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Audio recordings were made of the drives and are presented here
in MP3 format. The recordings below contains ten seconds of idle noise, followed
by ten seconds of seek noise with AAM enabled and ten seconds more with AAM
disabled. Because the Seagate does not support AAM, the AAM portion of the recording
was omitted, so for this drive only, the recording is only twenty seconds long.
Keep in mind that the audio recordings paint only part of the
acoustic picture; vibration noise is not recorded, and drives often sound different
depending on the angle from which they are heard.
Barracuda 7200.9 ST3500641AS (Idle: 24 / Seek: 26-29 dBA@1m)
Deskstar 7K400 HDS724040KLSA80 (Idle: 25 / AAM: 27 / Seek: 27-28 dBA@1m)
Barracuda IV ST340016A (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23 / Seek: 25-26 dBA@1m)
Spinpoint P80 SP0802N, Nidec Motor (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23-24 / Seek: 25-26 dBA@1m)
case fan @ 5V (17 dBA@1m) Reference
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE
These recordings were made
with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The hard
drive was placed on soft foam to isolate the airborne noise that it produces;
recordings do not take into account the vibration noise that hard drives
produce. The microphone was centered 3" above the top face of the hard
drive. The ambient noise during most recordings is 18 dBA or lower.
To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the
original), try playing the Nexus 92 fan reference recording and
setting the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the
volume and play the other sound files. Of course, tone controls or other
effects should all be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on
how to calibrate your sound system to get the most valid listening comparison,
please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans
on page four of the article
SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.
The noise character of the 7200.9 was a bit of a disappointment.
The mysterious whine-at-a-distance that only showed up with the drive in certain
positions was highly irritating for me, although Mike did not seem to mind it
so much. That said, we have only looked at one sample, and it is impossible
to know whether this flaw affects just our sample, other high capacity models, or
the whole 7200.9 line. Based on the limited anecdotal evidence that I have read
about in the SPCR forums, at
least one other person has had this problem.
However, the acoustic problems of this 500 GB Barracuda 7200.9 sample do not stop here. The seek noise
is also sharp and is significantly louder than the idle noise. This contradicts
Seagate's claim that the "difference between idle and seek can hardly
be detected by human ear".
Under optimal conditions, the idle noise is a little quieter than
the Hitachi 7K400 ¬ó and it definitely sounds nicer. The trick
is how to mount it so that the whine can't be heard. Our experimentation shows that
leaving the bottom of the drive open makes a big difference. Perhaps a layer of good acoustic absortion material on that side of the drive could elminate enough of the 1.5 KHz tone to tame it. We leave it
to you, our readers, to help determine whether our sample is representative of the majority, or just a one-off sample variance. You'll probably come up with viable options to reducing the annoying tone as well.
The big selling point for the Barracuda 7200.9 still stands. 500 GB is a
lot of capacity, and Seagate will probably sell a fair number of drives on this
feature alone. No doubt users will find plenty of multimedia available on the internet
to fill up the inviting half-terabyte of storage space.
Many thanks to Seagate
for the Barracuda 7200.9 sample.
* * *
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