Unbearable high frequency noise from hard drives

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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marcvip
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Unbearable high frequency noise from hard drives

Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:43 am

Hi,

I am setting up a custom desktop and tried to install 3 different types of SCSI and SATA II drives and I instantly get a headache being next to the desktop. Although I cannot hear the noise the "ultrasonic" sound waves affect my ears and then cause disorientation...I am fine with ear plugs... can anyone explain the source of the noise and what high performance drives will not cause this.
I do not have issues with low capacity IDE drives. I thought it was a platter count issue but even a 2 platter Seagate hd160jj was an issue.

Do you think the seagate single platter might be the solution?

Thanks!
Last edited by marcvip on Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:36 am

That would probably be the whine of the motors of those SCSI drives you have installed. Most SCSI drives run at least 10,000rpm and the higher end ones will go all the way up to 15,000rpms. They are NOT meant for silent running. In fact, you might say noise is not a concern in the design at all.

Low capacity IDE drives run much slower (7,200rpm and even 5,400rpm) and do not have the same intensity of sound from the motors. It's still there, but not as easily noticed.

Around here, usually the quietest drives are considered to be the Samsung Spinpoint (SP) series.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:41 am

jhhoffma wrote:That would probably be the whine of the motors of those SCSI drives you have installed. Most SCSI drives run at least 10,000rpm and the higher end ones will go all the way up to 15,000rpms. They are NOT meant for silent running. In fact, you might say noise is not a concern in the design at all.

Low capacity IDE drives run much slower (7,200rpm and even 5,400rpm) and do not have the same intensity of sound from the motors. It's still there, but not as easily noticed.

Around here, usually the quietest drives are considered to be the Samsung Spinpoint (SP) series.
I bought a 160gb spinpoint sata/7200rpm and had the same problem...although there was no audible noise....the high frequency sound(which you cannot hear) was very annoying to my ears....I don't have a problem with 30gb/40gb IDE /EIDE.....does anyone have the same issue with ultrasound frequencies?

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Post by IsaacKuo » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:48 am

If it's high frequency noise, then it should be possible to absorb/block it with some thick foam-like obstacles. I have had success with putting pillows all around my file server. The intakes/exhausts are all to the rear, so I have a large gap between the rear of my server and the wall. Against the wall is a large pillow to absorb the high frequency noise.

It does a pretty good job.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:25 am

IsaacKuo wrote:If it's high frequency noise, then it should be possible to absorb/block it with some thick foam-like obstacles. I have had success with putting pillows all around my file server. The intakes/exhausts are all to the rear, so I have a large gap between the rear of my server and the wall. Against the wall is a large pillow to absorb the high frequency noise.

It does a pretty good job.
I tried buying the antec quiet p180 case and installing the SMARTDRIVE disk enclosures...still no change....I guess I need to use EIDE single platter drives?

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Post by Felger Carbon » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:54 am

You can't hear it but it gives you a headache and earplugs fix the problem. The problem exists with multiple brands of 7200RPM SATA drives including the 160GB Samsung Spinpoint, but so far not with any IDE drives.

I think there's something non-obvious going on here, if the above is a correct synopsis of the problem. Aside from an incredible sequence of coincidences I haven't a clue. Does your family have someone with young, keen ears - an 11 yr old girl, for example? Another SPCR reader confirmed high frequency ringing with a microphone and FFT program recently.

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Post by andyb » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:26 am

As I was reading this post, I started thinking Electronics NOT platters/motors etc.

Felgers post made me post myself.

SATA whines but PATA doesnt, that makes no sense to say that the noise in mechanical as the mechanics are identical, however the electics arent.

I have noticed quite a few mobos with integtrated LAN that put out a high pitched whine with network traffic, likewise graphics cards, and even internal graphics.

Why not some of the electrics on the HDD.

Marcvip, have you turned on your PC without the HDD's plugged in.???

I would suggest that and get back to us, if that works try the HDD power management and wait until all drives power down as a confirmation.

If it doesnt work, try pulling out any cards that are not vital to the running of the machine, and pull the plugs on the FDD and optical drives.


Andy

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:45 am

andyb wrote:As I was reading this post, I started thinking Electronics NOT platters/motors etc.

Felgers post made me post myself.

SATA whines but PATA doesnt, that makes no sense to say that the noise in mechanical as the mechanics are identical, however the electics arent.

I have noticed quite a few mobos with integtrated LAN that put out a high pitched whine with network traffic, likewise graphics cards, and even internal graphics.

Why not some of the electrics on the HDD.

Marcvip, have you turned on your PC without the HDD's plugged in.???

I would suggest that and get back to us, if that works try the HDD power management and wait until all drives power down as a confirmation.

If it doesnt work, try pulling out any cards that are not vital to the running of the machine, and pull the plugs on the FDD and optical drives.


Andy

every fan I have is silent from zalman including the powersupply....if I unplug the harddrive there is no ultrasound frequency...so it is the drives....SATA II and SCSI emit them but not EIDE and SATA I ? what is the internal difference? I get the same symptoms after talking on a cell phone for too long...

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Post by IsaacKuo » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:58 am

The noise might not be from the hard drives if it's the motherboard and/or power supply interacting with usage of the SATA/SCSI ports.

However, it seems strange that it would occur specifically with SATA II but not SATA I. Theoretically, there should be no difference.

Are you SURE it's not something to do with the rpm's? The older drives which you didn't have a problem with...were they 5400rpm drives? The drive whine from 5400rpm drives is lower in frequency than the drive whine from 7200rpm drives.

But it's strange...the smartdrive enclosure should have reduced the noise.

[edit added:]

In any case, whether the noise is coming from the drives, power supply, or motherboard, surrounding the PC with pillows should have an effect on the amount of high frequency noise.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:03 am

IsaacKuo wrote:The noise might not be from the hard drives if it's the motherboard and/or power supply interacting with usage of the SATA/SCSI ports.

However, it seems strange that it would occur specifically with SATA II but not SATA I. Theoretically, there should be no difference.

Are you SURE it's not something to do with the rpm's? The older drives which you didn't have a problem with...were they 5400rpm drives? The drive whine from 5400rpm drives is lower in frequency than the drive whine from 7200rpm drives.

But it's strange...the smartdrive enclosure should have reduced the noise.

[edit added:]

In any case, whether the noise is coming from the drives, power supply, or motherboard, surrounding the PC with pillows should have an effect on the amount of high frequency noise.
I am comparing the eide/ sataI from other systems...so far every sataII and scsi drive is causing an issue on this system...I am installing a 7200rpm ultra100 250gb 3 platter western digital drive tomorrow to compare....I still wonder if the platter number is the issue

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Post by IsaacKuo » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:38 am

marcvip wrote:I am comparing the eide/ sataI from other systems
That is a mistake. You should:

1. Remove all hard drives from your main computer and power it on. See if the noise is a problem. Obviously, the computer won't boot up, but you can still POST.

2. Unplug all fans except for the PSU fan. With the PSU fan, use a small stick or something to stop it from spinning. This reduces the number of noisemaking distractions.

3. Test exactly ONE hard drive at a time. Connect the power cable ONLY. Obviously, the motherboard still won't detect the hard drive since it's not connected. You are only trying to test out the idle noise.

You may find to your horror that this noise exists no matter what hard drive you try. Maybe the high pitch whine is coming from the power supply. Or maybe not.

4. Test exactly ONE hard drive at a time. Connect the power cable AND the appropriate motherboard cable. Don't boot up--go into the BIOS instead.

If you find that there's no noise with just the PSU connection, but there is noise with the mobo connected also, then you may be looking at some sort of unfortunate electrical interaction.

When trying to diagnose where noise is coming from, you absolutely MUST eliminate all distracting noise sources.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:52 am

IsaacKuo wrote:
marcvip wrote:I am comparing the eide/ sataI from other systems
That is a mistake. You should:

1. Remove all hard drives from your main computer and power it on. See if the noise is a problem. Obviously, the computer won't boot up, but you can still POST.

2. Unplug all fans except for the PSU fan. With the PSU fan, use a small stick or something to stop it from spinning. This reduces the number of noisemaking distractions.

3. Test exactly ONE hard drive at a time. Connect the power cable ONLY. Obviously, the motherboard still won't detect the hard drive since it's not connected. You are only trying to test out the idle noise.

You may find to your horror that this noise exists no matter what hard drive you try. Maybe the high pitch whine is coming from the power supply. Or maybe not.

4. Test exactly ONE hard drive at a time. Connect the power cable AND the appropriate motherboard cable. Don't boot up--go into the BIOS instead.

If you find that there's no noise with just the PSU connection, but there is noise with the mobo connected also, then you may be looking at some sort of unfortunate electrical interaction.

When trying to diagnose where noise is coming from, you absolutely MUST eliminate all distracting noise sources.
- It is the hard drives because I tried connecting the scsi and sataII drives on two different motherboards and it is the same problem

- If I run the system ON with no hard drives there is no problem

- If I connect EIDE drives to the system there is no problem

IsaacKuo
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Post by IsaacKuo » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:13 pm

Okay, I misunderstood what you meant by comparing to EIDE drives from other systems.

Do you know anything at all about the rotational speed of the EIDE drives in question? The frequency of the noise in 5400rpm drives is lower than 7200rpm drives. It is the rotational speed which will determine the pitch of the sound, not the number of platters.

Do you have access to several pillows? It shouldn't take very long to try out the effect of surrounding the computer with pillows.

Anyway, I still think it's a good idea to try and test out exactly one hard drive at a time, with all fans stopped/blocked. Obviously, you don't want to overheat your computer components, but a few seconds should be okay.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:22 pm

IsaacKuo wrote:Okay, I misunderstood what you meant by comparing to EIDE drives from other systems.

Do you know anything at all about the rotational speed of the EIDE drives in question? The frequency of the noise in 5400rpm drives is lower than 7200rpm drives. It is the rotational speed which will determine the pitch of the sound, not the number of platters.

Do you have access to several pillows? It shouldn't take very long to try out the effect of surrounding the computer with pillows.

Anyway, I still think it's a good idea to try and test out exactly one hard drive at a time, with all fans stopped/blocked. Obviously, you don't want to overheat your computer components, but a few seconds should be okay.
What is strange is that a western digital 7200 rpm EIDE ultra66 (2platters)40gb is OK but a sataII seagate quiet 160gb hd160jj 7200rpm (2platters) causes the frequency (any scsi is very bad...i opened one up and it has 4 platters)
I wonder if size has a relevance to high frequency?

Felger Carbon
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Post by Felger Carbon » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:07 pm

Did anyone following this thread note that Marcvip has the same problem with cell phones? And SATA2 has the problem but not SATA1??

I think he has an electronic problem, not an acoustic problem.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:04 pm

Felger Carbon wrote:Did anyone following this thread note that Marcvip has the same problem with cell phones? And SATA2 has the problem but not SATA1??

I think he has an electronic problem, not an acoustic problem.
wearing earplugs will eliminate the annoying high frequency headache so it is accoustic/sound waves

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Post by andyb » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:20 pm

Felger I said the same thing after your first post. I think this is an electrical noise problem and NOT an mechaical noise problem.

As I have mentioned before, I have noticed this on Graphics cards, and most notably on Ethernet cards (or built into the mobo), however, Feleger has got me thinking again, and many people mention frequency.

I have noticed this problem, but not to any kind of nasty level you are experiencing, but its nearly ALWAYS on GBE or 1GB ethernet. GBE works 10 times as fast at 100MBit ethernet, but without any but width increases, its litterally 10X the frequency.

SATA is Serial (hence the first S), ethernet is serial (in essence), therefore 1GB ethernet is serial X10, however SATA was very fast serial to start with, has the frequency of SATA2 pushed you over the limit.???

I am not certain because I hate mobile phones, but i beleive that they use a very very very very high frequency.

Can anyone add more info to my last statement, and perhaps explain how on high frequency and a much much higher frequency can both cause greif, is there an in-between test.???

A second issue.

In your last statement Marcvip, you said that earplugs will solve the problem, will it solve the problem from all distances, or only some, what about angles.??? Do angles make a difference.???

This is quite intruiging, and almost as though we have a live Ginnea Pig ;)


Andy - ON GMT time @ 12.36 AM, going to bed - Good luck

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:36 pm

andyb wrote:Felger I said the same thing after your first post. I think this is an electrical noise problem and NOT an mechaical noise problem.

As I have mentioned before, I have noticed this on Graphics cards, and most notably on Ethernet cards (or built into the mobo), however, Feleger has got me thinking again, and many people mention frequency.

I have noticed this problem, but not to any kind of nasty level you are experiencing, but its nearly ALWAYS on GBE or 1GB ethernet. GBE works 10 times as fast at 100MBit ethernet, but without any but width increases, its litterally 10X the frequency.

SATA is Serial (hence the first S), ethernet is serial (in essence), therefore 1GB ethernet is serial X10, however SATA was very fast serial to start with, has the frequency of SATA2 pushed you over the limit.???

I am not certain because I hate mobile phones, but i beleive that they use a very very very very high frequency.

Can anyone add more info to my last statement, and perhaps explain how on high frequency and a much much higher frequency can both cause greif, is there an in-between test.???

A second issue.

In your last statement Marcvip, you said that earplugs will solve the problem, will it solve the problem from all distances, or only some, what about angles.??? Do angles make a difference.???

This is quite intruiging, and almost as though we have a live Ginnea Pig ;)


Andy - ON GMT time @ 12.36 AM, going to bed - Good luck
ear plugs work on any angles....I wish I had a device to measure the whole sound spectrum....all the tests show db...but none show the whole sound specrum which should cover the range that you cannot hear >20khz / ultrasound

I'll let you guys know how this 250gb ultra100 compares with 3 platters...

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:10 am

Can someone unravel this Harddisk engineering mystery;

Seagate ST336754LW 36GB SCSI U320 15K rpm 68pin 8MB Hard Drive 1platter
Very high frequency

Samsung HD 160G 7K 8M SATA2 HD160JJ R 2 platter
High frequency

Western Digital HD 250GB 7200RPM 8MB WD2500JB% 3 platter
High frequency

Maxtor D740X-6L
NO High frequency (perfect)- Capacity 80 GB
- Areal Density 40GB/platter
- Interface Ultra ATA/133
- No. of Platters 2
- No. of Heads 4
- Buffer Size 2 MB
- Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
- Acoustic Noise 3.0 bels

- Avg. Rotational Latency 4.2
- Internal Data Rate (max) N/A
- Avg. Seek Time (Read) 8.5 ms
- Avg. Track-to-Track
Seek Time (Read) 0.8 ms

Engine
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Post by Engine » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:16 am

I would find a very loud hi-fidelity audio playback system and listen to Einsturzende Neubauten's Headcleaner until your ability to hear ludicrously high frequencies has been completely eliminated.

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:47 pm

Hazards of longterm cell phone use: BEWARE :)

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Post by andyb » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:12 pm

Dude I am certain its electronics causing the noise.

How many other OLD HDD's do you have that you can try (or borrow from someone to try).

You have tried half of the mdern drives on the market, it has to be something that is new that is causing the problem.


Andy

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Post by marcvip » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:18 pm

I tried an old(2000) Ultra ata 40GB Western Digital...No problem as well

The only difference I see is 8MB cache VS 2MB and they are half the size as the problematic ones...

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Post by HammerSandwich » Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:38 am

andyb wrote:Dude I am certain its electronics causing the noise.
That's my thought as well. Since the Smart Drive didn't stop the "noise," we must be discussing a PSU coil whine or similar problem. Do you have a different PSU to test?

marcvip
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Post by marcvip » Tue Jun 13, 2006 3:22 pm

HammerSandwich wrote:
andyb wrote:Dude I am certain its electronics causing the noise.
That's my thought as well. Since the Smart Drive didn't stop the "noise," we must be discussing a PSU coil whine or similar problem. Do you have a different PSU to test?
If I disconnect the Hard drives there is no high frequency(cannot be heard)....I beleive it is caused either by the rotating bearing on the plates or the heads that comes in contact with the plates...

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Post by KnightRT » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:11 pm

marcvip wrote:
If I disconnect the Hard drives there is no high frequency(cannot be heard)....I beleive it is caused either by the rotating bearing on the plates or the heads that comes in contact with the plates...
Doubt it. If the heads were dragging on the plates, the sound would be lower, broadband, louder, and the drive wouldn't work. It would be obvious.

With bearings, you'd never get a base frequency that high. Harmonics perhaps, but not at a volume sufficient for you to hear.

DI

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Post by marcvip » Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:40 pm

I'm now running two 80GB Maxtor D740X-6L 7200rpm UDMA 133 ....with no problems....still don't know why the others produce a very high ultrasound frequency

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Post by MikeC » Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:31 pm

High pitched electronic whine is commonly produced by components -- mostly inductors (coils) -- in power supplies, and in the voltage regulation modules (VRM) of motherboards. Often, it takes a certain type of load or combination of loads with a particular PSU / motherboard to trigger this.

One way to find out whether it's this kind of electronic noise or mechanical noise from a drive:

1) hook up only one of the offending drives
2) turn on the system & make sure the whine is there
3) turn off the system, then wrap the drive in a lot of damping material -- you could use towels, blankets, whatever (non-conductive, naturally)
4) turn on the system again & listen for the whine. If it's still there, chances are very high that it's coming from the PSU or motherboard, put your head close to them to check...
5) don't leave the drive wrapped up more than a couple of minutes lest you damage it with heat.

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Post by jldet5 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:19 pm

marcvip wrote:I'm now running two 80GB Maxtor D740X-6L 7200rpm UDMA 133 ....with no problems....still don't know why the others produce a very high ultrasound frequency
I could only get the Diamond MAX 10 160G to work for me in a smartdrive. I thought all of the other SATA 1 drives that I had purchased (and returned) were either noisey or had whine at high frequency. Could also try the Nexus hard drive enclosure?

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Post by marcvip » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:09 am

jldet5 wrote:
marcvip wrote:I'm now running two 80GB Maxtor D740X-6L 7200rpm UDMA 133 ....with no problems....still don't know why the others produce a very high ultrasound frequency
I could only get the Diamond MAX 10 160G to work for me in a smartdrive. I thought all of the other SATA 1 drives that I had purchased (and returned) were either noisey or had whine at high frequency. Could also try the Nexus hard drive enclosure?
I thought I was the only one with this problem? :roll:

I used the smartdrive copper with no luck....the noise is not from the motherboard because when the drive is disconnected the frequency stops (cannot be heard)

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