Best white noise solution
February 25, 2013 9:04 PM   Subscribe

What is the best white noise app or machine for a workplace that requires a more sound proof solution to normal ambient noise in an office.

I run a small psychology/consulting practice in a shared office suite. I have my own office (I can shut the door) and there are 3 other offices that open on to a shared reception area. I need to muffle the sounds coming from the other offices as well as muffling the sounds coming from my office. This is for confidentiality and to maintain focus. No one in this scenario is being loud, it is just normal conversation and office noises that you would expect in any professional environment.
So what is an effective app or machine to provide white noise, and even-out the noise.
posted by MT to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Also, it must be available in Australia or able to be shipped here.
posted by MT at 9:09 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Marpac/Dohm brand sound conditioners have been present in just about every high-traffic counseling facility I've ever been/worked in, usually right outside every door. They'll run all day every day for, as far as I know, forever.

I just saw an American blogger in France talking about buying one there, so they're definitely not a US-only product.

Our sales department just bought a similar one (might be this brand, I didn't look) to try to dampen the sound of two salesmen in one office, and it wasn't enough to handle their extremely loud shouty phone voices in that tiny room, but they could not hear me in my office across the hall and down one. I could hear it running when they weren't in there, which is probably why I've always seen it kept outside counseling doors rather than inside.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I use a small A/C fan on high in my bedroom when my roommate has 3am shifts.

My therapist uses a small space heater on high.

They both do an excellent job at muting external sounds.
posted by MonsieurBon at 1:21 AM on February 26, 2013

What about purchasing a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, iPod shuffle and listening to a white noise station on internet radio or as mp3s/podcast? It's easy to buy/setup, quick, relatively cheap and effective. Plus, not mobility-restrictive.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:31 AM on February 26, 2013

A cheap, flexible solution is to buy some computer speakers and, as iamkimian says, run Spotify or an Internet radio station or white noise mp3s through them via a PC or music player.

That way, if you get bored or irritated by the pitch of the noise, you can switch to something with a little more character -- Joy of Panpipes During a Thunderstorm in the Daintree Rainforest Best Ever Relaxation CD Volume 3, etc.

(Seriously, though, there are some nice, plain nature recordings on Spotify that make a nice change from the traditional greatest hits of the refrigerator/hairdryer/space heater white noise).
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:18 AM on February 26, 2013

If you want something more natural than plain white noise, there's always "8 hours of rain".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:01 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love this at work Simply Noise
White, pink and Brown noise and oscillation and a sleep timer for free. Hook up a pair of speakers and you're set.

Mobile apps are there too so if you have a iOS or Android then it's easier.
posted by MarvinJ at 3:09 AM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Marpac. I use it at my office, it works, and nobody hates it.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:27 AM on February 26, 2013

posted by Murray M at 5:29 AM on February 26, 2013

Agreed. Will stop anything short of the booming bass from a party down the hall.
posted by troywestfield at 6:13 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Marpac is definitely the industry standard.
posted by waterisfinite at 6:39 AM on February 26, 2013

I've used Marpac for over 10 years, it is still going strong.
posted by nanook at 8:07 AM on February 26, 2013

If none of the previous solutions appeal, you can simply generate your own using SoX a free, open source cross-platform audio tool. Just download the version for your OS, and open a command line window in the sox directory and run
play -n synth pinknoise
You can put a duration in HH:MM:SS between synth and pinknoise, substitute "pink" with either white or brown for a different effect. If it's still too harsh append something like "band -n 300 4000 tremolo 20 .1" for a softer effect, or for something more like waves crashing on a beach change the tremolo values to ".13 70"
posted by dirm at 6:24 PM on February 26, 2013

Marpac it is. Thanks all. I had been using a white noise app, but it just wasn't creating the effect I was after.
posted by MT at 12:14 PM on February 27, 2013

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