[mythtv-users] DVD drive noise

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Sun Sep 30 14:37:55 UTC 2007

On Sunday 30 September 2007 09:27:42 Piotr Romanus wrote:
> My dvd drive becomes very noisy when playing some dvd movies. Curiously
> it barely audible when playing others. Can somebody tell me what is the
> reason for it and is there any way to control the noise level? Are there
> any dvd drives that are particularly quiet - as quiet as commercial DVD
> players?

If the noise differs from one disc to another, chances are the cause is in the 
disc rather than the drive. Some discs are imperfectly manufactured, have 
acquired chips over time, or have become warped. This can lead to an 
unbalanced disc, and when it spins it causes vibrations. This is similar to 
an unbalanced load in a clothes washing machine, which in that case can cause 
the washer to rock and vibrate quite violently in its spin cycle. In the case 
of a DVD, it causes excess noise. In extreme cases I suppose it might further 
damage the disc.

As to fixes, I can think of three:

1) Use MythDVD's "rip DVD" option to copy the disc to your hard disk, then
   watch it from there. The copy operation is likely to be noisy, but playing
   from the disk copy should be virtually silent (aside from the disc's sound
   track, of course).

2) Use the hdparm utility's -E option to limit the drives speed, probably just
   for the disc in question. I've never tried this with DVDs, but it's made it
   possible for me to play some troublesome CDs. I can't promise this will
   work, but it's worth a try.

3) Exchange any DVD you get that has this problem for another one. As I said,
   it's probably caused by a manufacturing defect or damage, and either is
   cause for a return (assuming you've just bought the DVD, of course).

Rod Smith

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