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back to article Apple muffles PC noisemakers

A pair of Apple filings published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office aim to lessen the annoyance provoked by your PC's various and sundry noise-making components by letting you take control of how it sounds. The first filing focuses on determining a user's opinion of various annoying sounds, then ameliorating them - …

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Anonymous Coward

Steve Jobs memorial melody

Does that mean Apple will finally remove that silly startup sound? Or at least give an option to switch the damn thing off?

If you want to remove acoustic annoyances, cut your inflated brand ego and begin with the bloody obvious!

Next, stop the DVD drive in the MacBook from starting up at boot. It's the noisiest part in the machine even though it's hardly ever used.

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Boffin

Silencer?

If apple is talking about stuffing microphones through the guts of the PC to monitor the noise level, so it can try to balance cooling vs performance, why not just use the mics to record the sound, generate the same sound 180deg out of phase and play it through speakers to cancel out the sound of the system to almost nothing at all..

Full performance all the time, no annoying system noise!

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Alien

Really weird patents...

why would they need to patent such things? This sounds like - on the face - to be the same as adding a new ring tone... Perhaps - and more likely - they have other things in mind.

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Stop

What? Apple patents "silence"?

Sorry Apple, I can't hear you! I have a G4 sitting here beside me and it's hard to even read it's so damn noisy! Hang on, I'll turn it off.

Ah, that's better.

Right, now lets see, on my desk here I have my SILENT Asus Nova which is my trusty little Windows Home Server, next to me is my main machine with the built-for-silence Antec P20 case, modded with 5 extra fans foor cooling and a Zalman fan control to keep it quiet. I only have to let the noise get loud on days over 35C, and to be honest I'm not usually in front of the PC on days like that.

I built my first silenced PC back in 2001, so RIGHT THERE I've got prior art over Apple, as I was using resilient HDD mounts, fan controls, composite linings to stop reverb and harmonics in the case, and software control over how hard the CPU & fan is running, which for memory came in with the Athlons from AMD with their "Q-fan" system.

I really do have a G4 here as well, (two of them actually) and the aren't even the awful G4MDD models (known as the Apple WindTunnel), and I must say they are very noisy computers. Sure, pretty case for the time, but roaring banshees when powered up. Yes, the fans are clean. Though I did touch the inside of the case without washing PC off first, so I may have un-blessed the G4s resulting in the noise. Oh, and the speakers for them aren't connected with helium-filled oxygen-free copper with mahogany interconnects, so that would be why.

Coming up next Apple patents "gasseous material for facillitating respiration" and "geometric-symbol-based representation of concepts, numbers and speech, facillitating communication storage on physical and digital media"

TFC, Apple!

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@Silencer? & @What? Apple patents "silence"?

@Silencer?

That only works if your ears are positioned such that the two sound waves are perfectly out of phase. Noise canceling headphones work because they know where your ears are. A laptop doesn't

@What? Apple patents "silence"?

Try reading the article.

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Pirate

But can this silence YeastBlenders?

So you got my loverly Mac and you can silence it, feh it already is quiet.

But if SWMBO gets online and watches YeastBlenders from Mother Beeb's site, can we SILENCE that please? That would be the real lightbulb mode invention IMNSHO.....

Me thinks prior art in terms of either G*d's existance, or Simon and Garfunkle's Sounds Of Silence will win out, but we are talking about the US PTO -- inventors of controversy by obscurity.....

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Silver badge

an "acoustic annoyance model" (AAM)

Is that the "I'm a Mac" guy?

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Thumb Down

useless

If they don't give you away to disable the most annoying sound of them all. that f**kn start-up sound.

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Thumb Up

Actually guys...

It IS possible to disable the startup tone, and has been for quite a long time. Let me Google that for you.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=disable+apple+startup+tone

Anyway I'm all for quiet computers becoming ubiquitous, so unlike the rest of you, I'll give marks to Apple for being a manufacturer who is genuinely pursuing this direction. Sure, they might have made loud computers in 2001...but so did everyone else! Guess what, it's 2009 and they're shaping up. Don't berate them for doing what you wanted them to do in the first place.

By the way, I always liked the Apple startup tone, and since I don't reboot very much, I kind of look forward to hearing it whenever I do. Haha.

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Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

@ Adrian Esdaile

Huh, I have a G4 minitower sitting right next to me also, and it's not that noisy at all, really, though it might be a later-shipping rev of the design as opposed to the infamous G4 Wind Tunnel -- though I can't _really_ tell how noisy it actually is due to the copy of "Live At Leeds" that I've got playing in iTunes right now (so much for the pitch of the G4 fan being inaudible to my "aging ears"). (;^>

Come to think of it, my old beige G3 is actually _louder_ than my G4. Mind you, I'm also old enough to remember using a Mac with _no_ fan.

Paris, because I'm sure she can make way more noise than my G4 fan.

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How to disable anoying mac noises

get a PC

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Anonymous Coward

@ Robert Heffernan

That whole active noise control thing is already out there an widely patented, cool as it would be.

@ everyone moaning about startup sounds

What, are you powering your machines down all the time or something? What's wrong with just putting the machine to sleep? Just think of the damage you're wreaking on your uptime stats!

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Bronze badge

US Patent System - again...

Is this article there to yet again prove what we all know, that the US patent system has lost itself in a miasma of trivialities.

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Joke

Cue

the fanbois.

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Silver badge

Like a purrr

I've often thought that were the fans in my computer to sound like a purring cat, the noise would be less irritating. Maybe even relaxing.

It is not so much the level of noise that annoys me in computers, but the stopping and starting of it, sometimes clearly linked to an activity, sometimes seemingly randomn.

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Why?

Would you buy a mac? May as well buy a spectrum, there are more programs available.

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Perimeters

"When acoustic annoyance exceeds a user's preferred parameters"

Just remind me how you can exceed a parameter?

Not you too, Reg....

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Bronze badge

Good Stuff

How long before Microsoft copies it anyway, but in a way that is subtly different, so that it simply doesn't work right?

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@ Adrian Esdaile

I too have a G4 sitting next to me that I wake from sleep time-to-time - mind you, it's a Cube. Now that's quiet. I just wish LaCie would do something with their noisy hard-drives. It's just noisier than this iMac.

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Silver badge

Bah!

How about doing something to lessen the noise-fallout annoyance of iPhone f-tards who "entertain" the rest of us on the commute home with their idiot ringtones and tinny mp3s?

Maybe by instigating a point-of-purchase test that forbids sale of an iPhone to anyone with an IQ lower than the device itself?

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sounds

the noises on the mac pale into insignificance compared to all the irritating sounds coming from the windows machines at work

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Gold badge

Varying fan speed

"The system can also be used to prevent fans from varying in speed too often - a sustained but relatively loud noise can at times be less acoustically annoying than a fan that continually speeds up, slows down, speeds up, slows down, and so on."

Yes, I've got an HP (really Compaq...) slimline machine at home with a P4-3.0, with Ubuntu on it. It sounds like it's got a turbo in it! Seriously, you can just pull down a menu and it's like whiiiRRRRRRRrrr...... (I.e., it goes from slow fan speed right up to max in under 1 second of CPU load, then spools it back down after a few moments of relative inactivity.) Luckily, videos don't tax it enough to keep the fan revved up. That said, in this case, I wouldn't want it to keep the fan revved up -- it's loud -- and I wouldn't want it to keep the fan spooled down and cook the CPU either. In this case, the REAL solution is a better cooling system -- I've seen an I assume later revision of the same machine, they replaced this cheezy paper-thin-cardboard fan duct with a real fan duct -- those models do not rev the fan except under extended heavy load.

So, the synchronizing fans to avoid beat tones sounds cool. The rest sounds daft -- if there's a noise versus speed control, I'd rather have a slider than have the machine ask me 20 questions then decide what it's going to do on it's own. Can you imagine the tech support nightmares? If the machine got dusty, or just plain decided the owner hates noise all of a sudden, the owner'd be like "Hey, what the hell.. my computer started running so slow except when I'm watching a movie or playing music?" Hah!

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Stop

Never understood why.

I still can't understand why people care so much about a little sound from a computer. To me, there is no greater glory than standing in the middle of a room full of a thousand servers humming all about with A/C noise blasting in the background. The gentle song of lulling is akin to the soothing sound of the ocean as waves crash on the rocky coast line.

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@ Sajjad Syed

For many Macs, it ISN'T possible. Muting the volume before shutdown, StartupSound pref pane, and TinkerTool System all fail on my PowerBook. StartupSound used to work on another computer, but became ineffective after an OS update. Apple doesn't support disabling it, since it's a diagnostic test – a different sound plays if you have bad RAM or some other hardware problems.

As for the WindTunnels, a bit of warranty-voiding work (http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/systems/quicksilver_noise/quieting_quicksilver_noise.html) makes a big difference. I get more noise from the hard drives than fans now.

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Re: Never understood why.

"I still can't understand why people care so much about a little sound from a computer."

Obviously you've never done any serious audio work with a computer ...

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Paris Hilton

Noise is relative

Used Mac since the Classic SE (no fan but the 20 mb HDD creaked a lot).

In my experience the following has been true:

iMac G3 constant low fan whine (not a problem)

iMac G4 variable speed fan very quiet even when thrashed (even better)

iMac G5 hot chip, hot GFX card, 2 noisy fans that sound like a small remote controlled aircraft is flying around the room (not deafening but bad)

Mac Pro 6-9 fans depending on kit inside absolutely bloody silent except at start up when they run full blast for 3 seconds (stunningly good)

My friends PC gaming towers do Harrier Jump Jet impersonations from start up and get louder the harder they get thrashed. Their laptops are quieter but tend to meltdown and freeze up as they're systems core temp reaches 90ºc. Alternatively you have a laptop with no balls at all so it never overheats...

Liquid cooled monsters are quiet but a lot of work and money with 1 more thing to service too, Apple tried it in the G5 PowerMac towers and then dropped it again.

Noise is relative one man's racket is ignored by another, Apple are not the first to copyright a silly concept go look at Microsoft's list of ludicrous "me first" litigation.

The important thing is if you can live with the equipment's overall ambience.

Mind over Matter: If you don't mind it don't matter.

Paris? Because she knows the importance of a good blow and how much noise you make when your on the job.

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