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x^2
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#1
11th October 2010
Old 11th October 2010
  #1
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Lightbulb soundproof computer cabinet

hi there!


i´ve been thinking about quietening my pc system.

since even with low-noise fans and some passive cooling you still have the hdd noises, i thought about putting the whole computer in a soundproof (as far as it gets) cabinet.
the whole chamber containing the pc would be stuffed with some 50kg/m^3 fibreglass like owens corning or rockwool. the only entrances would be 2 fans (120 mm), one sucking in air, one blowing out. the air intake and the exhaust would be designed labyrinth-like, also covered with owens corning/rockwool.
with this i would expect to absorb most of the noise of the 2 fans and the computer itself. am i right with this or will much sound still pass unaffected?

i have attached 3 sketches to further clarify my idea.
everything yellow is the owens corning/rockwool. the blue square in the front is the door (for access ).
i have also marked the way of airflow with the arrows.
the cables will go out through the back and through a thick layer of owens corning/rockwool too, totally and closely surrounded by it.

the design is a first sketch without exact sizes and just to illustrate my idea.

is this a reasonable approach? if not... where did i go wrong? is it maybe a waste of money or will my labyrinth design with sound absorbing materials not silence enough noise to make it worthwhile.

thanks for any feedback.


p.s.: the computer modell is from google sketchup gallery and does not in any way reflect my actual computer manufacturer^^
Attached Thumbnails
soundproof computer cabinet-sp_box4_3dall.jpg   soundproof computer cabinet-sp_box4_inhale.jpg   soundproof computer cabinet-sp_box5_3dall.jpg  
#2
11th October 2010
Old 11th October 2010
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You don't need to be that elaborate. If you do that kind of baffling, you'll need to have a fan at the end of the outlet, not in the middle or you'll never get sufficient cooling.

I'd also use ductboard instead of standard fiberglass. The duct board has a film on it specifically designed for airflow. It smooths the path for better flow and also provides a very thin barrier to prevent any fibers from coming loose.

Before you go this far, have you tried neoprene bushings for the hard drives as well as damping the case itself? That will likely cut the noise by half. Also, the frequency range and noise level you're talking about is so small that even just a standard box with a little ductboard (no baffling) and intake in the front and outlet in the top (front) would likely do the job since the exhaust and power supply fans in most cases are in the rear of the PC case.

I'd bet money that you'd be down to a level that's below the ambient noise level of the room.

Bryan
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#3
11th October 2010
Old 11th October 2010
  #3
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Hi Bryan,

I worked selling IT stuff (for a taiwanese PSU manufacturer) and spent a lot of time at computer trade shows...

What I would do is this:

Solid state hard drive - no moving parts, a LOT quieter (pretty much silent) and faster memory access. cost more per GB than a standard HDD but will last longer IMO and less likely to die on you losing all your hard work.

Liquid CPU cooling - someone like "Cool IT" have entry level coolers. They still have a fan but it's at much lower RPMs so barely audable

PSU, loads to choose from. They have a standard called 80 Plus these days which is all about energy efficiency. Computer inefficiency is manifested in HEAT which is why the fans are going round so fast. If you have a more efficient PSU, it wont need such a lot of cooling and will be quieter as a result. Go for and 80 Plus Gold certificate nd you will get something MEGA quiet and easy on your power bill. They also tend to be better designed and manufactured as it takes some real knowledge to make a piece of it like that. Anyone with half a brain can make a "normal" PSU.

If none of that works, then try the cabinet type idea. I would just be a little worried about frying the computer!! If you want a COMPLETELY SILENT computer..... Do this:
Mineral Oil Submerged Computer; Our Most Popular Custom PC

GOOD LUCK!

Tom
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x^2
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#4
12th October 2010
Old 12th October 2010
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Thanks for your input Bryan and Tom.

I thought about going for a cabinet mainly because of this:
On my recent computer I noticed that lots of noise is not directly produced by the fans themselves but by vibrations being transmitted to the case and inner parts. This seems to get worse overtime due to dust and other dirt accumulating in the fans´ middle and is almost impossible to clean properly. Even with a monthly clean up the noises became worse and worse.


I´m now going to put together a completly new pc. And I´m afraid that even with an extra investment in quiet cooling this will happen again.
So my line of thoughts was to just completly avoid that issue by putting it in such a cabinet.


The idea of ductboard is very good. I didn´t know that stuff before and after looking it up it seems really suitable. Probably worth a first test run just with this stuffed in the case.


The solite state drives are familiar to me but they are still a little expensive. And absolute silence is not necessary since I don´t record in that room. It´s just about a reasonable noise level for proper working.^^

I have to admit that I wasn´t worried about cooling problems. Never experienced them in my recent system.
And with the 2 extra fans in the cabinet I expected to be on the safe side. Maybe that is a little bit naive...
#5
12th October 2010
Old 12th October 2010
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The silentpcreview site was a great asset to use in the build process. The current machine is quite a bit less noisy than water cooling can provide.. I used lots of ducting to make sure the air entering the box is used to wick of lot of heat before it exits. Typically, most air simply goes straight through without providing any cooling at all. The ductwork I used is acoustic absorption foam. Dual purpose! Measuring the intake air temperature vs component temperature and outlet air temperature gives you an indicator of how well the cooling performs.

The machine is 4 years old now, so things have probably changed. Back then, the case to have was called Antec P180 (or P182). It may have been replaced by something newer by now. Or there may be another box that is the prefered tool for the silent PC builders. Having a case specifically built for silent operation makes things a lot easier. Vibration noise is a non-issue with rubber gaskets on all moving parts and larger rubber boots shock suspension on the harddrive (samsung spinpoint). The big slow 12cm fans are running at about 6 volts (using a control panel to get lower voltage). 7 volts can be found across the 5 and 12 volt power lines if you don't have a controller. Just make sure the rest of the stuff is connected before you hook up a fan across those lines.

The end result is very silent. The "noise" is a steady swoosh of slow moving air. This is made totally inaudible when it's hidden behind some rockwool absorption. The rockwool wraps around the case, ensuring there's no warm air return to the cold air intakes. It also happens to be the literally coolest computer I've ever owned. Harddrives lurks at about 30'C, system components at 35-40'C and CPU at 50'C.

Or, you could drop that issue altogether by having a machine room!
#6
12th October 2010
Old 12th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x^2 View Post
Thanks for your input Bryan and Tom.

I thought about going for a cabinet mainly because of this:
On my recent computer I noticed that lots of noise is not directly produced by the fans themselves but by vibrations being transmitted to the case and inner parts. This seems to get worse overtime due to dust and other dirt accumulating in the fans´ middle and is almost impossible to clean properly. Even with a monthly clean up the noises became worse and worse.


I´m now going to put together a completly new pc. And I´m afraid that even with an extra investment in quiet cooling this will happen again.
So my line of thoughts was to just completly avoid that issue by putting it in such a cabinet.


The idea of ductboard is very good. I didn´t know that stuff before and after looking it up it seems really suitable. Probably worth a first test run just with this stuffed in the case.


The solite state drives are familiar to me but they are still a little expensive. And absolute silence is not necessary since I don´t record in that room. It´s just about a reasonable noise level for proper working.^^

I have to admit that I wasn´t worried about cooling problems. Never experienced them in my recent system.
And with the 2 extra fans in the cabinet I expected to be on the safe side. Maybe that is a little bit naive...
If you get something like an Antec Sontata case, it's pretty quiet and has a very quiet power supply. It also has a removable filter on the inlet side that's washable. Add in a fanless video board and a heat-pipe motherboard and you have almost zero fan noise. A little but not a lot. The heat pipe technology has come a long way very quickly. I have a PC that I use for a music server and it's really quiet with the Antec case, heat pipe motherboard and heatpipe video card. The only time it gets noisy is when my CD drive revs up to rip CD's.

One other thing you want to watch is drive speed. The higher the speed of a hard drive, generally, the louder they will be. For most applications, 7200 RPM drives are fine. You don't need a 10k drive.

Also, the Sonata comes with slide out trays for drives which come with rubber/neoprene bushings which drastically cuts down on drive noise.

Solid state drives are great if you can justify the cost and you don't need a couple of Terrabytes.

My only concern with the serpentine path is the restriction of airflow, even with a fan since the fan is still 'pushing' air through the restricted area rather than pulling from the top - where the fan would again be audible somewhat.

A simpler path and making good use of natrual convection coupled with an MDF cabinet and duct board should be fine. Just make sure the top vent is at the front, away from the PS fan.


Bryan
#7
30th March 2011
Old 30th March 2011
  #7
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Deshusingh is offline
The best option in my opinion is to keep the computer outside of Ur control room with reasonable cable extensions.This is exactly what i am going to do in my own Control Room Which is under construction right now.
SAC
#8
31st March 2011
Old 31st March 2011
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Of course you can always simply dunk the entire PC unit, sans active I/O devices (CD/DVD players, etc) into a mineral oil bath. The unit will function perfectly well and the oil will provide an ideal thermal dissipative sink. And you don't need any fans! Great for noise and thermal issues!

But you might find a strainer handy to scoop out the French fries when they are done...

Not the first think most folks think of, but very efficient!

This is an old proven technique that has been done for years with transformers.

#9
31st March 2011
Old 31st March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAC View Post

This is an old proven technique that has been done for years with transformers.

Up to the late 80s or even 90s, some transfor,mers were manufactured using pretty dangerous oils, and I remember a few occasions when the surrounding districts had to be evacuated after a leak was discovered .

So make a good choice, else the fries might be quite harmful to eat tutttutt
SAC
#10
31st March 2011
Old 31st March 2011
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PCBs haven't been used since 1979. Typically the oil used now in transformers is (I believe) silicone based, although mineral and vegetable oils are being used for many applications for both noise and thermal cooling..

For our purposes here vegetable or mineral oil works.

Mmmm, fries and mineral oil!

I mentioned this not because I expect anyone to run out and do it, although it is a perfectly legitimate application, but because most are not familiar with the technique,
#11
31st March 2011
Old 31st March 2011
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While I generally agree that passive, heat-pipe CPU coolers, SSD, rubber mounting, efficient PSUs and large case fans turning slow are probably the best thing to do first; I have some hints if you are going to build a box.

1) The airflow on most PCs is front to back - so the intake should terminate at the front of the computer and the exhaust should start at the top in the back of the chamber.

2) Intake and exhaust fans are not needed. It'd be better to put the two fans next to each other between the chamber and the exhuast labrynth.

3) Bigger cross-section flows more air and doesn't change the sound isolation so much. If you make your ducting the size of two fans (120x240mm = 36x8cm) you will improve the airflow. The intake could be a bit bigger than that.



-tINY

#12
31st March 2011
Old 31st March 2011
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i installed a noctua fan, it made a world of difference.

my next upgrades will be a power supply from be quiet!, noctua front and rear fans, solid state state hard drives, and a better case.

after i do those upgrades, the computer will be extremely quiet, and i will not need to build a box, or have the PC in another room.
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#13
25th February 2012
Old 25th February 2012
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Chiming in an older post ....For several days I've been thinking about building a fairly large/roomy cabinet to house my music DAW computer in...especially since I'm setting up my older DAW to be used as a slave machine. Two computers together are much louder than one!

I have a closet in the room but the location won't work out so well for my home studio setup being I won't be able to run my audio cards breakout boxes far enough. So I thought....if I can't bring the DAW to the closet, why not bring the closet to the DAW!!!! (insane laughter)

Ok..so not a 'closet' per say, but a large cabinet built and placed at the prefered location that works for my set up and space.

My idea.... (without doing any DAW upgrades) is build a large cabinet on wheels to move, a lazy susan on underside to easily rotate, removable panels to gain access, a see through front door, IN/OUT vents with insulating quiet flexable ducting at rear for air flow which to be vented through the floor to under the house with the aid of fans that are also under the house to move air at a higher volume. The fresh air to be drawn from under the house where it's the coolest, and also exhausted air to go under the house. This way all air moving in and out of the cabinet will not be directly in the open room where air movement will be noisy. The idea is pretty much like a mini sound booth for the DAW computer...or more than one in my case. But may not need to be fully or technically 'sound proofed' per say.
#14
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #14
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I have my PC, Ext Drives, Trannys, UPS and virtually anything that clicks, hums or whirs in a DIY Isobox (box in box, with built-in silencers on air in and out).
As it is, I used two large muffin fans wired in series (= 1/2 speed) installed between the inner box and the exhauist silencer. If I were to make another one I would use an axial fan as these seem to be more efficient in this type of configuration.

I was recently thinking about connecting directly into the HVAC system via flexducts.

At any rate, in any enclosure for devices that generate heat it is important to incorporate a thermometer (digital typically) for monitoring heat levels in the enclosure, and preferably one with a programmable alarm.
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#15
28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
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I just recently built a new computer for my main studio PC. I chose to go with water cooling for noise reasons, even though I don't record anything (its just annoying)

I have a Corsair 500R case. It came with an oversized side fan, which is beautiful for providing tons of airflow at low speeds. My rear case fan ended up being noisy, so I went to Frys Electronics and bought a Silenx brand fan (which tbh looked like a product of lame marketing, but it definitely is quiet). Other than those fans, there's also two hdd cooling fans at the front of my case. The side fan and two front fans can be controlled from the front of my case via an included switch. I have them turned down to the lowest setting. I use an SSD for my main hard drive, and have a Corsair Silent Pro power supply.

When I turn my computer on, I hear no audible difference in my room. Same when I turn it off. It is ****ing beautiful. I've tried recording my ambient room noise and I could not hear my pc at all.

I am not suggesting that everyone should build my same PC, but, just offering that you can easily make a massive impact by just changing out parts like your power supply, fans, and heatsinks. I don't think I'll ever be able to stray away from water cooling now. My computer is silent and runs under 40c all day.

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#16
28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
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I built a box for my computer to prevent it against vibrations and also for blocking noise. No fan, I just made sure (monitoring CPU temperature) the box is big enough (knee high, one foot across, a little more than two feet deep) and sometimes in between takes I open the door. So far, no problem for years. It's an old Apple 1.25Ghz G4 running OSX 10.4 which is more than enough processing power for tracking and a monitor mix. (Mixing is in another room, on another machine)
I followed the rules for isolation cabs for putting 4x12"s in boxes ;-) the main advantage seems to fix two layers (or more) of press board or plywood or MDF together with differing thickness to handle resonant peaks. The idea behind that: each material and thickness has it's resonant frequency. If you (glue, screw, whatever) fix two different ones together, the second layer prevents the first one from resonating when it's frequency rings. Then I put a block of foam into the box, another layer of plywood free floating on top of it and that's where the computer sits. Just like the tricks to isolate turntables from vibrating stages.
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#17
28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
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The main reason I was thinking of ducting it into the HVAC was to eliminate the necessity of using fans at all.

Something to keep in mind, when having your PC in an isobox, you can/should remove the PC housing (cover) altogether! In my case I opted not to do this but my casing is predominantly made out of black perforated sheeting so is in effect open as far as airflow is concerned.
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