Sound Fresheners
August 16, 2007 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest a noise generator to mask, er... bathroom noises?

I work in an open-concept office where our clients spend a lot of time. Our bathrooms are adequately ventlated, however, they're really quiet. In general, our offices are quiet. I'd like a device to generate white noise to mask any sounds generated in the bathroom our staff, or clients.

I've found a bunch of white noise generators, but without purchasing one, I have no idea how loud they'll be. My first thought was to purchase a waterfall type appliance, but I don't want to use that -- the idea of constantly filling that with water sounds like more trouble then it's worth. I want something that has pretty-much zero maintenance.

Lastly, I want something that I can just buy, plug in, and forget. I have no interest in bringing my electrician out to install some ceiling vent, or something elaborate. Over-the-counter products.

Anyone have any experience in this area?
posted by donguanella to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only zero-maintainence, zero-installation idea that I can think of is a stereo. Which I can't imagine anyone wanting voluntarily turn on, since everyone listening will know what it's code for.

To spare people that embarassment, you need something that turns on automatically when you turn on the light. Or an adjacent switch that triggers a loud fan. That's what people are most comfortable using, with a loud faucet being the runner up.

The waterfall idea is great. Isn't there some office peon that you can ask to fill it every day? Or discuss it with your cleaning crew?
posted by hermitosis at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2007

Some air filters are pretty loud. You could just turn it on in the morning, let it run all day and then turn it off at closing time. I've never used a white noise machine before so I can't tell you how that would compare.
posted by quadog at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2007

How about leaving on a small boombox playing a white noise CD during business hours? Then you can control the volume to your heart's content.
posted by jamaro at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2007

Try this Japanese toilet sound maker.
posted by DarkForest at 11:50 AM on August 16, 2007

I would put a classical cd on an endless loop.
richard strauss seems to class every restroom up a few notches.
posted by krautland at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Singing. You should make a new office policy that everyone who enters the loo has to sing. You could even designate an official Anthem of Elimination. I vote for the Carpenters' "Sing" but with better lyrics:

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good poop, not bad
Sing of hap-pee, not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole trip long
Don't worry, your pee's not
Loud enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Alternately, you could find a nice floor fountain or wall-mount fountain that will do the trick. They do come with pumps to recirculate. At most you'll need to rinse it out a couple times a year or change a filter, but they're very low maintenance.

Still, consider first the Anthem of Elimination, won't you? If not the Carpenters, maybe something from the Beach Boys' acclaimed album, Pee Sounds.
posted by cockwaffle at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2007

Install a loud exhaust fan, surely the most subtle way of generating a lot of cover noise AND it servers another purpose.
posted by Cosine at 12:44 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

The fountain noises will help with urine, but not so much with the "thunder down under". Still it may be better than nothing.

The only two additional things I can think of are:

1. A large box fan running constantly. Those put out large amounts of white noise and by making the room noisy it will work the other way psychologically by making the office impossible to hear and putting it out of one's mind.

2. A rug in the bathroom, and other large decorations such as fake plants. They will absorb some of the noise and diminish the porcelain echo-chamber effect.

I sympathize with you, though -- it's a classic example of architectural oversight.
posted by hodyoaten at 12:56 PM on August 16, 2007

I've seen white-noise generators in medical offices that were basically a small fan inside a box with some holes cut in the sides. They made a gentle "wooshing" sound when turned on. No idea what kind of electricity they consumed, but I think they were run constantly, and they looked like they were more than a few years old.

I'm 99% sure this is the one they had: Marpac Sound Screen. There are a few different models.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:20 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

warning: the waterfall sound may encourage more urination
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:29 PM on August 16, 2007

They could sing this song (YouTube, via konolia/bunnyfire).
posted by matildaben at 4:24 PM on August 16, 2007

Larger water fountains can actually be quite loud, probably enough for what you want it for. I wouldn't dismiss it so quickly.

Install a loud exhaust fan, surely the most subtle way of generating a lot of cover noise AND it servers another purpose.
posted by Cosine

Which is exactly what he said he doesn't want to do.

They could sing this song (YouTube, via konolia/bunnyfire).

And via metafilter before that.
posted by justgary at 1:57 AM on August 17, 2007

Kadin2048 got it. Go with the Marpac. Amazon sells them for $50.
posted by tom_g at 5:36 AM on August 17, 2007

I also recommend the Marpac. It seems to be the choice of most health care professionals who want privacy for their patients.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 2:05 PM on August 17, 2007

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