The Best White Noise Machines for Sound Sleep

By Megan Griffith

From sirens and car alarms to annoying hotel room neighbors, noisy sleeping environments are among the worst contributors to a restless night. Depending on your sensitivity to noise while sleeping, environmental noise can wake you up, cause you to shift between sleep stages, and even elicit a brief rise in your heart rate or blood pressure. 

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that can quickly take loud sleeping environments from nightmare to dreamland — white noise machines.

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Best White Noise Machines

Big Red Rooster 

Best Value White Noise Machine

The name makes it sound more like the world’s most obnoxious alarm clock, but really, the Big Red Rooster is a great white noise sound machine, with lots of options and a great price tag. If you prefer classic white noise to help get you to sleep, the Big Red Rooster has that option, of course, but it also comes with five ambient noise options that feature nature sounds: thunder, summer night, ocean, brook, and rain.

The sounds run on loops, however, so if you’re one of those people who can easily tell when a recording is starting over and are bothered by it, this may not be the best machine for you. Still, this sleep sound machine comes with a lot of perks in a small, travel-size package. It has several sleep timer options, it is powered by an AC adapter or it can run on batteries if needed, and it’s very easy to use, with a specific button for each of the six sound options. For $20, it’s an incredibly affordable way to get a good night’s sleep.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Several sound options
  • Optional battery power
  • Lightweight (5.9 ounces)
  • 15, 30, or 60 minute auto-off timers

Cons:

  • Sounds run on an obvious loop
  • Only one true white noise sound option

Dohm Classic 

Best White Noise Machine for Tinnitus

Made by Marpac, the Marpac Dohm Classic sound machine is unique because it creates white noise using an actual fan, which you can then tune to your preferred pitch. This makes it an excellent option for those with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ears, and it can often make it difficult to sleep at night.

Read our in-depth review of the Dohm Classic!

 A basic white noise machine may not help much because the pitch of the white noise may not do a very good job at masking the ringing sound, but with the Dohm, you can adjust the pitch until it suits your specific needs. 

Plus, because the sound is created using a fan, it doesn’t “loop,” which is great if looped sounds tend to annoy you or keep you awake. However, it doesn’t come with any other bells or whistles. It doesn’t have a timer, it can’t run on batteries, and it’s considerably heavier than the Rooster, weighing in at 1.6 pounds.

Pros

  • Adjustable pitch, great for tinnitus
  • Sound doesn’t loop

Cons:

  • No timers
  • No battery option
  • Heavy
  • Most expensive option on this list
  • Only two volume settings
adaptive sound tech sound machine

Adaptive Sound Technologies 

Best White Noise Machine for Offices

Created by LectroFan, the Adaptive Sound Technologies white noise machine is ideal for anyone putting in long hours studying or working in their office. It offers 20 unique sounds, both fan sounds and different types of white noise, through a high fidelity speaker on top of the device, and best of all, the sounds are non-looping. 

At night, looping sounds may not be a problem, but if you’re trying to focus on your studies or your work, hearing a repeating noise over and over can become irritating rather than calming. That’s why we highly recommend this machine with its wide range of non-looping sounds for studying purposes. 

It’s also a great option for sleeping, especially if loop sounds bother you at night. It comes with a 60-minute sleep timer, adjustable volume, and it can be powered using an AC adapter or USB cable.

Pros

  • Non-looping sound
  • Fan sounds and white noise sounds
  • High fidelity speaker
  • 60-minute timer

Cons:

  • Heavy (1.2 pounds)
  • No battery option
Dreamegg

Dreamegg D1

Best White Noise Machine for Babies

Did you know that the womb is actually quite loud? Developing fetuses are constantly exposed to the white noise of amniotic fluid, and when they emerge into our world, white noise can be a great tool for helping them sleep through the night. 

The Dreamegg D1 is the perfect solution, and it can grow with them. Babies may simply want the white noise, but small children often want a lullaby and a night light, which the Dreamegg D1 also provides. It actually offers over 24 sound options, including white noise, lullabies, and nature sounds. 

Don’t want to listen to your baby’s preferred sound all night on the monitor? The Dreamegg D1 comes with optional 30,60, or 90-minute timers, and built-in memory so it maintains the last settings you chose before it was powered off. However, it is a bit heavy and it can’t be battery-operated.

Pros

  • Night light
  • Lullaby
  • 30, 60, and 90-minute timers
  • Can be powered by AC adapter or USB cable
  • 24 sound options
  • Headphone jack

Cons:

  • Heavy (1.5-pound shipping weight)
  • No battery option

What is a White Noise Machine? 

You may have heard the term “white noise” before, but might not be sure why it can help with sleep or study. White noise is a type of noise produced by combining sounds from every audible frequency in equal amounts. 

By combining all of the audible frequencies, it makes it hard for your brain to detect specific sounds among all the noise. This is why white noise can be a helpful way to drown out sounds that wake you up in the night or prevent you from falling asleep in the first place.

“White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a ‘peak’ sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed,” the National Sleep Foundation explains.

White Noise Machines vs. Sound Machines

Many white noise machines on the market today have combined with sound machines to offer a variety of soothing noises to help you sleep or study, but sometimes they are completely separate. 

White noise machines are devices that solely make white noise, which we described above. Sound machines, on the other hand, produce different soothing natural sounds like rain, rustling leaves, or waves crashing on the beach. These sounds often help people focus or sleep because even though they aren’t white noise, they give the brain something to focus on besides all the background noise, making it easier to block out those other sounds.

White Noise vs. Pink Noise

In addition to white noise, you might also hear about other noise colors like pink noise, which is like white noise except instead of all frequencies being given equal power and volume, some of the lower frequencies are stronger, giving pink noise a deeper tone.

If pink noise isn’t deep enough for you, there’s also brown noise, which emphasizes low-end frequencies even more and doesn’t emphasize high-frequency sounds hardly at all, like with white and pink noise. 

All of these noise colors can be helpful for sleeping and which one is best largely comes down to personal preference. Though white noise is the most common, pink and brown noise options are available on many of today’s noise machines.

Who are White Noise Machines Good For?

Most people know that white noise machines can help with better baby sleep, but they actually have all kinds of purposes beyond babies and sleep. Check out a few more uses of white noise machines below:

  • Better baby sleep
  • Sleeping with a partner who snores
  • Calming anxious pets
  • Coping with tinnitus
  • Drowning out the sounds of the city
  • Coping with ADD or ADHD
  • Creating privacy in offices

Better Baby Sleep

Babies in the womb are actually used to quite a lot of white noise caused by the motion of amniotic fluid. Once they’re born, they may actually have trouble sleeping without the presence of that white noise. White noise machines are also great for fussy babies who are easily awoken by sudden noises throughout the house.

Sleeping With a Partner Who Snores

Snoring can be very disruptive for partners of snorers, but white noise machines are a great way to tune it out. Because snores often have a lower frequency, pink or brown noise may be more effective in helping you sleep soundly despite your partner’s snoring.

Calming Anxious Pets

Many pets are easily frightened by loud noises like fireworks or construction. One way to help your pet get through the day while you’re at work is to have a white noise machine running throughout the day. The white noise should help cover up the frightening noises, keeping your pet calm and happy.

Coping With Tinnitus

White noise is a great tool for tuning out the constant ringing in the ears caused by tinnitus. According to the Mayo Clinic, 15-20% of people experience tinnitus. The Mayo Clinic also recommends a white noise machine for treatment because the white noise can help drown out the ringing sound.

Drowning Out the Sounds of the City

Do you live in a loud city with lots of car horns or construction? A white noise machine can help replace those loud noises with gentle white noise, bringing a sense of calm to your living space. 

Coping With ADD or ADHD

People with ADD or ADHD often have a very busy, loud internal monologue which can make it hard to focus. A white noise machine may be helpful for some people to quiet the internal noise by encouraging the brain to focus on mild, gentle white noise instead.

Creating Privacy in Offices

Another great use for white noise machines is privacy. Because they tune out a wide frequency of sounds, they can prevent clients in a therapist’s waiting room, for instance, from overhearing the conversation going on in the office.

Pros and Cons of White Noise Machines

There are many benefits to owning a white noise machine. However, despite all these positives, there are a few potential negatives to a white noise machine. 

Pros of a white noise machine: 

  • Can function as a sleep aid
  • Allows for better studying
  • Creates privacy in small spaces
  • Helps tune out disruptive background sounds

Cons of a white noise machine:

  • You can become reliant on white noise
  • If you don’t have a portable white noise machine, you may struggle to fall asleep while traveling without your white noise
  • Listening to loud white noise all day or all night can potentially lead to headaches or even hearing loss. It’s important to be careful when listening to your white noise machine that the volume doesn’t get too high.

How to Find the Best White Noise Machine

A white noise machine might seem like a pretty simple, straightforward device, but there are actually many different factors to consider. For instance, what kind of white noise are you looking for? Do you plan on traveling with it? Do looped sounds bother you? 

Find out why these issues (and more) matter when choosing the best white noise machine.

Sound Settings

First, you’ll want to look into what kind of sound settings your white noise machine is equipped with. Some machines are purely white noise machines, while others are combined with sound machines that provide sounds like the ocean or steady rainfall.

Volume

Next, you will want to look for a machine with adjustable volume. Some machines only have two basic volume settings, while others have much more customizable volume options. Generally, the customizable volume is better because you can change it based on what you’re looking for in a given situation, but if you’re looking for simplicity, two basic volumes may be better.

Looping

Some people are bothered by looping sounds, but others don’t seem to mind it. Looping means a sound repeats over and over. Sometimes this is subtle and easy to ignore, but some looping is very obvious and can reduce a white noise machine’s effectiveness.

Power

You’ll also want to consider how the device is powered. Do you have to plug it in, or can it run on batteries? Battery-powered options are great if you travel a lot and don’t want to pack a power cable, but AC adapter powered devices tend to run longer and you don’t have to continuously buy more batteries. Each has its pros and cons depending on your lifestyle and priorities.

Size

Another important aspect of your white noise machine is its size. If you plan on using your machine to help you sleep, a small size machine that fits nicely on your nightstand is probably best, but if you’re looking for a machine to drown out city noise throughout your whole apartment, you may need a larger machine with some added volume. It’s also important to consider size if you plan on traveling with your white noise machine.

Added features

Some white noise machines are very basic, coming with simple white noise sounds and volume control, but others come with a variety of bells and whistles. Different sounds, sleep timers, night lights, and USB charging capabilities are all potential added features you might want to look for based on your specific needs.

Questions to Ask Before Buying

  • Who will use the white noise machine? 
  •  Do I want it to run all night, or just for a little while?
  •  Do I want pure white noise, or additional soothing sounds?
  •  Do I want white noise, pink noise, or brown noise?
  •  Will I be traveling with this white noise machine?
  •  How much customization do I need?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are white noise machines safe? 

Generally, white noise machines are very safe as long as they are used at a medium-to-low volume. If you run the white noise machine at the highest possible volume for 8 hours a day, there is a chance it could cause noise-induced hearing loss, but as long as you’re careful about the volume, they are completely safe for all ages to use.

What sounds do white noise machines make? 

White noise machines make a “shhhh” sound created by combining all of the audible frequencies at equal power. Some white noise machines also make pink or brown noise, and some even include nature sounds like birds chirping or a brook babbling. Each machine is different, so be sure to do your research before buying.

Which white noise is best for sleeping?

This depends largely on the person. Some people prefer high-pitched white noise, while others are annoyed by the constant “shhhh” sound and are more calmed by the sound of rainfall. Whichever sound helps you sleep best is the best sound for you.

Is it OK to play white noise all night?

Yes! It is 100% safe to play white noise all night as long as it is at a medium-low volume. If you want your white noise machine to be louder, make sure it is farther from you, since loud noise in your ear all night is less safe and could lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

Summary

Here’s a quick recap of our top-rated picks for the best white noise machines on Amazon: 

White Noise Machine Best for Customer Rating
Big Red Rooster Best Value 4.2/5 stars
Dohm Classic  Best for Tinnitus 4.3/5 stars
Adaptive Sound Technologies Best for the Office 4.5/5 stars
Dreamegg D1 Best for Babies 4.7/5 stars

Every noise machine is different, so it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for you. Before shopping, make sure to narrow down your “must haves”, whether that’s portability, price, aesthetics, or the number of sound choices. From there, you’re more likely to find a white noise machine that you love. 

And of course, if you’re not up for buying a machine but are still interested in white noise, you could give a white noise app a try.


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