White Noise Sound Machine for Under $20

Intro: White Noise Sound Machine for Under $20

Sleeping in a noisy environment can be extremely difficult. For example, people who live in apartments, students in dorm rooms and anyone in a busy urban environment. And since it’s usually noisier during the day, conditions can be worse for those who work evening or overnight shifts and are forced to sleep during daytime hours.

Here's how to make your own white noise machine out of things you may already have "in stock", or can be purchased inexpensively.

Step 1: MP3 Player

If you think about it, playing white noise through a speaker is a very simple application. Here's all you need:

 * A six-year old iPod Mini with A/C adapter that was sitting in a drawer.

 * Computer speakers with A/C adapter. Any cheap speakers will suffice -- we’re only playing noise!

 * Software to create the white noise

If you don’t have these items on hand, they can be easily purchased on eBay for under $20.

Step 2: Free Audacity Software

I chose Audacity, a free software digital audio editor, available for Windows 98+, Mac OS X and Linux systems. It has the capability to generate a variety of “noises” for any duration you desire.

Download Audacity software.

Step 3: Create Custom White Noise

In Audacity, go to the Generate menu and select Noise...

After a bit of trial and error, I finalized on a left channel of pink noise and a right channel of brown noise. It produced a sound I liked. 

Sample white noise

My final custom noise file was one hour in length, which could be looped indefinitely throughout the night — or day. I also made another “drift off to sleep” variation that slowly faded out after 20 minutes.

Step 4: Transfer MP3 and Play

Upload the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player, plug in both the iPod and speakers, and click the Play button. 

Sweet dreams!

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    15 Discussions

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    hanlin_y

    5 years ago on Introduction

    That's a great idea. I never knew that you can make white noise with Audacity. Another way of making white noise is tuning to a static station on a radio. If it has treble/bass knobs, you can adjust it to make pink noise.

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    spookyleanspookylean

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Worked like a charm! I used brown noise in both channels and we slept through the night. Thanks again.

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    mikebeatolemonie

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'd say medium-size waterfall volume. Loud enough to cover up normal sounds to facilitate daytime sleeping. People talking, doors opening and closing, tv audio, etc.

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    iPodGuy

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Can you explain this a bit?

    The track you made plays noise opposite of what is present in your environment and cancels it out?

    My house is wired with speakers, so I'm kind of interested.

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    mikebeatoiPodGuy

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It doesn't scientifically cancel out noise -- as noise-canceling headphones do. Instead, it subtly covers over most routine noises in my house so I can sleep easier.

    Now, i suppose if I listened to my generated white noise using noise-canceling headphones, I'm not sure how long I would sleep! ;-)

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    RedSnertzmikebeato

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    My wife and I were at a conference and had a hotel room. SHe can't sleep without a white noise generator, but left it at home. However.... I had my laptop, and I'm a programmer. The AC vent was pretty loud so I held the laptop up there for a minute or two and recorded it. Then I wrote a quick hack program that did nothing but loop a WAV file.

    Wasn't perfect, but it solved the problem. This reminded me of that.

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    mikebeatoRedSnertz

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This project was actually something my wife requested. She likes to sleep with white noise, and we used a small desktop air cleaner for years -- the sound of its fan was perfect. However, after many years of nightly use, the fan motor failed and necessitated this little project.