The Big the Fast and the SCSI - Heat Acoustics Cables and Noise

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Heat
The two biggest enemies of electronics are dust and heat. As you add components to your computer system you raise the temperature inside your box. You also add more surface area for dust to cling to. There are two things you can do to keep your system running clean and cool and it doesn't involve high octane gas. First look inside your case for mounting holes, basically four holes in the shape of a square, where you can add additional computer fans for circulation. I like to add one to the front of the case that sucks air in and one to the back to blow it out. Next, pick up a can of compressed air and periodically open up your system and blow the dust the heck out of there. Doing your best to reduce heat and dust in your system will prolong the life of all your components.

Acoustics
If you work in a tight space, perhaps a single room project studio, and often record sound in the same room as your computer(s) are located, fan and hard drive noise can be a real nuisance. And if you follow my advice and add an extra fan to keep things cool you just added more noise to the equation. The good news is fan noise is a lesser enemy than hard drive chatter. A noise reduction tool, standard in most DAWs, will have an easier time with the constant hum of a fan versus the random outbursts of a hard drive. So if you've narrowed down your hard drive purchase to just a few manufacturers and all the specifications look pretty much the same, the next point of differentiation would be acoustic noise. Essentially how much noise does the drive make all by itself' Any environment can benefit from quieter machines. Have you ever spent a long day in an AVID editing sweet and suddenly realized the decibel level of just the machines'

Cables and Noise
There are many ways to add hard drives to your system. We've only discussed IDE and SCSI and didn't even touch on the whole new world of firewire drives, perhaps in another issue. If your setup requires a SCSI interface or maybe a RAID you will have cables running all over the inside of your PC and you may even hook up a few external devices. Just like a poor audio cable can cause noise problems so can crummy computer cables. It is not unlikely for electromagnetic interference caused by your hard drive interface to be picked up by your audio card. Sometimes moving the interface card, the audio card or both to different slots in your system can help. Sometimes a poorly shielded computer case can be the culprit. Or maybe it's just a bad cable. At any rate, if you stick with the best components for your budget you are less likely to encounter such problems.

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