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White noise machines are popular among many sleepers for their ability to block out unwanted noise and potentially promote more restful sleep. There are a wide number of models on the market, ranging from the very basic to those capable of playing a range of white noise as well as soothing natural sounds. Customers can also choose among an array of features as well as options intended for use at home or on the road. Prices for white noise machines vary depending on their manufacturer and features, but most are available for under $100.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite models as well as a guide to walk you through the buying process. We also cover what to look for in a white noise machine, the color spectrum of sound, and how to get the most benefit from white noise.
Since being featured on Shark Tank in 2016, Hatch, previously known as Hatch Baby, has become one of the most well-reviewed manufacturers of white noise and light machines. The Hatch Restore is their first offering aimed at adults and has a rich array of impressive features that our testing team found to be both practical and effective.
The Restore has a library of soundscapes, including both white noise and natural sounds, such as water. While these can be used individually like a traditional white noise machine, owners can also use them as part of the Restore’s easily programmable sleep routines.
Sleepers can set a multi-step routine on the easy-to-use app. Steps can include soundscapes, meditations, sleep stories, and light adjustments, all of which are intended to gently guide users to sleep. The Restore also has a programmable sunrise alarm to wake sleepers up with sun-mimicking light.
While some soundscapes are bundled with the machine, Hatch’s full library of meditations, sleep stories, and soundscapes requires a subscription after the free six-month trial finishes. Hatch stands behind the Restore with a 1-year limited warranty against manufacturer’s defects, and customers can return their Restore in its original packaging within 60 days for a refund of the purchase price.
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If what you want is an affordable white noise machine with excellent sound quality and a range of sounds to choose from, the LectroFan High Fidelity may be exactly what you are looking for.
Owners can choose from twenty different non-looping sounds, including 10 white, brown, or pink noise settings and 10 electric fan settings. The volume controls are very precise, making it easier to cover noise pollution without excessive volume. The machine can be used both continuously or for as many hours as you choose before it gradually lowers the volume and shuts off. All sounds are entirely electronic with no moving parts inside the case, so the machine itself operates silently.
The LectroFan High Fidelity also functions as both an at-home and travel machine, as it can be powered by both AC and USB and is a compact 4.4 inches wide and 2.2 inches tall. Customers can choose between black and white cases to suit their decor.
Although the LectroFan High Fidelity is non-returnable through Amazon, it does come with a 1-year limited warranty that covers manufacturing and workmanship defects.
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Like other electronic products, many of today’s white noise machines offer high-tech functionality and cutting-edge features. The Brookstone Sound Soother is a prime example. A built-in charger allows you to refresh the battery using a smartphone, tablet, or other device connected to your wireless network. This means you can listen to the machine as long as you wish without worrying about draining the battery, and you can access streaming content via Bluetooth while it’s charging. Those who prefer timed audio can also program the sleep timer for 30, 60, or 90 minutes.
The Sound Soother is also quite compact, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good spot in your bedroom. The machine is also small and light enough for travel. Your audio options include white noise and seven nature sounds such as fire, rain, crickets, and babbling brook. One-touch controls make adjusting the volume and other settings quite easy.
Considering it’s innovative design, the Sound Soother is very reasonably priced and all charging components are included with purchase. Brookstone allows free returns and full refunds within 30 days of your order.
Best Travel Option
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The SoundSpa provides sleepers with twelve white noise and nature sounds in a highly efficient machine that may be ideal for travel use.
At less than six inches long and only 8.8 ounces, it is one of the most compact white noise machines on the market. The SoundSpa also has a USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery, allowing owners to use it in places without outlets such as while camping. However, its lack of a plug-in cord may limit in-home use. The manufacturer also recommends against leaving it plugged in while charged.
The SoundSpa is a simple, easy-to-use white noise machine. It provides a choice of 12 sounds, including white noise, electric fan sounds, relaxing music tracks, and natural sounds, like ocean, campfire, and rain. Users select sounds through a dial that surrounds the central speaker, while small buttons control power, timer settings, and volume. The timer can be set for 15, 30, or 60 minutes, though the machine can also operate continuously.
As with most white noise machines, the SoundSpa has a 1-year limited warranty against manufacturing and workmanship defects.
Best Easy to Use White Noise Machine
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While multiple sounds, features, and settings may appeal to some people, others may prefer a white noise machine that is easy-to-use and has a minimalist appearance. The Marpac Dohm is a fan-generated white noise machine that fulfills these requirements, offering easy manual adjustment despite only having a single switch.
To turn on the Marpac Dohm, users flip the switch to either the low or high volume setting. Once this is set, the sound of the fan can be adjusted by turning the top of the machine. This changes the pitch and tone of the white noise, allowing for brown and pink noise depending on the setting. Some people prefer fan-generated white noise to pre-recorded tracks, as there is no looping and fans have a unique, appealing rhythm. However, moving parts do sometimes break down and create additional, less soothing noises.
Sleep trials are unusual for white noise machines, but Yogasleep allows customers to return their Marpac Dohm within 101 nights if they aren’t satisfied. The company also offers a 1-year limited warranty which covers manufacturing or workmanship flaws.
Best for Babies and Young Children
The Rest is Hatch’s second appearance on this list for a very good reason. This app-controlled white noise machine and night light is one of the most well-designed options for children that we’ve tested, with a range of parent and kid-friendly sounds and features.
The Rest has a library of sound options, including lullabies, white noise, and nature sounds. Its light feature offers control of color and intensity, making it a good choice for midnight nursing or as a night light.
Parents can control the Rest in three ways: through the app, by tapping it in person, or by setting a timed schedule. The buttons on the machine itself can be locked to prevent younger children from playing with it, while older children can easily adjust it themselves. The Rest also has a time-to-rise feature, allowing children to wake up gently without the need for loud alarms.
Parents interested in the Rest who want additional features may also consider the Rest+, an upgraded model with audio monitoring capabilities as well as a clock, a backup battery, and the ability to control it via Alexa. Both models are backed by a 1-year limited warranty. When purchased through Amazon, they are eligible for the retailer’s 30-day return policy. Orders through Hatch can be returned in their original packaging within 60 days of purchase.
“White noise machine” is a catch-all term that can describe a wide range of models, ranging from those that create white through mechanical means, such as with a fan, to those that play both white noise and soothing tracks, like nature sounds or music. The connection among these different machines is that all are meant to offer sounds that drown out unwanted noises, also known as noise pollution, while relaxing or focusing the listener. Because of this goal, many white noise machines actually produce the more calming pink or brown range of noise.
People use white noise machines for several distinct reasons, including studying or working, meditating, or reducing the perception of tinnitus. However, possibly the most popular use is to help people fall or stay asleep.
Research shows that white noise can help improve sleep, particularly in noisy environments. Babies also show a good response to white noise, with one study finding that 80% of very young infants fell asleep within five minutes when exposed to white noise, versus only 25% of those without white noise. There is also some evidence that white noise may calm infants who suffer from colic.
Of course, what aids or hinders sleep is always highly personal. White noise machines can help many people achieve better sleep, but they do not work for everyone. Some people, regardless of age, respond poorly to white noise machines. Even those who enjoy white noise or nature sounds may be very particular about what sounds they find soothing, and the wrong frequency of white noise may quickly become aggravating. If this is true for you, it’s worth investing in a model that allows you to customize the pitch and tone of the noise.
Choosing a white noise machine can feel difficult, particularly with the wide range of varieties on the market. This guide will walk you through what you need to know before making a decision, including both critical attributes like volume control and additional functions like alarms and lights.
By considering these eight important factors, it’s easier to decide what features are important to you and what machine might work best for your needs.
White noise machines either play recorded sounds or mechanically generate white noise, usually with a fan. Choosing between these options is largely a matter of personal preference, though people interested in other sounds (such as waves or birdsong) will most likely prefer a machine with recorded sounds for a wider variety of options.
The volume of a white noise machine should be loud enough to cover noise pollution but not so loud as to interrupt sleep or damage hearing. This is particularly important for children, as studies have shown that excessively loud white noise can be especially harmful to them. Most white noise machines have a wide range of volume options and sensitive controls, though some lower-end or minimalist models may only allow you to choose between two or three volume settings.
There are white noise machines available at virtually every price point, though the majority cost less than $100. Lower-priced models tend to have fewer features, while those at the higher end usually have lights, alarms, and/or other additional functions. These can offer a good value if you would otherwise buy a separate machine for these functions, but lower-priced white noise machines work well for those who are only interested in soothing sounds.
Just like so many other electronics, many white noise machines now offer smart features, like integration with apps or home networks. These models tend to also have other functions, such as lights or routines, that make app connectivity useful. For most situations, this is a non-essential feature, but parents may appreciate having this kind of control over their child’s white noise machine.
Light from a white noise machine can disrupt sleep, so it’s crucial to choose a model with either minimal light or with lights that can be dimmed or turned off. Many well-made machines have no lights at all, while others have a clock screen or even function as a night light. The latter variety usually allows for more in-depth control, allowing owners to change the color and intensity of the light.
Some people prefer to have their white noise machine running all night, while others like to have it turn off automatically at a certain point. Most white noise machines have some kind of timing function, but this can range from preset automatic shut-offs to programmable on and off timers set through an app.
If you plan to take your white noise machine traveling, or even move it from room to room on a regular basis, it’s worth considering its portability. While many white noise machines are quite small, particularly those without additional lighting features, they may require a plug-in outlet or weigh more than one might expect. Travel-friendly models, however, are likely to be lightweight and offer features like USB charging.
As the white noise machine market is fairly crowded, many models try to set themselves apart with additional features. Alarms and lighting are both common, as are USB ports for charging your electronics. Headphone jacks are rarer but highly valued by those who share a room with a partner not interested in white noise or other sleep sounds. Depending on your needs, these features may be necessary, useful but not essential, or entirely unwanted.
White noise contains all audible frequencies, which coalesce into what we perceive as a humming sound. Common everyday sources of white noise include fans, television static, and air conditioners. So-called “white” noise machines often produce pink or brown noises, which are like white noise with more intensity at the lower frequencies. These sounds are usually more calming, and many stereotypically relaxing sounds — including rain and waves — tend to be in this range. Blue, violet, and grey noises also exist but are less useful for relaxation.
White, pink, and brown noises are all suitable for sleep, as are natural sounds that fall into these ranges. Since these sounds contain all audible frequencies, they “fill in” the gaps between unwanted noises that may otherwise wake us up.
While white noise is generally thought to be safe, there are some risks and considerations to keep in mind. Any prolonged noise over 70 decibels — the level of a washing machine when standing next to it — can damage hearing, so it’s crucial to keep white noise machines at a lower volume than this. There is also a small amount of evidence that regular white noise as a part of tinnitus therapy may cause long-term issues for those with tinnitus, but this is unlikely to be a concern for most people using white noise machines as part of their sleep routine.
Nonetheless, if you have concerns or underlying health issues, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before starting a new routine.
White noise machines appear to be safe for children, regardless of age, so long as they are operated properly. One study has shown that many models are capable of being loud enough to damage an infant’s hearing, but the study’s authors were clear that the volume, machine position, and duration were all important factors in reducing this risk. They recommended placing the white noise machine some distance from the crib, playing it at a comfortable volume, and not using it over extended periods.
White noise aids focus by blocking out noise pollution. Since it “fills in” the space between outside sounds, it thereby dampens them. For people who work in loud spaces or are easily distracted, this can make a significant difference in their focus. There are also some indications that white noise may affect perception and cognition depending on the timing and task at hand.
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