With a wide range to choose from, it’s important to find one which strikes the right balance between sound quality and fitting your budget.
In this review I’ll be giving you my opinion of the best white noise machines in three categories: recorded sounds, natural white noise generators and low cost machines.
Why use a white noise machine?
If you can’t sleep because of noise coming from inside or outside of your house, you have 3 main ways to deal with the problematic sound:
- Try and stop it at the source – you can ask someone to turn the television down, but you can’t stop traffic though.
- Wear earplugs – an effective option, but not advisable to do every night.
- Mask the noise by creating relaxing sound – this is where white noise machines can work wonders.
In the age of modern technology, you can get a lot more than a simple white noise generator if you like your gadgets with extra features.
As you’ll see with one or two of the models below, you can find some nifty features like responsive volume control and realistic nature soundscapes.
Who will benefit from using one?
- If you can’t sleep or work due to noise beyond your control – such as a neighbor’s television, traffic or the weather.
- If you’re a shift or night worker and have to sleep during the day when it’s noisier.
- If you find that white noise or nature sounds help you feel calm and relaxed.
- If you have tinnitus.
- Babies and small children also benefit from them. Babies are accustomed to noise from being in the womb, and are easily woken by sudden sounds like a doorbell or phone.
Which style to choose?
There are 2 main options to choose from:
- A pure white noise machine that generates the sound naturally with air.
- A machine which has recordings of white noise, and possibly a range of soundscapes like ocean, rain, river or forest.
Within the second category you have a wide choice and the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ definitely applies.
If you spend $30 you’re likely to be disappointed when it doesn’t block out much sound, and you realize that the soundscape is on a 2 minute loop.
But if you’re willing to spend more, you can find one which has clever extra features that make the difference between it blocking out sound or just being another irritating noise to listen to.
So with those points in mind, here are my recommended white noise machines in 2017.
Best range of fan and white noise sounds
It has a simple, clean design which is streamlined to do its job rather than have lots of buttons to play with.
The aim of the Lectrofan is to give you two main choices. You have the standard sound of white noise or the sound of a fan, which some people find more relaxing than static white noise.
Within both of those choices you have 10 different settings, so you can find a pitch and volume which suits your ear and mind.
Add to that the fact that the sound is dynamically generated to avoid any looping, and you should be able to block external sound without replacing it with another annoying one.
Here are the key points to consider:
- You have a range of 10 fan sounds and 10 white noise sounds, with some deeper white noise than other machines provide.
- The volume can be turned up surprisingly high. So if you have a large bedroom space to fill, the sound won’t get lost in the corner.
- There’s a timer feature, but if you don’t want to use that, it seems to run all night.
- It’s light and compact, so it’s great for travelling.
- You can plug it into the mains or a computer with a USB cable.
The downside is that it lacks additional soundscapes like some other machines do. So if you like birdsong and oceans, you might prefer the Adaptive Sound Technologies below.
But if you find white noise or fan sounds soothing and good sound blockers, and appreciate minimalist design, the Lectrofan could be ideal for you.
2) Adaptive Sound Technologies Sleep Therapy Machine
Responsive features and high quality sound recordings
The Adaptive Sound Technologies Sleep Therapy Machine is my favorite when it comes to variety of nature sounds and extra features. In particular, it has one excellent feature which sets it above many other white noise machines.
That feature is what the manufacturer calls ‘adaptive sound technology’. The machine actively detects the volume of external noise and changes its own volume to match it.
If the traffic noise increases while you sleep, it will automatically turn the volume up to prevent you being woken up; if all is quiet outside, it reduces the volume. A genius idea in my opinion, and it works with surprising accuracy.
The designers have clearly put a lot of thought into what customers want and need from a white noise machine. Some of the features I loved about it are:
- It has 10 different soundscapes, all of which sounded realistic.
- A series of different recordings are randomly generated to prevent looping.
- It has the clever external sound monitoring and automatic volume control.
- It has richness settings that add extra details like bird song to make the soundscapes more realistic and random.
- It has a stylish design that won’t look out of place in the modern home.
- It has a range of timers so you can fall asleep without having it on all night.
Most importantly, you can play with the settings until you find the right sound and volume to mask the noise you’re hearing. And the speakers and volume are definitely good enough to block out most external noise so you can sleep better at night.
The main downside is that it’s more expensive than most other makes. But if you don’t mind the cost, with the Adaptive Sound you’ll find one of the best white noise machines I’ve seen and heard.
3) Marpac Dohm
No recordings – produces sound naturally with an internal fan.
There are no extra features, no interesting buttons to play around with and no flashing lights. It was designed with a single job in mind, and designed to do that job as effectively as possible without giving space to features you may never use.
The Marpac Dohm creates the sound of rushing air by literally pushing air through the machine, and the resulting sound is relaxing, calming and natural.
Despite looking like it doesn’t have many settings, you can control the sound in two ways. Firstly, you choose one of two speed settings. Then you twist the collar to alter the space the air comes through. This allows you to pin-point the volume and pitch that works for you.
Here are the key points to note:
- It’s the only white noise machine not to use recordings.
- There’s no looping as the sound is produced by a fan.
- It can be customized to find a sound you like.
- You have a choice of 3 colors – white, beige or black.
- It has a sleek and unobtrusive design.
- It’s light-weight and easily transportable.
The potential downsides are the lack of a range of different sounds, a lack of lower pitch white noise and no auto-off timer.
If you like the idea of having the most authentic white noise then the Marpac Dohm is possibly your best choice. But overall, I still think the Adaptive Sound Technologies and Lectrofan both produce better quality sound.
4) HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine
A lower cost option
The Homedics Sound Spa is my top choice in the lower price range. There are many different makes for this kind of price, but if you don’t choose carefully you’ll be wasting your money.
What I liked about the HoMedics sound machine is that the sound quality is surprisingly good for the price. If you compare a $20 with a $95 machine doing the same basic thing, then of course there’s no comparison.
But the machine does produce a good enough sound to mask low to mid volume external noise, and hopefully help you sleep better.
These are the key points to consider:
- It has 6 different soundscapes to choose from, including white noise and ocean.
- It has 3 different auto-off times to choose from, or will run all night if you need it to.
- You can choose to plug it into the mains or use batteries.
- It’s light-weight and can be tucked inside a suitcase easily.
The main downside is the looping of the soundscapes and predictable patterns, which is the major reason to consider one of the other 3 models in this review.
But overall, if you don’t want to spend too much, and just want something that will play relaxing sounds to help you sleep, it’s probably the best white noise machine in its price bracket.