Sound Proof Your Hard Drive

There are two issues to consider with respect to noise: it can be a byproduct of high-performance hardware or caused by the cooling measures you use to keep those high-performance parts running stably. Moreover, it can have different and complex origins.

Unwanted noise is always annoying, unless you’re just really accustomed to it. We take a look at two entirely different products that both aim to reduce hard drive noise, which is one of the remaining sound sources in a PC once you have silenced fans and other traditionally noisy components.

Noise Sources

Unless a PC is designed to be a silent system that only utilizes passively cooled components, every system will emit a certain level of noise. Hard drives and optical drives are based on rotating platters and discs, and the actuators have to reposition heads all the time, creating noise due to the resulting vibration. CPU and graphics coolers, as well as system fans, create noise because of their own rotation and resulting air movement. Again, vibration is a big source for noise, as the fans turn quickly to push air over hot components.

Definition of Noise

One issue with noise is that the human ear is not equally sensitive to all frequencies of the sound spectrum, and everyone’s ears are different. So, a particular noise that may annoy me might not bother you at all. Although noise is subjective, it can be measured objectively in decibels, which represent the magnitude of the sound level (sound pressure) relative to a reference level. A sound pressure reference level of 0 dB equals silence, and the decibel scale was designed to describe the power ratio that results from a certain sound pressure. Decibel is a base-10 logarithmic unit, meaning that 40 dB is double the sound pressure of 30 dB, 50 dB is twice as much as 40 dB, and so on.

Sound Proofing

There are two main ways of reducing noise. First, you can either put the sound source into a soundproof enclosure, which reduces the noise carried through air by providing solid materials that causes acoustic waves to reflect and fizzle out. Second, you can mount sound sources in a way that decouples them from other materials that may be influenced by the sound source’s vibration and create additional vibration.

The first product here is a computer case by 3RSystem, which comes with a hard drive cage allowing you to decouple your hard drive from the case, preventing vibrations from being amplified. The second product is a drive silencer cage by GrowUp Japan.