Until about an hour ago the noisiest thing in my studio was the Avid Omni audio interface.
Yes, I read all the forums and did all the firmware upgrades, but still when it got hot during a busy session the fan kicked in then it was like sitting on the edge of the runway at Heathrow Airport. OK, perhaps not that bad, but when measured at 1 metre, with the Omni turned off then the ambient room noise was around 25db, with the Omni fan running this went up to 45db. It was so bad that when I was on a call to Mike it kicked in and he said he could hear it down the phone in Manchester.
Of course in the ideal world we would all have machine rooms, but what puzzles me most is the Omni is aimed at the home producer or small project studio, both of whom are likely to have the Omni sat in the same room as them. This does beg the question what were Avid thinking of? It’s not a design flaw as you can replace the fan, which I’m about to show you how to do, so it’s either down to money or incompetence, neither of which are good reasons to have a noisy fan in a costly interface designed to be used with the Pro Tools the industry standard professional DAW.
Furthermore, to try and get any information on replacing the fan from Avid officially is nigh on impossible. We have great contacts at Avid and we couldn’t get any information on if it was possible and if so how to do it. It may be the case in a company like Avid that to give this kind of information is a tacit admission to the fact that the fan noise is not good, which in turn makes corporations jumpy about the possible claims arising from any kind of admission. This may be one example of where our trigger happy litigious society may have shot itself in the foot, the very thought of being sued means that valuable information gets buried. It saddens me but you can’t blame Avid for wanting to avoid some wanker suing them over the noisy fan in their interface. At the very least, I’d be happy if Avid just admitted to themselves that the fan is so noisy it can be heard over the crowd at the Superbowl and quietly replace it in newer production units, if they have already then great.
In the end I could take the fan noise no longer and at the risk of taking a hammer to my Omni I did some research, hoping that someone else with the same concerns had figured out how to do it. This entire article is down to the hard work of Manuel Karakas, who goes by the name of Meads on the DUC and who wrote this helpful article - so ALL CREDIT to him for having the brains, guts and caring enough to do this and then share it.
Here is my in depth article on how to do it.
Disclaimer Of Liability
Bearing in mind my rambling about litigious behaviour, I must point out that this article is purely for information only. If you read this article and decide to replace the fan in your Avid Omni then the risk is entirely yours.
Neither Pro Tools Expert or any of the Pro Tools Expert team accept any liability for damage, malfunction, failure of parts, spousal breakdown, death of pets or invalidation of warranties arising from reading this article and acting upon it. Any parts shown are for information only. If all this reads like legal mumbo jumbo then let’s be clear - if you read this and act upon it and break your Omni it’s your fault.
Tools Needed To Replace The Fan In An Avid Omni Interface
You will need some basic tools in order to complete this task (should you wish to do it)
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Ratchet Screwdriver and Socket Set
- Soldering Iron
- Heat shrink
- Cable Ties
- Replacement Fan We found one on Amazon for £14.15
- A container to keep all the screws and bolts during disassembly
- A camera to take shots of the Omni for reference so you know where things go when you come to put them back
Project time: Around 60 minutes for the average person, about a day for an idiot.
Avid Omni Tear Down And Fan Replacement
UNPLUG YOUR OMNI FROM THE MAINS AND REMOVE ALL CABLES
Start by removing the screws from the top panel of the Omni- there are a lot down all four sides of the unit. Put them in a safe place.
Remove the top panel of the Avid Omni and put it in a safe place.
The next job is to remove the PSU assembly which needs to come out so you can remove the fan.
First remove the power supply connector coming into the PSU assembly, see red arrow below. Take care to unhook the catch so that it slides off gently.
Next remove the four screws that hold the PSU to the main chassis.
The PSU should then gently lift out and you can set it with cables attached to one side. See below.
Next you need to remove the mains IEC connector on the back of the unit so you can get to the bolts that hold the fan frame in place.
Take note of which cable goes where on the connector (if you don’t and get it wrong you will fry your Omni) and then gently slide them off the IEC connector with your fingers.
Remove the 2 x Philips screws holding the connector in place and remove it.
Next using a screwdriver and socket set remove the 4 bolts that hold the fan assembly to the base of the Avid Chassis.
Set the bolts and washer aside in a safe place.
Next remove the fan power connector from the main board.
With a tug pull the entire fan assembly out of the main Omni chassis - it should look like the image below.
Remove the old fan from the fan frame using a Phillips screwdriver and socket set.
Put the new fan into place using the supplied silicon isolating grommets to hold it in place.
NOTE the fan does not go in as you would expect it to, but in reverse so that the counter sink holes for the screw fixings are against the frame.
The connector for the fan is not the same as the one on the Omni board so you need to snip the wires off and the connector from the old fan and then splice and solder the connections from the new fan together. Take special care to ensure you have the right wires connected.
This was done by looking at the new and old connectors and deducing which was the ground and which was the +volts connection.
Make sure any new connections are fully insulated using heat shrink.
Put everything back into the Omni by using these instructions in reverse.
Take special care to put back all connections in the right place, in particular any power connections.
Make sure there are no tools, cables or errant objects in the Omni then reattach the power.
Turn on the unit and check that the fan in running.
Finally use a cable tie for the new cable from the fan to the board and tuck it into the space between the fan frame and the PSU board.
Does it work? Well the new noise from the Avid Omni at 1 metre is 28db, in fact I keep looking around to see if it is turned on… result!
I also want to repeat my thanks to Manuel Karakas, who goes by the name of Meads on the DUC and who wrote the original article that inspired me to do this.
Final Reminder - Do this at your own risk