I wonder if newer desktop drives are now more efficient, particularly at idle. Do these things 'sleep' like inactive HDDs?
Not just new optical drives but old ones as well. I have my tower very close to my right ear (on top of desk) the optical drives are all level with my head and less than a foot away. I can hear every little sound they make.
They are powered down 99% of the time or more. I notice them on boot and when I access a disk. Other than that they stay powered down.
I can say that behavior was normal even with the old 6X DVD drive made in 1999 all the way up to new lightScribe DVD writers made in the last few years.
Now how loud they are during spinup and reads is another story but at idle they don't make any noise or use much if any power.