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A Review of the Best Sound Machines You Can Buy

Updated August 1, 2019

When people understand how important a full eight hours of sleep truly is, that’s when they begin to see the importance of investing in whatever gizmo helps them reach the goal. Whether you are a light or a heavy sleeper, there are so many things that can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, or even make you wake up feeling more tired than you were before going to bed. From a good mattress paired with a comfortable set of sheets to a humidifier, or a night light, people now buy whatever helps them sleep better. And sound machines are definitely on that list.

Understanding Sounds

As a very short definition of a sound machine is that it’s a gadget that creates white noise, covering other noises that could interrupt your sleep. To understand why these machines are efficient, we must first explain a thing or two about the way people sleep.

How We Process Sounds

The human brain is capable of picking up sounds whether we are awake or fast asleep. When a particular noise wakes you up, it’s not the volume that you find disturbing, but the context of the sound. Have you ever seen someone fall asleep in really loud places? That’s because all the noises that a person hears are put into context.

What’s in Sound?

Every sound has two components: amplitude and frequency. The first one represents the size of the sound waves, while the second is a measurement of how many vibrations a sound wave produces per second. The general measurement unit for frequency is a Hertz (“Hz”, for short).

Colors

Oddly enough, sounds are classified by colors, each of them used to represent textures and signals. When people say that a specific noise if pink, brown, or blue, that means that when the frequency changes, the volume of the waves increases or decreases in line.

White noise, for instance, has a constant volume even if the frequency changes. It’s the sum of the noises perceived and understood by the human ear, which are eventually converted into the constant muffled sound we identify as being “white noise”.

There are a lot of technical descriptions and explanations that we could provide on labeling sound by colors, but since no one here is writing a dissertation paper on that, keep in mind the following: white noise is a term that people use to describe a natural and peaceful sound, that cover surrounding noises. This sound distracts the brain from focusing on external noises that may disrupt your sleep.

White Noise Broken Down

White noise is divided into three categories. First, there are natural sounds. There include noises made by elements of nature, from Amazon rain forests to ocean waves, from wind to animal noises (these are not white noises per se, but are labeled as such because they are relaxing). The second category features ambient sounds, like those heard in crowded places, or on the street. They are considered to be white noises because of people who feel more comfortable sleeping with activity around them. The third category is machinery, which includes pretty much every noise that your home appliances make (washing machine, drier, air fans, etc.)

What Makes a Good Sound Machine for Sleeping Best?

Naturally, sound machines made by different manufacturers will also be different in features, but if you want the best and most complete sound machine possible, here’s what it should have according to most consumer reports:

  • The volume setting is very important, as different people will feel comfortable with sounds at different levels of volume.
  • The number of sound options available is something that sets apart one sound machine from another. High-end sound machines can produce several noises, from ambient sounds to standard white noise. If you already know what type of sound you feel most comfortable with, you can opt for a machine that makes that sound alone, and save some money in the process.
  • Looping is a feature that basically allows the sound machine to make the same noise over and over again.
  • If you share your bed with a sleeping partner, they may not be as fond of the noises made by a sound machine. In such cases, you might want to consider a sound machine that has a headphone jack. It’s also suitable for people who work in crowded offices and don’t want their co-workers’ noises to distract them. Sound machines with headphone jacks will deactivate the speaker as soon as the headphones are plugged.
  • Some sound machines also come with a sleep timer. It’s pretty much the same as setting a shutdown timer for your TV: you can determine when the unit should turn itself off.
  • There is always the question of how does a sound machine get its power. You have three choices: you can opt for a sound machine that has a standard electrical cord, being charged through a power outlet; a sound machine that plugs into a USB port, or one that runs on batteries. If you like to have your sound machine placed on the nightstand, but there isn’t an outlet nearby, look for a model that works on batteries. These can also be useful for people who like to take their sound machine with them as they travel.

Top 5 Best Sound Machine Reviews

We took the liberty of poking around to find some of the best sound machine options of 2019. Some are great for people on a budget, while others are suitable for people who don’t want to spend time reading user manuals and instruction guides. Whatever type of machine suits you best, you’ll most likely find one in the upcoming paragraphs that will work great for your new sleeping rituals and routine.

Big Red Rooster White Noise Machine

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: 4 x 4.4 x 2.6 inches
  • Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Power: AC adaptor/3 AA batteries
  • Sound Options: summer night, white noise, thunder, ocean, rain, brook

Big Red Rooster offers a compact and very portable sound machine. This device is capable of rendering six different sounds. You have a timer which allows you to choose between 15 minutes, 30 minutes and one full hour. It works with an AC adaptor, but there’s also the option of using 3 AA batteries.

The front of the device features a large speaker, while all the buttons are placed on the upper side of the machine. The Big Red Rooster sound device is one of the simplest gadgets of its kind. All you have to do is plug the machine into a power outlet, press the power button, and then choose the sound of your liking. You can also adjust the volume to cover any potentially unwanted background noises.

Pros

  • Six sound option.
  • Convenient price.
  • Compact & lightweight.
  • Good for travel.
  • Easy to use.
  • AC & battery power.

Cons

  • Some sounds are too powerful.

Who Should Purchase This?
The Big Red Rooster sound machine is very intuitive and simple to use. It’s a great choice for people who don’t want any complicated features but would much rather enjoy using a simple and efficient sound machine.

Brookstone Tranquil Moments Bedside Sleep Sound Machine

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Power: AC adaptor/USB rechargeable
  • Sound Options: white rain, body sync, focus, stream, brown noise, summer night, celestial, white noise, unwind, rain, thunderstorm, ocean surf

The first thing that drew our attention when we first spotted the Brookstone Tranquil Moments sound machine was the 25 years of research supporting the development of this product. It seems that the manufacturers have designed this gizmo by staying the brain’s DELTA, ALPHA and THETA patterns. Because of this research, they developed a sound machine that helps induce a state of relaxation and promises many hours of interrupted sleep.

Aside from acting as a sound machine with 12 preset options, the device doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. This means that you can use your phone Bluetooth to connect the speaker with your phone and listen to your favorite tunes. You can set the times for 30, 60, or 90 minutes. You have an auxiliary port, but also a headphones jack, in case you want to use the device without disturbing anyone else in the room.

Pros

  • 12 sound options.
  • Auxiliary port.
  • Headphones jack.
  • USB rechargeable.
  • Doubles as Bluetooth speaker.
  • Pairs with any Bluetooth device.

Cons

  • Expensive.

HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: 9.9 x 2.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Power: AC adaptor/4 AA batteries
  • Sound Options: brook, summer night, rain, ocean, thunder, white noise

HoMedics is a brand with about 30 years of experience in the industry of wellness. This particular sound machine that they manufacture provides a great balance between an affordable price, three nice chromatic options to choose from, and a simple device that might just be the next thing that puts your baby to sleep.

It has an integrate times that can shut down the machine after 15, 30, or 60 minutes of activity. This means that you can leave it in the baby’s room and not have to worry about it buzzing around the entire night. The device is small and compact, being a suitable travel companion for those who need some natural sleep aid. Because of its design, it can fit into almost any bag, meaning that you can even take it with you to work, the library, or wherever you need to focus on something, but background noise seems to get in the way. The design of the product is very simplistic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

All the buttons are labeled, so there’s little confusion on how to operate this thing. Most people don’t need any instructions or a manual to learn how to combine the features of the sound machine.

Pros

  • Great for kids.
  • Sleep timer.
  • Lightweight & portable.
  • Six sound options.
  • Very affordable.
  • Can run on batteries.

Cons

  • Flimsy volume knob.

Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan Evo

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.7 x 3.3 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Power: Ac adaptor/USB rechargeable
  • Sound Options: ten fan sounds, ten white noise sounds, two ocean surf sounds

If you’ve ever purchased a sound machine in the past and are the least bit familiar with some of the more popular names, you’ve surely heard of LectroFan. The name? Yes, they’ve merged “electronic” and “fan”. The Evo model is actually an upgrade of the famous LectroFan sound machine, with some improvements that are definitely worth mentioning.

The upper side of the EVO is host to both the speaker, as well as the operating buttons. You have the on and off switch, the timer button, two other buttons to choose from white noises and fan noises, plus the volume controls. On the side of the gadget, you can find a convenient headphones jack.

How does it work, exactly? By pressing the noise or the fan buttons, you can navigate through the options available for each. There’s a short tone that notifies you when you’ve reached the final sound option from the list. The device will always remember the last sound played. The timer setting can be activated if you don’t want the sound machine to stay on non-stop. The standard time for the shutdown is an hour, but each time you press the timer button, another hour is added. You can set the timer for a maximum of eight hours.

Pros

  • 22 sound settings.
  • Headphones jack.
  • Sleep timer up to eight hours.
  • Power Saving.
  • USB rechargeable.

Cons

  • Requires experimenting with sound combinations.
  • Questionable lifespan

Who Should Purchase This?
The LectroFan Evo is a great option for people who want a brand they can trust. The previous version of their sound machine was a huge success, and this one just brings more improvement to the table. It’s also a solid choice for people who don’t mind fiddling with the different sound settings, to find the one that suits them best.

Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: .8 x 5.8 x 3.2 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Power: AC adaptor
  • Sound Options: N/A

If you are the kind of person that wakes up with every odd little noise, you need the Dohm. When you first look at its features, you probably won’t understand why this is one of the best-selling devices of its kind. You plug it in, press a few buttons, twist a thingy and that’s about it. No fancy features, no high-tech options, no gazillions of buttons to press. These are the exact reasons why so many people have chosen the Dohm Classic: because it’s easy to use and gets the job done! It isn’t packed with tons of features that you’re probably never going to use (seriously, who need a built-in alarm when we all set our smartphones to wake us up in the morning?!).

All you have to do to enjoy a new sleeping experience is to plug in your Dohm, select one of the two available speed settings, and then adjust the cap to the intensity of your choice. If this is your first experience with a Dohm device, you may have to fiddle with the setting for a while, until you find a sound that you can fall asleep to. The power flip also doubles as a volume button, with a high setting for loud environments, and a low setting for gentler ones.

Pros

  • Simplistic design
  • Four different color options.
  • Best-selling product.
  • Setup in less than a minute.
  • Sound customization.

Cons

  • Domestic use only.
  • Lacks high-tech features.

Who Should Purchase This?
The Dohm Classic is a great option for people who are looking for a basic and trustworthy sound machine. It has been tested by tens of thousands of users that vouch for its quality, which means there are high chances that you won’t go wrong with this option.

Conclusion

The best part of owning a sound machine is the fact that it’s useful in a lot of situations. Even more, it has a very broad audience, as well. For example, some people buy sound machines for their babies who are very sensitive to noises. They are also popular amongst employees with irregular working schedules, that may have to sometimes sleep during the day. If you have a partner who snores, a sound machine can cover some of that annoying snoring.