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Applying automotive soundproofing products for PC? Second skin for quieting a PC?

post #1 of 5
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I noticed that that some computer cases had sound insulating foam on them to help dampen the sound coming out.

Just curious, has anyone tried to use something along the lines of Second Skin to try to dampen the noise that comes from their computer? The reason why I recommended Second Skin was because it is, from my experiences at least, the top sound dampening product. There are similar products like Dynaamt, Rattleskin, etc.

There are a couple of products that are of interest:
  • Vibrations - apart from vibration dampening the fans, the hard drive, the pumps (for water cooling), and the power supply, the only other thing I can think of is how to deaden the noise on the case. They do make a product called "Damplifier Pro" for that.
  • There is also a Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) layer of stuff that is used for airborne noise (probably near fans). Second Skin makes a product called "Luxury Liner Pro".
  • Basically you apply the Dampilifier Pro then the Luxury Liner on top of it.

Combine this with PWM fans (or a controller) and you should have a pretty quiet case overall. The case would be quiet during idle times and then ramp up. You would ideally want to combine this with a semi-passive PSU. If quiet is top priority, then avoid really loud HDDs (like the WD Black series or the Seagate Enterprise Capacity) and ideally use mostly SSDs for everything.

It won't of course make a loud PC silent, but every bit helps. The other benefit I suspect is more than just dB - it will make the noises in the lower frequency ranges that people don't hear well in. How much can I expect to get out of this?
Edited by CrazyElf - 1/30/16 at 1:39pm
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post #2 of 5
Might reduce a few dB of resonance, but the case will gain several pounds and become a substantial pseudo-quiet case and that's the important thing. biggrin.gif

The reality is that unless you're willing to dynamat or 2nd skin over every case opening (stoopid intakes) then the evil sound waves will still find a way out of the case and violate your sonic serenity.

The 'silent' cases that use various panel damping foams/vinyl sheets actually achieve the more 'silent' operation with an indirect sound path by the usage of front panels or doors. The indirect path has far more attenuation than the damping materials. The damping materials are more of a brilliant marketing feature than an acoustic one.

I've used dynamat and heavy vinyl sheets to reduce resonant effects with cheap case panels. It helped possibly a dB or so, but it made me feel much better about being such a cheapskate with a ****ty little cheap case.

It won't help dampen noisy hard drives very much, unless the drive mechanical impulse force is strong enough to excite a flimsy panel. At least we're not using old 40MB 5¼" Full Height drives. Better to suspend one of the current wimpy little 3.5" drives with various DIY elastic mounting techniques.

Noisy intake/exhaust fans will still be noisy. Noisy pumps will still be noisy too. Any opening in the case that allows room air to enter or exit the case will radiate sound. At vastly more audible levels than the mechanical resonance of case panels. Noise just wants to be free! It really is looking for the nearest opening to escape.

So much easier to select the least noisy components that fit the system needs than attempting to reduce noise levels in places that are radiating the least sound. And select a case and/or placement with the least direct path from the noisy component to the ears.

I'm not saying there's no benefit to minimizing case panel excitation and resonant effects, but, the quickly diminishing returns are seldom worth the effort.

Read the sound isolation literature. The first thing you'll see is how depressing it is to read the sound isolation literature. There's usually never a simple, quick fix - all will involve mass and space and seals. And $$$.

In the case of a quiet case, the textbook solution would describe mounting the noisy case inside another larger case - preferably double-walled outer case. The inner 'noisy' case would be air-sealed from the outer case and mechanically decoupled. And the outer case air-sealed from the room. That's the depressing part. The system will quietly overheat and shutdown. Could install a double-walled HVAC system just for the case. A small server room might be built for less tho.

However, all that said, if you vigorously bounce your mass-dampened case off in-room potholes and randomly throw components at case panels, you'll may be happy that the annoying panel ringing is very well damped. And those mass dampening materials have been proven to reduce SSD mechanical noise to inaudible levels. So, there's that. tongue.gif
post #3 of 5
Like the cat said, it is almost a waste of time and energy. Computer system noise in a case is like engine noise in a muffler. Stand along side the car and it's quiet, but go to the back where the exhaust pipe comes out and it's not. The exhaust pipe is like a case vent. Doesn't mater if it s intake vent or exhaust vent. Noise comes out of it.
post #4 of 5
I've had good luck keeping case noise down using sound damping foam designed for use in computer cases (you do have to use the good stuff). My current case uses Accoustipack 7mm foam on the sides, top, and back panels and it does makes quite a difference in sound levels coming out of the case, especially from vibration. The only sound I hear coming from the case when I'm three feet away from it is the gentle swoosh of air being pulled through the front and side fan filters; from over three feet away, I hear nothing. However, when I have the side panels off, I hear a lot more noise. The only downside to the foam is it does add a surprising amount of weight.

One thing I noticed that does make a big difference in the amount of sound coming from a case is the location of the fans. I can just barely hear the side and front intake fans from my case when I'm sitting at my desk about three feet away. I have the rear exhaust fan running full blast and I don't hear it at all. The top fan runs much slower so it is also pretty quiet. This is one reason why the intake fans on my next case are all going to be in the floor of the case since the sound won't have a direct shot at my ears. Since I will be running more of them, I can run them slower. I will also be pulling the intake air through a pleated paper furnace filter which will slow the air down a bit more and, hopefully, also block some sound.

Automotive sound deadening is designed for different sounds than what computers generate and would be a waste of money. Dynamat is more for heat insulation than sound insulation.
     
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post #5 of 5
once up on a time i actually dynamatted a server case i was playing around with. at the time i was playing around with a raid system and the dynamat did help with the vibration noise from all the HDD's. however the limitation to that is it only handled the low frequency vibration sounds. the higher frequency sounds like fan noise still comes through crystal clear smile.gif

my conclusion was, not worth the $ or effort to do it.
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