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Best quiet air compressor: silent airbrush and portable compressors review

Air compressor is an important appliance for saving time, reducing fatigue and providing more professional results with pneumatic tool. It is also an essential instrument for a wide range of tasks from automotive repairs to carpentry and crafts. And when choosing a compressor, everyone takes into account its performance and pressure, however, noise levels are often an underestimated issue. For example, Briggs & Stratton 8 Gallon compressor makes around 90 db at roughly 3′ distance. It will definitely cause a headache if you cannot locate the device remotely. In our post, we will help you to choose the best quiet air compressor to help you stay healthy and productive.

Quiet Airbrush Compressor

Good example of oil free seriously quiet airbrush compressor which works well for daily use is an Iwata-Medea Smart Jet Pro. It is it very quiet and satisfactory for use with a regular airbrush.

Quiet airbrush compressor
Iwata-Medea Smart Jet Pro – Quiet airbrush compressor

The Iwata comes with an airbrush hose in it, approx 6 ft, but it’s pretty thin one. It is almost silent air compressor, one of the most quietest units. The max pressure is around 40-42 psi. The Smart Jet Pro works really good with an airbrush needle of 0.2-0.3. If you need to lower the pressure, this tool has a true regulator without loosing the auto-shutoff functionality. The motor works about 30 seconds then the tank becomes filled up and the compressor shuts off.

Quiet Portable Air Compressor

If you often use an with a larger needle for faster and better coverage and with a gun, a SmartJet will struggle. More powerful California Air Tools compressor that is also advertised as silent airbrush compressor (but in fact, it is “quiet” enough only in comparison to a large industrial compressor). The unit handles an airbrush quite well and a paint gun with higher load (it runs a lot more of the time).

A compressor with a larger air tank is also handy for a lot of airbrushing. A more powerful motor may be louder, but when it reaches pressure, the compressor shuts down.

silent airbrush compressor
Bigger silent airbrush compressor – California Air Tools Quiet 1.0 HP Air Compressor

Therefore, if you are going to move to something larger in the paint gun category, choose a compressor with more horsepower and be ready to stand the noise. If not, the California Air Tools or Iwata may be fine.

Small Quiet Air Compressor

California Air units are pretty quiet, but they are not silent. If you need a really small quiet air compressor, my advice is to purchase a Rolair JC10, it is shockingly quiet machine. This compressor is an excellent addition for drying out parts and blowing dust.  And it is quiet enough that you can talk over it without raising your voice.

Small Quiet Air Compressor
Rolair JC10 Plus 2.5 Gal – small quiet air compressor

The Rolair JC10 Plus is very quiet compressor to begin with, and having it  under the desk makes it even quieter. The frame is equipped with rubber feet and the unit also is rubber mounted to the frame. This design reduces vibration transfer to the floor. It is very important if your floor is in house.

The compressor comes up to about 100 psi (full pressure) in about 80 seconds and recharges the tank in a few seconds when using a nailer.

How to Make Air Compressor Quieter

In high pressure compressors the intake is a source of noise. I assume you can quite down the machine by putting some kind of a silencer or baffle system on the intake and it will help out a lot.

Air Compressor Silencer Boxes

When choosing silencer box, make sure it does not restrict air flow. I recommend do not put the silencer on the intake if that has any orifice smaller that the intake you already have.

In other words if you have a 3/8NPTM threaded end, using 1/4″ will restrict the flow by the inlet hole. Since you only have atmospheric pressure on the inlet, resulted pressure differential will decrease your efficiency. Bottom line make sure both the inlet and outlet sizes of the silencer should be the same or larger than the g’zin on your compressors head.

Industrial Air Compressor Silencer

Industrial air compressor silencers improve the filtering and reduce intake noise simultaneously. The difference in noise with a good silencer is very noticeable. You can expect a 3 or 4 db reduction in noise.

 Industrial Air Compressor Silencer.jpg
Solberg Industrial Air Compressor Silencer

For example, I’ve used the Solberg compressor silencer after the upgrade to to 80 gallon compressor. It works like a charm, and the machine is a little quieter and deeper tone. Solberg filters are good quality and they are a more common size and cheaper than the smaller OEM filters used before, so it should pay for itself in the long run.

DIY compressor Intake Silencer

You can make simple DIY silencer with 1 gal can, PVC connectors, hose and loose polyester pillow fill for about $3.50. Pack the fill relatively light in the can, make holes at the bottom of the can and attach the connector to the cover. If there are no discernable restriction when you breath through the system, the compressor will work fine

 Air Compressor Intake Silencer DIY
Air Compressor Intake Silencer DIY

You could also make a muffler for the air compressor which would make it really quiet. The materials are quite inexpensive:

  • Pipe, the size is as an air compressor port – about 15″ long
  • Exhaust pipe, the same length
  • Washers, made that they will fit around the air compressor port pipe and fit inside the exhaust pipe
  • Steel wool, a drill and a welding machine

You can make a silencer similar to the gun mufflers, there are a lot of drawings of them, if you don’t imagine the design. If you make it right, your air compressor will be quiet and you will almost not even know it is running.

Remember, that after building a muffler you have to equip it with a filter. Otherwise, dust, rust flakes from the inside of the silencer, and the occasional giant mosquito are going to get into compression chamber and the life span of the pump will suffer.


Besides compressor design, the tank size directly affects output. If the tank size is big enough, your compressor will run as little as possible and you won’t listen the run most of the time. With a 80 gallon tank I sometimes forget to turn my compressor on and use impacts or blow stuff off with stored for a few hours before I realize I didn’t turn the device on.

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