Your initiative is much appreciated.
I presume you suggest that SPCR adopt your approach...?
Whether or not that's your intent, there are many aspects of your post which are valuable and give pause for reflection of SPCR's noise analysis methodogy. The search for a complete and objective metrology for assessing computer noise is certainly valuable.
a few details...
1) 10cm is too close, for reasons much discussed recently elsewhere in these forums (I'm sure someone will point out the threads). It's why we've changed to a mic with a lower noise floor, and moved to 1m and 30cm for recordings.
2) In terms of allowing various reviewers to contribute in the same way, it would really only work if the same high quality gear was used by all. Such gear is not cheap. We have >$1500 invested in our recording gear and another thousand on the SLM. Calibration should really be done not only of SPL level sensitivity but the freq response of the mics. Again the only realistic way to ensure that the sound is captured the same way by everyone is to use the same high quality gear (which has much lower sample-to-sample variance) -- along with similarly quiet rooms with similar acoustics.
3) We can actually take the current recordings and turn them into FFT graphs right now. This has been done in some reviews, as on page 6 of the Arctic Cooling Silentium T2
. In fact, anyone with acoustics analysis software can download the WAV files and turn them into FFT graphs.
So why don't we do this routinely in our reviews?
For the same reason we don't just report the SPL in dBA without comment: The information is not easy to interpret, especially when there are subtle differences, and often, even plainly audible differences (to us) do not show up obviously in 3d plots of frequency & amplitude.
They're most useful to those who have a very good understanding of noise measurements and units. Does the average SPCR reader have a good handle on what 26 dBA sounds like? How about 36 dBA or 18 dBA? Or what a particular FFT means, acoustically? I don't think so. We make and post the recordings so you can compare and contrast what you hear on them to how we say it sounds and measures.
If we were to plot a 10s selection from every recording (which 10s?) and show the FFT plot of it, perhaps regular readers would become educated over time of the correlation between the recordings, our descriptions, our SPL measurements and the FFT graphs. This would add another degree of complexity, and we'd have to spend time to ensure the graphs were indeed representative of what we perceived (and discuss them at least a little).
Would all this really be a valuable benefit? Or would really interested readers be better off investing in a better pair of headphones and/or sound card to hear more faithfully the recordings we're making right now?