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White Noise Maker

Updated on February 24, 2011

Insomnia is a real problem for many people, especially those who live in noisy neighbourhoods or apartment blocks where walls are thin and neighbours are noisy.Short of wearing uncomfortable earplugs, there is often little that can be done to mask the noise that invades your bedroom and therefore getting to sleep can be a long and difficult ordeal.

There is a solution however, that technology has devised and created that has a very real application in helping people to mask unwanted noise so they can get to sleep and remain asleep throughout the night. They are called white noise generators, or white noise makers and are devices that emit white noise to mask the obtrusive sounds from outside your own living space.

What is White Noise?

White noise is a combination of sounds that when merged together at a common sound level emits a bland sound that is neither intrusive or irritating to the human hearing system. It is actually made up of sounds that are random in character. When they are merged together, they create a sound which resembles that of a rushing waterfall or a moderate wind blowing gently through the foliage of trees.

True white noise is actually quite harsh on the ears, so the sound emitted by a white noise maker are more in line with what is called "pink noise" which is much more rounded with high frequencies rolling off more to produce the soothing sounds that help people to sleep.

The way in which a white noise maker actually assists restful sleep is not actually by masking exterior noises, but by actually cancelling them out by matching the harmonics of their frequency and thereby causing the sound waves to be cancelled out before they reach the ear drum. This means that while the external noise is still present, the eardrum does not convert it into sound signals that would otherwise be carried to the brain and therefore the person doesn't register their existence.

Uses for White Noise Makers

These days, the average modern white noise generator is electronic in nature and generates the sound it produces in real-time as with audio test equipment. Alternatively the electronic playback of pre-recorded sound via a digital audio recording. More simple mechanical white noise machines have a rather basic setup, which involves an enclosed fan that is activated by a speed switch. The enclosed fan simply forces air through an array of small slots cut into the machine's casing, which produces the desired white noise sound.

For white noise sound masking machines, it is generally recommended by the manufacturer that the volume be initially set to a comfortable level. At first this may not provide the required privacy, especially of the level is too low, but it takes a while for the ear to get used to it. As the listener does becomes more accustomed to the sound and its level, the brain gradually learns to tune the sound out. When this has become comfortable, the white noise machine's volume can then be increased gradually to increase the user's privacy.

With regard to sleeping aids and those used to assist power-napping, some manufacturers tend ot recommend that the volume level is set at a level slightly louder than the listening level of normal music. However, the volume level should always remain within a listening range that is comfortable to the user.

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