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Noise & sound conditioners, machines, apps: this article explains using white noise or colored noise machines for privacy, sleeping aids, or to control sound transmission in buildings: how to make a quiet home, office, or place of business using masking sound or noise generating machines and equipment. We describe the difference between white noise, pink noise, brown noise, and sound programs such as rain, surf, owls, and we include a table comparing types, features, & prices of various sound generators, noise machines, and apps.
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This article series discusses noise and sound control in buildings, and includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
As we show in our photo (left), white noise generators may also be used in locations where an extra measure of privacy is required. This installation is in the waiting room outside offices used by psychotherapists.
White noise is a sound containing a blend of all the audible frequencies distributed equally over the range of the frequency band.
When this sound is generated it tends to make unintelligible or even less noticeable other sounds such as nearby conversation. Korkki (2008) reported that people working in open plan offices particularly suffer from noise distraction, citing experts who explain that the effort to ignore distracting noises (such as recognizable speech) forces attention switching to and from one's work, interfering with concentration. Even small noises can be distracting, particularly recognizable speech.
Shown in our photo above is the Sleep Mate™ sound generator produced by Marpac. In addition to white noise, sound conditioners may produce sounds of nature such as that of a river or brook, lakeshore, surf, thunderstorms, or rainfall. Sound Screen® and SleepMate® are registered trademarks owned by Marpac Corporation.
The Marpac SleepMate™ is currently sold as the Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner by Marpac (formerly known as the Sleepmate/Sound Screen 980A) in a two-speed model and in the $50. U.S. price range.
The proper setting for a white noise generator or sound conditioner is not to make the output as loud as possible.
Rather, set the volume on the white noise machine to just mask the noise (or conversation) to be overcome. Setting the white noise volume higher than that level risks making the white noise itself an annoyance in the building.
Depending on the model, sound conditioners, unlike white noise generators that produce a standard "hissing" type sound, other sound conditioner types include speed settings, volume settings, and choices among sound tracks that in some models can be mixed or overlaid.
See SOUND CONTROL in buildings for complete information about noise transmission in buildings and how to control noise and sound problems.
Sound Conditioners / White Noise Machines: brands, models, Smartphone apps, features, prices, where to buy
Alternatives to Using White Noise or Sound Conditioning Machines
Smartphone App Provides Variations on "White Noise": definitions of white noise, pink noise, brown noise
While they may be less comfortable and while they don't offer sophisticated noise cancellation, simple ear plugs are certainly the most economical way to block noise in the workplace, while traveling, in noisy hotels, etc.
Several companies provide sophisticated noise-cancelling earphones or headphones that do a stunning job of blocking regular, constant and in some cases even sudden loud noises. Typically these devices are combined with the ability to connect the headphones to a music or other desired source. Here are some current example products:
Before buying any of these or their successors you'll want to both read review and actually try out the unit. Some useful references for noise cancelling headphones include
Attending to Tinnitis as a Mitigator for Other Background Noise
I [DF] have suffered tinnitus since learning to fire the 3.5" rocket launcher and the 50 caliber machine gun during basic army training. No earplugs were issued in 1965, and we tried cigarette butts or just ducking when the rocket went off or the machine gun was firing overhead, sometimes just a foot away. A result is permanent ringing in the ear or tinnitis. Most of the time tinnitis is annoying and it correlates with significant hearing loss in old age (me).
But it's also handy. In a noisy hotel I just put my better ear down on the pillow, turn the ringing ear up to the world, and consciously attend the ringing hissing sound that's always there. It's like being in a room with my own air conditioner or my own white noise machine.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about sound conditioners & white noise machines
Where can we buy a white noise machine for use in our Ottowa office - Anonymous 9/25/12
We have added the table above listing a number of noise and sound conditioners including white noise machines - thanks for this prompt. Let me emphasize that to protect reader confidence in InspectApedia's information, we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website. InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information provided free to the public.
Questions & answers or comments about how to buy, place, set & use a white noise sound conditioner for privacy or sound control.
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