Listen up: Sometimes, the craziness of the world can make it hard to sleep, especially if you have trouble falling asleep in the first place. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help get a good night’s sleep. White noise machines are one of the most popular (and easiest) ways to get some shut-eye. It might seem counter-intuitive, but by creating more noise, these machines drown out other distracting noises that would otherwise keep you awake. Whether it’s loud neighbors, trains, cars, snoring, or you can’t calm yourself down at night, give white noise a tryout.
Top Picks: Best White Noise Machines
Short on time? Here’s a quick summary:
- Best Overall: Marpac Dohm. With over 60 years backing it, this simple fan white noise machine offers two speeds, easily adjusted volume control, and a classic design.
- Best on a Budget: Conair Sound Therapy. This digital machine offers a modest range of sound settings, easy volume control, and a classy, low-profile design.
- Best for Tinnitus: Adaptive Sound Tech Sound+Sleep. The Tesla of noise machines, Adaptive Sound Tech’s Sound+Sleep has 64 unique sound profiles, an innovative “richness” setting to adjust sound immersion. Plus, it has a built-in headphone jack for private use that may also aid in tinnitus relief.
- Best for Office Privacy: Adaptive Sound Tech LectroFan. To help drown out the chit-chat down the hall, check out this sleek, black digital noise machine with multiple settings and volume control that’s perfect for the office.
- Best for Travel: Marpac Marsona. With its flat design and battery back-up power source, this simple machine is perfect for taking with you on the road.
1. Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine
The best white noise machine overall
Brand: Marpac | Method: Fan | Power: AC | Size: 5.75″ x 5.75″ x 3.25″ | Price: 💰💰
When it comes to the best white noise machine, there’s none better than the classic Dohm. This tried-and-true machine has been aiding sleep for nearly 60 years. Unlike other white noise machines that merely play an audio track, the Marpac Dohm Classic uses a fan to naturally generate white noise. This device takes up a lot less electricity than a full-sized fan would and also doesn’t make the room too cold in the winter.
Slits in the outer casing as well as the top, allow fan noise to escape. To adjust the volume and tone of the sound, twist the outer casing and/or spin the top. Depending on how open or closed either one is, the noise will change. The natural white noise quickly fades into the background, drowning out any sounds that would otherwise keep you awake. There aren’t any extravagant features, but it gets the job done. It’s used in a variety of locations, including doctor’s offices, and is widely accepted as the best sound machine for therapists.
- Mechanical fan makes natural white noise without any loops
- Two fan speed options with adjustable outer shell and top to change sound tone and volume
- 36-foot AC cord leaves plenty of room to move the machine around until you find the best location
- Fan may develop a “rattle” over time (you can easily fix it by cleaning the fan and possibly oiling the mechanisms)
- Unlike digital machines, this noisemaker uses a real fan, which will need cleaning every so often to avoid clogging up
2. Conair Sound Therapy Sound Machine
The best budget white noise machine
Brand: Conair | Method: Digital | Power: AC, Battery | Size: 2.5″ x 5.7″ x 8.8″ | Price: 💰
If you’re in the market for a sound machine that won’t break the bank, the Conair Sound Therapy white noise machine is a strong contender. At less than half the cost of other leading models, this digital machine offers 10 different sound channels, with options such as “tropical forest” and “heartbeat.” The simple interface features an on/off button, a button for each sound setting, and a dial to adjust volume. Parents especially love the volume dial – you can start the machine quietly, so it doesn’t wake up sleeping little angels. Then you can slowly increase the volume to drown out ambient noise, making it the best white noise machine for baby rooms.
- Built-in timer can turn the machine off after 60 minutes
- Wide variety of sounds to choose from to suit any preference
- Battery back-up power means you can have sleep-aiding white noise even when the electricity goes out
- Some reviewers found the sound quality “tinny” or “scratchy”
- Those with extra-sensitive hearing were able to detect where the sound loops on each setting, which can quickly become irritating
3. Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep Special Edition Sound Machine
The best innovative white noise machine
Brand: Adaptive Sound Technologies | Method: Digital | Power: AC | Size: 7.5″ x 5.5″ x 4.5″ | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Adaptive Sound Technologies claims the Sound+Sleep SE is the world’s most advanced sound machine, and we’re inclined to agree with them! Not only does this digital machine feature 16 non-looping nature, fan, white, pink, and brown noise sounds, it also comes with a plethora of innovative features. For example, the machine can detect other noises, like a car passing by, and adjust to drown them out. Each sound category has 4 different volume options, creating a total of 64 unique sound profiles. The “richness” feature allows you to customize these profiles. On the “ocean” sound category, upping the “richness” will add chirping birds and seals, creating a more immersive sound experience. Upping it again adds foghorns and bells.
In addition to incredible customization, the Sound+Sleep has 4 sleep timers (ranging from 30 to 120 minutes) and also comes with a headphone jack for personal use. Those with tinnitus will appreciate this particular feature. Reviewers report it can help lessen the effects of the condition and provide an easier path to sleep, making it the best white noise machine for tinnitus.
- Built-in dual USB ports for charging all your devices
- Headphone jack allows for personal use and may help those with tinnitus
- Practically infinite sound profile customization with 16 sound categories, 4 volume levels each, and the incredible “richness” setting
- Significantly more expensive than most other sound machines
- The operation interface can take some getting used to, but is pretty simple once you figure it out
4. LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
The best office privacy white noise machine
Brand: Adaptive Sound Technologies | Method: Digital | Power: AC, USB | Size: 4.4″ x 4.4″ x 2.2″ | Price: 💰💰
Don’t let the name LectroFan fool you – this is a digital white noise machine. It offers both a “fan” and a “white noise” sound setting, so you can get the fan machine experience without the hassle of having to clean it. With 20 different volume levels and pitches (10 fan sounds and 10 white noises) and a 60-minute sleep timer, there’s plenty of customization for those who aren’t looking for anything too fancy. In addition to helping you get some rest, this machine is perfect for the office. The sleek black design and compact size offer a discreet way to help drown out the noises from your coworkers down the hall.
- USB power source can plug into your computer at work
- Discrete design is perfect for use at home and in the office
- 10 fan sounds and 10 ambient noise variations (including white, pink, and brown noise)
- No battery back-up means it may not be the best for travel
- Some reviewers noted the machine getting warm after all-night use
5. Marsona DS-600A Sound Conditioner
The best travel white noise machine
Brand: Marpac | Method: Digital | Power: AC, Battery | Size: 10″ x 10″ x 3″ | Price: 💰💰💰
From the same makers as the Dohm sound machine comes the Marsona Sound DS-600A. This simple machine offers six sound choices: crashing surf, babbling brook, waves lapping against a lakeshore, distant thunder, a chorus of crickets, and plain old white noise. A simple selector button cycles through the different sound options. An indicator light lets you know which one you’re on. The machine has a larger footprint than some of the other machines on this list, but it’s flat, making it perfect for packing into a suitcase. With the back-up battery power, you can travel confidently, knowing that you’ll have white noise no matter where you end up.
- Flat design makes it easy and space-saving to pack
- Wide volume range to fill a whole room or just reach your ears
- Battery back-up offers additional layer of security while traveling
- Some reviewers noted that all the sounds (except the white noise setting) loop audibly
- Volume controls are on the bottom of the machine, making them inconvenient to get to (the other controls are on the top)
What to Look For
White noise machines might seem pretty straightforward (and they can be), but there are still a few things to keep an eye out for as you shop:
Some white noise machines use a mechanical fan to generate noise, while others play digital sound recordings on a loop. Fan machines will never have an audible loop but do require cleaning every so often. The fan can also become damaged if dropped, which may lead to inconsistent rattling. Digital machines, on the other hand, might have an audible loop as the recording starts over. They can also sound thinner and less natural than fan machines.
Fan noise machines usually only have one or two settings (like high and low) and often use cutouts in the fan housing to adjust the volume. Digital sound machines, on the other hand, often have a much more comprehensive range of settings. They can include everything from basic white noise to rainforest noises, ocean sounds, or even country fields with chirping crickets.
White noise machines make background noise and also generally should fade into the background of your room. The best machines are compact, relatively lightweight, and are neutral in color. The shape and color may matter more if you’re planning on using the machine in an office or otherwise public location.
Benefits of White Noise
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the reality is generating more white noise is a great way to create a calm, soothing environment. It can also help when you’re trying to concentrate. Some folks often listen to white noise while meditating.
Here’s an anecdote from one of our readers:
When I had a roommate, he often stayed up late on his gaming computer. His computer case made so much noise (for whatever reason) that I found it hard to study and fall asleep. Once I bought a white noise machine, however, it made my life at home much better. I’d turn on the machine, plug in my headphones, and voila! No more distractions.
Aside from drowning out your annoying roommate’s computer, here are some other white noise machine benefits:
- Relieves sleeping disorder
- Reduces ear ringing
- Helps with ADHD
- Good for studying
- Improves concentration
- Great for meditation