The Aurola sound machine is a low-cost device that didn’t exactly blow me away. There are several design flaws that make it difficult to use, and the sound quality is underwhelming.
It’s useful that it has a headphone jack, and a couple of the sounds are okay. But the Aurola is a device that’s unlikely to last the test of time once you’ve had enough of the short loops and the basic speaker.
The good points
- Headphone jack for private listening.
- Individual buttons for each sound.
- Low cost.
- Flimsy design.
- Stiff volume control dial.
- Only 7 sounds, all on short loops.
- No way to know which auto-off setting is currently selected.
The Aurola sound machine is another in an ever-increasingly long line of low-cost sound machines. It gets a few things right, but ultimately disappoints – especially if you’ve used at least one of the better white noise machines available.
I usually steer away from focussing heavily on the negatives when I do a review, but once in a while I feel obliged to go against the grain and talk honestly about why I wasn’t impressed.
The Aurola has accumulated a large number of 5 star reviews on sites like Amazon. But when I listened to it and compared it to the 20+ machines I’ve also used, I couldn’t understand why so many people have been so generous with their ratings.
So although I’ll mention the positives where they exist, I felt it was important to properly highlight the negatives considering how everybody else seems to have somehow missed them.
My view is that a sound machine needs to sit neatly on a nightstand or table and be user-friendly. The designer of the Aurola appears to disagree though.
It needs to be plugged in at all times to work, and the cable (with a large pin on the end) slots into the back. That means you can’t lie it flat, and need to use the little kick-stand that pulls out of the back.
That in itself isn’t the end of the world. But when you combine it with the fact that the machine is so light, when you try and push any button, it just slides away from you. So you then have to grab it with one, or even both, hands to operate. And that’s just annoying, especially in the nighttime.
The 7 sound options
Here’s how the manufacturer describes the 7 different sounds:
- White noise
- Summer night
- Ocean wave
- Howling wind
The white noise is fairly standard for these machines. I personally like to have the option of at least one deeper variation, but that’s rare for cheap devices to have. You need to pay more to have the option of pink or brown noise, for example.
The nature sounds and lullaby are on a typically short loop – 30 to 40 seconds as far as I can tell. Again, this is a common problem with sound machines. It’s most noticeable with the waves and thunder sounds – but less so with the summer night.
The summer night was actually my favorite option, with the pleasant monotonous sound of crickets.
The rainforest is kind of nice for a while, but you quickly spot the short loop because of the repeating bird sounds. And that’s the same problem with the ocean sounds, which consists of just a few waves repeating.
It’s worth noting that there’s no individual rain sound – it’s combined with thunder. And although the rain sounds okay, the small speaker struggled with the thunderclaps.
I didn’t like the howling wind sound – it’s just not relaxing at all. The lullaby sounds quite clear, and is one which you’ll have to make your own mind up about as I think those sounds appeal to different children.
On a positive note, I like that each sound has its own button so you can quickly choose the one you want.
Volume and sound masking
It’s a small speaker, so the maximum volume is limited. And on louder volumes, the sound quality drops off even more, so you probably won’t want to turn it up anyway. I think it can help mask some external sound, but if you’re looking for a louder machine to cope with disruptive noise that’s keeping you awake, you might be disappointed.
Another design issue is the volume control. It’s a small dial that’s stiff and a struggle to turn. If you have a problem with finger sensitivity, or expect tech to be smooth to use, this isn’t going to be ideal for you.
There are 3 auto-off timers of 30, 60 and 90 minutes, which is good to have. But they share one button and don’t have a light to indicate which setting it’s on.
Bizarrely, you have to unplug the Aurola to reset the timers, plug it back in, and then pay attention to how many times you press the auto-off button so you know whether it’s on 30, 60 or 90 minutes.
This is a striking oversight, and one I haven’t seen in any other device – they always have either a small light or a separate button for each time length.
Finally, something the Aurola gets right! I think having a headphone jack is a great option – especially if you share your bed, study or workspace with others and don’t want to disturb them.
It’s a simple feature, but not one that all devices have – especially the low-cost ones. So hats off to the Aurola for including it.
You have two power options – a standard AC adaptor or USB plug. Interestingly, there’s also a USB output in the back so you can charge your phone from the device if you want to.
I haven’t seen this in any other sound machine, though I do question whether it’s necessary. Perhaps the space would have been better served by improving one of the other features instead.
On a side note, don’t do what I did in the video above and plug the power cable into the headphone jack, or it unsurprisingly won’t work!
The Aurola has a couple of useful features – the headphone jack and USB charging socket for phones are uncommon additions for a sound machine in this price range.
And to be fair, I have seen other white noise machines with worse sound quality.
However, the overall design really lets it down in my opinion. The way it sits on the kickstand and then just moves away from you when you try to push a button was particularly frustrating.
Add to that the sticky volume control and the lack of thought that went into the auto-off timer, and you end up with a device that clearly didn’t undergo much user testing.
So for me, the Aurola is one to avoid unless you’re on a budget, don’t mind having basic sounds, but do really want a headphone jack. As far as I can work out, that would probably be the unique appeal of this particular device.