It might seem counterproductive to cope with noise that’s bothering you by replacing it with, well, more noise.
But playing white noise of your choice can be an effective way to mask disruptive sounds that intrude on your peace and quiet.
I regularly test new white noise machines to see how they compare to the rest. And in this review, I’ll be recommending the ones that have most impressed me.
And since space on a nightstand or office desk is sometimes in short supply, I’ve taken photos of each one around my house to give you an idea of their sizes.
Best for white noise, pink and brown noise, with loud volume
The latest version of the LectroFan – the LectroFan Evo – was released in 2018. The original was number one in my list for many years. And it’s also long been the top choice of many other reviewers.
The Evo has a couple of excellent additions that focus on usability. The most notable is that it has a headphone jack. This is an essential feature if you share your bed with someone who doesn’t appreciate white noise.
The range of auto-off timers increased from just one hour to incremental hours from one to eight. And you still have the option of continuous play if you prefer.
Finally, they split the white noise and fan sounds into 2 buttons, so you don’t have to cycle through all 22 to find your favorite. Details like these show that the manufacturer tried hard to respond to the user’s needs.
Like the previous model, the Evo excels where pure white noise and fan sounds are concerned. There are 10 of each, so you have everything from deeply relaxing brown noise to standard white noise that will block out all but the loudest of unwanted noise.
They also added an ocean and surf sound, but in my opinion, are not as authentic as recordings. They do provide some variety, but fall short of matching the quality of the Avantek’s nature sounds (see below).
- Headphone jack for personal use.
- 10 white, pink and brown noise variations + 10 different fan sounds.
- Digitally created sounds with no loops or breaks in play.
- Excellent speaker and volume range with loud maximum volume.
- Compact design.
- Auto-off timers from one to eight hours.
- Can be used with AC or USB powered.
- Only two nature sounds.
- No internal rechargeable battery.
The LectroFan Evo is my top choice for pure white noise and fan sounds. If you’d prefer a few more nature sounds though, you’ll need to check out the devices below.
The addition of a headphone jack and an extended range of auto-off timers in this latest model are welcome features, making it even more versatile than before.
On a final note, if having the loudest possible volume is your priority, especially for daytime use, the Evo is the one for you.
Best for nature sounds
The latest version of the Avantek shows that the manufacturer has listened to criticism and done a lot to improve the design.
As well as looking and feeling like a sleek modern device, there are two major improvements that I really like about it. Firstly, it has a headphone jack, so you can listen to it privately without disturbing anyone around you.
Secondly, it has an internal rechargeable battery that allows you to use it for 10 hours without needing to be plugged into the wall or USB port.
There are other machines that have one of those two features, but none that I know of that has both.
And then there’s the enormous choice of sounds. The previous version had 20, while this one has a whopping 30 – the most of any white noise machine. There are 6 white noise, 6 fan sounds and 18 nature and ambient sounds.
As with the older model, there are white noise and fan sounds to cater to every preference. Whether you like deep brown noise and industrial fans, or more intense white noise, you can find a setting that both sounds good to you and importantly, blocks out external noise.
Personally, I thought the nature recordings are all excellent. There are too many to list here, but I like that they give multiple options for some.
For example, the ocean with or without added birds. And some of the new additions like bubbling water and echoing frogs are a delight to listen to.
- 3.5 mm headphone jack.
- Rechargeable 10-hour internal battery, standard plug or USB powered.
- 6 white noise, 6 fan, and 18 nature sounds.
- Auto-off timer from 1 to 7 hours or continuous play.
- Great speaker quality.
- Compact portable size: 4 x 4 x 2 inches.
- 30 volume levels, up to a very loud 115 decibels.
- 18-month warranty.
- So many sounds, it takes time to cycle through them.
- Difficult to find the right buttons and settings in the dark as they are subtle touch buttons.
The rechargeable Avantek is an excellent sound machine if you enjoy listening to nature sounds, and would like as many different options as possible – not just rain and ocean.
My biggest concern is that it’s perhaps not so user-friendly in the night, as the buttons aren’t clear in the dark. But for daytime use, or to just set once at night and leave on while you sleep, it’s a good choice.
30 sound variations, responsive volume, and headphone jack
If you like your gadgets to looks shiny and have plenty of features, the Sound+Sleep is one to consider.
It has 10 starting recordings, but then goes a step further with two variations or richness settings per sound.
So if you’ve had enough of the bright white noise, you can try deeper pink or brown. And if the ocean sound is too plain, you can add birds, seals or even foghorns.
The second feature unique to this machine is the adaptive sound. If the noise in your environment increases, the volume also does if you have it on that setting. It’s a genius idea, and works surprisingly well.
It’s also worth noting that it has a useful headphones jack. So if your partner needs silence to sleep, you can keep the ocean sound to yourself.
I also particularly like that the buttons are easier to use than the other machines. The volume is adjusted with a large dial, and the sounds are individually labeled.
- 30 sounds.
- Richness settings to create more variety, such as adding birds to the ocean.
- Long 30 minute recordings.
- Excellent speaker quality.
- Volume can adapt automatically to changes in external sounds.
- 30, 60, 90 and 120 minute auto-off timer options.
- All button lights can be switched off.
- Headphone jack for private listening.
- Modern and attractive design.
- More expensive than other devices.
- Only works with a standard plug.
- Large size needs some space on the nightstand.
The Sound+Sleep machine has a rich variety of sounds, a couple of unique features, and the convenient headphone jack for nighttime listening.
So if you have space on your nightstand for a slightly larger machine, and want as much control over the nature sounds and white noise as possible, it’s one to consider.
Has an adjustable internal fan instead of recordings
The Marpac Dohm DS uses an internal fan to create the sound rather than playing recordings.
And fan sounds and simplicity are what it does best: there’s just one button, with three settings: off, and two different speeds.
The fan is housed inside what Marpac call an ‘acoustic casing’. Once the fan is running, you can manually rotate the two moving parts – the top and side panels – to adjust the sound and volume.
The resulting sound is one of rushing air that’s soft and pleasant to listen to. It sounds like a cross between a fan and the comforting ‘shushing’ noise parents make.
It’s great that you can fine-tune the exact sound that comes out. The movable panels don’t move a huge amount, but with the tiniest adjustment, you can change the sound considerably.
My main criticism is that the maximum volume is still comparatively low. So if you need to mask loud external noise, it might not do the trick.
Secondly, it’s larger and heavier than the other machines. It takes up quite a lot of space on the bedside table and has a long lead that can’t be detached. So it’s not the most practical for travel.
- Creates authentic fan sounds with an internal fan.
- Relaxing and pleasant to listen to.
- Creates a constant sound that doesn’t change.
- You can fine tune the exact sound you like.
- Feels solid and made from quality materials.
- Easy to use.
- One year factory warranty.
- No white noise or nature sounds.
- Takes up a lot of space on a nightstand.
- Only has a wired plug for power.
- No auto-off timer.
The Marpac Dohm DS will be a good option for some people, but not everyone. If you know you prefer fan sounds, you’ll probably enjoy the authentic and soothing sound it produces.
But if you’d prefer more variety, need it to mask loud external noise, or want a lightweight machine for traveling, it perhaps won’t be quite right.
Ideal for travel, with a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth speaker
The LectroFan Micro 2 is a convenient device for travel, doubling as a white noise machine and Bluetooth speaker.
It has an internal rechargeable battery for wireless use. And it has an impressively long battery life when fully charged: 40 hours with white noise or 20 hours with Bluetooth audio.
It comes with four white noise and five fan sounds, as well as two different ocean sounds, so there’s plenty to cater for every taste of white noise.
I liked most of the sounds, especially the deeper versions of white noise and a couple of the gentle fan sounds. And importantly, the maximum volume is loud enough to mask external noise.
The original LectroFan Micro was lacking in buttons and had a short charging cable, so I was pleased to see that this new version addressed both of those points.
- 11 digitally created white noise and fan sounds.
- Bluetooth speaker to play your own audio.
- Very small and light.
- The rechargeable internal battery lasts the entire night.
- Good volume range.
- The buttons are quite small.
- No auto-off feature.
The LectroFan Micro2 lives up to its name by being the most compact white noise machine I’ve used.
With high quality built-in white noise sounds, a decent Bluetooth speaker, and a long-lasting rechargeable internal battery, it’s very convenient both for travel and for using wherever you like in your home.
If you have a problem with finger sensitivity, the buttons could be an obstacle. But otherwise, this is hands down the winner of the ultra-portable sound machines.