“Silence isn't Golden...or  How to Build a Quiet Computer Without Breaking the Bank”


Frank Stroupe


      Last month, I talked about the benefits of building your own PC for recording.  I'll say again, it is something that you should seriously think about.  This month, I am going to discuss one very important consideration for anyone recording music...how to build silence into your computer.

Regardless of how much time, labor,and expense you have spent on getting your home studio quiet, all of your expense and work can be for nil if you have a PC sitting in it that sounds  somewhat like a jet taking off, or has loud, clattering hard drives that are just dying to be picked up by your prize possession, that Neumann that you saved for for over two years.

A very dear friend of mine, who spent hours giving me invaluable help when I first started home recording, has a loud computer that drives him crazy.  He has talked about building an isolation box for it, using very long cables so he can put it in another room, all sorts of ideas trying to solve his PC noise problem.  He lives in another country, so I'm not able to quite make him believe that my everyday rig sits on my desk, just over 1 foot from my face, and I pretty much can't hear it.

And to be honest, I really haven't done much of anything special to get enough silence from my rig that I would have no problem with recording acoustic guitar sitting next to it...I have just paid a little extra attention to how I use the enthusiast parts that I would have purchased anway.


      Most cases that mass produced computers are placed in are small, the trend seems to be that the smaller the better.  I suppose that if you are really stressed for space, a small computer could be important.  But, for a few reasons, that small case contributes to a louder computer.  Personally, I like larger cases, and my everyday computer's case is about 25% larger than the standard mid-tower.

      A smaller case necessarily means less fans.  I'll discuss that next.  It also means less room for a higher performance CPU cooler.  Also, your hard drive(s) are forced to be closer to the outside of the case, making it much more likely for hard drive "clatter" to be heard outside of the case.  Additionally, a smaller case usually allows little to no room for internal improvements.

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