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#1
Old 03-24-2010, 01:51 PM
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What's the best ambient sound machine (like for sleeping)

I am looking for suggestions on a good ambient sound machine that produces continuous sounds like waterfalls, surf, rain, white noise, pink noise, etc.

I feel kind of silly asking for suggestions, because one would think this kind of machine is so hard to screw up that any model would be fine. Yet here I just paid $60 for a "SoundSpa Fusion" (by Homedics), only to find that I could clearly hear faint sampling artifacts. The waterfall loop repeated a very faint human or animal vocalization every 15 seconds. The rainfall loop repeated a faint gong-like tone every 10 seconds or so. I don't have SpiderMan hearing or anything, I'm just fairly musically inclined. Anything slightly different from the baseline stands out, and if it repeats in a pattern, it distracts me so much it might as well be blasting Chuck Berry.

Anyway, suggestions?
#2
Old 03-24-2010, 02:06 PM
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I usually leave a fan running in my bedroom at night, that blocks out a lot of background noise. An alternative to a sound machine is a portable stereo with a USB connector, that will playback mp3 files. They are widely available and cheap. There are recordings of things like rainstorms available on the internet.
#3
Old 03-24-2010, 02:07 PM
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I have a 30-second loop of the "brown noise" from simplynoise.com playing through my laptop speakers when I sleep.

I'm probably taking a hit on power consumption, but I didn't have to cough up for a separate machine.

You might try this and see if you hear anything on loop? At least it's free.
#4
Old 03-24-2010, 02:11 PM
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Bugger. We got a little one from Bed, Bath and Beyond that I LOVE. It has 30 different noises and a dual alarm clock function.

It's this one. I don't know if it repeats too much for you, but most of them don't have very distinct noises in them, as the repetition hasn't bothered me. They might have one plugged in at the store if you want to give it a listen.
#5
Old 03-24-2010, 02:14 PM
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I got off my butt and searched around on the internet... as it turns out, it's not just me, apparently looping is a differentiator between cheap models and good ones. Looks like a manufacturer called 'Marpac' makes a good one, I'll check that out.
#6
Old 03-24-2010, 03:58 PM
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My roommate was a drunken ass in my last apartment and would blast the tv/have people over until 6 in the morning almost every day. During the summer the loud window air conditioner worked great, but the winter was a problem

I bought

http://marpac.com/soundscreen.asp

And couldn't have been more happier with it. It's basically a fan with adjustments to the amount of sound blown out from the holes, but doesn't cool the room like a normal fan.

I tried the whole music/sounds of nature stuff on my laptop and didn't like it.

Amazon has those sound machines cheaper.
#7
Old 03-24-2010, 04:17 PM
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I have one from the Sharper Image that's just a white noise machine, no alarm clock function. I love it. It runs on ac power or batteries so it's portable.
#8
Old 03-24-2010, 07:09 PM
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My wife and I use our Bulldog.

Seriously, when we went on our honeymoon I woke up every hour like clockwork. I couldn't figure out what was wrong until the third day, when I realized I couldn't hear Sydney snoring; so she must be getting into something.

I have no suggestions for you if you don't want a Bulldog, though.
#9
Old 03-24-2010, 07:51 PM
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I had a HoMedics Sound Spa for years, though all the nature sounds sounded pretty much alike. (I read that the recording for the surf was made by recording the gurgling of a toilet!)...Before that I tried a sounds of nature tape, and the day at the beach was soothing except the squawking seagull. The rainy day was nice except for the thunderclaps...Best thing is a fan, IMO.
#10
Old 03-25-2010, 11:27 AM
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If you have an iPhone, check out the White Noise app. The lite (aka free) version has white noise, beach waves, crickets, thunder, fan, rain, a clock, chimes, train, and airplane noise modules, plus an timer to turn it off. It can get pretty loud (but make sure you plug the phone in if you need it to run all night or the battery will die).
#11
Old 03-25-2010, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steadierfooting View Post
My roommate was a drunken ass in my last apartment and would blast the tv/have people over until 6 in the morning almost every day. During the summer the loud window air conditioner worked great, but the winter was a problem

I bought

http://marpac.com/soundscreen.asp

And couldn't have been more happier with it. It's basically a fan with adjustments to the amount of sound blown out from the holes, but doesn't cool the room like a normal fan.

I tried the whole music/sounds of nature stuff on my laptop and didn't like it.

Amazon has those sound machines cheaper.
I have to second this recommendation. My brother got me one of these for Christmas in 2005, and I use it every night, as I have trouble sleeping in a perfectly quiet room. One of the best gifts I ever got!
#12
Old 03-25-2010, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuji View Post
I have to second this recommendation. My brother got me one of these for Christmas in 2005, and I use it every night, as I have trouble sleeping in a perfectly quiet room. One of the best gifts I ever got!
Thanks, My son is a night shifter and this would be a good gift for him.
#13
Old 03-25-2010, 01:36 PM
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I like having a fan going, too. Not only do I find the sound soothing, but I like the fresh airflow (it's pointed away from us in bed during the winter, but it still moves the air around). If you don't like airflow, it wouldn't be a good choice for you.
#14
Old 03-25-2010, 02:02 PM
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Fan! I also have a problem with loop sounds or inclusions in noise machines.
#15
Old 03-25-2010, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steadierfooting View Post
My roommate was a drunken ass in my last apartment and would blast the tv/have people over until 6 in the morning almost every day. During the summer the loud window air conditioner worked great, but the winter was a problem

I bought

http://marpac.com/soundscreen.asp

And couldn't have been more happier with it. It's basically a fan with adjustments to the amount of sound blown out from the holes, but doesn't cool the room like a normal fan.

I tried the whole music/sounds of nature stuff on my laptop and didn't like it.

Amazon has those sound machines cheaper.
I came in here to recomend this. I bought mind...um...at my work...( salvation army ...for $3....no one knew what it was. I WAS and AM THRILLED with it!)
#16
Old 03-25-2010, 03:05 PM
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I bought a Sound Oasis Sound Therapy System a little over a year ago, for when I wanted to go to sleep upstairs but I could still hear random bits of noise from my (then) boyfriend watching TV downstairs. No alarm clock, just sounds. I wound up using the "white noise" sound pretty exclusively; it was great!

We broke up and I moved out last June, and I haven't needed to use it since (I never needed one before, either). I keep thinking about maybe selling it, but I'd be happy to just give it away. Where do you live? If you're in the States, send me a PM.
#17
Old 03-25-2010, 03:13 PM
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We use a humidifier for white noise. I don't eve bother to put water in it any more. It was $30 at WalMart.
#18
Old 03-25-2010, 03:15 PM
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Small box fan works great for me.
#19
Old 03-25-2010, 10:51 PM
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I have been playing a 'mountain stream' CD for years. It works great for me.

Bob
#20
Old 03-25-2010, 11:13 PM
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I dunno. If I listened to running water sounds, I'd be getting up all night to pee.
#21
Old 03-25-2010, 11:43 PM
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I'm with you, the looping of standard "white noise" machines drives me batty. I tried my mum's once, and I could very clearly hear the "break" where the loop ended and began again. So I spent 15 minutes anticipating the break in the loop, before giving up and turning it off. (The annoyingness/effect gets magnified in a quiet room with no other noise, too.)

I have this. It doesn't have looped sound samples, it literally just makes continuous audio static. Unfortunately at the price and the fact that you don't indicate wanting a sunrise clock might make it overkill, but the white noise feature is the best thing ever. I didn't regularly use white noise before getting this, now I can't do without it.
#22
Old 03-26-2010, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaio View Post
I have this. It doesn't have looped sound samples, it literally just makes continuous audio static. Unfortunately at the price and the fact that you don't indicate wanting a sunrise clock might make it overkill, but the white noise feature is the best thing ever. I didn't regularly use white noise before getting this, now I can't do without it.
Wait, I've already got one of those... you're suggesting it has a white noise feature? I never saw it in the setup options.
#23
Old 03-26-2010, 09:36 AM
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I use a CD called "Sleep on a Train" which features the real recording of a train's clickity clack over the rails.
#24
Old 03-26-2010, 11:39 AM
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I've used a fan for many, many years, and I have trouble sleeping without the fan. The last time I stayed in a hotel I had my laptop with me and went to one of the white noise websites and had that on all night. I can't sleep very well with nothing but silence.

Last edited by kapri; 03-26-2010 at 11:40 AM.
#25
Old 03-26-2010, 02:13 PM
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I used to use a fan, but nowadays the hiss of my CPAP does the job.
#26
Old 03-26-2010, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmic Relief View Post
Wait, I've already got one of those... you're suggesting it has a white noise feature? I never saw it in the setup options.
I think there are two versions of it, one which has the white noise feature and one that doesn't. (Don't quote me on this, it's been years since I've looked at these.)

When you hit the settings button, cycle through alarm, time, etc. and if you have the white noise feature you should get to an option that displays "NOISE OFF", "NOISE 30", or "NOISE PERM" (what I use -- the white noise stays on until morning when the light is up full).

If you don't get a "NOISE" option, you probably have the less expensive version of the clock.
#27
Old 03-26-2010, 02:32 PM
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I have a Conair SU2 (battery or AC option, no lights, no alarms, auto-shut-off) and I will attest to the fact that you can hear the loop on every sound EXCEPT the "white noise" sound. They don't make the model I have anymore, but I suspect that their current white noise machines are probably just as bad.

I don't need white noise to sleep, I just have it for when it's too cold to have the fan on and my roommate and his GF are being, uh, noisy in the basement.

So, don't buy a Conair. They probably suck.
#28
Old 03-26-2010, 02:52 PM
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Ahah, here we go:

There is an "advanced" version of the sunrise clock with a white noise feature.
#29
Old 03-26-2010, 03:01 PM
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I have a natural sound source. Just open the window and get the sound of the waves. Or, if they are big, no need to open the window.

Guests say they sleep very soundly at my house.
#30
Old 03-28-2010, 01:39 AM
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We've used these things (homedics cheapo ones mostly, we're on our 3rd one now, from target) since my son was born, so almost 6 years now, in his room. He really likes it to sleep. The white noise one sounded generated to me -- I could never hear the loop on it if there was one (his room is close enough I can hear it when I go to sleep). The 'ocean' one he got into for a while and that had a predictable sequence which bugged me. But lately he's been insisting on one of the 'rainforest' ones complete with cawing birds. It's horrible. I end up turning it down after he falls asleep, and making sure my daughter's (white noise) is up louder

The worst is when he gets up early in the morning, and leaves his door open and forgets to turn off the blasted thing. If I wake up to fake rainforest squawking birds, I'm on the warpath!
#31
Old 03-28-2010, 03:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrvin View Post
I have a 30-second loop of the "brown noise" from simplynoise.com playing through my laptop speakers when I sleep.

I'm probably taking a hit on power consumption, but I didn't have to cough up for a separate machine.

You might try this and see if you hear anything on loop? At least it's free.
The "Brown Noise" on simplynoise.com is the most sleep-inducing noise I've heard. You could always record it onto a CD and then play it back to go to sleep to. I don't do well with the waterfalls or thunderstorms as the variations in sounds catches my ear. I have one of the cheapest sound machines around and there is no audible looping sound.If you do decide on a particular model, check out eBay prices.
#32
Old 03-28-2010, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
I have a natural sound source. Just open the window and get the sound of the waves. Or, if they are big, no need to open the window.

Guests say they sleep very soundly at my house.
Thanks for the practical suggestion, I'll just go buy the Pacific Ocean and have it installed in my backyard.
#33
Old 03-28-2010, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
The "Brown Noise" on simplynoise.com is the most sleep-inducing noise I've heard. You could always record it onto a CD and then play it back to go to sleep to. I don't do well with the waterfalls or thunderstorms as the variations in sounds catches my ear. I have one of the cheapest sound machines around and there is no audible looping sound.If you do decide on a particular model, check out eBay prices.
I tried "brown noise" and it sounds awesome. Good call. It's what I would imagine to be the nice dull roar of a waterfall, but the "watefall sound" produced by most machines disappoints me as being too sizzling and sharp for my tastes.
#34
Old 03-29-2010, 06:13 AM
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Brian Eno, "music for airports" that's the fella for ya!
#35
Old 03-29-2010, 08:36 AM
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I use a fan, and a rotation of DVDs.

1963's The Raven is quite a success—mostly as it features Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff speaking in conversational tones for most of the movie. Better than bird songs.
#36
Old 03-30-2010, 08:36 PM
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Here is my assessment of the responses thus far -
1) Fan: no good in cold weather.
2) Humidifier: no good in humid weather
3) A snoring animal/spouse/whatever. Yeah, right, I'm going to acquire a snoring dog to help me sleep. Not.
4) Noise loops (like from simplynoise.com). The brown and pink noises are great quality for masking, maybe white if you need to mask some higher pitches. HOWEVER the problem with loops is that I can't find a way to loop them seamlessly, thus there is an interrupt every 30 seconds/10 minutes/1 hour, due to the ipod or CD repositioning itself at the beginning of the track.
5) Electronic machines... I have yet to find one that doesn't have loops/artifacts, but I've heard they exist.
6) Marpac machine... I have one of these on order. I suspect this is going to be the best, as it's essentially a loud fan in a housing that prevents it from actually blowing air anywhere. It will depend on the volume range and the quality of the noise.

Last edited by HMS Irruncible; 03-30-2010 at 08:37 PM.
#37
Old 03-31-2010, 01:28 AM
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A fan is fine in cold weather. Just aim it away from you.
#38
Old 03-31-2010, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
A fan is fine in cold weather. Just aim it away from you.
A fan doesn't have to be blowing on you to cause unwanted cool drafts in a room.
#39
Old 03-31-2010, 07:14 AM
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Have you thought about getting some recordings of rainfall etc and playing them on a small cd player/mp3 stereo or similar? Someone suggested something like that earlier and its what I do. I find the white noise etc recordings too difficult to loop successfully too and I've found that the 'uneven' nature of the sounds I chose was more difficult to audibly interrupt with a loop transition noise.

I found a CD of rain/storm recordings and another which was a crackling campfire. Converted them to mp3s and now play them via an iPod stereo/alarm clock. The recordings were split up intro tracks but they were continuous, as in you couldn't hear the transition between tracks. I just joined the files together as one long track and then looped that. I was pretty sensitive to the transitions of 'white noise' style noises but I can't hear the transition in the rain or campfire recordings at all, and even if I could - they'd be about an hour and forty-five minutes apart.
#40
Old 03-31-2010, 07:26 AM
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I like the some of the nature sounds, but my wife won't tolerate any of them specifically because of their 'unevenness'.

What's been working for us for several nights now... I downloaded a 70-minute track called "Brown Noise For Sleep" off iTunes, then created a playlist of 10 tracks of this loop, making sure that 'part of gapless album' was not enabled on iTunes (because this disables crossfade between tracks). Then I play this from the iPod on a high-quality portable stereo. It's like magic.

What I notice more than anything is that it seems like I'm getting the same quantity of sleep, yet the quality seems much better. I'm much more refreshed after a night's sleep. I suspect that I've been excessively disturbed by environmental noise (barking dogs, prowling cats, cars) which has been ruining the quality of my sleep, sort of like mental sleep apnea or something.
#41
Old 04-01-2010, 11:58 AM
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I used to have a tape of a thunderstorm in the country with heavy rain.
Now and again you could hear sheep bleating.
I know that it sounds weird but it used to send me off to sleep in minutes.
#42
Old 04-01-2010, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
A fan is fine in cold weather. Just aim it away from you.
That must be a personal preference thing; we use our fan in our bedroom all winter, and we keep it so cold in there that most people would be very uncomfortable. I just snuggle down in the blankets (LOTS of blankets).
#43
Old 04-01-2010, 02:55 PM
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I use a fan, or I play a CD of ocean waves. Just steady waves, no seagulls, no music.
#44
Old 04-01-2010, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicken Fingers View Post
I use a fan, or I play a CD of ocean waves. Just steady waves, no seagulls, no music.
Can't stand the ones that play that bloody awful"heavenly"music.
#45
Old 04-09-2010, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
I use a fan, and a rotation of DVDs.
I've been told by more than a few people that using a room fan or the tv is actually more effective and less distracting than sound therapy machines. Isn't having the tv on in an otherwise dark room distracting? I currently alternate between a couple white noise machines (tried the "nature sounds" type of cd's....didn't take) and plain old fashioned counting backwards. I suffer from tinnitus so I have to have some kind of noise in the background as well as doing the counting to ease my mind into sleep.
#46
Old 04-09-2010, 02:40 PM
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I had to switch off the iPod sound loop because of a couple of problems... first, the cross-fade was not enough to hide the sound of the transition, and second, the iPod would seemingly just _stop_ for 10 seconds now and then.

I finally caved and got the Marpac 980 ($50 plus shipping). I love it because it provides neutral, even sound that doesn't loop. Basically it's a fan enclosed in a shell that prevents it from blowing external air around, which I like because it doesn't make me cold or dried out like fans do. It sounds like a hairdryer on low speed.
#47
Old 05-29-2012, 01:56 PM
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I've used this type of two-setting white noise generator to block background noises for a long time. Simple and effective. I suspect thunderstorms, rushing rivers and ocean noises would get me up more often to piss.

For just noise blockage, wax earplugs are highly effective.
#48
Old 05-29-2012, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle squeegee View Post
If you have an iPhone, check out the White Noise app. The lite (aka free) version has white noise, beach waves, crickets, thunder, fan, rain, a clock, chimes, train, and airplane noise modules, plus an timer to turn it off. It can get pretty loud (but make sure you plug the phone in if you need it to run all night or the battery will die).
I have this app on my iPad and use it when travelling (just the white/pink/brown noise, but it has tons of other noises too).

At home we just use a fan for white noise.
#49
Old 05-29-2012, 03:34 PM
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I really like this one from Bed Bath and Beyond. I've had it for years, but now that I reread the original post, it probably has the same sounds as the one he has already tried.
#50
Old 05-29-2012, 04:27 PM
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Yeah, I have the app that Uncle S. recommended. I like it, and I don't hear a loop.
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