Airbrushes are wonderful tools, and they can add a whole new dimension to painting, but they’re not without their downsides. Having to run a noisy airbrush compressor is one of the worst things about them - the sound is just so annoying!
Not just for the person using it, but for anyone else around too - painting is usually a nice, quiet hobby, but a lot of compressors don’t see painting that way. They’re loud and irritating, and turn what used to be a quiet hobby into a noisy and annoying way to spend a night.
Airbrush compressors don’t need to be this noisy, though! There are some great quiet airbrush compressors out there. We’ve put together a buyer’s guide and reviews of the best quietest airbrush compressors on the market.
OUR TOP PICK
Spraygunner must feel very confident in their products, as they give them the branding “No-Name.”
This compressor is no exception to that confidence - with great reviews on Amazon, a 3 liter capacity, and a maximum output of 0.17 horsepower, it’s a powerful yet compact compressor that’s a great, yet inexpensive choice for the home user. In addition, a 47db noise level means that it’s definitely on the quieter side!
- 47db noise level - nice and low, this should give you a quiet operating experience
- 3 liter air tank - this makes it more likely to give constant airflow than a tankless compressor.
- Florida based service center - great to be able to service it domestically
- Not the cheapest compressor available
Silentaire is a brand that states their intentions clearly with their very name - they clearly intend to make very quiet air products, and the Silentaire Super Silent DR-150 Whisper Quiet Airbrush Compressor is a great example of this ethos!
Boasting Italian construction, it is extremely quiet by the standards of air compressors, with a mere 30db noise level output - and yet, it has a huge 1 gallon tank! The price might be a little off-putting, but for quietness, this compressor is hard to beat.
- Extremely large tank - great for airflow
- 30db noise level - this is extremely quiet, and makes this compressor the quietest on our list!
- Long company history - they’ve been in the air compressor market for over 50 years!
- Pricey - as well as being the quietest, this is the most expensive compressor on our list
If you’re looking for something sleek and compact, yet that can still quietly handle your airbrushing needs, then the Master Airbrush Model TC-77 might well be a great choice! At only 4 pounds, it’s pretty lightweight, and has a convenient carrying handle on top. It also has a small footprint, which combined with the carrying handle could well make it a great portable compressor - or just make it easier to get out and put away in a home cluttered with miniatures!
- Extremely compact - great for those with smaller spaces, or those looking for something more portable
- Carrying handle - easy to move about
- Built-in airbrush holder - easy storage for your airbrush while working!
- Not the quietest model 47db is quiet, but quieter compressors are available
- Lower pressure - as it’s smaller, it doesn’t output as much pressure as larger compressors
The VIVOHOME 110-120V Professional Airbrushing Paint System is a great-looking starter kit for someone who is new to the hobby and wants to get into airbrushing - but also wants to keep things quiet at home!
It’s one of the less expensive models on the list, making it great value for money - and that value only increases when you consider that it’s not just a compressor, but comes with a full airbrush kit too! This could well be the perfect buy for someone who is just looking to get involved in the hobby!
- All-in-one kit - great for someone who wants to get started with airbrushing
- Air filter water trap - keeps the air being output extremely dry
- Overheat protection - auto-shut off feature keeps you safe
- Beginner gear - those who already have an airbrush and compressor might find a better purchase elsewhere
With two cooling fans, the Master Airbrush 1/5 HP Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Kit Model TC-320 could be a great upgrade!
At 47db, it’s on the quiet side, outputting just 47db of noise, but also runs at a maximum output of 0.2 horsepower, which should give it plenty of power for your airbrushing needs!
It comes with 2 cooling fans to keep the unit running coolly. It also has a feature that shuts off the airflow when it’s not in active use!
- Two cooling fans - helps you keep painting for longer without the compressor overheating
- Water trap - keeps the airflow dry for better painting results
- Shut-off system - helps save energy!
- Low pressure - only goes up to 57psi
Quiet Airbrush Compressor Buying Guide
An air compressor does a simple job - it pushes air out of one end of a hose! The pressure of this air also changes depending on the width of the hose you’re using.
This is just like when you put your finger over the end of a tap or garden hose - the same amount of water is now trying to get through a smaller space, which means it has to come out faster, as the pressure has now increased!
Pressure is measured in PSI - that is, Pounds per Square Inch. A compressor that only outputs at low PSI might not be the best sort for the job of painting with an airbrush. That being said, you won't need as much pressure as you will from a quiet garage compressor.
If the pressure is too low, the flow of the paint through the airbrush simply won’t be good enough. Things will take longer with lower pressure, which means more time taken!
Of course, there’s a limit to how useful a higher pressure compressor is - there’s no point at all using more pressure than is necessary! You’re only painting, not inflating truck tyres!
Noise is likely a top priority for you - after all, that’s why you’re reading this article!
In fact, noise should be more of a priority for all of us. Too often, we’re working in less than ideal conditions - so it’s important to mitigate against as many problems as we can! Excess noise is terrible for the ears, especially in close proximity.
Any time you find your ears ringing after being around some form of noise, the damage has already been done - that ringing is a sign of irreversible hearing damage! This can happen incredibly quickly, and is worse in a small space.
That’s not to mention the mental health implications of excessive noise! Noise doesn’t have to be at the level where it causes physical damage to your hearing to be bad for you.
An annoying noise left unchecked can actually make you feel worse, can make you more irritable, and can utterly ruin your day! If you’re painting, it could end up being such an irritant that it affects your hobby - or stops you enjoying it altogether!
Sound is measured in db, which stands for decibels. The higher the number, the louder - but remember, the scale isn’t linear. Every 10db that a sound increases roughly translates to a doubling in volume!
All of the compressors in this guide have been chosen because of their decibel rating. Generally, if a manufacturer doesn’t give you one, you can take that as an indicator that the tool will be loud!
When you’re painting using an airbrush, you’ll be using a set amount of paint, with whatever thinning agent you choose to use - and, likely, you’ll have spent some time getting the mixture just right.
You’ll know just how you want it to flow through the tool, and what sort of mixture you need to get the consistency and cover just how you like it.
Compressors aren’t magical though, and they don’t use a special sort of air. They’re connected to the same air supply as the rest of us are - the world. Air isn’t perfectly dry - it has moisture! And a compressor will be sucking air in and pushing it out at an incredible rate. That moisture has got to go somewhere, right?
It would be a terrible shame, then, if your work ended up being ruined by an unexpected burst of water, ruining your flow, your shade, your consistency - ruining your painting experience entirely!
A water trap is a great bit of kit for your compressor. It does exactly what you’d expect - it traps water! Essentially, it’s a little tank that fits into your air loop, providing a place for moisture form the air to settle, instead of allowing it to continue up the hose and into your paint mixture!
An air tank on a compressor can be a great thing. It provides a reservoir of air for your tool, and ensures that the pressure can be kept constant.
With larger, and industrial, air compressors, these tanks can be mounted onto a pre-existing installation - but for consumer and home products, getting a tank for a compressor usually means that you’ll be buying a new compressor with one built in.
It’s certainly possible to run an air compressor for airbrushing without a tank - and it may well be cheaper to get a compressor that doesn’t come with one. However, there are definite advantages to having one - and, likewise, drawbacks to not having one!
First of all, constant, reliable pressure is a great thing for airbrushing. With a tank to keep the pressure level the same throughout your work, you can reliably use your airbrush and know exactly how it’s going to react, and how the paint will flow, every single time.
Secondly, a tank which gives you reliable pressure means you’re free from any worries about sputtering air flow, which can happen when a compressor doesn’t have a tank to act as a reservoir - sometimes, the air just doesn’t flow as we’d like, and a tank can really do wonders to mitigate against that!
Finally, an air tank can help your compressor work less hard. With a reserve of air to deliver to your airbrush, the compressor doesn’t have to work as hard all the time - you’ll always have air available, and your compressor gets a little bit of downtime when the tank is full and you’re not actively drawing air from it.
This can save wear and tear on your compressor, and also might help with your electricity bill!
Things can go wrong with any piece of equipment, no matter how well built or reliable it may be. If the worst should happen, the best equipment will at least help you mitigate against some of the damage that could be caused.
For example, any piece of equipment can find itself running too hot. Air compressors can often find themselves having to do a lot - how many times have you done an all-day painting session, when you told yourself you’d only do 10 minutes? While they’re pretty reliable pieces of kit in general, sometimes they might overheat!
And, while that’s unlikely to happen, having some sort of thermal protection built into your compressor can give you peace of mind - as well as potentially being a lifesaver should the worst occur! Thermal overload protection will ensure that the power to your compressor gets cut should the compressor start to overheat.
Electrical tools - especially ones like this, where you’ll be using it at home, in proximity to liquids - need this sort of protection. A cheap compressor without any protection isn’t worth it - it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the quietest airbrush compressor?
The Silentaire Super Silent DR-150 is the quietest airbrush compressor on the market. It puts out a noise level of around 30dB which is quieter than the other models we reviewed (47dB) but it's pretty expensive.
What does the term “duty cycle” mean?
Duty cycle is a term you may see used around many tools, and compressors are no exception. It’s actually really simple - it refers to the amount of time that the compressor can be on! Usually, you’d think of this as the amount of time per hour.
For example, a tool that’s safe to run at a 50% duty cycle can comfortably run for half an hour per hour - but will need half an hour of rest too! Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the tool can run for that half an hour constantly - it could well mean, for example, that you can safely do 5 minutes on, then 5 minutes off - which still works out to the tool being in use 50% of the time!
What PSI should I use for airbrushing?
Typically, airbrushes work best between 15 PSI and 45 PSI. Beginner compressors often top out at 25 PSI, and a lot of hobbyists don’t consider a compressor a serious tool unless it can output at least 30 PSI.
Beyond 45 PSI is likely overkill for airbrushing, to say the least - but of course, a compressor can be used for other things, so some users might find it useful to have the extra headroom!
What else can I do to help with compressor noise?
Your working environment can greatly influence how much of a problem noise is for you. If you’re in a closed off space with walls close to and surrounding you, and you’re in very close proximity to your compressor, then you’ll be noticing the noise a lot more than if you were in a more open environment!
You could put the compressor further away from you or even use a similar approach to using a generator quiet box.
A compressor that might seem quiet in an open room could well sound so much louder in a closed space - which can not only affect your hearing in the long term, but your enjoyment of your hobby too! So, aside from buying a quiet compressor, consider your working environment, and if there are any changes you could make to it to help out!