In this tut we’ll see if we can fix the noisy fan on a Yonguo YN900 LED light as it makes for no fun when recording interviews.
When it comes to lighting for video interviews and other small projects, then LED lights are a good option as they are lightweight, portable and can operate on battery power. One of these LED units are the Yongnuo YN900 which is quite powerful for its size. Each type of brand have their cons on pros and one of the cons on this unit is the noisy fan. The YN600 yields the same problem which is its smaller brother, 600 vs 900 LED’s, they have exactly the same dimensions except that the 900 has a bit deeper casing. They share the same fan and a noisy one at that. If you are planning on filming interviews or other scenes in a quiet environment, then the fan noise is very audible, even a directional mic pics up the fan noise. I do like these lights though as they are one of the more affordable LED options out there, quite powerful and portable. Their colour accuracy are not too bad, but some of the units differ from one another, but usually a colour correction gel get things back to normal. What is really nice about the YN900 is the app you can download to remotely control them from your phone, nice!
The only way to eliminate the fan noise is to replace it with a higher quality fan that has a much lower noise (dB) rating. There are not so many options available on the market as it needs to be 5V, not the usual 12V, and quite small at 40mm. At the end of the day I opted for a fan from Noctua.
So what is the outcome on audio noise? I did a quick a quick audio test, so you can decide if it is worth the effort. The room for the sound test was quite small, only about 2,2 meters wide with rather empty walls, not ideal for audio recording and there are some audible background ambience as well. The mic was placed behind the lights because of the room size, not in front of it as with a normal setup. This meant the mic was more prone to picking up noise from the fan which is located on the back of the LED light. Quite a critical test with much room for improvement.
Sound was recorded with a Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic positioned 1m from the lights, pointing away from them, and about 1 foot from the actor. In a real world setup the mic is usually placed further away from the lights. The mic runs through a Tascam DR-60D MKII, feeding a Nikon D750 that recorded the whole test. The input recording level on the D750 was set at 3 to keep pre-amp noise at bay.
Here is the sound test after the upgrade. The audio level on the voice recording was around -6dB if I remember correctly.
The fan connects to the mother board with a small 2-pin connector. The connector was not replaced as it was too difficult and fragile to work with. The factory wires were just cut and connected with the new wires, using 3M connectors that were supplied with the new Noctua fan.
The fan upgrade does a really nice job in making this LED light useful again for interviews and other similar setups. The noise level is quite acceptable and shouldn’t interfere with the audio unless your interviewee is a mosquito. The only thing I did notice is that the new fan does not move us much air volume as the factory fan, it remains on for longer periods of time and the light operates at slightly higher temperatures. I wont recommend using the unit in full sunlight at maximum intensity. You might be able though to find a bit stronger fan than I did, that will keep the light very happy. The upgrade just might make you a fan of the YN900 light again. 🙂