Two stage wet-dry vac for quieter dust collection?

I’ve read a number of threads on this forum about dust collection. It seems there are two camps: wet/dry vacuum or dust collector (e.g. Festool, Fein, etc.).

I currently use a Ridgid wet/dry vacuum with cyclone separator. It works great, but it’s ridiculously loud. I understand that a dust collector would be quieter, but I don’t have space for one and I can’t completely replace my wet/dry vacuum with a dust collector, as I need the capabilities of the wet/dry vac for other things.

I’ve recently learned that some of the higher-end wet/dry vacuums have what are described as 2-stage motors. They are apparently much quieter than a traditional wet/dry vac. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Does anyone have experience with these?

Thanks in advance.


Sounds interesting…

I don’t have experience but did look at the technical specs of the shopvac you refer to above vs Rigid 14g NXT wet/Dry vac from Home Depot

Rigid 14 gallon 2 stage - CFM 81 / Peak HP 11.5
Rigid 14 gallon NXT - CFM 165 / peak HP 6

I would have expected a higher HP motor to pull more CFM

Also I am assuming that some of the reduced sound is due to a lower cfm…but that is a complete guess

I believe the HP listing for the 2-stage is a typo. (Peak HP ratings for vacuums are quite misleading in the first place.) Elsewhere in the description it indicates an 11.5 Amp current draw, which is where I believe that number is coming from.

I noticed the CFM rating as well. The Shop-Vac brand that I referenced is listed as 107 CFM, which is still a lot lower than the standard wet/dry vacuums, such as the Ridgid NXT you referenced. That surprises me, as well, but apparently the 2 stage models have more “Sealed Pressure”, also referred to as suction, which represents how far up a glass tube a vacuum motor will lift a column of water.

When I consider my uses for the wet/dry vacuum, it seems CFM would be more important for dust collection, but I might be missing something. And as you stated, that might account for the noise difference.

I’m hoping someone on here has experience with these 2-stage vacuums and can shed some light on this. Searching the internet hasn’t resulted in much.

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I don’t have personal experience with the these two-stage vacs, but this two-stage name is grinding my gears a bit.

I’m all for a quieter shop vac if it’s equally effective, but it sure seems they it’s a deliberate mislead to call these “two-stage” shop vacs.

Sure they have two motors … ok…. but the “two-stage” term is pretty synonymous with two-stage dust collection that it just feels like a marketing trap. They could just as easily called them “dual drive” or “quiet boost” or “noise busters” or whatever other term. To call them “two-stage” is an intentional choice that seems done in bad faith knowing that it might be a buzzword for the Home Depot handyman.

On topic, I use a 20-year old 12 gallon rigid and a separator as you do and it’s great. I’m working on an enclosure to handle the noise, but this thing sucks like an absolute champ. Nothing gets past it. When it finally croaks, I’ll probably replace it with a fein turbo 2, which is much quieter. and then my sound enclosure will be even more effective!

Yesterday I was in the mood to replace my 12 yr old Rigid 16 gal shop vac. I was looking for a smaller and quieter vac. At Home Depot I bought a 6 gal 6 hp(right) unit brought it home and fired it up. The thing was do louder than my old one I packaged it up and returned the same day.
Now I have had the same vac for 12 years and also have a 1-1/2 hp dust collector. I run the shop vac 12 hrs at a time and it still does a great job. Noise level doesn’t bother the neighbors or my wife inside our home. But when I tried my dust extractor it is so loud the neighbors notice I’m turning wood on my lathe.
Although I still have life left in my old Rigid shop vac I just thought it was time to replace.
My Shapeko set up is the Rigid shop vac through a Rockler seperator. Inside the shop vac I use a Rigid dust bag and then to the paper filter before the outlet exhaust. In 12 years if heavy use I only have had to replace the inner filter once and it wasn’t that bad.
For to replace it I will search for a quieter one or I’ll simply carry one with what I’ve got.


Ha! My Ridgid vac is about 20 years old as well. Still sucks like a champ, but loud.

That’s incredible. 12 hours at a time. I’ve never run mine for more than about an hour straight. I suppose it should have lots of life left in it.

I use a fein vac and it is rated as one of the quietest out there around 65db I believe. I have it hooked to an oneida dust deputy bucket. It works pretty well and I have not needed to use my bigger system yet, although I have it setup to use either. The fein turbo I It is rated around 155

Wondering what the decibel level of the 2HP of the Harbor Freight Is compared to the trusty rigid shop vac?

In my experience dust collectors are seldom quieter than a shop vac. There are high end tools like festool which are quieter than some but most all make noise.

It is a pain but maybe you should try some plugs or ear muffs and keep what you have. They do make some noise reducing plugs that are Bluetooth or wired that you could listen to music. On the high end are lik Bose noise cancelling head phones.

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Phil and Jim,

It’s like we showed up at the party with matching outfits. Rockler to old Rigid.

Still a beast, even with filter and bag. Wish I had a way to measure the CFM because I’m pretty sure it’s over 9000.


The Ridgid NXT is quieter than it’s predecessor but not much, and still what I would consider loud. I vastly prefer the Fein Turbo. Well worth $100 more if you’re going to be listening to it for hundreds of hours.


I’m not very familiar with the Fein Turbo. It appears to have a small hose (certainly much smaller than 2 1/4"). Do you use a cyclone prior to the Fein and, if so, are there any plumbing issues?

I put in little adapters from the plumbing section. I have a 2x1.5” rubber adapter with a small 2” pvc pipe into the side that goes to the CNC and a 1.5x1.5 rubber adapter to connect the Fein.

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I moved from a Ridgid shop-vac to the Harbor Freight 2hp (look for it when on sale, or look for coupons).
The DB level is about the same but the HB runs so cool during the summer it was a no-brainer for me. The tone the HB makes is also easier on my ears. Your mileage might vary.

To add my 2 cents, I have the HF 70 gallon dust collector (no modifications) attached to my baby shark SD100. Using a Bosch 1 HP PR20EVS router with a dust skirt.

The 73db reading was taken with my iPhone dB meter app with the phone sitting on the motor.

The 72dB reading was taken with the phone @18” from the router bit, router, dust collection on, and running a Chamfering path on Dougles fir (pine).

I still use my 3M Work Tunes blue tooth head set.

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