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At a glance
The Aurola white noise machine has several design flaws that make it less easy to use than many other sound machines, and the quality of the speaker and recordings 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.
- 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.
I usually steer away from focusing 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 a few 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.
A white noise machine should sit neatly on a nightstand or table and be user-friendly. The Aurola is too easy to move out of position when you use it on a table though. It needs to be plugged in at all times to work, and the cable (which has 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 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 seven 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, just 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. 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 at 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 three auto-off timer choices 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. A LED indicator or separate buttons would have been more user friendly.
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.
There are two main ways to power the device: either with 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 many other sound machines, 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. To be fair, I’ve tested other white noise machines with poor sound quality too. However, the overall design really lets it down in my opinion. The way it sits on the kickstand and then 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 doesn’t appear to have undergone 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.