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Plague of the Noisy PC Or How to Kill A Studio Recording Session

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Everything was as perfect as it could be. The instruments and musicians were properly placed in the studio, rugs were on the floor to kill hotspots, bass traps in the room corners and baffled acoustic foam was everywhere. The musicians were pros and their instruments were incredibly maintained. The studio almost dazzled the eyes with its cleanliness and orderly manner of business.

Yes, it was great except for one tiny little distraction. The main in-studio computer started spinning up its fans like it was in the very depths of hell itself... screaming to get out of the inferno and cool down! Trouble was the computer gave no signs of overheating. It was running fine. Of course we rebooted... if I had a dollar for every reboot in my life well... we'd all be rich wouldn't we?

After trying this and that including the reboots the musicians were getting restless so they were sent out to do whatever restless musicians do while their equally restless studio counterparts were trying to figure out the noise problem which had been traced to the case fan spinning up and down every so often. When you are recording... you have to know... you MUST know... that nothing is going to interrupt that session that could avoided so this little distraction was now becoming a roadblock with professionals on the clock cooling their heels at an amount per hour you really don't want to think about. Even if it's by the session instead of hourly... the creative buzzkill is immediate.

noisy1.jpg

The scene described above is not unlike a lot of situation involving desktop computers today. In this case, it boiled down something more simple than hardware failure as no hardware was failing. Computer power management was the culprit. The demand on some systems might even call for workstation architecture but many studios and home recording areas are relying on beefed up personal computers which in most cases handle everything just fine. The problem is cooling. A small case has a small footprint all right but it also confines the space.

To keep up with things like this operating systems have to manage power (to manage heat in its simplest form) and that doesn't include any power management built into the BIOS that works with and hopefully never against the OS managed power scheme. This partnership has been going on for some time but every once in a while, things go off track like they do in anything else produced by human hands. While I did not witness the above event I did know how to fix the problem because being an HP user, HPE's to be exact, I'm very familiar with the fans running out of control and trying to track down the offender.

noisy2.jpg

Before going any further, I need to remind you that this is just one method of solving this problem and it is unknown if it leads to any detrimental effects but none have been noted so far. This is certainly something you do at your own risk and neither endorsed by Renderosity or myself for that matter if your computer goes kaput. I am merely informing you of how I solved the problem. How you solve it is your call... just like anything else in the tech world.

As it usually is when hardware failure is not the culprit I directed them to change the power scheme. Switch to power savings and see what happens. In this case... nothing. It remained noisy even after using the old trick of putting the PC to sleep then right back out. In this case, the fan just powered down to sleep and then spun right back up to high speed upon coming out of sleep mode. This left us with one other option. Look at the BIOS (CMOS) setup and see what it's doing to manage the PC power. After disabling the OS from managing the power... not the BIOS... the fan never spun back up to high speed again... at least that I know of. That's right... we disabled the OS ability to control the power scheme which seemed to have little actual effect on the OS's control as it continued to operate as directed by powered down options indicated in the Windows dialog.

In my case just changing to the power saving scheme usually solves the problems on my HPE's but I did have one stubborn HPE that required the same step as described above and seems to suffer no ill effects from it. So if you find a noisy fan bringing a buzzkill to whatever you are doing with your PC and it doesn't appear to be imminent hardware failure then consider looking at the power management to tame those unruly fans to reduce the noise.

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M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.

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