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Topic: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

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  1. #1

    Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    I am starting to get annoyed at the hum and fan noise that my DAW produces while I am composing. I would like to know what other musicians do to quiet there DAW. I've seen sound-proof cases for PC's, but they seemed expensive and then I would need extra space to place it in. I've also heard of acoustic foam to quiet PC's, but haven't had much luck finding some. I would love to hear ideas on the subject.

    Thank you!
    _______________________________________
    "I would rather compose than decompose."


    Sean C. Dockery
    www.SeanDockery.com




    Cubase 5, Komplete 6, Alchemy, PLAY, Vienna Instruments, Spectrasonics, and much more

    INTEL|CORE I7 980X 3.33G, 12G CORSAIR DDR3, SSD 160G|OCZ for OS.






  2. #2

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    Buy extension cords for all the peripherals and move the daw out of the room. Best thing that ever happened to me!

    /Daniel Beckman

  3. #3

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    I have spent a lot of time looking into this. There is not any one right way to handle this issue. The best ways are cost prohibitive. As others have said, if you can locate your computer in another room, that will be best. Then there are iso cabinets and such...

    Personally, I had the most success by focusing on making the PC quieter. My 2.5 ghz intel is so quiet that you can barely hear that its on, so it just sits right next to my feet, no iso cab or special case or anything. There are lots of sites that talk about how to make PC's quieter and for the most part, they are elaorate schemes that again cost a lot of money.

    1 - At the time I got these PC's, AMD CPU's were running way hotter than the current Intel CPU's. Just switching to Intel alone meant I could use a quieter CPU fan...which I have found to be the noisiest compononent, along with HD's. I don't know what the current trend is, but speak with someone that knows. I had a great experience putting together a custom spec'd PC with http://www.jncs.com/. They do not specialize in DAW's per say, but they build just about any configuration you want. I was able to speak on the phone with a knowledgable guy and talk about issues such as the PC needing to be quiet and other issues related to chipsets and audio work. He very quickly reccomended to me at the time that Intel based mobo's with Intel chipsets were going to be more likely to work well with all the audio related stuff, and also at that time, the current crop of Intel CPU's were running much cooler than that current crop of AMD's. He also reccomended NOT getting the top processor, but one that was a run or two down the ladder, which again ran much cooler. the situatiotn between AMD and Intel may be different today, but check with someone like that who knows. All I can say is that I was so happy with the computer they sent me I ordered another one 2 months later. My computer is so quiet at my feet, I can barely hear it.

    2 - Some HD's are way quieter than others. I'm using Barracuda's and they are pretty darn quiet. Also, no more than 2 HD's per computer

    3 - Pretty standard Antec case that has several case fans, all of which run at very low RPM. The end result is that they can pump the hot air out of the case without making too much noise.

    4 - There are certain Power supplies which are known for being quieter than others....due to fan design. Get one of those.

    5 - I put an aftermarket heat sink/fan on my Intel CPU, which further reduced the RPM's of the CPU fan and lowered the noise while still maintaining a reasonable temperature. There are many products like this that range from small and subtle to huge monstrocities. You don't really need a huge monstrocity unless you're a gaming freak running an overclocked CPU. the one I put in, can't remember which it was, was just a little bit bigger than the stock one, and definitely did lower the CPU fan noise..though if you had the CPU cranking away..the fan speed would probably go up a bit.

    Before doing all that I was thinking about fancy cases, iso boxes, extenstion cables to put the pc in another room, etc..and in the end, its so quiet I don't really have to. Mind you, I'm not running the latest/fastest CPU's. But frankly, the CPU is good enough for what I need to do and the fact that it runs cooler and quieter more than makes up for the fact that I can't get that one extra reverb going at the same time as a much of others. I'd almost rather just run two computers at this noise level and put the 2nd in the other room (networked). Lots of options.

    The iso boxes are expensive, bulky...and I have no idea how well they actually work. Putting the pC itself into another room can also get expensive depending on what cables you have to run and if you exceed any max length restrictions...for example...DVI video..

    good luck.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  4. #4

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    Thank you everyone for your advice....and very good advice it was. This morning I moved my setup to the other side of my music room near the closet. I was able to put my PC in the closet and have everything else set up exactly like I had it before. What a difference! Night and day! It is SO much quieter now. Thanks a million Eldhrimnir, Lee, & Dewdman. If any of you are ever in the Las Vegas area please e-mail me and I would be happy to buy you a drink.

    Thanks again, and take care,
    _______________________________________
    "I would rather compose than decompose."


    Sean C. Dockery
    www.SeanDockery.com




    Cubase 5, Komplete 6, Alchemy, PLAY, Vienna Instruments, Spectrasonics, and much more

    INTEL|CORE I7 980X 3.33G, 12G CORSAIR DDR3, SSD 160G|OCZ for OS.






  5. #5
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    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    I've also built a quiet PC which is barely audible. I use Zalman cooling fans on my processors, a quiet power supply, a video card with a quiet fan (many video cards have very noisy fans) and I'm running Seagate SATA hard drives which are quite quiet. The PC never gets louder even when running it at close to 100% CPU usage.

    I would recommend getting video cards without fans if possible. Use one of the quiet PC websites for recommendations as products change on a regular basis. Beware of power supplies that claim to be quiet, many aren't.

    BTW, I only use a fan on the CPU and in the power supply. The case I use has very good airflow and the CPU and motherboard stay way under the max temps. (CPU - 110-120F idling and just a little bit more when at close to 100% CPU.)

    Jim

  6. #6

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    In the new room I have, I have a machine closet with an air conditioner on it's own circuit. That was not costly at all because the closet was already there and it was big enough to house everything. I'm sure if the closet wasn't there, it would have been much more to build a room than to buy an iso-box.

    However, I do agree with Lee and others about the stress such temps put on the machines.

    This all being said, I just had a machine built by ADK Pro Audio, and although I didn't request it, it was housed in a VERY quiet box. So quiet, I had to look at the light to make sure it's on!!!!

    I don't have the name, but I remember the carton it was shipped in saying something about it being a "silent" CPU case.

    jfair

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    and try and avoid my mistake of getting a motherboard with a northbridge chip fan as they, like graphics cards fans are usually noisy and potentially harder to deal with as there no guarantee that there will be an alternative that fits, depending on the exact chip location and what gets in the way.

  8. #8

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    All of the above advice is good and include steps I have taken to reduce or eliminate hum.

    One other piece of advise:

    Use directional mics and place your talent opposite your recording computer such that they are looking at it and thus the mics are not recording that side of the room.

    Believe it or not, this works very well!!!

    Also, use auralex or other proven sound proofing foam product to dampen your room entirely (and not moving blankets). That has also made a world of difference for me.

    Mike

  9. #9

    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    Well there are other practical concerns as well, such as how long of a video cable will you need and are there max limits to how long of a video cable you can use? Where will your soundcard be? In the other room? If its a firewire soundcard, what is the max limit for the firewire cable so that you can have your soundcard in the music room? If not, then you will have to run audio cables from the other room into this room...and/or a snake...etc...

    One thing I have thought of to get around the video issue is to have a cheap PC with monitor in music room. Something slow that runs quiet. Then use Remote desktop to access the power house in the other room. that still does not solve the audiocard issues though...depending on how far away the other room is.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  10. #10
    Senior Member Richard Berg's Avatar
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    Re: Sound-proofing your DAW. Any Ideas?

    Moving your PC to another room is always best, if possible. In many circumstances, it's not. Luckily, the art of building silent PCs has gotten much more popular in the last few years, with lots of mainstreams manufacturers making the parts we need. The best web resource I've found is http://www.silentpcreview.com -- lots of hardware reviews, advice, and a forum full of people who are just as fanatical about silent PCs as we are about samples

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