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 Post subject: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:25 am 
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Recommended articles seem to not have been updated in multiple years, so here I am.

My room SNR is 32db thanks to my loud computer and untreated walls, latter is being taken care of when I move soon, but I need some help with the PC.

Currently, I use two SSDs, a 7850 (inaudible over the other components), an FX 4150, a rosewill capstone 450 (4 years old), a zalman CPU cooler I forget the name of which has developed a slight clicking problem over the 4 years I've had it along with a hum, and an untreated folds-and-rivets thin SECC case from 2004 (front panel half-missing, side panel missing).

I've identified that the loudest parts are the power supply and CPU cooler, and this is worsened by the open and echoey case.

I'm looking for solutions ranging from things I can do temporarily right now, to permanent solutions that I'll have to save up for.

So far I've thought of:

- Finding the case panels and putting them back on
- Sound-treating the case (how?)
- Replacing PSU (need to do this soon anyways)
- Switching to water cooling IF PUMP NOISE IS NOT STILL A COMMON ISSUE
- New GPU around the same computing power with lower wattage
- New CPU (need to do this soon anyways, current CPU cannot handle JACK at 96k with a buffer of 256)
- New factory-dampened case
- Dampening the area the PC sits in
- New case fans (currently use 0, which is why I originally took off the case side)
- Cleaner power in (not an obvious solution but should help with PSU noise slightly, also already being taken care of when I move)
- Swap GPU for my passive-cooled 4260 when recording (I REALLY do not want to do this)
- Extreme option, use my second computer with a 65w something or other that's slightly faster (but has far worse ram and currently a loud cooler) as a recording console (would have to buy it a new power supply and case, though, as it has neither currently, plus it needs a new cooler, but it has an on-die GPU so no extra noise from GPU)
- Separate all desks from walls and put up curtains and foam (will have to do this anyways)


Any more suggestions and any suggestions for things to choose for the above options are asked for, and yes I am completely fine with saving up for a water loop and dealing with cleaning it regularly if pump noise is not still an issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:47 am 
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Welcome to SPCR.

I infer from your comments that this PC is used in a live mic environment? Maybe you could detail your applications and s/w so we could provide better answers.

Some questions and comments:

1) What's your budget for now and future? (Best way to prioritize fixes).

2) How are you controlling the CPU and case fans? (motherboard BIOS, Windows s/w, etc)

3) Why are the case panels missing? :)

4) Are you having any temperature/throttling problems?

5) What's the make and model of your motherboard and CPU cooler?

Liquid cooling is seldom a better path for an inaudible PC. I think you meant SPL rather than SNR :) If the zalman cooler looks like it has the capability to cool your 95W CPU, then maybe a fan replacement will solve your clicking/humming problem.

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:37 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Welcome to SPCR.

I infer from your comments that this PC is used in a live mic environment? Maybe you could detail your applications and s/w so we could provide better answers.

Some questions and comments:

1) What's your budget for now and future? (Best way to prioritize fixes).

2) How are you controlling the CPU and case fans? (motherboard BIOS, Windows s/w, etc)

3) Why are the case panels missing? :)

4) Are you having any temperature/throttling problems?

5) What's the make and model of your motherboard and CPU cooler?

Liquid cooling is seldom a better path for an inaudible PC. I think you meant SPL rather than SNR :) If the zalman cooler looks like it has the capability to cool your 95W CPU, then maybe a fan replacement will solve your clicking/humming problem.


Zalman cooler's fan is integral to the heatsink, unfortunately (it's not one of their separate-fan models)

1) Budget is "up to" $180 per month. This is inflexible upwards but likely to change per month downwards.

2) No case fans, CPU fan is controlled by BIOS

3) Side was taken off to solve an issue that I forget resulting from removing the (broken) case fans, and lost (but I found it last night and reinstalled it, affected the SNR at my mic by 1dB). Front panels were removed for installing drives in the pressure-driven internal drive bays, then lost

4) I experience CPU temperature problems when running my CPU at full speed and have manually throttled it. This is a result of the poor-quality thermal paste and the cooler needing cleaning and/or replacing

5) Motherboard I have no idea, it's an ASRock AM3+ mobo with a low-end late AM3+ chipset on it though, and the CPU cooler is a Zalman CNPS5X.

With some conversation in another community I got the following higher-price ideas:

Artcic a32 for new CPU cooler ($30 CAD)

EVGA G2 550w PSU ($100 CAD)

put exclusively GPU on water if I can find a pump quiet enough ($200 CAD)

I need more ideas, though, such as a new case to buy, cheap temporary options etc.

Also you are correct; this PC is used as a recording console for a small studio, as well as a light gaming machine, as I live in a single room so there's not much point to separating the recording console and gaming computer when they both need the same CPU power and I don't have $600 on a second computer.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:07 pm 
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Ok, thanks for the info.

1) Get a new case. One of the primary purpose of a fanned case is to move air through it and to remove heat build up around the CPU/GPU. So, your current noisy cooler isn't getting the benefit of this airflow...and while it won'tr solve the cpu cooler problem, it'll help in the long term. If you don't need an internal Optical drive, the Fractal Design Define C is a good fit. I don't know what their shipping costs are, but Direct Canada has it on sale for $77. Another is the Fractal Define S (which comes with 140mm fans vs the 120mm of the C) for $85. And if you need the internal ODD slot, the Fractal Define R5 is a great case.

2) Get a new cooler. Normally, I'd suggest a Scythe, but their distribution in Canada is...poor. Arctic A32: I like that a PWM signal of <40% can turn the fan off for your recording sessions (where the CPU load is pretty light)..although many current gen mobo's can do the same. I don't like that it only comes with AMD mounting...as you may be in the market for a new cpu/mobo down the road and it limits you as it won't work with the new AMD AM4 socket or any Intel. Check out the Cryorg H7 or the be quiet! Pure Rock. The former is a better performer for $47, the latter is cheaper for $31....these will fit in the Fractal cases...don't know the height restriction of your current case.

3) Get a new PSU. A lot of the current gen PSUs are semi-passive designs and when on with heavy loads, you won't hear them over the gfx card. Again distribution/pricing in Canada seems lacking for some go-to models.. EVGA G2 550: is pretty good. Fan will turn on with ~125W load. There's also the G3 version. I'd rather spend $115 on the Corsair RMx550.

While your HD 7850 might not be heard at the moment, it's always on fans may become noticable after you've solved the above issues. Just to compare the fairly old 7850 with the current gen of cards, the RX 560 and GTX 1050 both provide more oomph for much less power use and the cards we'd recommend have passive fans for low loads (all 2D stuff/recording, etc).

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:24 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Ok, thanks for the info.

1) Get a new case. One of the primary purpose of a fanned case is to move air through it and to remove heat build up around the CPU/GPU. So, your current noisy cooler isn't getting the benefit of this airflow...and while it won'tr solve the cpu cooler problem, it'll help in the long term. If you don't need an internal Optical drive, the Fractal Design Define C is a good fit. I don't know what their shipping costs are, but Direct Canada has it on sale for $77. Another is the Fractal Define S (which comes with 140mm fans vs the 120mm of the C) for $85. And if you need the internal ODD slot, the Fractal Define R5 is a great case.


I'll probably get the Define C. Any recommendations for fans, or are the fans in this case quiet enough?

CA_Steve wrote:

2) Get a new cooler. Normally, I'd suggest a Scythe, but their distribution in Canada is...poor. Arctic A32: I like that a PWM signal of <40% can turn the fan off for your recording sessions (where the CPU load is pretty light)..although many current gen mobo's can do the same. I don't like that it only comes with AMD mounting...as you may be in the market for a new cpu/mobo down the road and it limits you as it won't work with the new AMD AM4 socket or any Intel. Check out the Cryorg H7 or the be quiet! Pure Rock. The former is a better performer for $47, the latter is cheaper for $31....these will fit in the Fractal cases...don't know the height restriction of your current case.


I'll go for the cryorig cooler. I'll be ordering the case and cooler on one order so it doesn't matter if it fits the current case.

CA_Steve wrote:
3) Get a new PSU. A lot of the current gen PSUs are semi-passive designs and when on with heavy loads, you won't hear them over the gfx card. Again distribution/pricing in Canada seems lacking for some go-to models.. EVGA G2 550: is pretty good. Fan will turn on with ~125W load. There's also the G3 version. I'd rather spend $115 on the Corsair RMx550.


Noted, might go for the RMx550, though it depends on how the budget is for that month.

CA_Steve wrote:
While your HD 7850 might not be heard at the moment, it's always on fans may become noticable after you've solved the above issues. Just to compare the fairly old 7850 with the current gen of cards, the RX 560 and GTX 1050 both provide more oomph for much less power use and the cards we'd recommend have passive fans for low loads (all 2D stuff/recording, etc).


Oh, I can hear the 7850 a little bit at high GPU load, also I have a way to turn off the GPU fan but it's not a great idea with the higher load of this GPU.

GPU I will only replace if I can't get the SNR at my mic above the 50dB mark with everything else I plan on doing, since it plays all of my games at 75 FPS just fine.

How about things for case treatment? Do people still foam cases? If so, how effective is it, and how much would it cost to do one mid-tower's worth of foam? How should I treat the corner the computer sits in? Would curtaining the wall suffice, or would I need to dislocate the desk from the wall and foam the wall behind it to get any noticeable effect of the treatment?

Also, is this also a good place to talk about EMI noise? I get a large amount of that too at my desk, mostly from the keyboard (bass guitar pointed at the desk picks up the keypresses louder than any other EMI noise in the room, and the EMI noise is really high when the keyboard is plugged in) and visual monitors (turning off monitors seems to reduce EMI noise, but not as much as unplugging the keyboard). If so, what are some recommended keyboards and monitors for establishing a low-EMI environment? I don't currently (and will not in the future) have room to move away from the desk while recording electrical instruments, and while I'm already looking at purchasing pickups for the bass specifically that do not react as much to EMI, I would still like to reduce it if possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:12 pm 
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Case: I think, given your power load, the included fans should be fine. Try them out - you can always adjust as part of the build - and once you start down the quiet-my-pc path, there's always the next thing to work on :)

No need for foam/etc. When you go with a well ventilated case and quiet components, it solves the noise issues. Typically, foam does nothing, anyway. Audio frequency wavelengths are too long for foam to significantly reduce the noise levels - note how thick studio foamboards are and now try to put that in your PC :) Sometimes, if there is a vibration component (spinning HDD) and a flimsy case, adding mass loaded vinyl tiles to case sides can reduce the induced vibration. Not a problem for your use case. As for where the PC sits...again, lets try it as is. Best place is for the PC to sit on the floor - preferably a hard surface for bottom airflow.

EMI: Wow. You are freaking me out. :)
- Your bass is picking up the keyboard polling? What does it sound like?
- Is all this stuff plugged into the same wall socket? Do you get the same effect if there were a laptop (not plugged into wall) instead of your desktop?
- Have you ever tested your wall socket to make sure it's wired correctly/has good ground/earthing?

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:37 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Case: I think, given your power load, the included fans should be fine. Try them out - you can always adjust as part of the build - and once you start down the quiet-my-pc path, there's always the next thing to work on :)

No need for foam/etc. When you go with a well ventilated case and quiet components, it solves the noise issues. Typically, foam does nothing, anyway. Audio frequency wavelengths are too long for foam to significantly reduce the noise levels - note how thick studio foamboards are and now try to put that in your PC :) Sometimes, if there is a vibration component (spinning HDD) and a flimsy case, adding mass loaded vinyl tiles to case sides can reduce the induced vibration. Not a problem for your use case. As for where the PC sits...again, lets try it as is. Best place is for the PC to sit on the floor - preferably a hard surface for bottom airflow.

EMI: Wow. You are freaking me out. :)
- Your bass is picking up the keyboard polling? What does it sound like?
- Is all this stuff plugged into the same wall socket? Do you get the same effect if there were a laptop (not plugged into wall) instead of your desktop?
- Have you ever tested your wall socket to make sure it's wired correctly/has good ground/earthing?


Case: okay, will keep in mind

EMI:
- My bass is picking up a very thin buzzing which is not affected by the volume knob but is affected by the tone knob and interface preamp, and when I press the keys on the keyboard while facing the keyboard with the bass it picks up a sharp ticking for every keypress. Note: keyboard is a model m from 1986, not quite fit for the studio setting.
- Interface is plugged into a powered USB hub which is plugged into a separate wall socket from my computer, which my keyboard is plugged into
- Wall socket is definitely bad, but I'm moving soon and the new place has good wiring.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:40 pm 
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You can drop into the rabbit hole when discussing EMI/RFI issues. Could be a miswired wall socket (reversed power and neutral, bad ground), could be PC EMI leaking via the keyboard...but I've never heard of this...monitor backlight circuitry can generate audible and RFI noise...possibly coupling with your bass' pickup. Need to fault isolate stuff to see what the triggers are...but, if you are moving soon and don't want to see if it's the wall socket or something else, ok.

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:41 am 
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I'll definitely check the wall sockets if it persists when I move.

On the case of audible noise, I was just able to order the Define C just now but not a cooler with it. I'll be purchasing one of the coolers in not too long, but for now I hope the case alone causes enough of an audible noise decrease for at least test recordings. I expect moving to a case with fans will help with the temperatures, which should reduce the noise.

EDIT: I just realized I have a wireless gaming controller that I frequently leave on while recording, I'll try turning it off and recording and see how much of an effect it has on the EMI noise.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:41 pm 
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ordered the bequiet cooler recommended to me, and talked with some keyboard folks about keyboard EMI.

apparently a very common issue with high-voltage keyboards like my own, and circumventable by using a low-voltage and/or high polling-rate keyboard, as I suspected before.

Both the cooler and case will be here next week, since for some reason they are coming from the literal other side of the country.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:01 pm 
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Yeah, this makes no sense. Keyboard supply voltage is 5V for both PS/2 and newer USB. There is no high voltage or low voltage involved.

I am assuming this is a wired keyboard and not a wireless one...

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:03 am 
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A wireless Model M, that would be something. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:41 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Yeah, this makes no sense. Keyboard supply voltage is 5V for both PS/2 and newer USB. There is no high voltage or low voltage involved.

I am assuming this is a wired keyboard and not a wireless one...


keyboard is wired, and other keyboard collectors have noted similar issues with their early model ms.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:49 pm 
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sorry for double posting twice, case got here and I installed the computer into it.

aside from being kinkin "new case, no post" kijkin, it's increased the SNR at my mic to 45 from the previous 32, and improved cooling, so I'm already liking it. Cooler hasn't shipped yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:31 pm 
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cool beans.

If your s/w can measure SNR, can it also provide a dB vs frequency graph? It would be interesting to see the frequency components.

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:10 pm 
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unfortunately I did the SNR calculation by hand using a dB meter. To note: I did this in windows, which doesn't let me solo my mic input from my guitar input on my interface, so there's a -52db noise floor from the guitar preamp. I don't have software to measure dB in realtime in linux, even though I have a fairly complex setup in linux.

If I could boot into linux right now I could get some frequency graphs, but I'm doing some temperature testing which I can only do in windows. I'll probably get a noise recording tomorrow when everyone in the house is gone (I got my current SNR reading with my door open and my mother watching TV down the hallway, sister yelling at her boyfriend occasionally from across the house, was an annoying calculation to make and is probably not accurate).

EDIT: GPU is seeing immense temperatures at load... I almost fried it just now in temp testing. Oops.

EDIT MORE: Cleaned GPU and now the whole system is running cooler, so I went and tanked the gpu fan curve so that it is pretty much off if the computer isn't at load. Well, surprise be to me, my gpu's ticking too now, just at low speeds. great at least it's not audible with the case closed.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Seems like you have a complex noise environment :)

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:46 pm 
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well, as said before, I'm moving soon, and my new place will be much quieter, much better for recording.

also, it seems after some cleaning and temp testing that the cpu cooler didn't quite need to be replaced yet, except for the clicking, but I'm moving soon and need to have this money on hand so... oops, I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:20 pm 
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cooler is here. Much quieter.

SNR at mic is now about 55, this time I did the measurement correctly (last time I was measuring with a weak "aaaaaaaa", this time I measured with full-volume talking at the correct distance from the mic, previous SNR with just the case was 50)

Cooler size comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:30 am 
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It's a nice hunk of metal for $31 CAN. :)

So, what's next, now that you've gotten above your goal of 50dB?

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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:10 am 
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well, I can still hear it, since the GPU is fairly loud, so I'll be replacing that, and the PSU is still loud, so I'll replace that too.

EMI issues persist but I've switched keyboards temporarily (packed up the big one for moving) and the issues went mostly away, so I'm definitely getting a new keyboard specifically for recording. The guy who I got the keyboard from said he realized he forgot to finish the shielding when rebuilding it for me, but it wouldn't have made an absolute difference just due to how electrically-loud the keyboard is.

but for now, I need my money for moving, so I don't expect to say much more other than comment on the noise of the new place and make remarks about reviews around here until I am done with moving fees.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:53 pm 
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The CPU could be a problem. The AMD FX line is notorious power inefficient.


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 Post subject: Re: Quieting existing recording + light gaming pc
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:34 am 
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Derek Semeraro wrote:
The CPU could be a problem. The AMD FX line is notorious power inefficient.


The CPU is thermally rated for 95w and only uses up to 70w at full load, I'll be fine while I'm still using this processor.


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