It might sound counterproductive to cope with noise 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 on a bedside table to give you an idea of their sizes.
Best white noise machine for pure white noise and fan sounds
The LectroFan provides excellent sound quality across a wide range of different white noise and fan sounds.
Importantly, the 20 different sounds are dynamically generated, rather than recorded. That results in authentic sounding white noise which remains constant.
It has 10 different white noise sounds, including other colors, like pink and brown. Many people find those deeper variations more relaxing, as they sound like rain or waterfalls.
There are also 10 different fan sounds, with some that are soft and gentle, and others that are more industrial. I liked the variety of fan sounds, and I think there’s a type to cater to every taste.
I also like the solid, yet compact and portable design of the LectroFan. Where some have a flimsy plastic feel to them, the LectroFan has a robust design.
Even though it’s small, it still had the loudest maximum volume compared to other machines I tested. So if you need to mask loud external noise, it’s very much up to the job.
- 20 fan and white noise variations, including pink and brown noise.
- Dynamically generated sound with no looping or breaks.
- Excellent speaker and volume range.
- Compact design.
- Auto-off timer of 60 minutes.
- Easy to use buttons.
- Can be used with AC or USB powered, and includes a long cable.
- No nature sounds.
- Needs to be plugged in as there’s no battery option.
- Only one timer setting of 60 minutes.
Overall, the LectroFan is an excellent choice, with the widest range of unique white noise and fan sounds. Whether you prefer bright white noise or deep pink and brown noise, you should find a sound that works well for you.
It’s unobtrusive on a bedside table or office desk, has great sound quality, and is great for relaxation and blocking out external noise.
If you’re looking for other nature sounds, like birdsong or rivers, I’d perhaps try the Avantek below. But on balance, this is currently my top pick for use in the home or office.Buy from Amazon
A new model has recently been released – the LectroFan Evo. The main differences are that it has an improved design, a useful headphone jack, and two extra ocean sounds. It is more expensive though.
Best for nature sounds
The Avantek has six white noise options, with some at the deeper end of the spectrum. And there are more intense variations for those who prefer more weight at the higher frequencies.
There are also six fan options, which sound authentic. And like the LectroFan, they range from gentle fans to more industrial types.
You also have the choice of eight nature sounds. I liked the streams, ocean waves, rain, and campfire.
The birds and crickets are good, even though they have relatively short loops. But the wind is more like a howling gale, and the ticking clock perhaps not so relaxing.
The speaker itself is good quality, producing decent sound. It has 30 incremental volume controls, with the maximum volume being the second loudest after the LectroFan.
A minor issue is having to press a back or forward button to find the sound you want. However, it does have one nifty feature to help – an automatic memory of your last selected sound and volume.
I also liked that it has a range of auto-off options, from one to seven hours. And the sound will gradually fade out as your time runs out, which is another useful feature.
- Six white noise, six fans, and eight nature sounds.
- Good speaker and sound quality.
- 30 volume settings, with a loud maximum volume.
- One to Seven hours auto-off feature, with fading volume reduction.
- Lightweight and compact.
- 18 month warranty.
- No battery option, but includes a standard socket and USB.
- Some short looping on a couple of the nature sounds.
- Not all the nature sounds are that relaxing, such as the wind and clock.
Although the Avantek has a couple of forgettable sounds, it has great sound quality, with an impressive choice of different types of white noise and nature sounds.
It’s small and lightweight, has a good range of volume, and excellent timer functions. And it’s more than capable of masking external noise if your sleep is being disturbed.Buy from Amazon
Like the LectroFan, the Avantek also has a new model – the rechargeable Avantek. It has a 10-hour internal rechargeable battery, a convenient headphone jack, and 30 different sounds. It is slightly more expensive, but not by much.
Most features – with 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 the best premium white noise machine I’ve used.
It has 10 starting sound options, 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’s the only one in this list that has a headphones jack. So if your partner needs silence to sleep, you can keep the ocean sound to yourself.
- Huge variety of sounds.
- Richness settings to create more variety, such as adding birds to the ocean.
- Long 30 minute recordings so there’s no noticeable looping.
- Excellent speaker quality.
- Volume can adapt automatically.
- 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.
- Most expensive of the machines.
- Only works with a standard plug.
- Large size needs some space on the nightstand.
The Sound+Sleep machine has so many nature sounds, the only reasons I can see not to choose this one over the Avantek are the higher price and considerably larger size.
But in terms of variety of sounds, useful features, and how it actually looks on a nightstand, you can’t really beat it.
So if you have some spare space on your nightstand, and want as much control over the nature sounds and white noise as possible, this is one to consider.Buy from Amazon
Best for fan sounds, with an internal adjustable fan that creates a soothing sound
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.
- It’s relaxing and pleasant to listen to.
- Creates a constant sound that doesn’t change, loop or break.
- You can fine-tune it to create 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.
- The maximum volume is low.
- It’s quite heavy compared to other machines.
- No battery or USB option – only works with the wired plug.
- 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.Buy from Amazon
Small and ideal for travel, with a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth speaker
The LectroFan Micro 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 a respectably long battery life when fully charged: 16 hours with white noise or six hours with Bluetooth audio.
It comes with five white noise and four fan sounds, as well as an ocean sound. Though the ocean sounds more like static white noise fading in and out.
I liked like most of the sounds, especially the deeper versions. And importantly, the maximum volume is loud enough to mask external noise.
Two points to bear in mind are the short cable and the fiddly buttons. It comes with a very short USB cable, so you do need to charge it before going to bed if you don’t have a USB plug nearby.
And it only has three tiny buttons, with the volume and sound choice sharing buttons. Hold to change the volume, and press to change track.
- 10 high-quality white noise and fan variations.
- Bluetooth speaker to play your own audio.
- Very small and lightweight.
- Rechargeable battery lasts the entire night.
- Good range of volume.
- The buttons are small.
- The volume and sound choice share the same button (hold or press).
- The USB charging cable is short.
The LectroFan Micro lives up to its name by being the most compact white noise machine.
With high quality built-in white noise sounds, a decent Bluetooth speaker, and a rechargeable internal battery, it’s very versatile for its size.
If you have a problem with finger sensitivity, the buttons could be an obstacle. But otherwise, it’s great for travel, especially if you don’t have much space in your luggage.Buy from Amazon
Best low price white noise machine, works with batteries
The Big Red Rooster has six sounds to choose from, with just one white noise setting. It sounds like intense TV static, which will appeal to those who prefer higher frequency white noise.
The rain sound is good, as is the ocean. Though I would have called it lakeside rather than ocean, as it’s quite gentle. The brook also sounds nice, but is on a short loop if you listen out for it.
The thunder option is predominantly light rain with occasional thunder. And again, it’s on a relatively short loop of a few different thunderclaps.
I’m not sure why, but the summer night has a faint white noise in the background. I think the nature sound would have been pleasant enough on its own.
The plus side to the limited sounds is that they have their own buttons and label, so you can quickly select the sound you want. It’s also easy to find the large volume and auto-off timer buttons.
But the simplicity also applies to the overall build and speaker quality. The plastic casing feels flimsy, and it has a light speaker with an underwhelming maximum volume.
- Low cost.
- Easy to use, with individual big buttons for each sound.
- A couple of the nature sounds are pleasant to listen to.
- Has auto-off timers of 15, 30 and 60 minutes.
- Lightweight, so good for travel.
- Can be powered by USB plug, or with four AA batteries (not included) for wireless listening.
- Limited number of sounds.
- Some of the nature sounds are on a short loop.
- Maximum volume might not be enough to mask external noise.
- The plastic casing doesn’t feel robust.
If you’re on a budget, and just want a simple sound machine that’s easy to use, the Big Red Rooster is probably the best of the lower priced devices.
If you prefer nature soundscapes and aren’t too worried about a bit of looping, you might like the sounds it offers. But if you do get frustrated by looping, or need more variety, one of the previous machines might be better for you.Buy from Amazon