I haven't found NEC to be noisy, though Pioneer does have a utility that can quiet their drives far further than everyone else at the expense of drive speed.
I've had two NEC drives (2500A, 3500A) and am putting a 3520A in a client's system tonight. I've been really happy with them. If you need whisper-quiet, the Pioneer 109 is also a great drive, my only beef with it is the slower CD writing speed (32x if I remember right as opposed to 48x for the NEC drives).
Intel Q9450 @3.2GHz, Gigabyte GA EP45-UD3P, 4 x 2GB G.Skill @4-4-4-12
Antec P160SW case (modded), Xigmatek 750w PSU
3x 500GB (RAID-5), , OptiArc 7200S, ASUS E818A3T
Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer, Hauppauge HVR-1800, Radeon 4890