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Quiet Hard Drives For Audiophiles


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Hey guys - Lets start a thread about hard drive sound. This one is tough because what some people consider silent is what others consider a space shuttle. We'll try this anyway. Please post your experience or anything else related to hard drive noise. What are you using? How loud is it?

 

The more information we get here the better off we'll all be.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Best place to look for everything related with PC&Noise:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

 

Quick review on the subject. The Samsung HDs a very well none to be very, very quieted (all my drives are Samsung, I'm very happy)...WD released the new "Green Power" HD's wich seams to be the quietest desktop drives ever....Green, low power, and very quiet !!!

 

From my personal experience, from testing almost every HD brand...no drive is dead silent(even in idle mode), the secret is in a good enclosure for them(there's a lot of vibration). But I also can had that, today in my mix of Water Cooled and fans system, the noise that comes from the HD's is not my biggest concern.

 

Renato

 

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about hard drives just be checking out the various Mac user forums, Chris. But as you say, one man's silent is not another's. In fact, I read one thread where a guy made reference to a specific site for a manufacturer that builds hard drive enclosures that are supposed to be completely silent. Another thread was filled with photos showing how this guy built his own enclosure out of particle board and filled it with some type of foam. I didn't have the inclination for this, and those ready-made enclosures turned out to be ultra expensive.

 

At first, I thought I might want to have one of those drives that are the same size and shape as a Mini. But investigation proved that most of these have fans in them, or are not recommended by their owners. One brand in particular was said to have lots of drive failures fairly quickly. A lot of the posters were saying that they were going in there and disconnecting the fans because they were so loud. There is one Mini lookalike case that has no fan in it, and is made of aluminum with heat sinks. This interested me, but I found that the company that makes it (I forget who) doesn't sell the enclosure by itself, and the largest drive capacity they were offering was 320GB.

 

In the end, the consensus seems to be that fanless solid aluminum cases act best as heat sinks, and if you can find one that's vented you'll keep your drive even cooler.

 

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I have a G-Drive, from G-Technolgy. 500GB, Firewire and USB, no fan. It's still loud. The aluminum case and heat sink seem to act as noise spreaders. The thing isn't a howler by any means, but I certainly know it's on and wouldn't want to use it for anything other than back-up.

 

Right now I'm using a La Cie Porsche design 500GB USB. I can hear it, but it's not obnoxious, and it's only about two feet away.

 

 

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Has anyone tried a portable hard drive that runs off USB power and only has a speed of 4200 or 5400 rpm?

 

Something tells me these would be real quiet, but may not be very large. For a music collection the platter speed really shouldn't come into play that often.

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Something tells me these would be real quiet, but may not be very large. For a music collection the platter speed really shouldn't come into play that often.

 

I wonder about this in terms of disk access, Chris, but not in terms of the actual playing of the music files. Having been hard at work at the music loading process, I notice (on the new C2D Mini) that the more music that's loaded, the longer it takes for iTunes itself to load. Once loaded, browsing thru the library using the search function is virtually instantaneous.

 

Since I spend a lot of time on Mac forums, I see that there are a lot of people who claim disk access is, in large part, due to the amount of RAM onboard. This doesn't seem to be the case from my experience, but I might be convinced to tear the new machine down and double the RAM from 1 to 2GB. What's the consensus?

 

BTW, speaking of drives, the internal ones in my two Minis (which are actually 2.5 laptop drives for those who are not familiar with the computer) differ tremendously in the amount of noise AND heat. I had replaced the original drive in the G4 Mini with a 7200 RPM Seagate Momentus; the C2D version came with a 5400 Hitachi. Not only does the Seagate produce less noise, it is also cooler! I would switch the two if they were both ATA, but as the new one uses SATA I have to leave things as they are.

 

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Hey SGB - The more music you load is definitely proportional to the length of time it takes iTunes to open. But, in my experience this has to to with the size of the library file and not the speed of the disk. When iTunes opens it really doesn't even access the music stored on the disk. You can test this by disconnecting you external drive. iTunes won't scream at all until you try to access a song.

 

You are keeping your library file local right?

 

The disk access & amount of RAM claim sounds pretty fishy to me. In my experience these two are pretty different.

 

I am really surprised to hear your comment about the 5400 & 7200 rpm drive differences. It is opposite what I thought.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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a Seagate fan. My reluctance to recommend a Seagate drive stems from my time in the computer business. In this case it's true, though. The new Mini gets warm to the touch... slightly above body temperature, which would make my guess that the top of the case is in the 100 - 103 range. I can hear the fan kick in at times, whereas the G4 remains just above room temperature, even after it's been on all day. The fan, of course just adds to the noise.

 

As for the iTunes access. It makes sense to me that even though the hard drive containing all of the music files may not be connected, the ancillary files stored on the internal drive have grown to 155.7MB and will get larger with the added music. I would reason that this has something to do with the slower opening times, since these tell the program what's in your music library. I don't expect this to get anywhere a gig in size, but 500MB maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

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My 500GB La Cie drive started acting up. It's a classic problem discussed on various Mac fora: strange noises, and it won't spin up. It seems to be a problem with the cheap power supply.

 

Once it got running I backed up all 430GB to another drive, a G-Technology 500GB Firewire. The backup took 8 hours. Whew.

 

I'd like to use the backup now as my main but have no idea how to get Itunes to switch allegiance. Maybe the simplest way is to rename the drive. I don't know if Itunes would have a fit.

 

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Can you just open iTunes and change the location of your library on the advanced tab, then add that folder to your library do iTunes scans it? That is what I have done. If you used some kind of backup software this will be a totally different story.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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That method might leave the index and art files on the original drive which if it goes kaput = pain. Another way would be to consolidate onto the new drive and manually move a few files over then point iTunes at the new library and your good to go. I'm pretty new to this so I hope I didn't miss the point of your question. I have had the joy of multiple consolidations recently tho!

 

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I'm using a Lacie 250GBHD and it is very quiet. I sets under my desk and I never hear it except during initial bootup. I have over 7k songs stored on it in Apple Lossless and it is fast and quiet. I don't know how Lacie stacks up vs. other HD manufacturers (I've never owned another brand)...I bought this at the Apple store, figuring if Apple sold it in their store it must be a good match for my Mac. So far so good.

 

hifisoup[br]Mac Mini 10.5.7; Samsung P2370 display; iMac G5 Tiger 10.4.11 (2) ?TV; iTunes; ipod Touch w/remote app;[br]Lacie 250GB HD & Western Digital 1TB HD;[br]Naim Nait; Linn LP12/Basik/Grado; Paradigm Atoms v.6;[br]Meg\'s Daily Grind Coffee www.megs-daily-grind.com

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Lord Chaos wrote: I'd like to use the backup now as my main but have no idea how to get Itunes to switch allegiance. Maybe the simplest way is to rename the drive. I don't know if Itunes would have a fit.

 

Hey LC, you guessed it right, the simplest way IS to rename the new drive; iTunes will not know the difference. You can confirm this when you open the application with the new drive up and running just by playing any selection.

 

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Thank you, Chris.

 

That hint was what I needed. I connected the Firewire drive and used the Itunes preferences to tell it where to put music. It took about ten minutes to update the library. Now it works fine. I've heard of some problems with Powerbook Firewire, and I have had a couple of dropouts while listening, but I'm not sure it's a real problem.

 

 

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Hi All,

 

Cool site. I'm new here, figured I would chime in with Info on a portable drive I'm really happy with- the Western Digital Elements 500gb external USB drive. I bought one when I first set up my PC Audio system 6 months or so ago. I love it. It is very well built, quiet and has been totally reliable. I ended up buying a second identical drive to use to make backups. I highly recommend this drive.

 

My PC audio system looks like this right now:

 

Dell Inspiron 2200 Laptop (1.4G Celeron, 1.2GB RAM) using Apple iTunes 7.6 (ALAC Files)> Trends 10.1 USB to SPDIF Convertor> 3 possible DACS: Entech (Monster Cable) Number Cruncher 205.2 with oversized power supply (owned) *or* KECES DA-131 24/96 DAC (review sample- currently in use) *or* KECES DA-151 24/48 USB DAC (another review sample)> Preamplifier.

 

On the way is my first iPod, the 8GB Touch, wich will become the remote for my PC audio setup, among other things (music in the car, mainly.)

 

Anyway, anyone looking for a quiet hard drive should be happy with the WD Elements.

 

Reviewer- Enjoythemusic.com

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Hey Nels - Good to see you over here. Thanks for the info. When it comes to hard drives audiophiles need to listen to other audiophiles. Often people at the computer store say a drive is quiet, but of course quiet is something totally different when talking to an audiophile.

 

You'll have to check out the Signal application for that new iPod Touch on the way. It's by far the easiest app around. Plus, 20% off this month with the coupon code from Computer Audiophile.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris,

 

Thanks for the welcome. Yup, I checked the Signals software and will be using your promotion code. :)

 

As far as external hard drive, I was very concerned about getting a quiet drive. That's why I only bought one initially- if I liked it, then I would buy another. If I didn't, I would return it and keep searching. I got lucky on the first try. Cool when that happens....

 

Nels

 

Reviewer- Enjoythemusic.com

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  • 7 months later...

Just found this thread after days and weeks of dithering over what hard drives to put in my newly arrived drobo. The drobo is still in its' box at the moment because the drives I ordered haven't yet arrived.

 

I ordered the Western Digital WD5000AACS, a 500Gb model turning at 5400 rpm. I used the information availaible at www.silentpcreview.com to guide me, as well as user comments I found here and there on the web. Originally, I wanted to use the 640Gb model in the drobo, but couldn't find it available at a price I wanted to pay.

 

I'm currently using a LaCie external 250Gb harddrive and I find it way too noisy especially at idle; It's to do with where it's placed it's on a shelf rigidly attached to a partition, read cardboard ;), wall and it's actually more objectionable in the adjoining room!

 

I was wondering how I could recycle that LaCie harddrive once I had the drobo up and running.

 

cheers

 

Peter

 

Asus Netbook -> Fidelity DA-150 > Chevron Audio Paradox > Avondale S-100 > Audium Comp 5

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Hey Peter - If you have any drive bays left open in the Drobo it is possible to use that Lacie drive in one of the bays. I believe the Drobo supports drives of various sizes without suffering a big hit on available disk space. Plus, when you outgrow the 500 + 250 drives you can hot swap the 250 for another drive at any time. The Drobo is pretty cool that way.

 

Another option is to get a Wireless router like the Airport Extreme that you can attach a hard drive to. You could attach your LaCie to the AE and use it as a Time Machine drive to backup your music server.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris,

 

I did a lot of comparatives using Excel to get the best price/Gb ratio, settling on 640Gb, but found that 640s were harder to find than 500s, although not difficult in absolute terms. I decided that my criteria were more for silence than volume. I ordered 4 of the WD drives, so no spare bay.

 

At the moment the lacie contains all the music including some video performances, my wifes' photos are on the macmini internal drive. I was going to migrate all that to the drobo, where I'll have 1.4Tb of total space, which is a 6 fold increase over the Lacie 228Gb.

 

I just don't see where the 228Gb from the Lacie can usefully fit in.

 

On a further note, from another forum I was asked about the Beresford Dac and whilst to dip ones toes into streaming audio can cost very little, 200€ in my case, once you start looking at storage and securing the music files the price goes up. OTOH, compared with quality racking for a LPs and/or CDs it's not that steep.

 

cheers

 

Peter

 

 

Asus Netbook -> Fidelity DA-150 > Chevron Audio Paradox > Avondale S-100 > Audium Comp 5

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  • 2 weeks later...

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