A white noise machine uses pleasing audio to mask outside sounds that can keep you—or your little one—up at night, promoting relaxation and encouraging a more restful night’s sleep. They can be useful in office or work settings, as they drown out distracting noises to enhance concentration and focus.
“White noise consists of every frequency on the spectrum blended together,” according to Dr. Shelby Harris, Director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis. “It may improve sleep by masking any outside noise that may cause sleep disruptions, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”
Over the last five years, we've spent hours researching and testing the top white noise machines on the market, evaluating ease of setup and use, design, effectiveness, added features, and overall value.
Pure Enrichment Wave Premium Sleep Therapy Sound Machine
Three timer settings
USB charger included
Great value, considering price point
May be a distracting loop in the audio playback
Noise settings may lack bass or mid-tones
Drown out the world and tune into deep relaxation with the Wave Sleep Therapy Sound Machine. With all the essential features and an easy-to-use interface, this model is our top pick for a white noise machine.
The Wave Sleep Therapy Sound Machine features a half dozen different tones to lull you to sleep–including a fan, nature, and white noise sounds that mask outside noise and internal distractions. An optional 15-, 30-, or 60-minute timer lets you decide whether you want the machine to play all night or call it quits after a set amount of time.
As for the quality of white noise produced by this machine, opinions are mostly favorable–though a few people complain of it lacking bass or mid-tones, and a few others noticed a distracting loop in the audio playback. It will largely depend on how keen your ear is to repetition, since many other users of this device are impressed by the lack of repetition in the noises.
Aside from fulfilling its most basic function as a white noise machine, people appreciate that the Wave Sleep Therapy Sound Machine also has a USB port to charge your phone. This model from Pure Enrichment is a good value, and it's both reliable and easy to use.
Price at time of purchase: $50
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 6 | Power Source: Electric | Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 3.3 inches | Weight: 1.23 pounds
Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine
30 sound settings and four timer settings
External audio connectivity
Adaptive volume control
Software issues may occur
A sound night of sleep can be worth a lot and may definitely make it worth investing in a high-end white noise machine. The Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine is a splurge-worthy choice that offers expanded audio options, adaptive volume control, and the ability to playback through headphones or an external speaker.
According to users, the complex sound stories available in the Sound+Sleep white noise machine make repetition and looping nearly non-existent. Choose from ten sound profiles featuring nature noises, a light city buzz, or standard white noise and then add up to three layers of complexity for a sound environment that is just right for you. To ensure that you can hear your white noise machine in all conditions, the machine is equipped with adaptive volume control that raises or lowers the decibels according to ambient noise in your surroundings.
Let this high-end white noise machine pay for itself by playing all night long, or choose to set a sleep timer of 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. When the timer runs out, users appreciate that it gradually reduces sound volume before shutting off completely.
People that have tried the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity White Noise machine report sleeping better and waking up more refreshed than they have in years. While a few customers reported software issues that caused certain sound stories to lose complexity or become static-filled, a hard reset or new memory card (courtesy of the manufacturer) seemed to solve the problem. If you must have all the options in a white noise machine, it’s tough to beat the high-quality audio and features of the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity White Noise Machine.
Price at time of purchase: $100
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 30 | Power Source: Battery | Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches | Weight: 2.6 pounds
Homedics SoundSpa Sound Machine
Both electric and battery-operated
Loud, clear sound settings
Three timer settings
Great value, considering price point
Volume knob may fail after extended use
Snooze better while spending less with a budget white noise machine, like this popular model from Homedics. A simple dome-shaped speaker with simple buttons and easy-to-understand knobs will let you choose from six soft sounds to induce sleep quicker.
The Homedics White Noise Sound Machine can be plugged into a standard wall outlet, or you can power it up with four AA batteries. Some users like to leave batteries in the unit so that in the event of a power failure, the machine will continue making sounds without interruption. That is especially useful for babies who are easily woken if their sound environment is altered. You can also set the machine to turn off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes.
One big plus for most people that buy this budget white noise machine is that the sound level is quite loud in comparison with other popular products. The biggest negative frequently reported is that the volume knob seems to fail after about a year of use. However, people love this Homedics Sleep Machine so much that they either replace the unit, only turn it on and off with the wall switch that controls the outlet the unit is plugged into, or remove the volume knob and use contact cleaner to get rid of dust and build-up that may be hampering the operation of the knob.
This budget sleep machine offers loud, clear white noise that’s effective for babies, children, and adults alike, according to real-world users.
Price at time of purchase: $24
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 6 | Power Source: Electric and battery | Dimensions: 6.5 x 6 x 2 inches | Weight: 0.5 pounds
Best for Offices
Marpac Yogasleep Dohm Classic White Noise Machine
Provides natural ambient sound
Can adjust tone manually
Lacks some variety in sound settings
May develop a rattle over time
Keep things confidential or enjoy a little cubicle quiet time with a white noise machine for offices. The Marpac Dohm Classic is a popular, long-standing model of white noise machine that has been widely used in offices, cubicles, suites, and more. Considered to be among the first of the modern white noise machines, the Marpac Dohm is a mechanical model, which means that an actual fan inside the unit produces its natural-sounding white noise.
With more than 4 stars from well over 16,000 people, the Dohm white noise machine has been drowning out people and distractions for a long time. Users suggest placing it outside the office if you don’t want others to hear your private conversations, or place it inside your space if you need to tune out distractions.
While this mechanical white noise machine lacks the variety in tones that digital machines offer, it’s a great, natural-sounding device that won’t be a hassle for your colleagues to listen to or make you feel like you’re on the beach when you’re really participating in a boring webinar (not that it would be a bad thing to have some beach vibes). Perhaps the most unique thing about the Marpac Dohm is that you can manually adjust the tone by twisting the top of the device. This changes the size of the air intakes, altering the sound produced.
This device lacks fancy features but makes up for it in reliability and simple, straightforward noise-canceling ability. In recent years, a few people have pointed out that a persistent rattle has become a problem in their Dohm. Some have remedied this problem by opening the unit, cleaning out accumulated dust, and adding a product like WD-40.
Price at time of purchase: $48
Type: Mechanical | Number of Settings: 2 | Power Source: Electric | Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 4 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds
Best for Babies
Jack & Rose White Noise Machine
16 sound settings and five timer settings
Seven-color night light included
Fetal heartbeat sound and lullabies included
Lowest volume setting may be too loud for some
While you could use any white noise machine for babies, the Jack & Rose White Noise Machine offers some specific features that make this our go-to product for lulling little ones to sleep. When using the Jack & Rose White Noise Machine, you can choose from an impressive 16 sounds, including six white noises, four lullabies, and six nature sounds. The model even offers a fetal heartbeat sound, which mimics the sound of a mother’s womb to promote a restful sleep.
We love that the white noise machine has a built-in nightlight with seven different colors, which can be especially helpful for young ones. The night light can be used with or without the white noise function. This machine offers five different timer settings so you won’t have to worry about turning it off once your baby’s asleep. While some reviewers note that the lowest volume may be too loud for some, you can always place the unit further away from the bed, or even in the hallway if that is an issue. And although many of the sound settings are geared toward babies, there are still plenty of options that are suitable for all ages. If you’re looking for a white noise machine for babies that can easily transition into the toddler years, then the Jack & Rose White Noise Machine is the way to go.
Price at time of purchase: $40
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 16 | Power Source: Electric | Dimensions: 4.65 x 4.65 x 2.46 inches | Weight: 1 pound
Tuft & Needle White Noise Machine
Optional app control
Only one sound setting
While most mechanical white noise machines don’t offer a ton of customization, the Tuft & Needle White Noise Machine allows you to program just about everything through the convenient app. So while this machine only offers one sound setting, just about every aspect of it can be tailored to your preferences. In contrast to digital machines, we love that this model uses a real fan, which provides a full and natural sound. Through the user-friendly app, you can control the volume, tone, and timer settings. You can even program a gentle fade in and out to wake up naturally and gradually. While you don’t have to use the app to control the white noise machine, we definitely recommend it.
This is also a great option for nurseries and kids’ rooms, as the machine comes with a built-in light. You can even set volume limits to protect your child’s ears while still promoting a good night’s sleep. We appreciate that Tuft & Needle offers a 100-night sleep trial, free shipping and returns, and a hassle-free warranty so you can rest easy knowing that you’re covered.
Price at time of purchase: $110
Type: Mechanical | Number of Settings: 1 | Power Source: Electric | Dimensions: 5.6 x 5.6 x 3.2 inches | Weight: 2 pounds
Best for Dogs
Pet Acoustics Pet Tunes Bluetooth Speaker
90 minutes of sound specifically geared toward dogs
Only one sound setting
Charger only lasts between five and ten hours
Pets need soothing sounds, too, and there are a variety of white noise machines for dogs on the market. The Pet Tunes Bluetooth Speaker is worth trying if your pooch suffers from separation anxiety, spends long hours at home alone, or entertains himself with excessive barking.
This white noise machine for pets comes pre-loaded with 90 minutes of music specifically intended to be calming for dogs. Unlike generalized white noise machines for human ears, a canine behaviorist developed the audio tracks to reduce stress in our four-legged friends. If you frequently turn on the TV or radio for your pet, consider this option for background noise that is more tailored to the needs of a dog.
Despite the fact that the audio is limited to just an hour and a half, you can set the device to play on repeat mode all-day—we doubt your furry friend will notice. Keep in mind that the battery lasts for about eight hours, so if you want the unit to play past your average workday, you’ll need to plug it in.
While this white noise machine for dogs doesn’t claim to fix separation anxiety, it does seem to noticeably relax dogs. Many pet parents reported less barking, marking, or other destructive behaviors.
Price at time of purchase: $60
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 1 | Power Source: Battery and charger | Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 2 inches | Weight: Not listed
Best for Travel
Yogasleep Rohm Travel Sound Machine
Battery-powered with USB charging
Comes with hanging lanyard
Limited sound settings
No timer settings
Getting a good night of rest when you’re on the road can be tough to do. A white noise machine for travel, like the Rohm Portable White Noise Sound Machine can make it much easier to drift asleep and stay asleep in unfamiliar surroundings.
This compact white noise machine is part of the popular Marpac family of white noise machines. Weighing less than half of a pound, the circular-shaped Rohm can be slipped into your carry-on or tucked into a backpack for easy portability. It’s small size means a limited sound selection, though—choose from bright white noise, deep white noise, or soothing ocean sounds. You should know that unlike traditional Marpac white noise machines that rely on fan operation, this is a digital white noise machine. Either way, the Rohm has been used by many adventurers to drown out street noise, hotel commotion, and other unfamiliar sounds when sleeping somewhere different.
The Rohm Portable White Noise Machine is charged via USB, which is another handy feature for travelers. You don’t have to worry about bringing along extra batteries or a separate charger. A standard USB cable will do the trick. There is no timer on this slimmed down sleep machine, so it will play continuously. One user found that the battery easily lasts all night and parents have found the continuous-play feature to be a plus when using it for babies.
Price at time of purchase: $30
Type: Digital | Number of Settings: 3 | Power Source: Battery | Dimensions: 3.4 x 1.6 x 3.84 inches | Weight: Not listed
Out of all the options on this list, our top pick is the Pure Enrichment Wave Sleep Therapy Sound Machine, which offers six sound settings and three timer settings, comes with a built-in USB charger, and boasts an easy-to-use interface. If you’re willing to splurge a bit on a higher-end machine, we love the Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound + Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine, which has an extensive number of sound settings, is extremely customizable, and even offers adaptive volume control.
How We Tested the White Noise Machines
While we didn’t personally test all of the options on this list, we bought and tested a variety of top-rated white noise machines, evaluating them by their ease of setup and use, design, variety of features, volume, effectiveness, and value. Our reviewers spent 87 hours experimenting with their various noise options and observed how they affected sleep quality. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these white noise machines, from their sound options to their portability. We've outlined the key points here so that you, too, will know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in White Noise Machines
Mechanical vs. Digital
The two primary types of white noise machines are mechanical and digital. While mechanical machines typically use a fan to produce consistent ambient sound, digital machines produce electronic sound and offer a wider range.
On some models, you can adjust the frequency to produce various "shades" of noise, including white noise and pink noise. Digital machines are also the better option if you're looking for audio tracks of nature sounds, soothing music, or other similar options.
Not all ambient noises are the same. Some people prefer genuine white noise or other frequencies of sound, like soothing pink noise. Others prefer the steady hum of a fan, the relaxing sound of ocean waves, or a rainstorm. Depending on your preferences, you may want to invest in a product that makes one particular type of sound. If you’re not sure what you like, consider a model with more variety.
“I recommend white or pink noise for sleeping. Both sounds promote relaxation and may help someone fall asleep faster and stay awake longer throughout the night,” Harris says. She also notes that while nature sounds may be great for relaxing, they may not be the best for getting a restful night’s sleep: “Nature sounds, other than soft rain, have inconsistencies that may disrupt sleep and worsen sleep quality.”
While some people want a white noise machine that stays on all night, you might prefer to set a sleep timer so the machine shuts off automatically once you’re happily snoozing. Some products feature sleep timers, while more basic models may have to be turned on and off manually.
White noise machines can be kind of addictive—once you start using one, you may find that you need it to fall asleep. For this reason, it’s often beneficial to purchase a portable machine that’s easy to pack in your bag and take with you when you travel.
How do white noise machines work?
Mechanical white noise machines rely on a small motor to power a fan that pushes air through vents, but doesn't create a breeze. On some models, the volume and tone of the white noise can be adjusted by choosing a different fan speed or rotating the housing of the machine.
Digital white noise machines have electronic components inside them that produce noise patterns or have stored audio tracks. Depending on the machine you choose, you'll be able to select from a range of sounds and tones.
What are white noise machines for?
The purpose of a white noise machine is to produce steady sounds that mask other noises. Most people use them for sleeping and find that the soothing noise relaxes the mind and also helps to block out unwanted noise that may otherwise wake them up. Examples of sounds that a white noise machine may help with include a television in the background, a noisy ceiling fan, your partner's snoring, dogs barking outside, and cars passing by on the street.
Even when you're not sleeping, white noise machines can be useful. They're useful for improving concentration when external noises might be a distraction, like working in an office or studying in a busy environment. Some people use white noise machines to provide a measure of privacy. The noise generated by the machine can help to prevent other people from hearing your conversation or activities.
How do white noise machines sound?
The type of white noise machine you choose will determine how it sounds. Mechanical versions are best described as having a hum, which can vary from a gentle "hiss" to a more steady "shush" noise. Digital noise machines might also produce a similar hum by electronic means, but they usually also offer other options for sounds—ranging from familiar options like rain and birds to more surprising choices like a city street or the crackle of a campfire.
What features or specific settings should I look for in a white noise machine?
In addition to a wide variety of sound settings, you’ll want to consider features like automatic timers, night lights, and volume control. While some may prefer to leave their white noise machines on throughout the night, automatic timers can be useful for those who don’t want the sound playing after they’ve fallen asleep.
While night lights can be helpful for those with younger children, Harris notes that these can affect sleep quality: “Light from a white noise machine can disrupt sleep, so it's best to choose a model with either minimal light or with lights that can be dimmed or turned off.” She recommends making sure the volume of the white noise isn’t too loud, as that can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a commerce writer who specializes in interior design and plant care at the Spruce. To compile this list, she consulted testing insights, assessed numerous customer reviews, and conducted supplemental research about the topic.
Commerce writer Bianca Pineda also contributed to this article. Bianca spoke to Dr. Shelby Harris, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis for further insight regarding the science of white noise and buying advice regarding sound machines.