I’m the type of person that really enjoys his peace and quiet. Unfortunately, working in a shared office and living in an apartment really makes true peace and quiet hard to come by. Without wanting to or being able to play music or wear noise canceling/isolating headphones to cover up the various distracting noises, I looked into white noise generators. Many white noise generators are designed as tinnitus maskers to aid those suffering from tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears.
A long time ago, I inadvertently stumbled upon a nice software package called Tinnitus Masker Pro which allowed you to mix white noise, pink noise, or brown noise with various nature sounds and other effects to create a perfect mixture to drown out other activities. Tinnitus Masker Pro, however, is not free and I was looking for something in that price range to share. That search resulted in:
SimplyNoise.com is a Flash-enabled webpage that allows you to play white, brown/red, and pink noise. You select which type of noise you want and adjust the orb on the line to the volume that is comfortable for you. If you’d like, you can also click on the wave icon on the bottom left for oscillating noise. This will cause the volume to oscillate a few percentage of where it’s set, say +/- 2 to 5%.
I personally found the brown/red noise to work the best for me and the oscillating feature caused my mind to pay attention to the noise too much, but that was just one environment I tested it in and I was subconsciously thinking about the noise because of working on this article. If you’re interested in learning about what the different colors mean, you might check out this Wikipedia article on the Colors of noise.
Another feature of SimplyNoise is the ability to download the files the site uses. You can download the white, pink, and brown/red noise in .mp4 or .wma format from their download page for free. This would allow you to take the noise with you on an MP3 player or iPod or on your computer when you don’t have an Internet connection.
soundscapes, non-looping 60 minute thunderstorm
Choose different chants or musical instruments in each channel (color). You can find soothing, peaceful sounds and combine them by choosing an option in each column.
White Noise 24/7 allows you to stream nature and mechanical sounds like: a ventilator, dishwasher, washing machine, radio static, shower, flowing river, hard rain, ocean waves, and rain with large drops. You can also download many of these sounds as .wav or .mp3 files to take with you on the go.
The Freesound Project is a wiki approach to cataloging the Creative Commons licensed sounds. Search the wiki for the term ambient and you’ll find a plethora of files available to you.
iSerenity wouldn’t load for me, but has gotten a lot of mentions previously.
Free White Noise Sounds is a Google Page that contains a number of downloadable ambient sounds in .wav format. The sounds range from everything, including an Aquarium to a Zoo Waterfall, and other recorded sounds of various background noises that you can download and loop.
Aire Freshener is discontinued charityware that is still available for download and installation that will play nature sounds and wind chimes amongst others.
Shop for a White Noise Machine
You’re not just limited to software and websites as masking noise generators. You can shop for a number of white noise machines at Amazon.com that offer either noise generation or nature sounds.
The Marpac SleepMate creates a sound of rushing air for those who have troubles sleeping.
This Sound Oasis system plays a variety of nature sounds and has an expandable library along with its other functions.
Man, I could have used something like this freshman year of college when my dorm neighbors went at it like a pair of rabbits…