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Audio recordings were made of the drives and are presented
here in MP3 format. The recordings below contain 10 seconds of idle noise,
followed by 10 seconds of seek noise with AAM enabled and 10 seconds more
with AAM disabled. Because the Seagate does not support AAM, the AAM portion
of its recording was omitted.
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 and distance from which they are heard.
Barracuda 7200.9 ST3160812AS (Idle: 21 / Seek: 28 dBA@1m)
Barracuda 7200.9 ST3160812AS (Damped with a finger to reduce idle noise:
Deskstar 7K80 HDS728080PLA380 (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23-24 / Seek: 27-28 dBA@1m)
Deskstar 7K80 HDS728080PLA380 (Low RPM Mode: 19 dBA@1m)
Barracuda IV ST340016A (Idle: 20 / AAM: 23 / Seek: 25-26 dBA@1m)
Spinpoint P80 SP0802N, Nidec Motor (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23-24 / Seek: 25-26
92mm 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 single platter drives from Seagate and Hitachi have
strong points in their favor, but neither is strong enough to replace the
Spinpoint P80 (Nidec motor) as our favorite desktop drive nor displace the Seagate Barracuda IV as the quietest ever. As expected of single platter
drives, both are very quiet at idle.
In fact, with a little mass damping, the Seagate could be even
quieter than the Samsung at idle. However, its seek noise is not up to par,
and AAM is not available to make it quieter. Unless the drive is enclosed
in some way, the seeks will always be noticeable.
The Hitachi, on the other hand, seeks fairly quietly when
AAM is enabled. Of the two drives, it comes closer to beating the Samsung.
In the end, though, it loses out because of the poor noise character at idle. The difference in volume between the Hitachi and the Samsung
is not large, but the subjective difference is significant.
The inclusion of APM on the Hitachi does give it one advantage
over the Samsung. If the Hitachi is used only infrequently, it could
certainly be at home in a quiet system. Unfortunately, because the drive
only enters Low RPM mode when it is not being used, it will never have
this advantage as a system drive. Ultimately, the low capacity
of the drive may be the limiting factor here. Limited-use drives are often
used for archival or media purposes, which may require more capacity than
the 7K80 has to offer.
Our search to crown a new quiet single-platter storage king continues.
Many thanks to Seagate
for the Barracuda 7200.9 sample, and to Hitachi
Global Storage for the 7K80 sample.
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums.
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