Are outside noises bothering you when you just want to read, relax, or study? It’s time to consider the benefits of a white noise machine.
Masking unwanted sounds and noises will help you get a huge relief from the stresses of the day. To help, I’ll show you five of the best white noise machines for apartments. Each one is an excellent buy for your money.
There’s also some great general info and tips about what noise is, how sound machines work, and much more.
- 1 What is white noise?
- 2 White noise benefits & use
- 3 How does a white noise machine work?
- 4 How sound machines generate noise
- 5 How to use a white noise machine in your apartment
- 6 How many noise machines do I need?
- 7 ★ 5 of the best white noise machines for apartment living ★
- 8 Editor’s choice: the best white noise machine for apartment living
- 9 Additional reading
What is white noise?
Above: a white noise display on a graph of volume vs audio frequency. “White noise” is a scientific term that describes what happens when we hear an equal amount of sound generated across the entire range of human hearing. It has other uses, but for most of us it provides an effective way to block out distracting sounds.
White noise is a really interesting topic and one that people get confused about or misunderstand sometimes.
For apartment use, here’s the important part to know: White noise is sound that covers the entire range of what our ears can hear. As it turns out, a good quality white noise sound machine will generate a pleasing noise range to block out unwanted sounds.
Since it covers the full spectrum of what we are capable of hearing, white noise is helpful in covering (also called masking) everyday sounds and noises that would otherwise be distracting and disruptive in your apartment.
I’ve noticed how effective one or more white noise machines are – especially when people are in different rooms throughout the apartment – whether it’s irritating neighbors, traffic sounds, or other sources of noise.
While some machines do generate brown noise, I’ll stick with using the name “white noise” for the purpose of this post.
White noise benefits & use
A white noise machine can really help you get the most out of your apartment. After all, you do deserve to be able to focus, read, study, or just relax, don’t you? Why put up with distracting, stressful & irritating sounds if you don’t have to?
Everyone appreciates a calm environment once they get home, right? I know I do, and I’ve learned first hand how much a white noise machine can help. They really can make a difference!
You’ll generally find white noise used in the following ways:
- In businesses
- Small study rooms
- Physical or behavioral therapist offices
- Helping babies sleep
- Relieving stress
- Blocking outdoor noise at work
- Improving your mood
Anywhere there’s a need to mask annoying & bothersome sounds from the indoors or outside these wonderful machines help create an environment that makes it easy to relax and focus.
Who wants to pay for an apartment, only to have to listen to your neighbors and never be able to chill out after a long day? You want positive, calm energy – not distractions making your life uncomfortable.
Put them where they’re more effective
To get the most out of your new white noise machine (whether it’s one or several you’ve bought) keep placement in mind. Location is important!
Although you might think it’s a good idea, in truth, it’s not best to put one really close to where you’ll spend the most time like your couch, desk, or bed. Instead, it’s often best to place them at least several feet away to mask noise more effectively as they’ll cover more area and block incoming sounds throughout the room.
How does a white noise machine work?
The range of soothing sound produced by a white noise machine “masks”, or covers up, outside sound around your apartment or townhome. The result is that since your brain can no longer detect the bothersome sounds are present, they’re effectively blocked and eliminated.
It’s important to remember that white noise machines don’t remove sound. Instead, they eliminate unwanted sounds by covering up the frequencies where those sounds “live.”
Since these machines cover the full spectrum of what humans can hear, as long as the distracting sounds inside or outside your apartment are equal or less in volume those sounds will be masked and you won’t hear them.
But how is that possible?
It’s all about your brain (and ears too)
Our brains can’t process too much audio information at once. We’ve all been in situations where everyone’s talking at the same and yet and no one is really “heard,” because the voices all drown each other out.
This is the principle behind how sound machines work: All the frequencies that we can hear are masked by white noise, whether it’s outside traffic, a radio or TV, or your neighbor’s conversation in a nearby apartment.
The device produces sounds or noise by one of several means I’ll cover below. As long as the unwanted sound volume isn’t louder than the sound produced by the machine our brains will only register what the white noise machine is generating.
Then end result is that the noise is covered up (also called masking) and your brain won’t detect the outside sounds anymore. They’re effectively blocked and it’s like they don’t exist at all!
How sound machines generate noise
White noise sound machines use either mechanical parts and a motor (left) or solid-state electronic designs to create the sound that helps block outside distractions.
Sound machines make white noise by one of two design types.
1. Electromechanical generation
This type of machine (usually older, simpler models) generates white noise by using an electric motor and small fan blades to quickly spin, creating both airflow and sounds. Due to modern technology they’re no longer as common as they once were.
However, while they’re simplistic and don’t have the same options modern electronic-based models offer, some people still prefer them and they’re still popular sellers.
They also offer another advantage: They’re really simple to use!
2. Electronic models
An electronic model uses integrated circuit components to generate patterns of noise or other sounds that drive a loudspeaker. They also offer additional benefits like finely adjustable volume, auto-off timers, and additional sound patterns from nature or other types.
Electronic vs electromechanical sound machines
Electromechanical and electronic (“solid-state”) white noise machines both have advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other. Saying one is “best” isn’t always the case.
There are pros and cons to both types. Electromechanical devices draw more electricity and can’t offer sound options solid-state electronics models can. However, they’re extremely easy to use, very reliable, and they’re also an especially excellent choice for the elderly and people who hate fuss or hassle.
An electronic sound generator is much more sophisticated but not quite as simple to operate as an electromechanical model. On the other hand, with artificially generated noise patterns you can get a choice of different sounds & noise option otherwise not possible.
For example, if you love sounds like rain, a raging river, or animals you might find them to be a better choice.
For apartment living (especially if you don’t live alone) it’s very important to pick a well-designed unit as the human voice contains bass frequencies which can be hard to block.
Have you ever tried to study or relax while hearing your neighbors annoying, loud talking? It’s very easy to notice and can be anywhere from slightly distracting to incredibly annoying!
How to use a white noise machine in your apartment
Manufacturers recommend placing a noise machine not immediately next to your bed but several feet away. Optimally, you’ll place it in a location closer to where the noise enters the room. As it’s further away from you, you’re able to have the volume set higher than you would immediately next to you. In some cases additional machines may be needed if the outside noise is harder to block out.
The good news is that there are only a few steps to setting up a noise machine for optimal use. They’re generally very easy to use.
For best results, place it (or them) in a good location away from your bed at least several feet and higher off of the floor if possible.
This is helpful for 2 reasons:
- You’ll need to adjust the volume to block snoring sounds you’re hearing. If the machine is located too close to your bed you’re much more likely to turn the volume down a lot which will affect its performance.
- If placed on the floor, sounds may potentially enter more easily than if it were located on a desk or table for above the floor. Consider where you actually hear them entering the room.
Setting up a noise machine only requires a few steps: adjust the volume as needed to a comfortable level that can block apartment sounds and choose your preferred sound type or tone (if applicable) that works best for you.
Desks, tables, or nightstands (in other parts of the room) are great locations for them. While you can use yours very close to your bed if you feel it’s necessary, it’s almost never a good idea.
Locating a noise machine a least 3 feet away is recommended and gives it the opportunity to cover more of the room.
How many noise machines do I need?
Marpac, manufacturer of the popular Dohm Class white noise machine, recommends one machine for every 300 square feet. That’s about a 10 foot x 30 foot room, for example.
In some cases you might need to buy a 2nd one if you’re having especially bothersome noise you’re dealing with.
For a small apartment (for example, in your bedroom or living room) one is usually fine. For larger apartments or if outside noise is especially annoying, 2 sound machines are recommended.
2 units can be placed in different locations in order to provide better sound coverage as well as a bit more volume that one unit alone can.
★ 5 of the best white noise machines for apartment living ★
Our top picks at a glance
|Adaptive Sound LectroFan||Check on Amazon|
|Marpac Dohm Classic||Check on Amazon|
|SNOOZ Sound Machine||Check on Amazon|
|Avantek Sound Machine||Check on Amazon|
|Big Red Rooster||Check on Amazon|
Detailed reviews and pros/cons
1. Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan – Feature-packed advanced electronic sound generation that’s a best seller too!
My number one recommendation is not just a great buy but also one of the best selling models today.
The LectroFan from Adaptive Sound Technologies delivers a wide range of features and sports some impressive acoustical technology. It’s an excellent little unit with a simple, modern design that’s a breeze to operate.
No wonder there are so many outstanding buyer reviews from thousands of happy owners!
The LectroFan comes equipped with 20 (yes, 20!) soothing and noise-masking sounds: 10 ambient noise patterns (such as brown noise or pink noise) plus 10 electric fan sounds. That’s plenty of wonderful choices for even the pickiest apartment renter!
Relax, study, and enjoy life with great sound options
The ambient noise patterns promote relaxation and focus while keeping outside sounds under control. With excellent choices like “pure white,” “tan,” and “coral”, you’ve got a ton of choices perfect for any relaxing evening or day off from work in any apartment.
The fan sounds are just as impressive too – and even those have more options! Choose fan sounds for different moods: an oscillating fan, a box fan, and a mellow-sounding low-tone fan, just to name a few.
It’s travel ready, too! Aside from the standard 120V adapter, the LectroFan can also be powered via a USB port for those of you who love to travel or take road trips.
A UK/European Union voltage adapter version is available as well.
Don’t care for the white model? The LectroFan is available in a sleek & contemporary black version as well. This one is my personal favorite.
Great controls & sound
Ready for bed or a nap? You’re covered there too. Use the convenient 60-minute auto-off timer and push button adjustable volume control for the perfect volume and hands-free operation.
Sound quality is superb, too, thanks to a high-fidelity speaker and high-fidelity audio circuitry design. Even better, there are no internal moving parts to break down.
But what if the white color isn’t a good match for your apartment? Not to worry – it’s available in a sharp black color, too.
- 10 simulated fan sounds
- 10 ambient sounds
- Low power consumption
- AC or USB power
- Good volume adjustment control
- 60 minute timer
- High-fidelity speaker design
- No internal moving parts
- Compact and lightweight
- Timer is not adjustable (60 minutes only)
- Tan color not available
- Slightly more complex to use
- No nature sounds like ocean, rain, or wind
All in all, it’s one of the best values you’ll find today and an excellent buy. So much so that I’ve awarded it my Editor’s Choice recommendation.
Check it out for your yourself! Find out today why it's one of the best selling white noise machines at Amazon.
2. Marpac Dohm Classic – Classic technology in a simple-to-use package.
The Marpac Dohm Classic is one of the most popular devices out there. I’ve owned one myself, and believe me when I say it’s a great little unit worth checking out.
The classic design is has changed slightly over the decades, but the tried-and-true basics haven’t: white noise is generated by rapidly-spinning fans thanks to an electric motor for a natural sound.
It’s super easy to use as well. Featuring a simple on/off switch, 2 different fan speeds, and 2 volume settings it’s great for anyone who hates hassle.
Perfect for creating a relaxing, stress-free environment in your apartment.
With it’s classic, elegant design, the Marpac Dohm Classic also comes in two other color options: black or tan.
You can easily adjust the sound tone any time you like. Simply rotate the outer shell and the white noise sound tone will change as you do, giving you the freedom to shape the white noise in a way that works best for you.
When it comes to reliability, simplicity, and just overall good value, it’s a top choice. No wonder it’s one of the best-selling models out there!
- Extremely easy to use
- Available in 3 colors: white, black, tan
- Many happy buyers
- Effective and natural white noise produced
- 2 volumes available (2 speed positions)
- Adjustable sound control
- Classic, simple, and reliable design
- 1 year warranty
- Great customer service from Marpac
- No variable volume – 2 positions only
- No USB power option
- Cannot produce simulated nature sound like some electronic models
- No timer or auto-off features
As one of the easiest to use white noise machines it’s an excellent choice. I recommend you head over to find out more today at Amazon.
3. Snooz White Noise Sound Machine – The best of both worlds: classic technology and modern features including smartphone control.
The Snooz white noise sound machine is one of the best options on the market today. It’s a more advanced device – delivering classic sound machine design technology with modern features others don’t offer.
You’ll get years of trouble-free sound production thanks to the brushless motor-driven internal fan.
10 different volume settings are perfect for customizing any user’s particular taste for a more calming, relaxing apartment that you’ll enjoy calling your home.
Rotating the Snooz’s outer body let’s you easily customize the sound any way that best suits your apartment’s needs.
Top-mounted controls are clearly marked, with sound volumes ranging from 46dB to 87dB. That’s a great range to help block out a wide range of annoying and bothersome outside sounds.
The sound quality is great, too! Snooz’s quality design produces a very soothing, relaxing sound that’s a cut above many competing products. In fact it’s one of the best I’ve heard.
Use your smartphone to control one or more devices! Snooz provides a free app and allows you to easily adjust the volume or change on/off times for any of your Snooz white noise machines.
The Bluetooth interface allows easy control of all major functions via your iPhone or Android device via the free app. You can even control multiple machines from one phone!
A handy auto on/off scheduler rounds out these impressive features, fully automating when the device is operational every day.
Available in two lovely colors it fits in well nearly anywhere and simply looks great. While it’s not the cheapest (it sells for around $75 or so) it’s one of the best you’ll find and works well.
- Bluetooth smart phone remote control (iPhone, Android)
- Adjustable sound/tone
- Simple operation
- Touch controls
- Natural white noise production
- Brushless long-life motor
- Two colors to choise
- Low power consumption (9W)
- Operate multiple rooms from phone app
- 10-level volume control
- Great performance and sound masking ability
- Auto-scheduling feature
- Great for travel
- Limited to 10-step volume control
- No black or white model available
- No WiFi option
- Cannot operate scheduling without phone app
- More expensive than others
- No USB power option
It’s one of the best money can buy – a great mix of natural-sounding noise generation with the added benefit of smartphone control.
Your apartment deserves more than average, doesn’t it? Head over now and find out why so many people have rated it one of the best noise machines sold at Amazon.
4. Avantek White Noise Basic – Ease of use, performance, and affordability all wrapped into one.
If your budget is $50 and under, the Avantek White Noise Basic is a solid choice you definitely should have a look at.
It’s a smart compromise between performance and price. You’ll get an excellent volume control (adjustable in 30-step increments!) capable of delivering an impressive 115dB of volume — much louder than the competition.
The Avantek White Noise Basic also comes with a great memory feature: it will remember your settings from the last time it was on. The next time you switch it on it will start back up with no adjustment needed.
Interested in a color other than black for your apartment? No problem! It’s also available in a nice white as well. The Avantek model is one of the best inexpensive devices I’ve tested.
Choose from a sharp-looking black satin finish with blue trim or a more conventional white finish if that’s better suited to your needs. The black model really stands out in my opinion.
Controls and sound options
Controls are easy and take only seconds to learn: just use the volume up/down and track forward/back to change the loudness or current sound option, the same way you would on any standard MP3 player. Really simple!
With a whopping 20 sound choices available, the Avantek Basic offers lots of choices so you can get the perfect sound that works best in your apartment and puts you in a fantastic mood.
Choose from 3 main categories with a number of options in each:
- 6 white noise sounds
- 6 fan sounds
- 8 nature sounds
Ready for bed? You’re in good company! Use the auto-off timer for hands-free operation to be lulled into a comforting & restful sleep gently. No need to fumble with buttons or get out of bed!
- 18 month warranty
- Simple controls – similar to MP3 player
- Volume adjustment up/down buttons
- Auto-off timer: 1-7 hours
- 20 sounds available
- Memory function for restoring last settings automatically
- 2 color choices (black, white)
- AC power or USB power inputs
- Soft-fade volume decrease at end of timer
- Non-looping sounds (continuous without breaks)
- Auto-off timer LED indicator lights (indicates hour selection)
- Lower power use
- 7-hour auto-off timer is a bit short for typical sleep
- No smartphone control
- Can’t adjust sound tones – plays fixed sound types
- No headphone jack for connection to speaker system
- No touch controls
- Ambient sound options only available in Pro model
On a budget, but don’t want bottom-end quality? The Avantek Basic line is a great compromise between cost, features, and ease of use.
It’s well worth checking out. Find out today why it's one of the best-rated budget white noise machines today at Amazon.
5. Big Red Rooster BRRC107 Sound Machine – A good basic budget choice. Get white noise relief for under $30!
Tight on cash? Don’t stress! The Big Red Rooster BRRC107 may be just what you need.
The BRRC107 features 6 wonderful background sounds to choose from:
- Gentle brook
- White noise
- Ocean sounds
- Summer night
Even though it’s inexpensive (under $30) the BRRC107 still offers a lot. I love the auto-off timer you can set to have it turn off automatically after 15, 30, or 60 minutes.
Good power options
In addition to the helpful auto-off timer, it’s travel ready as well: You can use 3 AA batteries to power it when traveling and when there’s no AC outlet available for the included power adapter.
Changes sound to reflect your mood any time you like – white noise or thunder, or even one of 8 lovely & peaceful sounds of nature are at your fingertips. I especially love how you can pick any of the sounds to suit current state of mind.
The controls are easy and straightforward. Adjusting the volume up or down is a snap. Ready for bed? Just push the auto-off timer to select 1 of 3 time settings and enjoy drifting away into sleep with hands-free operation.
Sound quality isn’t quite the same as more expensive options, but overall it’s good for the price and works well. Don’t let the low cost fool you – it’s a great value and gets the job done well for what you pay.
- Small size
- Simple & clear push button controls
- 15, 30, and 60 minute auto-off timers
- Battery power option
- Travel-ready design
- 6 sound options
- Adjustable volume controls
- Popular model with many good reviews
- Lower power use
- Low cost
- Sound quality could better
- No additional color options
- Limited sound choices
- No smartphone control
- Timer options are limited to 3
- No USB power connections
You don’t have to break your budget when shopping for a noise machine for your rental home or apartment.
Give the BRRC107 a try – it’s hard to beat at this price. Check out the thousands of happy buyer reviews over at Amazon now.
Editor’s choice: the best white noise machine for apartment living
With its perfect balance between performance, features, and price, the LectroFan from Advanced Sound Technologies is my top pick for the best white noise machine for apartment living.
I can’t say enough about the Advanced Sound Technologies LectroFan. It’s a great value and the thousands of great online reviews don’t lie: People love it!
When compared with others in the same price range (around $50 or so), the LectroFan clearly stands out. If you’re dealing with annoying sounds in your apartment it’s hands-down one of the best choices there is. It’s affordable too.
Don’t hesitate to see the outstanding reviews and learn why it's a best seller at Amazon.
Maybe a traditional box fan with that classic white noise is a better choice for you. Check out this great post featuring the top box fans for white noise.
How about a portable fan you can take anywhere? Here’s a great list of the best travel fans for white noise.