Three best sound machines

Peter McPherson

If you suffer from tinnitus, you may find that a sound machine dampens the ringing noise in your ears.

Whether it's for an infant, a child, or an adult, a sound machine can help to lull anyone to sleep with soothing ambient sounds or nature noises. Sound machines are useful not only for helping you drift off, but also for blocking out other noise inside or outside of your home. Many machines come with a decent selection of nature and ambient noises, and they also typically have a sleep timer. Some can even adapt to the sound levels of your environment to ensure that no noise disturbs you in your sleep. Some machines plug into a wall, while others are battery-powered. The best sound machine for your needs depends on your sound preferences, environment, and the age of the intended users.

Our favorite model comes from Adaptive Sound Technologies but there are lots of other things to consider before buying. 

Considerations when choosing sound machines

One of the main factors to consider is the type and number of included sounds in a sound machine. Machines that produce white, pink, or brown noise are classic choices, and some machines produce the sound with an actual fan rather than just by playing a recording. These models are best for simply blocking out noise and can work in office environments as well as bedrooms.

Most sound machines include a small library of sounds, which may include nature noises. In some cases, an additional sound card can expand your library. Battery-powered models are easier to move around the room or take with you on a trip, but replacing batteries is an additional expense. Many models plug into the wall, which may make finding a good place for the noise machine difficult.


Though all white noise machines have similar functionality - relying on a recorded audio loop - the features, interface, and even ease-of-use can vary. Basic models can sound repetitive after a short while, but more expensive models feature longer audio cues while also offering the ability to mix two tracks for even more variety.

Most white noise devices offer a timer to shut-off so as not to disrupt your sleep. However, the number of timer settings varies from one model to the next. The interface can vary as well, from a simple button control to a digital screen. Notably, a lighted display could be an unneeded distraction.

You should determine which sort of navigation, as well as audio offerings, best suits your needs. Worrying about the complexity of the controls is the last thing you need before bedtime.

Basic sound machines cost between $20 and $40, while models between $70 and $100 tend to have larger sound libraries and more features.

Other important details

If you opt for a white noise model, take note of whether it produces sound with a speaker or with a small fan. Some people prefer the more natural noise offered by fan models.


Q. What other features should I look for?

A. A built-in radio, auxiliary output, or alarm clock may be included in some models. However, these features are less important than the main function of a sound machine and can usually be replaced with your phone or another device.

Q. What sorts of sounds can I expect a sound machine to make?

A. Other than white, pink, and brown noises, nature sounds typically include things like a babbling brook, rainfall, chirping birds, ocean waves, and other natural noises.

Sound machines we recommend

Best of the best: Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine

Our take: This flexible sound machine adapts to the noise levels of the environment, making it a top-of-the-line model.

What we like: With 30 sounds, sleep timers, and a handful of other features, this is a capable sound machine that will work for most people's needs. The lights on the front panel dim to reduce sleep disturbance.

What we dislike: This machine is more expensive than most, and Adaptive Sound Technologies have since released newer models.

Best bang for your buck: Conair Sound Therapy Sound Machine

Our take: If you're looking for your first sound machine, this is an excellent choice for the price.

What we like: This little machine has fantastic battery life and simple operation, making it a good choice for children and infants. Includes 10 sounds and a 60-minute timer.

What we dislike: The audio looping is not subtle.

Choice 3: Sound Oasis Sound Therapy System

Our take: This is a popular choice that is compatible with sound cards.

What we like: Though only six sounds are included, it's easy to plug in SC-250 series sound cards for a larger library. Many parents use this sound machine for their infants.

What we dislike: The loops are a bit repetitive, and the number of settings can be overwhelming.

Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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