~75dB noise floor in my homelab. What’s best for protecting my hearing?

Hi all,

Seems the noise floor here isn’t too great,

Would Boss Quiet Comfort type headphones help to protect my hearing or do I need something else?

I typically spend the day over the weekends at my electronics bench which is next to my server racks.


Cheers M

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That’s way too loud as a floor IMHO.

I’d be wearing headphones for noise cancelling / music, in any office in case it was that loud (typical culprits would be air conditioning, and open office plans / high foot traffic areas).

Can you really trust that app/phone? It’s currently 6am here, it’s raining heavily (15dB-25dB). Me putting the phone next to my cherry mx brown keyboard is spiking up to 35 or 40dB.
60+ is like someone is talking next to your head and yapping on and on and on and on… not good (probably worse when a human starts talking).

better option, what do you have in your rack that’s making noise? can you replace the fans?

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Supposedly your max 77 decibels is pretty well under the threshold (85 decibels, which imo is too high) for needing hearing protection during prolonged periods, so any enclosed headphones should do you a big favor while being hearing safe. At this point you’re aiming for all day comfort and affordability. The big thing is that you are trying to get rid of high pitch fan whine which is easier to notice than the rather low (but actually loud) hum of a lathe or something.

I wish there was a way to bring an ATV down that low. Gotta wear earplugs all day.
Edit Spoke too soon, time hilly-billy my shit

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Thanks mate, you’re spot on - it’s the FreeNAS Norco build I did a few years ago. I didn’t replace the fans with nice Noctua’s, or bother to lower their RPM. Something that I will look into at some point - for now I’ll go with my quiet comfort headphones.

It’s just that I’ve setup a second workstation in this room with my YouTube recording stuff. I’m able to remove all the noise in post-processing.

Is it one of those 4U norco cases with the 4x 80mm fan walls? I have a 4U case I don’t use anymore and I could give you the 3x 120mm fan wall I have if you pay for shipping.

In my supermicro case with those 3x heavy duty 80mm fans, I use Noctua NA-FC1 PWM Manual Fan Controllers to bring bring down the noise to a reasonable level so I can’t hear it through the wall/door. These things are fantastic.

Another alternative is getting two packs of these and doubling or tripling them up (fan engineers hate this one weird trick!) into a 3x2 or 3x3 custom fan wall with painters tape and cardboard like a real sysadmin.

As I recall my unit should be a 3U, but I think I’ll go with your suggestion re. the Noctua PWM controllers - probably the simplest way to go about this.

Thanks for the kind offer though!

Ack. Yeah, high 60s is way too loud. I haven’t used PWM fans in anything in my rack either, but I don’t typically spend a lot of time right next to it. If I did that’d be the first thing I’d do also. The noise floor is around mid 50s around my rack, and I still don’t like it.

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Most closed back headphones will get that noise down to acceptable levels (Sennheiser HD-280 Pro, AudioTechnica M40x, Beyerdynamic DT-770, Yamaha MT5 etc.)

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Is the ambient temperature there reasonable? Like, are you running the AC often anyway? I live I a naturally less hot country, so can run less intense fans, but if I lived in a place with nice natural heat, I might have to increase the cooling to louder fans?

I say that, because server style cases have really high airflow, good pressure, fans. Quieter fans might not push the flow needed.

I know Noctua does do industrial fans, and they are still not too noisy?

You could probably get a pair of airplane travel-grade noise cancelling headphones (the ones that pilots use), servers sound like jets anyway lol.

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This is likely not feasable at all but you could make a sort of open chamber around or at least on the exposed sides that is not sealed in and way but has over lapping section covers in acoustic dampening foam that the sound would have to get around and that would kill a lot of the noise while keeping it free for air.

Not this exactly but gets the idea across

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3M makes all sorts of hearing protection and they’re not that expensive. I tried a pair made for gun ranges and they’re pretty comfortable. I’m sure you could buy a pair better tuned for the fans noise and be safe. If you want to listen to something just slip a pair of buds under them and you’re good to go.
But, if you decide to go that route, be sure to have a smart watch/band to get calls and messages and maybe get a flashing light to connect to your doorbell like the ones used in record studios.

70dB might not be considered dangerous enough to require earing protection gear, but in my opinion, considering you said that you spend a lot of time in that room during weekends, I think you need proper gear to avoid any possible issues in the future. Stay safe!


I’ve got the AC running 24/7, just to extend the lifespan of the HDDs. I give the AC a 1 hour break ad-hoc though.

With the AC on, the HDDs sit at around 35DegC. Far too warm without though.

The Bose Quiet Comforts to a decent job, but I haven’t tested the Sennheiser HD820 in this room just yet.

I’ve got a Sennheiser HD820 but I haven’t tested it in this room as I was pretty sure the horrible noise floor would ruin things. They sound great in my other room with an ambient noise floor under 40dB.

With the Quite Comfort Bose headset, the high-pitched shrills from the fans bleed through, so I definitely need to add the PWM controllers in.

The HD 820 and HD-280 Pro are very different headphones :wink:

Can imagine. Never had the QC’s on outside of in-store demos, but they felt really light on the clamp.

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Oh yes :slight_smile: I decided to go all out having previously added a Grado RS1e set. Right now I’m running a Schiit (multibit) stack + Valhalla 2 for the HD 820.

I could manage with the QCs as they do a decent job of muting the background shrill; it’s just that the background noise now sounds “like” 40dB (but not linearly of course).