If you aren't used to a real gaming card then you can quickly realise the price that is paid in decibels.
That said, I didn't think the 9600gt was a noisy card. You do get used to it though. My 4870 is horrendously loud compared to my 8800gt, and at first I thought I'd go mad listening to it. I hardly even recognise it now.
No offense, but the noise probably made you deaf :-)
The issue for me and ATi cards has always been noise. I still buy their products, but they have been known to be real loud. Who remembers the FX5800?