When you want to enjoy a good night’s sleep and nothing seems to be cooperating, white noise machines can often make all of the difference. Through modulating frequencies and creating a “boring” backdrop for your sleeping white noise can help to block out the neighbor’s dog, snoring housemates, and other distractions which make it hard for people to get their well earned rest.
Our favorite is the LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine, which is small, easy to use, and proved time and time again to be exactly what you needed in order to ensure that you’re able to get the rest you need.There are a lot of them out there though, and sometimes it’s hard to just pin down a “perfect” option for everyone. This was the case here, so we’ve brought you five of the best to help ensure that you’re able to get the rest you deserve, no matter what kind of ambient noise is threatening to intrude.
Still, from our testing we quickly found the LectroFan to be the best on the market. It produces a wide range of noises, has a smooth control, and is pretty much ideal for the average person.
Top 5 White Noise Machines
|Name||Power Source||# of Sounds||Price|
|LectroFan High Fidelity||Plug In or USB||20||Check Price|
|Marpac Dohm Classic||Plug In||Adjustable||Check Price|
|RCA White Noise Machine||Plug In or Batteries(3 AAA)||10||Check Price|
|Marpac Hushh||Rechargeable USB Battery||3||Check Price|
|Big Red Rooster BRRC107||Plug In or Batteries(3 AAA)||6||Check Price|
1. Best Overall White Noise Machine
LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
When the brass tacks are scraping against the wall, we found the Lectro Fan White Noise Machine to be exactly what the doctor ordered. With a wide range of smooth volume control, a wide number of different, non-looping sounds, and a small size that won’t dominate your bedside table it stands ahead of the competition.
This one is a step ahead of the competition, producing actual randomly generated white noise which seems to be preferable to the old “fan in a box” approach. We’re not sure if it’s “better”, but it’s definitely different and it seemed to be able to handle a wide variety of different background disturbances.
It can also be powered through an AC or USB unit which keeps it portable as long as you have a laptop or portable charger around. It’s a pretty impressive resume for a relatively simple device.
On the other hand, we’d have liked to see a battery powered option and some people noted it sounded “hissy” compared to mechanical versions.
Pros and Cons
- Tons of different noises
- Smooth volume gradient from quiet to loud
- USB connection
- Truly random noise
- Not battery powered
- Sound can be disconcerting at higher volume levels for some
2. Runner Up for Best White Noise Machine
Marpac Dohm Classic
While the LectroFan dominated our reviewers for the most part, the Marpac has a long and studied history of being pretty much the original white noise machine. It’s comprised of a dual “box in a fan” which can be adjusted readily in order to provide you with the most pleasing tone.
While it didn’t seem to matter much for sleeping purposes, the Dohm Classic was undoubtedly the best sounding of the various options we tried. The sounds can be fine tuned for your own ears as well, without the limitations inherent to preset noises.
It’s a mechanical noisemaker, of course, which makes it a bit more fragile than the electronic options which dominate the modern market. Since it needs a 120V plugin we also can’t recommend it for travel, and it’s a rather expensive machine overall.
On the other hand, sometimes the classics are the best. If you’re looking for a mechanical option with a pleasing, dual-fan tone then you’ll be impressed with this one. We just don’t advise it for travelers.
Pros and Cons
- Customizable sound with dual fans
- Small design
- Best “sound” of the ones we reviewed
- Extremely user friendly
- More fragile than electronic options
- No USB or battery options
3. Best White Noise Machine for Traveling
RCA White Noise Machine
This diminutive little device is our recommendation for those who are planning on taking their white noise machine on the go. It also doubles as an auxiliary speaker, which adds a little bit of extra utility.
While not the best, at ten different noises, we found that it offered a pleasing range of “ambient” noises like campfires, soft classical music like Canon in D, and frequencies including Brown noise, white noise, and pink noise which made it useful for a wide range of people.
It’s also extremely small and has a timer so you can save on battery once you fall asleep if you’re just using it to get to Dreamland rather than stay there. Since it can be powered by three AAA batteries we found it to be extremely useful for those on the road as well.
For traveling, there’s really no substitute for this handy little white noise machine. It’s battery powered, has additional use as a speaker, and is small enough to fit in even the tightest bags.
Pros and Cons
- Can be battery powered
- Wide range of noises
- Tiny size
- Also functions as an auxiliary speaker
- Sounds are on loop
- Speaker quality is a bit lacking
4. Best White Noise Machine for Infants
Infants need a special touch when it comes to white noise machines. Their ears are more sensitive to damage, which means a lower max volume is desirable but you can get away with quite a few less noises than you’d want for an adult.
The Hushh fulfills all of this, with the added bonus of being powered by a rechargeable USB battery so you can take it on the go and easily keep it charged no matter where you’re headed. It comes with three different noises and we found it quickly lulled infants to sleep and kept them there.
It even comes with a child lock which can keep a baby from turning it off or inadvertently cranking the volume up. Altogether it’s a well engineered device which comes in at a great price.
For babies and toddlers, it’s hard to beat the utility of the Marpac Hushh. It’s unique features keep it at the top of the list for the young ones.
Pros and Cons
- Rechargeable USB battery powered
- Small size and clip for strollers
- Good noise range
- Three different noises
- Not suitable for all babies
- Tone loops
5. Best Budget White Noise Machine
Big Red Rooster BRRC107
If you’re looking for a cheap white noise machine then the Big Red Rooster BRRC107 might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. This machine is cheap, comes with six sounds, and even has battery capabilities so you can use it no matter where you are.
It’s quite small as well, although we’d recommend spending a little bit more money for our travel pick if that’s your plan. The noises themselves range from white noise to rain, although it doesn’t have any of the more useful intermediaries like pink noise included.
When it comes down to it, it’s still a budget machine. It loops, which can distract some people, and we’re not too sure how well it would take a sudden fall, but for the price it’s a bargain.
If you’re just trying to see if white noise is right for you, or if you’re on a super tight budget and need your sleep, then the BRRC107 is a solid choice although there are better options on the table for a bit more money.
Pros and Cons
- Six noises
- Can be used with batteries
- Small size
- Great price
- Lower build-quality
- Noises loop
What is a White Noise Machine?
White noise machines produce sound which is meant to be relatively consistent and keep you distracted or from hearing some of the more irritating noises which make up the night.
We’ve all been there: traffic, barking dogs, screeching cats, a roommate who’s snoring sounds like a chainsaw going through a petrified log. White noise machines are made to mask these while also avoiding some of the pitfalls of whale noises and other sounds that people like to sleep with.
These latter types of noises can produce stimulation in the brain, especially since they aren’t consistent and can affect the type of rest that you’re getting. You may sleep through it, but these repeated interruptions to your normal sleep cycle aren’t all that healthy in the long run for some people.
Indeed, that drowning out of a revving motorcycle or a slammed door is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Think about this: a noise may not wake you up during the night but it can definitely bring you to a lighter stage of sleep and leave you exhausted when you get up in the morning.
Pretty disconcerting, no?
Who Are White Noise Machines Recommended For?
Not everyone needs a white noise machine in order to catch some extra sleep, and indeed it probably shouldn’t be your first stop along the way unless you’re already aware that excessive ambient noise levels are what’s causing a lack of rest.
They’re definitely worth a shot if you’ve got a lot going on around you at night, however. They’re particularly valuable for those who work night shifts, since they’re generally sleeping during the most active hours of the day.
Infants are another area where white noise machines come in handy. We picked one out which is most suitable for babies, but be aware there are a couple of drawbacks including the fact that some children become overly dependent on them for sleep.
They’re also quite useful for very light sleepers who find themselves waking frequently during the night.
Hardcore insomniacs rarely seem to benefit. If you’ve got a serious sleep disorder then it may be time to check up with your doctor instead of attempting to solve the problem with a white noise machine although a few individuals may find them helpful.
In general, we recommend them for anyone in the following situations:
- Second shift and night shift workers who may be sleeping during the day when ambient noise levels are high.
- Infants who are fussy sleepers. They’re especially helpful for middle of the day naps.
- Light sleepers who frequently find themselves awakened by relatively minor noises like dogs barking.
- Those who live in busy urban areas with excessive amounts of ambient noise like dogs, traffic, sirens, and anything else which might be loud and sudden and occur at any point during the night.
Basically white noise machines are best to level out noises that may wake you up rather than being relied upon as a sleep aid.
How Does White Noise Work?
You’re probably aware that your hearing still works while you’re sleeping. Otherwise things like alarms would be useless.
The things that wake you up are generally jarring noises. Ambient noise levels may not be a problem, but a sudden burst of sound in a frequency which you’re not already listening to has a chance to shock you awake.
It’s a survival thing.
White noise is an equal power noise across the entire human hearing spectrum.
This makes for a smaller differentiation in ambient noise levels even when something loud occurs, although it usually doesn’t prevent one from waking up to hear alarms or particularly loud and close noises.
For some people there is a paradoxical effect, however. For those individuals white noise can actually be quite detrimental since it allows them to more easily pick up on background noises than they’d otherwise be able to.
The easiest way to tell: if you’re someone who can sleep well with a fan on then you’ll probably enjoy better sleep with white noise, if you find the masking of noise to be a big distraction while you’re trying to sleep and pick apart sounds occurring underneath or over them then you’ll want to skip the white noise machine.
What to Look for in a White Noise Machine
While it might seem, at first glance, that these machines are pretty simple and anyone might serve as well as another, we found in practice that there was enough real world difference to complicate things a little bit.
The following qualities are all important to real world use.
The level of sound which can be maintained for eight hours without any hearing damage is around 85dB. That’s about as loud as a blender, for reference.
We made sure that none of our machines went over this sound level, since people in particularly loud environments are likely to turn them up pretty high.
There’s an exception to this: infant’s ears are exceptionally sensitive, and the recommended level of sound exposure for a baby is around 50dB for an eight hour period.
Any higher than this and you’ll be running the risk of tinnitus or other hearing problems, so it’s important to make sure that the noise level which can be achieved by your machine is within a sane range.
It’s also important to have a wide range of volumes with smooth controls to get the most out of the machine. People vary on how loud they need their machines to be and machines which stay within a small range of sound are much harder to adjust.
Most of us slap these machines on our night stand. That means that the size is important, since you don’t want something which is big enough to eat the entire night stand and render it useless for other sleep essentials like a glass of water or your charging phone.
We did our best to find the smallest units possible while maintaining the quality you’d expect from something that we’d recommend.
Many people like to take their white noise machines with them while they’re on the road. Since sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can cause a lot of disturbances to your rest period having a white noise machine as part of your routine is quite useful.
We found that machines which used a battery or USB cord were best for this kind of thing.
Batteries, in particular, are quite useful and can allow you to place the machine wherever you might like. USB cords mean that you can unplug the machine and plug it into a phone charger in order to keep it going through the night but don’t allow the same versatility of placement as a battery operated machine.
Being small also helps with this, of course.
While white noise can be helpful, other people find that sounds generally thought of as “white noise” like waves crashing on a shore or jungle sounds are the way to go.
We found that many of the better machines offered plenty of different options, and some even went into different frequencies such as pink noise or Brown noise which can help different people rest better.
If you’re not quite sure if true white noise is the way to go for your sleeping needs then we recommend you spend some time picking out an option which will let you get a wider range of different noises.
Placing Your White Noise Machine
In general, we’ve found that experimentation is necessary for you to find the perfect location for your white noise machine. While many people were fine with it on the night stand, others placed them across the room or even on the floor.
Since sleep is such a personal thing, we recommend finding the right placement for your needs rather than just blindly slapping it down somewhere. One innovative reviewer even placed theirs on the window in order to create a “wall effect” and get rid of the noise from their alleys.
For infants, placement gets even more complicated.
The big thing is not to place it directly on the crib and to make sure that you run it at a low enough setting that it’s not overwhelming for the baby. Instead, we found placing it across the room was generally the best bet.
During the day time, placing it outside the door can also be a good idea. This will help to mask sounds from outside the room while not forcing your child to become reliant on the machine over time due to the lower volume level they’ll be hearing.
This is one area where experimentation is going to be the key to how useful your machine is. Try different placements and see which one suits you the best.
For the most part, we found that these machines are remarkably cheap compared to the benefits they offer some people.
Most are cheap enough it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot either, even if you’re unsure. Worst case scenario there’s probably someone in your life who can use one.
We’d recommend sticking to a budget one if you’re not sure if it’s going to help you, but if you know that white noise is something that will help you sleep then you may want to spend a few dollars more to ensure you’ve got something you’ll be happy with.
White noise machines may not be a cure-all, but they’re definitely something to give a shot. If you fall into any of our recommended categories they’re a great way to get more high-quality sleep for a relatively small price.
Take a look at the LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine first, but if you need something specialized for travel or children then we made sure you’re covered. There’s something out there for everyone.
Quit wasting time rolling over in bed and trying to sleep through those noises which become less ambient and more annoying as the night wears on.
You might just find that you’re waking up more rested than ever before, and while it’s hard to put a price on good quality sleep we feel that the relatively low cost of most of these machines isn’t a hard one to pay.