The effects of the noise of echo-planar functional magnetic resonance imaging on auditory cortex responses were compared for two methods of acquiring functional MR data. Responses observed with a distributed volume acquisition sequence were compared to those obtained with a clustered volume acquisition sequence. In the former case, slices from the volume were acquired at equal intervals within the repetition time, whereas the latter acquired all slices in rapid succession at the end of the imaging period. The clustered volume acquisition provides a period of quiet during which a stimulus may be presented uninterrupted and uncontaminated by the noise of echo-planar imaging. Both sequences were implemented on a General Electric Signa imager retrofitted for echo-planar imaging by Advanced NMR Systems, Inc. The sequences were used to acquire 60 images per slice of a fixed volume of cerebral cortex while subjects were presented an instrumental music stimulus in an On vs. Off paradigm. Data were acquired for both sequences using TR values of 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 sec. The clustered volume acquisition sequence was found to yield greater measures of dynamic range (percent signal change, mean statistical power per unit imaging time) across the tested range of TR values. Observations of more consistent spatial extent of responses, greater mean signal changes, and higher and more consistent values of mean t-statistic per unit imaging time demonstrate the efficacy of using a clustered volume acquisition for fMRI of auditory cortex. Hum. Brain Mapping 7:89–97, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.