Using a white noise machine is one of the most effective ways to shut out external noise at night, helping you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep.
With a wide range to choose from, it’s important to find one which strikes the right balance between high quality white noise production and any additional sounds and features.
In this review, I’ll be giving you my opinion of the best white noise machines in three categories: pure white noise generation, white noise with relaxing nature sounds, and low cost machines.
Why use a white noise machine?
- If you can’t sleep or work due to noise beyond your control – such as a neighbor’s television, music or street noise.
- Shift or night workers who struggle to sleep in the daytime because of noise.
- If you find that white noise or nature sounds helps you relax and sleep better.
- It can help mask the sound of tinnitus.
- Babies and small children sometimes fall asleep quicker with white noise. Babies are accustomed to noise from being in the womb, so white noise helps prevent them waking up with 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 internally with air.
- A machine which has recordings of white noise, often with soundscapes like ocean, rain, river or forest as well.
And 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.
So with those points in mind, here are my recommended white noise machines in 2017.
Best range of white noise and fan sounds
The Lectrofan is my top pick because of the sleek design and high quality white noise production. It doesn’t have a vast range of features, opting instead to keep the design clean and focus on its main purpose.
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.
And for both the fan and white noise options 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 a lot of intrusive external noise, and hopefully fall asleep easier.
Here are the key points to consider:
- 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, the sound won’t get lost in the corner.
- No sound looping.
- There’s a timer feature, but if you don’t want to use that, it will run all night.
- 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 Avantek or Sound+Sleep machines 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.Buy from Amazon
#2. Marpac Dohm
No recordings – produces sound naturally with an internal fan.
There are no extra features and hardly any buttons even. 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 white noise internally by literally pushing air through the machine, and the resulting sound is natural and calming to listen to.
Despite looking like it doesn’t have many settings, you can control the sound in two ways. First, you choose one of two speed settings. Then you twist the collar to alter the space the air comes through. This allows you to refine the exact volume and pitch that you like.
Here are the key points to note:
- It’s the only white noise machine that produces the sound naturally.
- 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 lightweight 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. Having said that, I still think the white noise produced by the Lectrofan is of equal quality, and it offers a wider variety of sounds.Buy from Amazon
#3. Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine
Responsive features and high quality sound recordings
The Sound+Sleep is one of the more expensive white noise machines, providing a 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:
- 10 different soundscapes, all of which sound realistic.
- A series of different recordings are randomly generated to prevent looping.
- Clever external sound monitoring and automatic volume control.
- Richness settings that add extra details like birdsong to make the soundscapes more realistic and random.
- A stylish design that won’t look out of place in the modern home.
- 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 brands. But if you don’t mind paying a bit more, with the Sound+Sleep you’ll find one of the best white noise machines I’ve seen and heard.Buy from Amazon
#4. Avantek white noise machine
Easy to use with a wide range of sounds
The Avantek white noise machine, like the Lectrofan, is a very compact and lightweight device which takes up little space on a bedside table or desk.
It offers a couple of useful features which make using it extremely simple. First, there are very few buttons – just the power, volume up and down, next and previous tracks and a button to adjust the timer. So it’s easy to change settings in the dark if you need to.
Secondly, there’s a handy memory function, so the next time you turn it on it will automatically resume your last chosen track and volume level, along with the same auto-off timer for the previous night.
Avantek say there are ’20 soothing sounds’, though I have to disagree that they are all soothing. Along with a range of white noise and fan sounds, there are some calming nature sounds such as rain and waves.
However, there are also a couple of not particularly soothing sounds, such as the howling wind and ticking clock.
Here are the key points to consider:
- It’s small, compact and very easy to use.
- There are 20 sounds to choose from, so you should be able to find one you like.
- With 30 volume levels, you should be able to mask most external noise.
- Choice of continuous play all night, or an auto-off timer ranging from 1 to 7 hours, with gradual volume reduction.
- Use with a USB or mains adapter.
The main downside is that some of the nature tracks have obviously short looping, such as the sound of birds and crickets. And as I already mentioned, some of the sounds aren’t so relaxing.
Overall though, there are some relaxing nature sounds and the white noise is good quality. Perhaps if you’re not a fan of the usual soothing sounds, you might like the variety that the Avantek offers.Buy from Amazon
#5. HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine
A lower priced 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 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 lightweight and can be tucked inside a suitcase easily.
The main downside is the fairly obvious looping of the soundscapes and predictable patterns, which is the major reason to consider one of the other machines 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.Buy from Amazon