brewed muffler. To prevent overheating I will also have to include a path for either air flow across the drives or heat conduction.

    Does anyone have any good suggestions as to what material I should use? Where can I get this material? I'd like to spend under $20 dollars, but I might consider going up to $200 or even $350 if the material is significantly superior. Actually $500 is not totally out of the question for true silence. On the other hand $6 do equally well.

    Sorry, if I have not posted this question in the proper forum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I just checked one of my desktops, and the power supply fan seems loudest, followed by the fan over the microprocessor, and occasionally the HD's when writing.

    Perhaps put the entire PC in a box/muffler which has good airflow and is lined with acoustic absorption material, e.g. some type of plastic.

    Here are some examples - http://www.nonoise.co.uk/absorbers.htm (from UK though).

    But - http://www.roushind.com/html/nvh_nvcpacoustic.htm

    Absorption mat for PC's - http://www.xpcgear.com/akpaxmatacab.html

    Good luck.
  4. Apr 7, 2006 #3


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    Gold Member

    Do you have access to an adjoining room? If so, put your keyboard, mouse, display, etc on a table near the wall and run the cables through the wall to the PC on the other side. That's as quiet as you'll be likely to get things.
  5. Apr 7, 2006 #4


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    Science Advisor

    dimensionless - you can easily construct (if you have woodworking tools) a wooden case from 2 layers of MDF (good density) for the entire CPU unit that will quiet down the HDD and PSU fans all in one. Just have a large air inlet and outlet arranged in a labyrinth fashion so the air needs to go back and forth. You'll want to put some positive flow fans (on the inside of the case) to force ventillation for the equipment inside, and then you can simply line the walls and turns in the labyrinth with acoustic foam or fiberglass insulation to absorb the sounds.

    If you have the "Master Handbook of Acoustics" by F. Alton Everest I believe its in the section on quieting down HVAC feeds.

    Its also a technique used in some of the standalone 'quiet' equipment racks that cost big $$$.
  6. Apr 7, 2006 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Another possibility is build yourself a convection-based fanless computer and turn off the hard drives when recording. That requires a significant amount of ram, though.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2006
  7. Apr 7, 2006 #6
    Thanks. That looks helpful.
  8. Apr 7, 2006 #7
    At the present time the sound of my fans is drowned out entirely by the sound of my hard drives. I can stop my front intake, rear exhaust and CPU fans while recording for 15-60 mins with out overheating. I don't know how to control my PSU fan though. Fanless PSUs are an option if this becomes a problem.

    I'm not sure if I can or want to stop my hard drives. Is there a software tool or configuration option that will do this in Windows?
  9. Apr 7, 2006 #8
    Could work, but it might be a little inconvenient. Also my mixer output is a 3ft unbalanced line, so that might have to be increased.
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