The best sound machines

best sound machines buying guide

Amazon/Business Insider

  • When you've got a sound machine, noisy nights don't have to equal a lack of sleep.
  • Many sound machines incorporate several white noise variations in the form of nature sounds, such as wind, waves, rain, or burbling streams.
  • Of all the sound machines we researched, the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine is our favorite because it eases your way into a refreshing night of deep sleep with many different customizable sounds.

The dog next door is barking, someone nearby is beeping their horn, your significant other is snoring like a chainsaw, and you're staring at the ceiling in frustration rather than sleeping soundly. Or maybe it's not you having trouble sleeping. Instead, your baby or young child wakes up at every sound, which means that in turn, they wake you up with their unhappiness.

Noise - it's hard to escape, especially at those times you'd most like a little peace and quiet. And that's exactly why sound machines, also called white noise machines or sound therapy machines, were invented.

These handy devices aren't intended to play so loudly that they overwhelm outside disruptions. Instead, they work with your brain's natural tendency to mostly notice new or variable sounds while tuning out steady, repetitious noise. That's why people who live near freeways or in big cities tend to "get used to" steady traffic sounds, yet awaken when a taxi blares its horn, a helicopter flies overhead, or a dog suddenly barks.

White noise machines, with their soft, steady, repeating loops of sound, help mask sudden or unusual noise, thus lulling your brain into relaxation, and eventually, sweet sweet sleep. Of course, really loud or irregular noise, such as your baby's crying, is still going to break through, but in general, you'll sleep far more soundly with white noise playing in the background than without.

What is white noise?

If you're old enough, you probably remember the sound of static after a television station went off the air for the night or the hissing sound between radio stations. That's the sound of true white noise. It's made up of all the frequencies audible to the human ear playing all at once and at the same intensity. With no variation entering your ears, your brain interprets the sound as a steady hiss.

But white isn't the only "color" of sound. There's also pink noise, which is white noise, but with the higher frequencies somewhat muted. This makes it more soothing than white noise. If you've ever peacefully fallen asleep to the sound of steady rain, you've enjoyed pink noise.

Brown noise is another popular variation of multi-frequency sound. It's basically pink noise with even more muting of the highest frequencies. It's also found in the natural world. Think of waves crashing on the shoreline or the sound of high winds.

Many sound machines incorporate several white noise variations in the form of nature sounds, such as wind, waves, rain, or burbling streams.

Here at Insider Picks, we take our sleep seriously. That's why we've analyzed information on the many sound machines available and whittled the choices down to the ones we feel are best.

Here are the best sound machines you can buy:

Updated on 10/22/2019 by Lisa Sabatini: Updated prices, links, and formatting.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at


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The best sound machine overall

The best sound machine overall
The Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine offers up just about every feature you could ask for in a sound machine.

Want to drift off to the peaceful sound of crickets and wind in a meadow? How about adding some birdsong and buzzing bees? Or maybe you prefer to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves. If that's not enough, go ahead and add in some crying seagulls. Still need more? You can add in barking seals and a foghorn.

That's just the start of the versatility offered by the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine. There are ten basic sounds to choose from: fireplace, waterfall, white noise, meditation, brook, rainfall, train, city, meadow, and ocean.

You can add two additional levels of sound to each of those basics. For example, train starts with the clackety-clack of wheels on track. Two additional levels add in bells, train whistles, and the sound of train couplers tapping against each other. You also get white noise, pink noise, and brown noise options.

And these aren't short, annoying loops, or synthesized sound. You get naturally recorded high fidelity sounds carefully mastered to relax you into sleep. Plus, the machine "listens" to the ambient noise in your bedroom, and then adjusts its volume as necessary to help protect your sleep.

Amazon buyers love the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine. It has more than 4,200 reviews and a 4.1-star average rating. Customers especially appreciate the adaptive technology that adjusts to room noise and the wide variety of sounds. A typical comment: "So far this sound machine has been completely effective in masking the sounds of a snoring spouse and a barking neighbor's dog."

If your bed partner doesn't want any sound at all, there's a headphone jack so you can enjoy the peaceful tones on your own. Let the machine run all night, or set the timer to shut off after 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. The AC power cord is included.

Pros: Amazingly versatile, high-quality sound, many options to choose from, timer

Cons: Expensive

Buy the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine on Amazon for $64.99

The best white noise sound machine

The best white noise sound machine
If you're just looking for white noise, and plenty of it, you've found your match with the LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine.

The LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine is just that: a white noise machine. There are no nature sounds to choose from, but that doesn't mean your sound selection is limited. This high fidelity device has ten levels of fan sounds, including everything from industrial fan to oscillating fan. It's also got 10 levels of white noise ranging from pure white to pink to brown.

The large top speaker produces excellent sound and does a great job of masking outside noise, including tough-to-sleep-through disrupters like snoring or barking dogs.

Wirecutter chose the LectroFan as the best white noise machine, praising its excellent performance, small size, and easy-to-use controls. Amazon buyers back that up. The LectroFan has more than 6,000 reviews and an average of 4.4-star rating. Buyers rave about its ability to block out all manner of annoying sounds, including barking dogs, traffic, crying babies, and snoring spouses.

You can run the device all night long, or set the timer in hour-increments. The LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine comes with a USB power cable and AC adapter, so you can power it up just about anywhere. It's available in black or white.

Pros: Excellent sound quality and a large range of fan sounds and white noise, including pink and brown noise.

Cons: None to speak of, unless you're looking for a machine with nature sounds as well as white noise.

Buy the LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine on Amazon for $49.95

The best budget sound machine

The best budget sound machine
The Big Red Rooster Sound Machine will set your mind at ease with its quality nature sounds and low price.

You don't have to pay a lot of money for a good sound machine — The Big Red Rooster Sound Machine is proof of that. This straightforward device offers six sounds: summer night, white noise, rain, brook, ocean, and thunder. The sound quality is excellent, and the loop is unobtrusive, so you won't feel like you're listening to a broken record.

With more than 10,000 reviews and an average of 4.1-star rating, this is one of the most popular sound machines on Amazon. Buyers like the quality of the sound, the lack of bright or annoying light on the machine's control panel, and the high level of volume control.

Says one pleased owner, "I cannot begin to say how much I've enjoyed my little sleep enhancer. I've had it for almost a year now and use it every night and daytime naps. I think my cats are becoming addicted to it, too."

The Big Red Rooster Sound Machine includes an AC adapter, or you can run it off batteries for use while traveling. Let it run all night long, or set the timer to turn the device off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

Pros: Great price, good sound quality, doesn't take up much room on your nightstand.

Cons: Not many sounds to choose from.

Buy the Big Red Rooster Sound Machine on Amazon for $19.99

The best sound machine for travel

The best sound machine for travel
The Homedics Portable White Noise Sound Machine is compact enough to fit in any piece of luggage, so you'll always have a comforting noise maker when you're on the road.

The Homedics Portable White Noise Sound Machine plays four sounds, including steady white noise, summer night, ocean waves, or rain. Instead of using a dial, it uses buttons that hop from one output level to the next.

This is a travel sound machine not intended for everyday use. As for the volume options, you can always move the unit closer or farther from your bed or your kid's crib, and you can always face it down on the nightstand or muffle it if you can't find the perfect setting.

And yeah, sure, it only plays four sounds. But it also only costs about thirteen bucks, making it a wildly affordable option. At that low price, you won't mind replacing the batteries now and then and replacing the whole device eventually if it conks out after a few years of intermittent use.

Most Amazon customers love this affordable little sound machine, echoing the sentiments of a customer named Megan who called it a "great travel sound machine" that is ideal for "hotels." She notes the timer and fact that it can "fit in the palm of [the] hand."

And for the record, I've used several Homedics sound machines over the years, both on the road, in my bedroom, and for my kids, and they have always performed well for more than long enough based on their low cost. — Steven John

Pros: Very portable, tiny price tag, easy to use

Cons: Some units fail fast with heavy use, middling volume control

Buy the Homedics Portable White Noise Sound Machine on Amazon for $14.13

The best sound machine for babies

The best sound machine for babies
Not only is every WavHello SoundBub White Noise Machine and Bluetooth Speaker charming, but they are also easy to use and portable.

The ability to create a calming, comfortable place for your baby or young child even when you are away from home is almost priceless. So a thirty-dollar sound machine that can create a familiar and soothing environment just about anywhere? Yeah, it's well worth its price. And with the WavHello SoundBub White Noise Machine and Bluetooth Speaker, that anywhere isn't hyperbolic.

These compact sound makers feature a built-in rechargeable battery and a large hook that can also double as a stand, so they are ready to go wherever you go, no plug required. Hang them on the stroller, the car seat, the crib, or anywhere else you need to create a sleep environment. And for the record, I'm saying "them" because SoundBub comes in the option of an owl, bunny, and bear. We have the bear, of course.

The SoundBub comes with a few sounds pre-programmed, such as rain and constant white noise. When you get the free app, you gain access to 12 more sounds. You can set the sounds to play for 30, 60, or 90 minutes or to run until you shut the thing off yourself. When used as a compact Bluetooth speaker, the SoundBub can play any song or sound you want once connected to your phone or tablet.

With 673 reviews posted on Amazon, currently, the WavHello SoundBub has a solid 4-star average rating. One mom says she "loves that this is portable" and says she "takes it with [her] wherever [her] baby sleeps." Another parent loves that the unit is "teething friendly and soft."

Do note that a few people complained about the unit's LED light being too bright (and impossible to turn off), and a few relate issues charging the unit when it's not set at a specific angle. — Steven John

Pros: Compact and portable, comes in three varieties, easy to use and versatile

Cons: Occasional charging issues

Buy the WavHello SoundBub White Noise Machine and Bluetooth Speaker on Amazon for $34.99

The best sound machine for kids

The best sound machine for kids
If your baby or young child wakes up at every sound, you'll both find sweet relief with the adorable and effective Bubzi Co Sleep Soother.

While some babies and toddlers can sleep through seemingly anything, others awaken at the slightest sound. And those are the kids who most need the Bubzi Co Sleep Soother. With its cute owl design, this sure-to-thrill-the-PreK-and-kindergarten-crowd sound machine is also blessed relief for tired parents.

The device plays ten different lullabies, including Are You Sleeping, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Brahms Lullaby, and London Bridge. There's also a heartbeat sound and birdsong. The sound machine shuts off after 30 minutes. Surprisingly, there is no way to leave it on longer, but most babies and toddlers are long off to dreamland before the time is up, anyway.

But the Bubzi Co Sleep Soother isn't just a sound machine. It also has a soft nightlight that projects stars and color onto your child's bedroom ceiling and walls, creating a light show that shuts off after 30 minutes. Plus, it has a Velcro strap for easy portability.

Pleased Amazon buyers give the Sleep Soother an average of 4.4 stars, and most comments echo this happy owner: "Best money I've ever spent. My four-month-old LOVES this. Plays with it, hugs it, stares at the lights, and the music puts him to sleep."

The body of the owl is soft plush, perfect for kissing, hugging, and riding along in the stroller or car seat. It's also washable; just remove the battery pack first.

The Sleep Soother runs off three AAA batteries, which are included. A few buyers complained the sound machine ran through batteries too quickly, but most owners felt that wasn't a problem.

Pros: Soft and cuddly, cute owl design, several lullabies to choose from, light show feature

Cons: Only stays on for 30 minutes at a time, older children may find it babyish.

Buy the Bubzi Co Sleep Soother at Amazon for $30.95

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