Among the less obvious factors taken into consideration when buying an electric shaver is quietness during operation. It’s also true that this aspect is rarely at the top of anyone’s list of features and characteristics of a razor.
But there are still cases when quiet operation is a must, so finding an electric razor with low noise level is the natural thing to do.
However, there’s little information regarding this topic since it’s clearly not one of the most popular aspects of electric shaving. Therefore, let’s see how different types of razors fair in the quietness department and how to find one that is right for you.
Rotary vs foil electric razors
While this battle is multifaceted and you’ll see solid arguments from both sides regarding the performance, practicality or comfort, things are much simpler when it comes to quietness. Rotary razors are far superior in this regard. And there are a couple of reasons for that.
First of all, the design and the way a rotary shaver functions allows the use of a motor that operates at low speeds. While current foil shavers are fitted with motors capable of 10000 to 14000 CPM (cycles per minute), the motor of a typical rotary shaver operates at less than 1000 RPM. This means a huge advantage for rotary shavers in terms of quietness from the get go.
Secondly, there are the vibrations produced during operation, which further amplify the perceived level of noise.
A foil shaver has reciprocating blades, meaning the cutting action is achieved by repetitively moving the cutters from side to side behind the perforated foil. The rotation of the shaft of the motor is transformed into an oscillating movement in this case. By constantly changing the direction of the strokes, the vibrations produced by a foil shaver are much higher compared to a rotary razor with circular blades that rotate only in one direction.
The result of these facts translates into a loud, high pitched whine for most foil shavers. Usually, the higher the speed of the motor, the louder the perceived noise will be. On the other hand, rotary shavers are generally much quieter, producing only a low hum.
Choosing a quiet electric shaver
It’s pretty by now clear now that if quietness during operation is important to you, then it’s probably a good idea to consider a rotary shaver.
Apart from Remington and other lesser known manufacturers, Philips Norelco is synonymous with rotary razors and it’s the undisputed market leader. Having reviewed quite a few in the last years, my subjective impression is that modern Norelco rotary shavers are all pretty similar in terms of noise level.
Lots of different models use the same cutting heads and motors, so it comes as no surprise that they’re also pretty much the same when it comes to quietness. I also noticed that when using one with shaving cream or gel, the sound tends to be more muffled, so there’s another reason why you should give wet shaving a try.
So which one should you choose?
Well, it really depends on your personal needs and how the razor will be used.
For example, the Philips Norelco 6100 is a great compromise in terms of performance and costs. Having used one myself, I can also confirm that it is quiet during operation and does a great job when being used for shaving daily or every other day.
This particular razor ticks lots of boxes and does so without being too pricey. It’s a great choice for a first rotary shaver and can also be successfully used for shaving your head. I find myself recommending this model very often as it’s extremely versatile, can be used wet or dry and will likely be good enough for most men (full review here).
Another solid option for an affordable and quiet razor is the Philips Norelco 4100 that we also reviewed a while ago. This is a simple, robust and capable rotary shaver that can be used both wet and dry and works best for daily shaving. It also includes a pop-up trimmer, very handy for some light grooming and touch-ups. Men with very coarse beard who also shave irregularly, every two days or more, should probably go for a more advanced rotary razor.
In this case I highly recommend reading my comprehensive article regarding the best rotary shavers.
Hopefully this article will be useful and will help with narrowing down your options for a quiet electric razor. Finally, there are two important things I would like to touch upon.
- Cleaning stations can also be noisy. Moreover, some use a fan during the drying phase of the cleaning cycle as opposed to induction heating (used only by Braun’s Clean & Renew stations). If you plan on buying a razor that comes with a cleaning base, take this into consideration as well.
- Noise level and quietness are subjective notions. What may seem quiet to some of us can be perceived as noisy by others. Therefore, I highly recommend a hands-on experience with the shaver before actually purchasing one. If you have the possibility, check it out in a department store, turn it on and personally asses how loud it is.