A diffuse sound containing literally every audible frequency at an equal intensity, white noise is a nondescript hiss that’s fantastic for discreetly drowning out random background noise and keeping your conversations private. Its noise-cancelling properties are well known for being an effective sleep and study aid, and its qualities are found in numerous naturally-occurring sounds like rain storms and the crashing of ocean waves. If you live down the street from a fire station or have neighbors who are less than courteous, a white noise machine is an easy and calming way to keep the noise out and put you right to sleep. They’re also popular in medical waiting rooms and other places where discretion is key.
Here’s a list of our favorite white noise machines currently available.
Relaxing in every way. Amazon
The ‘Lectrofan is a digital white noise generator loaded with 20 different varieties of non-looping white noise, fan noise, and static. The pitch of the white noise is fully adjustable from low-pitched to high-pitched at ten increments, and you can hit the 60 minute button for a quick snooze session or keep it on all the way through the night. The adjustable volume on this unit means you can crank it much louder than a fan in certain cases where you need maximum noise blockage. It runs on AC and USB power so you can pack it up and bring it to the office.
Attach it to anything. Amazon
This portable, clip-on white noise generator from Slaouwo is the perfect option for getting your fix of calming noise on the go. Hook it to your backpack and take it on the train or to the gym and use the onboard headphone jack to immerse yourself in one of 26 different soothing environments, including a rainy jungle, the seaside, and outer space. It’s chargeable via USB and it weighs in at only seven ounces, so you can pop it in your bag and go without a worry — this one is a train and bus commuter’s dream come true.
Editor’s pick. Amazon
The original white noise machine was patented in 1962, and it used a real fan to generate that pleasant static instead of digital sound. This version from Marpac is the most current and faithful recreation of their original fan-powered white noise machine, and it’s both discreet and super easy to use. The compact and stylish casing comes in tan, black and white, and you can rotate the cap to adjust the pitch and tone of the white noise generated by the two-speed metal fan inside the casing. It’s got an eight-foot power cord for difficult spaces, and it even comes with a manufacturer’s 101-night trial.
A soothing glow and app-controlled sounds. Amazon
The Rest Sound Machine from Hatch Baby is an app-controlled white noise machine that includes night light and alarm functions. Though it’s marketed and skewed toward children, anyone can benefit from the soothing multicolored glows and 11 different preset nature and white noise sounds that are geared toward healthy sleep and waking patterns. Reading or working late? This option is great for slowly winding down your day. If you’ve got kids, the remote control function is perfect for tailoring your little ones’ sleep experience without entering the room and causing a disruption.
Rugged looks and sustainable construction. Amazon
This white noise machine from Douni is loaded with ten nature sounds, seven fan sounds, and seven white noise sounds in a 4.4-inch space. It fits right on your bedside table and the wood-grain finish perfectly blends in to any room without disrupting the decor. The nature sounds included range from campfires to crickets, and the headphone jack allows you to get a personal dose of white noise without bothering others in the room. It also has 30, 60, and 90-minute buttons that can act as timers for meditating, studying, and more. What’s more, the sounds loop seamlessly so you don’t get pulled out of your zone.