The 10 Best Sound Machines
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Somewhat counterintuitively, science suggests that the best weapon against the ubiquitous commotion in today's world isn't isolation and soundproofing – it's more noise. These machines produce masking sounds designed to let you sleep well, concentrate, or meditate in the midst of an otherwise intrusive aural landscape, and can also provide soothing nature sounds to ground you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 20, 2021:
Few changes were made during this round of updates. One thing we did is move the Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound + Sleep up to the #2 spot, as it's the most comprehensive model for home use. The LectroFan High Fidelity is still the top choice for travelers and the Cloud B Sound Soother for young kids. The Pure Enrichment Wave Baby Premium and Hatch Baby Rest are great for baby's rooms and don't take up much space on a shelf or night stand. The Adaptive Sound Technologies Lectrofan Micro2 is another interesting portable option that also doubles as a relatively powerful Bluetooth speaker.
March 27, 2020:
Sound machines are a great way to drown out disturbing background noises that are preventing you from falling asleep. The greater the variety of sounds and tones they can produce, the more effective the more noises they can mask. In addition to sound versatility, we also took into account the quality of the sound they produce, volume, ease of use, and other factors that may add to their convenience, like size or a power source.
For travelers, we recommend the LectroFan High Fidelity or Adaptive Sound Technologies Lectrofan Micro2. The former comes with adapters for the U.K., the United States, and various countries in Europe and Asia, while the latter is extremely compact and easy to fit in everything from carry-on luggage to weekend bags. If traveling with a little one, it can be a smart idea to bring along the Cloud B Sound Soother, which comes in a variety of animal plush designs. If they use it regularly at home, it can provide a sense of comfort and continuity when sleeping in unfamiliar places.
If you want something that fits in well with Amazon Echo devices, the Snooz BD3342 fits the bill, thanks to its circular form and fabric exterior on the sides. It boasts a lot of advanced functionality when paired with the company's app too, like the ability to set up start and stop times, control it remotely, and adjust the intensity of its illumination. The Hatch Baby Rest, which is designed for a child's room, also offers similar advanced functionality and even doubles as an alarm clock.
Those who like very simple devices may want to look at the Marpac Yogasleep Dohm Classic, which has a single switch to control its speed. After that all you do is twist it to adjust the tone and sounds. If on a tight budget, your best options will be the HoMedics Deep Sleep Mini and Pure Enrichment Wave Baby Premium, however be aware that the latter has very short loops, which some may find annoying.
Brookstone Sleep Sound Mixer If you want full control over your ambient noise, the Brookstone Sleep Sound Mixer is hard to beat. It has eight equalizer-like sliders that allow you to adjust its various tones and layer them on top of each, creating your very own personalized sound. It also offers seven soothing nightlight colors and has an attractive wood grain finish. brookstone.com
Manta White Noise Machine Capable of creating 40 tunes, the Manta White Noise Machine should be able to drown out nearly any kind of background sound. You can choose to run it all night long, or use the adjustable timer that goes all the way up to seven hours, and, at just four by four inches, it is compact enough to take along on trips. mantasleep.com
Music To Soothe The Beast In You
I'm a busybody and a busy mind, and I need all the help I can get.
I've unsuccessfully tried a few dozen different guided meditations in my life, and one thing always holds true in their failure: the moment I hear something said that's just a little too screwy, that crosses my personal threshold of the normal meditative process and verges on the language of the cult or the scam, or the moment some chatter from another room or an irritating ambient noise sets in, I immediately turn off. The meditation can go no further.
That's a shame because meditation can reduce stress levels, increase concentration and mental acuity, improve sleep, posture, and mood, and just make you feel good. I'm a busybody and a busy mind, and I need all the help I can get. I'm sure you are, too.
A sound machine works a little differently than a guided meditation. Some of the devices simply produce white noises designed to mask the ambient sounds that could otherwise interrupt your concentration. Others provide familiar and soothing sounds like thunderstorms and crashing waves, which are usually used in guiding the listener off to sleep.
At least one of these devices is the result of scientifically tested frequencies and interactive brain scans that show which sounds, pulses, timings, and even light experiences the brain utilizes naturally, and which ones onto which it'll latch itself.
Any and all of the sound machines on our list promote relaxation, and some of them will even intervene when you're feeling a little too relaxed and they'll help you focus and function at work. After our eyes, the human ear is the most sensitive of our major sense organs, so it follows that a good sound machine can set the stage for superior performance or superior peace.
Into What Environment?
Not all of the sound machines on our list are created for the same purpose, and evaluating them against one another without considering this would be to do them a disservice. Knowing the environment in which you intend to use your new sound machine will speak volumes as to which type you need, and it will help you narrow down our top nine list to just a few perfect options.
Perhaps you feel that, more often than not, the walls around you can seem pretty thin.
Perhaps you feel that, more often than not, the walls around you can seem pretty thin. Whether that means you can hear every argument and every adult reconciliation between your neighbors or you're simply afraid they might hear your every sensitive conversation, a thin wall is trouble. Maybe you're a doctor or a lawyer with a delicate practice and a pride for the faith your clients place in your confidence. Whatever the need, a simple, ambient sound machine, like several of the options on our list, will create a thick wall of white noise that is practically impenetrable, and whose thickness and duration you can control.
Or, you may just have trouble getting off to sleep. Most of the sound machines on our list offer certain kinds of sleep assistance, usually delivered in the form of a recognizable and peaceful ambient sound like a rain forest at night or a distant ocean. Among these you should look for helpful functions like an automatic shutoff so your sound machine can stop playing after its guided you to sleep.
As Old As Religion
Sound and light have been used in religious practices for millennia, both as a tool for guided meditation and as a means to elevate consciousness and increase overall health. Ancient Tibetan Buddhists have long used bells in their rituals. Often a single tolling bell would be joined by another, and then another, slowly swelling into a cacophony of chimes which would then fade out just as slowly as they came in, one or two bells at a time. By the end of the experience, only the original bell would remain tolling, and then nothing.
While not all of the sound machines on our list operate based on the same religious ideas, their sonic methods are all descendants of these practices.
The sonic experience is a metaphorical representation of the universe's life cycle in Hindu mythology, a precursor to Buddhism. You'll hear similar musical patterns in traditional Indian music, where phrases start out simply and attain amazing complexity before returning to a drone, or a source energy from which everything that is had sprung.
While not all of the sound machines on our list operate based on the same religious ideas, their sonic methods are all descendants of these practices. They all provide a kind of shift in consciousness–either subtle and distracting from white noise, relaxing and calming as with the sounds of nature, or stimulating and exacting as with the mind machine on our list. All are grounded in the rhythms of our perception, and each provides an augmentation to our present experience of the universe.