White noise is a kind of noise generated by a combination of sounds of all the various frequencies. By taking the different imaginable tones that can be heard by a human ear and combining them you will be able to produce white noise.
The term white describes this kind of noise; because it is similar to how white light functions. White light is composed of all the various frequencies of light colors combined in a single form (a rainbow or prism tends to separate the white light into the different components).
Similarly, white noise comprises of all the different sound frequencies. White noise spans twenty thousand tones of sound playing at the same moment.
White noise is often called unstructured sound. On the other hand, structured sound such as music or voice can communicate information with the use of specific frequencies.
As unstructured sound is not able to communicate anything, human mind often quickly tunes it out. It is usually this characteristic of white noise that makes it especially valuable to mask distracting or intrusive human speech.
You can produce white noise with a sound synthesizer. A majority of sound designers make use of the sound, with a little filtering and processing, to generate a slew of different sound effects like surf, wind, rumbles and space whooshes.
Difference Between White And Pink Noise
The term white noise depicts a specific kind of sound. It has a frequency that usually ranges from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. In most cases, it is randomly generated, using equal volume level throughout the complete range. People usually think of it as static, featuring a hissing and uncomfortable quality.
Pink noise is a term that you might have heard. Pink noise produces a sound which is quite comparable to white noise. However, the difference is that instead of being constant regarding volume, it tends to decrease at a stable rate with the increase in frequency (three dB for each octave).
Pink noise tends to be less hissy compared to white noise, but it often has a rumbling nature because of the comparatively louder and much lower frequency volumes.
White noise is about energy and has the same energy level for every frequency. All of the different frequencies throughout the audible spectrum (for humans) feature with equal energy amounts. Pink noise, on the other hand, is related to octaves and it has the same amount of energy per octave.
White noise is used for a variety of different purposes and in different applications. Some of the common ones are:
White noise is a common part of electronic music. Musicians use it in two ways, directly or in the form of input for filtering systems to develop other kinds of noise signals.
White noise is used quite extensively and frequently in the process of audio synthesis, usually for the recreation of various percussive instruments like snare drums or cymbals, which tend to have very high content of noise in the frequency domain.
White Noise has man ofy different functions in music production. Music producers usually use it to add more energy to specific sections of songs, like the chorus. Also, the use of different white noise sweeps and filters is widespread in modern dance music; it is used to signify different track transitions like breakdowns or builds.
Various filters, envelopes, and effects can be creatively used to shape and structure white noise to come up with a slew of sonic textures. For example, white noise can be used to create snare drums.
White noise is often used to acquire the impulse response in electrical circuits, especially in amplifiers and similar audio equipment.
However, white noise is not used to test loudspeakers because its sound spectrum has a very high amount of frequency content. Pink noise, on the other hand, is different from white noise and is used to test transducers like microphones and loudspeakers.
Music engineers transmit a small amount of white noise via PA systems and monitor it carefully from different locations in the music venue. This step helps them determine and establish the accurate equalization for concerts or similar performances in different venues.
This step helps music engineers to determine whether the acoustics in the venue cut or boost any frequencies. The engineers can modify the general equalization in the venue to ensure a well-balanced mix.
White noise is common in many random number generator applications. For instance, Random.org utilizes a set up that makes use of atmospheric antennae for generating random digit or number patterns using white noise.
White noise a part of tinnitus treatment. It is an effective source of synthetic noise that is used to mask sounds in tinnitus maskers. A white noise machine and many white noise sources function as sleep aids and privacy enhancers.
However, in most cases, the use of FM radios specifically tuned to different unused frequencies (known as static) is usually a more cost-effective and simpler white noise source.
Keep in mind that white noise from typical commercial radios tuned to a static frequency is quite susceptible to contamination with many spurious or unauthentic signals.
These signals can be from an adjacent radio station, harmonics from various other radio stations, electronic equipment in a nearby area that receives interference (triggered by antennas), or even a variety of atmospheric events, like lightning and solar flares.
There are mixed effects of white noise, in most cases, on the cognitive functions. A recent research study indicated that many background stimulations using white noise improve cognitive functioning considerably among secondary school students who have ADHD, while it reduces the mental performance of most non-ADHD students.
Other studies indicate that white noise is effective for the improvement of performance and mood of office staff as it masks background noises in the office; however, it tends to reduce cognitive performance in more complex sorting tasks such as card sorting.
What Is A White Noise Machine?
White noise machines are devices that generate sounds that are random. These sounds can include the sound of waterfalls or wind howling through the trees.
Often, a majority of these machines do not generate white noise, which is characterized by harsh or uncomfortable sounds; instead, they produce pink noise, as its strength tends to roll off at greater frequencies, or different noise colors.
Noise and sound have their precise and personalized color coding and measurement techniques. These techniques enable more specialized and technical users to figure out sound and noise depending on their respective utilization and needs. Professional and personal needs often dictate these specialized and precise requirements.
They are necessary for a variety of activities. For example, a psychiatrist may need specific sounds for his treatment and therapies to achieve a specific mental state. Similarly, a patient who is suffering from specific mental conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, or even tinnitus, can find a white noise machine helpful in overcoming these conditions by the use of certain sounds.
In most cases, sounds that are produced by digital white noise machines are not random. Instead, these are brief and pre-recorded audio tracks, which the machine plays continuously.
Makers of sound-masking equipment often suggest that users of white noise machines should set their volumes initially at comfortable levels; even in cases where doing so would not offer the needed privacy level.
As your ear gradually gets used to the new sounds and figures out how to tune them out, you can increase the volume steadily to increase your privacy.
On the other hand, producers of power-napping and sleep aid devices recommend setting the volume to a higher level; it should be louder compared to your routine music listening volume but within a comfy listening range.
A majority of contemporary white noise machines are electronic. They often generate sounds on a real-time basis with audio testing equipment, or through the electronic playback of audio recordings.
On the other hand, mechanical machines are simpler and have very basic setups, which involves a speed switch and enclosed fan. The fan is used to drive air through tiny slots in the casing of the machine to get the preferred sound.
Types Of White Noise Machines
When your overall environment calms down during the night, any minor sound such as a passing car or creaky pipe can be piercing. However, many white noise machines on the market can make your nights more relaxing and comforting.
A white noise machine reduces distraction and disturbance by muffling noises that may keep you from sleeping. White noise is composed of sound waves that span a broad frequency range and help to mask the all the unwanted noises that are present in your surroundings.
White noise machines have several different features and come with different price tags (from under $20 to over $100). And many of these machines often go beyond offering white noise and provide a relaxing and comforting sounds scape (such as the patter of rain or singing of crickets).
Natural White Noise Machine
While many white noise machines often play different audio tracks on loops, natural noise machines produce white noise using built-in fans mechanically, which results in a consistent and natural whir.
If you twist the upper portion of these machines, you will be able to close or open several air passages till you eventually figure out the volume and tone that is most desirable for your ears. However, most of these devices do not have fancy or high-end features, such as alarm clocks or auto shut-off timer.
A majority of natural noise machines have a single button usually on the front (on/off switch). But the great aspect of these white noise machines is that they create very calming and realistic white noise and are sound conditioners for rooms.
High-Quality Sound White Noise Machine
These sound machines are specifically designed to generate high-quality sounds and help you take full benefit of popular soundscapes such as crashing surf, lapping of waves, babbling brooks, distant thunder and chorus of spring peepers and crickets.
These white noise machines usually have a minimalist design and their software is a key feature that sets them apart from other devices. The software dynamically generates sound.
This feature implies that they do not have predictable or routine looping clips. Before going to sleep, you can choose from one of the two available options; either a fan or white noise and may choose from up to ten different variations in volume and pitch.
For people who tend to have a problem and find it hard to sleep, these white noise machines provide timers with different durations.
However, in case you require constant sound to remain asleep, you also have the option to run these devices throughout the night as they are very efficient and consume much less energy compared to the amount of power needed to run an actual fan.
Eco-Tone Sound White Noise Machine
These noise machines are usually the most expensive type of white noise machines. They have a feature known as sound sleep which tends to offer a great deal of flexibility and versatility. These machines can detect a variety of noises in the surroundings such as a snorer in your hall or neighbor's howling dog and adjust themselves to mask these noises.
Many of these devices also have a unique feature which is known as richness. This feature enables users to add greater and more precise details to every soundscape present on the machine. This machine usually includes a variety of natural settings, along with several options such as trains or fireplace.
For instance, if you select ocean you will be able to listen to breaking waves. By turning on the richness feature, you can add sounds of seals and birds. These white noise machines also have headphone jacks and up to four auto shut-off timer options.
Night Therapy White Noise Machine
You may have the habit of zoning out the different sounds of a thunderstorm or rainstorm; unfortunately, there are times when even a minor clap of thunder could be more than sufficient to stir you up from your slumber.
This area is where night therapy white noise machines come in. These devices are brilliant because they let you configure them to various settings which range from a gentle transition from up to eight different nature or water settings (such as ocean, brook and summer night) to the consistent and steady white noise hush once you have fallen asleep.
A majority of these white noise machines have an added feature which is known as the tone switch. You can either turn it down to add more bass or up for a louder pitch, and keep experimenting until you figure out your ideal sweet spot.
And the great part is that these machines will remember this setting whenever you switch them on. You can tweak the level of volume, drown out your wind chimes or switch to a campfire mode, with a helpful remote control without having to leave the comfort of your bed.
Spa Relaxation White Noise Machine
These white noise machines are an ideal choice in case you have a tight budget because most of them are in the low price range. There are some different makes and models in the lower price range; however, you will have to choose very carefully otherwise it is likely that you will waste your money.
The best aspect about the majority of white noise machines in this category is that they tend to have surprisingly good sound quality given their low price. That is not to say that if you compare a $25 noise machine with a $100 noise machine, they will be equally good, but these machines provide a good value for money.
These white noise machines can generate sounds that are good enough to mask many low and medium volume external noises and help you stay asleep and relax. These machines have the following features that you should know:
- They have up to six different and unique soundscapes you can choose from which often include ocean and white noise
- They have two to three auto shut-off time durations you can choose from, and they can run for the whole night if you want them to
- You also have the option to use batteries or plug them into the mains
- They are usually lightweight and portable and will easily fit in your suitcase
However, most of these machines have a major downside which is the clear looping of different soundscapes along with highly predictable patterns, which is why many people do not opt for these types of machines in most cases.
Maintenance And Cleaning Of White Noise Machines
These maintenance tips will improve the longevity of your white noise machine and will help you get the optimum results.
Keep the charger unplugged when your machine is not in use. It is likely that you don't have to charge your white noise machine on a regular basis. It is important to take proper care of the device charger as well. Inspect the cable on a frequent basis and replace it if it has worn out.
Clean your white noise machine on a regular basis. This step is important because if it remains dusty and unclean, it is more likely to break down or start malfunctioning, just like most other electrical gadgets.
Wipe your machine clean with a soft and clean cloth, and do not use any strong cleaning agents. Wear the necessary protective gloves, whenever you clean the machine.
Whenever you are in doubt, you can refer to the users' manual. Your white noise machine will come with an in-depth user manual. You must go through all of the guidelines, to ensure you are operating your valuable gadget in the right manner.
Avoid using the device in damp and soggy areas. In case the electrical outlets in your house have moist areas near them, the risk of a serious short-circuit can escalate by several notches.
Similarly, keep your white noise machine away from water or other fluids in your home. Keep the cord of the device adequately segregated using cable ties, and ensure you don't expose it to any moisture.
Make it your habit to remove the battery of your noise machine, in case you will not use it for extended periods of time. If you casually leave the battery inside your device, it can adversely affect its performance and functionality in the long run. Moreover, ensure that you charge the batteries on a regular basis.
We have discussed what white noise along with the differences between white noise and pink noise. We have looked at the various applications of white noise in areas such as music, electronics, computing, acoustics and tinnitus treatment.
We have also discussed what a white noise machine is along with the different types of white noise machines that are available on the market.
Our buying guide will discuss in detail the different features that you should consider when buying a white noise machine along with some recommendations.