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Noctua Evolves Fan Active Noise Cancellation Approach

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

Noctua showed off its Active Noise Cancellation technology at Computex 2014.

Editor's Note: While Computex took place last week and all of the news announcements are behind us, we're still sorting through hundreds of in-person meetings and demonstrations, picking out just a few more of the most interesting items we saw up close.

Not only did Noctua reveal new fans and new CPU coolers at Computex 2014, the company also gave an update on its Active Noise Cancellation concept. Noctua has been working on bringing the production cost down as well as improving little details in the manufacturing.

Active Noise Cancellation is a fairly simple concept: one sound wave can be used to cancel out another. But the problem is far more complex when trying to cancel out fan noise as sound is emitted in rotational pressure fields, according to Jakob Dellinger, Head of Press and PR at Noctua. To cancel out noise emitted by a fan, you have to match the same rotational pressure fields, otherwise the sound waves will work together to make even more noise.

To solve this problem, Noctua built a coil into the fan frame, along with magnets at the tips of the fan blades. Together, this can be used to move the fan blades in such a way that it behaves as a speaker. As such, the source of the noise is also the source of the anti-noise.

This technology does not remove all fan noise. The main noise patterns that are reduced are the peaks in the noise, which are the most unpleasant bits. Dellinger handed us some headphones, which were connected to the in-case microphone, and despite the noise that came from the Computex crowd, we were still able to observe an improvement, very distinctly.  

Noctua has been working on a cheaper method of molding the magnets into the tips of the fan blades, as well as managing to source a cheaper ANC controller. Noctua is also finishing off the product firmware.

In addition to using the technology in an air-cooler, Noctua also indicated that it would create kits that can be used with water cooling radiators, the controllers of which would be self-learning so that they would adapt to the different noise patterns created when using different radiators.

We also finally got an ETA on these products: Q2 or Q3 2015. When we asked about pricing, we got a very simple and clear response: "Expensive."

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Discuss
Add your comment Display all 19 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Leamon , June 13, 2014 9:11 AM
    There comes a point where you have to realize it's just fan noise. I'm only a foot and a half from mine and the noise doesn't bother me at all. Who is really willing to pay such a high price for this?
  • 6 Hide
    vmem , June 13, 2014 9:33 AM
    "When we asked about pricing, we got a very simple and clear response: "Expensive.""

    well their regular fans are $20-30... so we're probably looking at $50+ fans here :p 
  • 1 Hide
    vmem , June 13, 2014 9:34 AM
    Quote:
    There comes a point where you have to realize it's just fan noise. I'm only a foot and a half from mine and the noise doesn't bother me at all. Who is really willing to pay such a high price for this?


    I love how some people complain about PC fan noise, go out of their way to build a silent PC, then blast some 12,000U AC unit on high to keep room temperature in check in the summer
  • 3 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 13, 2014 10:17 AM
    Impressive using the fan's own blades to reduce noise. No audio clip?
  • 7 Hide
    leo2kp , June 13, 2014 10:25 AM
    "Expensive"...and brown. Don't forget the brown.
  • 2 Hide
    skit75 , June 13, 2014 10:34 AM
    @RCguitarist

    Those are nothing compared to the rare earth magnets in your spindle hard drive.... those can nearly take your finger off if you aren't careful.
  • 0 Hide
    segio526 , June 13, 2014 11:17 AM
    I wonder if this can be adapted to make quieter remote controlled drones and helicopters.
  • 5 Hide
    gm0n3y , June 13, 2014 11:51 AM
    This is actually really cool. If I could greatly improve the airflow in my case with no increase in noise, I'd be willing to pay a lot more. This could actually make smaller cases with smaller, higher RPM fans more appealing.
  • 4 Hide
    zhunt99 , June 13, 2014 12:13 PM
    Pair these with a water cooler radiator and you're looking pretty good.
  • 2 Hide
    renzhe , June 13, 2014 1:05 PM
    I work with audio a lot on my computer, which I've built for this purpose. Less noise lets me hear more stuff without turning the volume up too much.
  • 3 Hide
    getochkn , June 13, 2014 5:44 PM
    Quote:
    Magnets inside my pc case...that makes me nervous.


    Yes, because they put all this R&D into coming up with these fans but will destroy the inside of your PC because of the magnets and they didn't think of that.

    Your HD has magnets inside of it! OMG.
  • 0 Hide
    lancelot123 , June 13, 2014 9:25 PM
    Quote:
    I love how some people complain about PC fan noise, go out of their way to build a silent PC, then blast some 12,000U AC unit on high to keep room temperature in check in the summer

    That is why I'm on a quest to find a efficient, low noise window AC unit. Friedrich seems to be the brand to go with.
  • 0 Hide
    RCguitarist , June 14, 2014 1:32 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Magnets inside my pc case...that makes me nervous.


    Yes, because they put all this R&D into coming up with these fans but will destroy the inside of your PC because of the magnets and they didn't think of that.

    Your HD has magnets inside of it! OMG.


    That's the main reason I wouldn't want a bunch of little magnets spinning around inside my case.
  • 0 Hide
    getochkn , June 14, 2014 2:50 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Magnets inside my pc case...that makes me nervous.


    Yes, because they put all this R&D into coming up with these fans but will destroy the inside of your PC because of the magnets and they didn't think of that.

    Your HD has magnets inside of it! OMG.


    That's the main reason I wouldn't want a bunch of little magnets spinning around inside my case.


    What reason is that? Fan's have magnets in them already, HD's do. You already have little magnets spinning around inside your case.
  • 0 Hide
    Bondfc11 , June 14, 2014 11:35 AM
    Great idea - I would be down for some. And my whole house ACs compressors are outside I don't hear a thing to cool my house so fan noise is very evident in my gaming den. I would love a nearly silent rig - water cooled and these? Perfect.
  • 0 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , June 15, 2014 7:10 PM
    They should market this technology as "Overkill Noise Killer".
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , June 16, 2014 5:18 AM
    Fans for me aren't the main cause of noise in a modern system, electrical noise from coil whine is more of an issue.
  • 0 Hide
    onichikun , June 16, 2014 11:30 AM
    Quote:
    Fans for me aren't the main cause of noise in a modern system, electrical noise from coil whine is more of an issue.

    Coil whine shouldn't be an issue when the electronics are designed properly.
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