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Silence Case, Isoraxx or quiet pc?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by sserendipity, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. sserendipity

    sserendipity Member

    I'm moving into a condo I just bought (yay!), and am trying to figure out what is going to happen to my home recording rig.

    However, there's a problem - the neighbourhood is too loud for me to just to record in the room, as I have been able to at my old place. It's just the odd car going by, and wouldn't be an issue when tracking and mixing, but it would easily ruin a musical performance.

    There is a sizeable walk in closet, that will make a great vocal/iso booth once I've treated the walls. Nice high ceilings, so it won't get stuffy, and big enough for several seated people, at a pinch. Since 90% of the music I work on at home is electric or electronic in nature, this would be a fine for the other stuff.

    The problem with this set up, is that it leaves me with no place to put my stack of computers. In the past, they have always taken over the walk-in closet, and, since the neighbourhoods have always been so quiet, I had no problem recording in the tracking room.

    I figure I have two options:

    1. Buy an isoraxx, or silence case, and stuff all the computers in it.

    2. Buy a fanless small form factor pc or a laptop, and use it for recording. Place all the noisy pcs in the closet, and render down everything on them (synths/effects/previous sesssions) before a recording session. When the closet/booth is no longer in use, power up the noisy rig for editing, writing and production.

    So, what do you think? And, does anyone have any experience comparing these two tools?

    Isoraxx -
    (Dead Link Removed)

    Silence Case
    (Dead Link Removed)

  2. white swan

    white swan Guest

    I have an isoraxx and it is great! I have it stuffed with all kinds of noisemakers and I can track in the same room no problem. Not real cheap though.

    Never heard or seen the other unit you mentioned, so can't compare.
  3. mikedaul

    mikedaul Guest

    I think those pre-fab silence cases are grossly overpriced. build on yourself out of mdf and save some cash. Also, the quietest sff pc's are still way too loud for recording (I think the latest one on anadtech was around 38db). You can also go a great distance in quieting what's coming out of your computer. Check out the products at quietpc.com if haven't already...
  4. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    If you care about looks and value your time, forget about building one. It will always look like, well, home-made ... (OK, unless you are a carpenter or similar by trade). If money is tight and it's not going to be very visible go ahead and build it. But keep in mind that you need adequate air flow, otherwise you will not have much fun with it. This basically entails zig-zagging the air through ducts out of the box, which is a pain to build. Still, you need (quiet) fans to move the air.

    I am not trying to be negative - I have been in exactly the same spot. I have decided to quiet down my PC's and fight the noise at the source.

    You need a
    1. quiet CPU fan (Zalman has some great ones)
    2. a quiet power supply (e.g. Enermax with adjustable fan speed
    3. quiet hard disks or HD enclosures.

    All in all this should not exceed $100 per PC, not counting the HD's or enclosures. Is it perfect silence ? No, but it's pretty close.

    Also search for "quiet PC" and "Iso-Rack". There have been a number of threads before on this topic.

    Hope this helps,

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    It should be noted also that the air intake and exhaust baffling on the Silence Case would not be a simple thing to build. I have a Silence Case and I think it works very well. Absolutely money well spent and worth every dime. I have a very quiet room to work in now and the difference in fatigue factor is astounding!
  6. sserendipity

    sserendipity Member

    Thanks for all the replies guys! I can't get this kind of educated input anywhere else.

    I looked into this - I was thinking of using an apropriately size kitchen cabinet or Ikea cabinet as a frame. However, as Kurt mentioned, the baffles would be tricky to build. I had some ideas, but nothing that would save me enough of the $500 investment to be worth my time over a silence case.

    I won't be recording in here, just tracking and mixing - this is the control room, so a little noise, while undesirable, isn't going to be the end of the world.

    Also, some small form factor pcs are completley fanless, apart from the hard drives. They are rather underpowered, but even the slowest modern cpu should be able to play back a few tracks of audio and an avi file (for animation/film overdubs I am working on these days) and record a couple of tracks of audio at the same time. Isn't progress wonderful? :>

    Failing that, a laptop stuffed in a set of drawers is almost silent. Enough strategically placed holes in the top and bottom, and you won't be able to tell if it's on or not (I've done this for a couple of machines in my 'day job' studio, that were bothering me. While more expensive, it would mean I'd have a laptop too, for live gigs.

    Yes. I'm thinking of that too, and have checked out the quietpc stuff. However, I have enough trouble keeping my cpu cool as it is, using 'noisy' aftermarket fans. The other problem is that I'm not talking about 1 or 2 pcs at this point. At a certain point, I'm going to have to shove my old, difficult-to-quieten pcs, but, for the meantime, Steinberg system link technology is allowing them to keep fighting for all they are worth. I repeat myself, isn't progress wonderful? :>


    They were a pain in the ass to find, so links to all the searching I've done so far::
    (Dead Link Removed)
    Lots of great information in the threads.

    Also, for to keep y'all from having to duplicate my research:

    You must check this review site out:
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">http://www.silentpcreview.com
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    Also - aftermarket sellers:

    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Frozen CPU
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Quiet PC
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    (Lots of nice upgrade at both of these places)

    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">A search on for 'silence' on Directron's site brought up two items of interest - a Shuttle barebones small form factor pc, with 1 80 mm fan, and a 22 DB silent 80mm fan - might make a really good combo.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    Iso boxes:

    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Elias Audio (the link in Kurt's excellent reveiw is to the wrong Elias Audio)
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Isoraxx (why did this always take me about five minutes of googling to find?)
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
  7. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    I've thought about getting a Silence case but I'm not sure just how quiet it is. It does contain fans so I assume it must make some noise. Does anyone know if he has a return policy?
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The silence case has a four speed fan, and it attenuates my very noisy computer enough that I can record vocals and acoustic guitar with a U87 and a compressor while sitting right next to it. Works like a charm.
  9. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    I just (last week) finished building a silent PC for recording, and want to back up the claims regarding Zalman CPU fans and Enermax power supplies. I built my box with a 350W Enermax power supply ($45) and a combination copper/aluminum Zalman CPU fan ($27), both of which I ordered from http://www.directron.com. Don't mean to promote anyone here, but this was the only place I found Zalman's products. When building, I fired up the mobo with the CPU fan and power supply, no HD, just to see how quiet it was, and it literally was as close to inaudible as possible with my head practically stuck inside the case. Now I'm beginning to obsess about my HD's. So if we're talking about all PC's here, I'd say take a serious look at solving the noise problem at the source: power supplies and CPU fans. I'm glad I made this consideration in building the computer itself, and I'm only jumping in on this thread because of recent experience.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    350 watts isn't enoght to power my dual 1800+ Anthlon. I needed at least 450 watts. Very noisy. The Silence Case does the trick for me. If you want a lot of eq's, effects and comps plugs and to still be able to sum without degredation, a very powerful PC is a must. The 350 quiet power supplies don't cut it for these apps..
  11. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    I must agree with Kurt on this.
    If you have a pro facility you can't rely on a modified "noiseless" pc.
    I've tried the Zalman + some other coolers, cabinet coolers and Water Cooling.

    Zalman cools ok, but as cabinet temp raises(when you're using a lot of plugins) the Zalman raises in temp too... and compromises perfomance! very bad!!

    Water Cooling with a peltier is the most quiet and best performance cooler ever! but needs a lot of maintance.

    I'm running a Tibook now(very low noise), but when I'm getting a pc again to run the pyramix system I will put the pc in a nother room so it can "noise-out" there, then can sit absolutely quiet in my CR.

  12. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Thanks guys. Always lots of things to consider. All I can say is that so far everything's working GREAT for me. I haven't worked on anything highly CPU intensive yet with this new setup, but maybe in the future I'll need to step it up.
  13. Tungstengruvsten

    Tungstengruvsten Active Member

    Wait a second here...are you saying the math is different if you have a less powerful computer? That's a crock! If anything you wouldn't be able to run as many plugins, or mixdown would take longer, but the summing would not change because you have a less powerful power supply....that logic isn't worth the keyboard it was typed on.

    Also, if you searched out the proper power supply you would find there are VERY quiet ones even in the 400-500w range, although why you need that much juice is beyond me...

    ok gonna make this a 2 parter...
  14. Tungstengruvsten

    Tungstengruvsten Active Member

    Alright, some more myth dispelling here...what do you need 450 watts for? How many hard drives are in there? What's sucking that much juice?

    For what it's worth, I have a P4 2GB machine - with a 300 watt power supply. That's right, 300 watts. And because it's an audio box I don't have tons of cards and crap that would suck up the extra power. One video card, one audio card. And I've never had a problem with low power or overheating.

    Here's the guts:
    Asus P4PE mobo with onboard LAN
    Intel P4 2Ghz Chip
    512MB RAM
    2x Seagate Baracuda IV 40GB drives
    Matrox 450 dual monitor video card
    RME PCI card for Digiface

    Silencing parts:
    Zalman CPU flower cooler (6000 AlCu)
    2x Panaflo 80mm 'L' fans(intake and over zalman cooler)
    120mm Panaflo 'L' for exhaust.

    For what it's worth I have been building and silencing studio/audio computers privately for well over a year now. I've tried many different materials/methods and manufacturers and for PC's i've got it down to a formula(Macs are alot harder...)

    1. Panaflo 'L' model 120 or 80 mm fan.
    Use these for all case fans. Replace the Zalman fan that comes with the flower cooler with an 80mm fan. Get the ones without tails and wire them to the 5v power supply. If you run them off the 12v supply with resistors you are wasting power and generating more heat. If you wanna get fancy get a switchplate for the front to allow you to turn fans on and off.

    2. 300w/400w Silenx power supply http://www.silenx.com/mainIndex.asp
    Simply the quietest there is. I've tried them all and these are the best.

    3. Zalman flower cooler
    So maybe you can't run it passively but with a 5v Panaflo over it you'd be hard pressed to know the difference.

    That's it! Of course I line the case to cut down on mechanical vibrations and mount the hard drives on rubber grommets, but you don't need a special case or anything else. Mine is some $30 case I got from a local shop. Hell, my computer sits right beside me, with the CD tray nice and handy...pretty well noiseless. I've taken it to many other studios and had it sitting in the room doing acoustic recordings or in dead silent control rooms and people have commented on how quiet it is.

    Read through SilentPCreview very well - lots of good information and comparisons there.
  15. Tungstengruvsten

    Tungstengruvsten Active Member

    This statement isn't true - of course with "noiseless" in quotes it sounds like you didn't have much luck implementing noiseless techniques and components. My computer is much quieter than a 480l is...although those can be modified too...

    Zalman cools ok, but as cabinet temp raises(when you're using a lot of plugins) the Zalman raises in temp too... and compromises perfomance! very bad!!

    This is only if you run them passively, which is not how they are meant to be run with faster CPU's. I've installed over 20 flower coolers on various studio, business and personal computers and never had a problem. My studio PC sits at a CPU temp of 38C and an internal case temp of 30C. When i'm tracking maxed out(24 tracks at 24bit/44.1) I can run this for hours and never go above 55C for a CPU temp. No performance is compromised.

    You want truly silent? Build the PC with these parts and line the case to stop mechanical vibrations, THEN put it in a silent case/isoraxx.
  16. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Hi Eric!

    You should start up a firm ;)
    But I guess you've allready done that?

  17. sserendipity

    sserendipity Member

    I can understand your reasoning. However, the
    reliability of home built systems has come a long way, without much ground being made by 'pro' manufacturers - especially the 'custom audio pc' guys. I've seen more than one 'custom audio' specialists turning out sub-par pcs in return for lower costs (Tricks such as pairing P4s with PC133 memory etc.)

    I'd be more inclined to say that a pro facility can no longer rely on any kind of pcs without someone on hand who knows how to take them completely apart and take care of them.

    It's not that they are unreliable, it's just that they are now such an integral part of the process, and being used in such complex ways.
  18. sserendipity

    sserendipity Member

    It sounds like everyone gives the Zalmans top marks. I think I'm buying mine today.

    BTW - quietpc has them too.
  19. Tungstengruvsten

    Tungstengruvsten Active Member

    Hey Jonathon - For power supplies I'd skip the fortron/seasonic/nexus/zalman and go right to the top - the silenx series. I've had all of them and these blow them out of the water. With all my other case fans off I can have my ear right to it and barely hear it.... Some of the other ones also use auto fan controls/temp sensors to speed up and slow down the fan - not good as they will get noisy as you draw more power. The Silenx ones have HUGE heatsinks inside, I haven't been happier with a power supply before....
  20. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Eric, I can't find anyone who carries the Zalman CPUF that you recommend so I'm thinking of going with a Nexus. I was trying to find one company who had all these parts but it's been difficult. I have a GA7DX+ Gigabyte board with a 1800+ chip. I'm a little bit worried about removing the current heatsink on the CPU and the other one on the motherboard. It has one of those little fans that tends to be noisy. I want to replace it with just a Zalman heatsink. Have you had much experience with changing out parts on a pre-built board. Is it hard to get the CPU clean enough to add a new heatsink? I built the computer myself and it just has the stock CPU heatsink with the peel off paper instead of thermal grease. I'm hoping to get some lower temps by using Artic Silver thermal grease this time. I have the board slightly overclocked and it's been working fine for over a year with no problems. I think I'll have to remove the motherboard to change out one of the heatsinks. :confused:

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