The loudness rating of a drive is too subjective. Saying a drive is loud doesn't really say much because we don't know what the point of reference is.
I don't really care either way personally, I have fans running 24/7 in my room (where my computer is) and I have to really pay attention to hear the motor running! Actually, all things considered, I *like* being able to tell when my drive's motor changes speed, it gives me a good idea of when it's doing things it shouldn't be, like slowing down during a CD test, or when the speed changes while burning a CD-R, since Nero 6 doesn't have a way to show the true burning speed (that *I* know of at least).
Maybe I'm just a bit of a nut, but I'll keep my "loud" drive
and yes, I like my modems to be external with blinky lights too
Punch Cards -> Paper Tape -> Tape Drive -> 8" Floppy Diskette -> 5 1/4" Floppy Diskette -> 3 1/2" "Flippy" Diskette -> CD-R -> DVD±R -> BD-R
The Progression of Computer Media