cooling fan noise is loud when recording

how do you deal with it ?

Hi Everyone :)

After working with my vocal recording setup awhile I have gotten to the point where i can use it with the db roll off pad off most of the time. This is great but now the mike is so much more sensitive that i am finding that the cooling fan noise is an issue when recording.

I am sure their are many solutions ( box around PC, diff power supply with quieter cooling fan, etc. ). I was wondering what the folks here have done to resolve this problem.

Thanks Guys :)

I have a fan controller taking up a drive bay slot on the front of my case. This allows me to turn the fans down when I want it quiter.

Also … standing in the clothes closet helps. :p

When I build my new(ish) computer a few months ago it was REALLY loud and hot compared to the old one.

I ended up getting a large heatsink for the CPU, one that would take about a 4" quiet fan on top. I already had a pretty quite power supply with a variable control. About all the noise is coming from the hard drives now.

There’s lots of good info on the internet. This is how I got started.

Google “quiet computer”

Check out my web site for quiet computers (DAW and I use the computers that I build & sell for my own personal DAW.

The fans that make the noise are: CPU fan, graphics fan (if any), case fan & the power supply fan. The CPU fan is usually the noisest. I use a very quiet one (Zalman) on my DAW & I run it at the slowest speed.

I think Flavio mentioned this in the manual somewhere. He suggested wiring a switch in the fan circuit and shutting the fan off briefly during recording sessions. The few minutes of no fan should not hurt anything. Just don’t forget to turn it back on when finished with the recording.

I know…that’s a lowtech solution…no flames please!

Don :D

lots of options here. you can put effort into making your pc case quieter and/or find a way to isolate your recording area from where the pc sits. i like my quiet pc case (i have one of the antec sonata cases that mike uses), but my room is so small that it doesn’t make a huge difference for me… takes alot to keep these cases cool these days so it does pay to invest in a good case and good fans.

what i’m doing now is running a mic and headphone cable into the next bedroom, then use a wireless keyboard to start/stop n-track for recording takes. this is working like a dream for me. there’s also a walk in closet in that bedroom which gives extra isolation (full of clothes!) and a different room sound.

if you have the space to do something like the above, it’s cheaper than shelling out for a quiet case and safer than turning your fans off temporarily.

EDIT: OR… try out one of THESE:

Hi Ted, chaps…

I too had the same problem as Phoo - my new machine was noiser than my old. I tried a few low-tech bodge solutions, like covering the PC etc, but that didn’t work too well.

The first part of solving the problem was to work out which component was making the most noise. There are, of course, many fans in a modern PC, the most notable being in the PSU and on the CPU. There are often case fans and even fans on graphics cards too.

What I found was that by fixing one noise source I uncovered another so be warned this could get obsessive!

My PC only had a CPU fan and a PSU fan. (There was a case fan but it was disconnected). By stopping the CPU fan gently with my finger (for a second or two only), I established that most of the noise was coming from the PSU fan - no surprise there.

I took the PSU out and replaced the fan with another one I had laying around (I’ve got an Electronics degree; don’t try this unless you know what you are doing). It was better but not great. So in the end I got a new PSU - just a standard one, not a super quiet one (yeah I’m tight!).

Much, much, much better. But now the CPU fan seemed loud! The solution to that was much easier though… My BIOS has settings for setting the fan speed according to the CPU temp. I found that by running my fan at 70% speed, the noise dropped considerably and the temperature remains under control. I have the added comfort of knowing if the CPU temp goes up the fan will speed up to accomodate.

Now I can hear my harddisk rattling. I’ve ignored that a bit and stuffed the PC round behind my desk with all my equipment cases etc, and I’ve hooked in an old footswitch to the power button to turn it on and off from my desk. So far I’m happy



Here’s Flavio’s “dirty” solution from the FAQ page:

4.b - Q: Recording near the computer is quite noisy: how can I get rid of the fan(s) noises?

A: The definitive solution to this problem is to put the computer case in another room, make a small hole in the wall and make the cables pass through this hole.
Information on how to build a box to reduce the PC noise can be found at

Another dirty solution to this problem (that should not be done by anyone who doesn’t exactly now what is doing): I’ve put a switch on the front of the computer and I’ve truncated one of the power wires of both the CPU and the power supply fan, connecting them to the switch. In this way when I want to get rid of the noises I just turn off the switch. Having it off for 5-10 minutes has never created any problems, but I’ve found that the power supply heats quite fast so probably longer times can damage it.


I use Cool Edit to remove the fan noise :;):


Of course I’m biased, but the definitive solution (for me) is to start with a quiet computer (which is why I started building them in the first place). Then go to more extreme measures. I could not work if my computer wasn’t right at my side, so putting it in another room is not an option.

Don’t ever, ever disable the CPU fan, even for a short while.!! If you do this and you’re lucky, your motherboard will be smart enough to shut the system down (my mobo is). If you’re not lucky, then you’ll have a hunk of silicon that’s much good for anything.

I would never recommend turning off any fan, for even a short while. If you do that, you’ll void any warranty that you’ve got from Dell or me, and you may destory your computer. Modern CPU’s produce a LOT of heat and all the fans in the system are required to keep things in operating temp. range.

Good point. Bear in mind that Flavio’s tip is years and years old, I think I read it the first time some 6 years ago when we were still using PentiumII CPUs. Back then there was much less need for cooling.

I’ve just put all my stuff into a small cupboard:
During recording I close its door. :)

I’ve placed my PC in the bottom shelf of a makeshift stereo bench from IKEA - soon to be replaced by something cooler(!).

I’ve placed the PC in such a way that the noise it makes is “trapped” in a labyrinth made from foam sheets originally designed for dampening noises in cars. The reason for the labyrinth solution - inspired by “noise traps” seen on a “silent-pc”-site - is that I don’t want to interrupt the airflow to the cabinet. The temperature sensor just makes the fans go faster - and hence produce more noise - if they are blocked.

I agree that the solutions to the problem are legio. But the main point is to avoid noise getting in the way of sessions whether you are making recordings using microphones or doing a cruical mixdown. It’s an ongoing process, really…

regards, Nils


He suggested wiring a switch in the fan circuit and shutting the fan off briefly during recording sessions. The few minutes of no fan should not hurt anything

That will kill an XP athlon in minutes. Seconds if you don’t have the heatsink connected.

You can get variable speed controllers to go between the mb and cpu fan, reducing the voltage. Keep in mind, some fans sound worse slower because they don’t turn over properly.

Go as passive as you can, bit hard with CPUs these days but there are passive fanless PSUs areound, otherwise Zalman make good quiet PSU’s and GPU coolers. I’ve currently got a Spire Whisperrock IV, Zalman PSU, Zalman GPU coooler without fan and some Spire Soundpad lining the case. The Soundpad was probably the least useful, but everything else made a huge difference. Seagate HDs are the way to go too. My northbridge has a passive HS on it, replace that if you can.


Turning the fan off of my Prescott would fry in seconds as well, though I found that the temperature of my old Celeron only went up a few degrees when the fan died. I took the fan off of that CPU and it’s still running today fanless as a net router for the home internet connection and as a print server. The CPU on that machine is cool enough that it’s only slightly warn to the touch when on 24 hours a day. The Prescott on the other had will run around 97F to 112F depending on the load and room temperature (no air conditioner in the cool pacific NW). It will slowly rise without the fan but with the large 4" heatsink. There’s no way could run that without a fan, unless I moved to a liquid radiator. It wight level off below spec but I wouldn’t want to take a chance. The max temp spec is pretty high fortunately.

When looking for a large heatsink keep an eye on the motherboards they support. CPU placement on my MB made most of the well known heatsinks not fit because of lack of clearence with the power supply above. There mostly like will be a good choice available though.

This was a great invetment though. The stock fan that came with the CPU was so loud that not only would have recording with mics been affected so would mixing. It’s hard to mix with a hair dryer blowing in your ear.

Thanks Everyone :)

I appreciate everyones help and tips, I will be addressing my loud fan situation within the next few days.

Thanks Again :)

Check it out: It’s fairly comprehensive. Especially useful are the recommendations.

Bye now.

A couple of years ago I got a Shuttle PC (one of those little shoebox sized things) that had a heatpipe on top of the CPU and a radiator in the back with a fairly large three-speed fan. The fan is slow, so it pretty much whispers. There is fluid in the radiator system but I don’t think it is water, and it is completely sealed. There is only one hard drive bay so I use external drives connected to the firewire port. It works.