My two month old HTPC build has recorded over 150 hours of television so far and performed flawlessly. Looking back, it was a solid build but it is slightly louder than I would like. This Friday night I decided it was time to make this HTPC the first member of my Decibel Reduction Program (DRP). Read on to find out more about the DRP and how this HTPC went on a sound diet!
Back in August I built a small HTPC to record all of my television. That article is at:
It was a easy build since I was using a recycled 3.5” drive, OEM cooling solution and the included power supply. It pulled 50-60 watts under load and the dual core CPU was more than enough to record multiple shows at once. The build was small and cheap. So what was the issue? It was loud for a HTPC.
Ok, it probably was not that loud but it was still loud enough to hear the fan and drive when you walked by the room. I decided to start my new Decibel Reduction Program (DRP) and see how low I could get the sound. I also plan to go over my other PCs and see what cooling solutions I can find to lower the sound impact in my home.
I found a cheap decibel meter online at Amazon and decided to check how loud the HTPC actually was.
The Decibel and You
A decibel (dB) is a way to measure the power of sound. Each decibel integer increase is one times as loud, so a sound that is at 60 decibels is 10 times more powerful than a 50 decibel sound. Without having a frame of reference and a calculator it is hard to explain so I will leave the whole decibel definition and measuring for one of my BYOB sermons.
Let us look at a few common sound levels as a reference. You would think that the scale would start near zero but realistic sound in our daily life starts above 20 dB.
Common Decibel Levels (non-scientific)
28 dB – Inside a closet in center of house (at night) with a beer and a flashlight
30 dB – Sleeping wife
36 dB – Bamboo growing in a quiet room on a Friday night with AC on and vent open
43 dB – Netbook running Windows Updates
44 dB – EX485 with four WD Caviar Black drives (in Ikea cabinet)
53 dB – EX485 with four WD Caviar Black drives (cabinet open)
56 dB – HTPC recording television
58 dB – Dave McCabe talking
60 dB – Dishwasher
65 dB – Diehard talking
68 dB – Dishwasher after a couple of glasses of wine
70 dB – Engine noise inside your truck while getting on the freeway
80dB – Inside an airplane just behind the exit rows in flight
85 dB – Moderate Surround Sound during intro to Saving Private Ryan
90 dB – Standing on the side of the freeway listening to the truck get on the freeway
110 dB – Jet engine from that parking spot at the end of the runway
120 dB – Vuvuzela
130 dB – Glock 17 fired at arms length
Some Quick dB Readings