Thread: DAW BUILD 2013
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:21 PM   #72
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It's a very small force when talking about your computer fans, and more than likely negligible but eliminating fans and their noise is a no brainer in my books.
This is something I would argue. Not in that I disagree that the source should be eliminated, because it absolutely should. The problem is that not all fans are created equally. Thousands of hours of development go into the creation and design of fans that are very quiet. Those fans are a really good tool to be utilized when building a machine that is going to see professional studio life. This is primarily because of the fact that many places that build "professional" systems, throw lots of fans into the machines.

If I have 1 fan that produces 20dB of noise, and I add a second identical fan, now the two produce 23dB. Add a third identical fan, and now the three produce 26dB. This is under the assumption that the fans are very low noise (and 20dB to begin with). I will put a significant amount of money into purchasing higher quality fans in order to reduce the overall noise they produce, as well as only purchasing fans when necessary. More fans does not equal better cooling, nor does faster fans.

The whole idea behind airflow is to move the most, produce the least amount of noise while doing so, and use the least amount of power. There are many good fans that have fin spacing, blade angles, and textures or extra features in order to help accomplish these goals. Compare those to your run of the mill off the shelf fans, and the price difference will seem insane. The $10 fan you can pick up at radio shack will be much louder, move less airflow, and perform generally far worse when compared to say a $35 fan from Noise Blocker or Noctua.

When getting into the physical number of fans, many people see a place for a fan on their case, and they get an extra one to go there. I see many builds like this, and it's simply wrong. Case manufacturers do this, and I honestly don't know why. There are Intel spec sheets about thermal design and airflow strategies that are less than 3 years old that still emphasize "proper" front to back airflow. Something these sheets don't explain is the importance of air pressure, the hole sizes in grills, or the positioning of fans to allow physics to do it's natural job. Heat rises. Place exhaust fans higher up, and towards the top and rear of the case. A single CPU fan is in most cases equally efficient as two, while reducing the noise by 3dB in comparison.

I build servers, and they make little to no sound whatsoever. I also maintain servers that make enough noise to make me very irritable while they're starting up. Computers do not need to be so noisy. Choosing proper components saves you money, makes the machine quieter, and allows the machine to run cooler. There are a number of aftermarket coolers that are very good at cooling, and allow for studio computers today to be quieter than ever. In some cases, even fanless.

This is a topic I could drone on about for days on end, because it's what I feel is most overlooked when it comes to building any computer. If you wanted to count every fan in my computer, the number is 7. That includes 2 on the stock graphics card cooler and 1 in the power supply. 2 CPU fans (one for each CPU), and 2 exhaust fans (one top, one rear). Intake fans are useless, they put a source of noise close to you, and not only does it create noise, but as Andy Hamm mentioned, it's turbulent. This doesn't have to exist, and that's why it's so incredibly important to really plan builds out before ordering any parts. Select the quietest parts to start with, and the system will have a great starting point. Add DynaMat or AcoustiPack. Use rubber fan grommets to reduce vibrations. Suspend hard drives, or select a case that has soft mounts for the drives. Select higher quality, quieter fans. Use coolers that are "overkill" for your needs. This will allow the system to run cooler, last longer, and just be quieter.

I'll go eat some cookies so I stop ranting, but especially in the case of people who are working in untreated rooms, this is immensely important to learn, or at least take advice from others about. I've seen a lot of "professional" systems from the likes of Puget, Boxx and other brands. Sometimes they have specific models that are for "studio use" and are supposedly quieter than others. Not all of these brands deliver this promise. Some used to, and no longer do. It's important to know what you're getting into before you drop a huge chunk of change into it.
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Last edited by JGrabowMST; 03-08-2014 at 12:36 AM.
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