I recently bought a 2011 Macbook Pro (15") for, among other things, some serious audio in my bedroom studio.

If I open up Pro Tools or Ableton and start working, within 5 minutes the MBP's fans turn on, spin up as fast as they can go, and never spin back down.

Unfortunately, this makes the computer useless for recording as the fan noise clearly appears on any recorded track, and useless for mixing at low volume as the top end is completely overwhelmed by the sound of the computer.

I'm stuck with the computer for the forseeable future, and the house I'm in is rented so I can't just get the tools out and build utility room in my studio. The only other thing I can think of is an enclosure.

I've tried searching the web for help with the fan noise, but any apple discussion on normal forums tends to get quickly overwhelmed with trolls who are quite happy to declare "I do not experience this problem, therefore nobody has this problem, therefore you're an idiot" while offering absolutely no useful advice. Glad I remembered stackexchange!

Anyway, is there anywhere I can purchase something like this for the laptop that keeps it cool while minimising the noise? If there isn't and I have to build one, can anyone point me in the direction of some guides or war stories from others trying to do the same?


Edit: Neil Fein is having a similar problem and has asked on the Apple Stackexchange. His question may provide some additional help for people arriving here with this problem.

  • 1
    Did you search for 'isolation boxes'?. Some sound cards are so loud that they have to be placed in one. (Epic design fail.) I wonder if such a device would be suitable for your notebook.
    – boehj
    May 30, 2011 at 22:05
  • Can you please post this as an answer so I can upvote and we can discuss?
    – Shabbyrobe
    May 31, 2011 at 0:44
  • 1
    I actually don't know too much about this. I do know that some users of Apogee's Symphony were having some problems with fan noise.
    – boehj
    May 31, 2011 at 1:15
  • 1
    Until you're able to find an enclosure, keeping the fans from engaging during a take may help you get by. See How can I keep my Macbook Pro cool and avoid fan noise? on Apple.SE. Jun 1, 2011 at 22:06
  • 1
    About what you'd expect: It helps with tracking, mixing not so much. Jun 2, 2011 at 2:00

1 Answer 1


In some cases, isolation boxes are used to avoid noises. Some people have done this with certain sound cards that have powerful/noisy fans to keep them cool.

I'm pretty sure a similar idea could be used for the notebook itself.

I'm no expert here though. My notebook sounds like a 747 taking off!

  • Isolation boxes for Mac Pro style towers and many-RU-style outboard racks came up when I was searching, but they all seemed huge and profoundly expensive. Have you seen any specific to laptops in your travels?
    – Shabbyrobe
    May 31, 2011 at 1:59
  • I haven't, but I haven't been searching them out. What I notice is that there are a lot of DIY guides. Most probably because the darned things are so expensive for what you get. Anyone else know anything about these iso boxes?
    – boehj
    May 31, 2011 at 2:02
  • The DIY guides that I've found seem to focus mostly on guitar amp cabs. I've not seen one that isn't fully enclosed. I'm not sure that would work for the MBP because it gets hellfire hot even when not trapped in a box.
    – Shabbyrobe
    May 31, 2011 at 2:17

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