Corsair Obsidian Series Black 550D
I also already had a look at this one. But the absolutely silly placement of the front connectors within a hole in the front door is a complete no go. I use headphones all the time. And you would have to unplug it every time you want to open the door... I'm really wondering how ignorant one has to be to make such a design???
While i dont disagree with you in terms of the door afecting people that use heaphones or even attach usb perif, etc. I think there are other solutions, if you use a lot of headphones... i would recommend to check USB DACs, most of the audiophiles dislike on board sound cards, and prefer to have an external Digital to Analog converter (DAC), this would solve the issue of using headphones from the front port interfering with opening the door. Here is an example, FiiO E10 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier
, but there are a lot of choices here that will work a lot better than integrated sound card.
Another option that i forgot to mention but since you pointed the door design, is the Antec P280
, similar to the 550D (well larger), but the door can open with all things attach to the front pannel. It also has noise dampening on the doors and front, 3x 5.25 slots, and extremly easy to remove/clean front fan filter. The only 2 drawbacks that i do see in it is the top 2x 120mm, its open so noise will leak there, but you can probably just close it with some noise dampening, like Fractal does with their cases and the second is the door opens to the left. Speaking of fractal, i also edited my previous post to add the Fractal Design Define R4, its a great case, and it has the connectors on top, so it will not interfere like the 550D, the only drawback for me its that the front fans are installed on the filter, and im lazy, so the least i have to dissemble to clean regularly the filters the better, but to each to its own, the case itself is great. Another downside of the R4 for you is it opens like most of the cases to the left.
I think the best route for what you are planning is still the 500D + USB DAC.
I'm still asking myself, if I would be happy, if I use a SOLO 2, with the mentioned filter on top, and with the front door modified, so that it can open without taking away the side (small magnetic lock).
As it seems from the test, it is a very silent case. Price doesn't matter that much.
I really dont know how it will end up... the door of the SOLO II is the hole front, im not sure how will you do a door with it, but if you are good into modding maybe it can be done. I wouldnt put to much stress into not having a door though, the front suspension for the hdds will make them extremly quiet, and the rest.... well chose quiet components, i see your going with passive GPU and maybe passive PSU... so its only going to be the fans and cpu cooler fan, so just go for good quiet fans and the door imo shouldn't be a issue. If it is, then you can get into modding it =). The only issue might be optical drives... personally i dont use them anymore, hell i dont even have one installed on 4 pcs, i do have an external for sporadic use, but maybe once a year...
BTW: Where should I start a new thread? In the case section?
I think you have a lot of topics, so i would address each separated, personally i like to start with the case and psu, so that will be my suggestion, then work yourself into each component into separate threads. Remember to search as there are lot of threads with very similar subjects that might help you.