Best Sound Machines of 2021
The Letsfit White Noise Machine offers the best hands-down rainstorm sounds in the bunch and possibly in real life. This simple sound machine has various sound features, including three white noise, three lullabies, three fan sound effects, and five relaxing natural sounds. It also sports a nightlight with varying levels of light. We especially loved the thunderstorm setting and found it so soothing we left it on for days and could almost smell the rain; it was so realistic. This product has multiple timers or can be left on until you turn it off, making it ideal for background noise or restless sleepers who need all-night distractions. We also like that the unit will remember the previous settings if you leave it plugged in.
This option is not a baby-centric product, and while it has lullabies and a nightlight, it isn't cute, or something little ones can play with. It also has a design that children will find boring, which can be a blessing if you want to avoid little ones from playing with it. Probably the biggest downside is it doesn't tell you what setting you are on, so you might have to go around the bend more than once to find what you want. In the end, this is one of our favorite options, and if you want realistic nature sounds, it should be on your shortlist of contenders.
The VTech Myla, The Monkey, is a portable noise machine that includes lullabies and nature sounds with a white noise option. It comes with a two-level nightlight and two attachment features. This monkey is super cute, and little ones like the sweet face and glowing cheeks. We like the easy-to-push buttons and the simple, intuitive interface that we could sort out without the use of the instruction manual. It is also rechargeable, so there are no pesky batteries to change or keep on hand.The only bummer we see for the Myla is the lack of a wall plug. This decision in modern gadgets seems like the manufacturers' way of saving money. Still, it ends up feeling like an unfinished product as some people may not have extra plug adapters or modern USB plugs on standby waiting for a cord. Otherwise, this monkey is cute, easy to use, has nice sounding music and sounds with on-the-go possibilities consisting of a tail in the shape of a hook and a Velcro attachment.
The MyBaby Soundspa On-The-Go is a portable sound machine that runs on batteries. This wallet-friendly option has a ring attachment and a simple user interface. The buttons are big and easy to use, and it includes a helpful timer that can run for up to an hour before it shuts off. You can choose between 4 different sounds, including heartbeat, lullaby, white noise, and ocean sounds.While this device is super easy to use, it is also reasonably simplistic with few features and less impressive sounds. We think parents might go through a lot of batteries, and we wish it were rechargeable like our favorite portable choice. However, this inexpensive choice has much to love, and we think most babies will find something to like with this straightforward sound machine.
The Housbay White Noise Sound Machine is a ball-shaped noise maker that lights up with multiple different colors (8!) and has so many lullabies and noises you can listen to something different almost every night of the month. We like that you can choose your favorite nightlight color and that there is a song, fan noise, or nature nose for everyone, including the ability to adjust the white noise pitch level! It has three different timers or can run unchecked until you turn it off.The user interface on the Housbay isn't user-friendly. We took a stab at it, and after much button pushing, we just accepted whatever it landed on. We assume regular use and the instruction manual will help, but it doesn't seem necessary for something this simple to be this confusing. Despite the need for some brushing up on your reading skills, we think this noisemaker is a good choice for babies, kids, and adults alike, with a setting suitable for most users.
The SleepyMe Smart Sleep Soother is a very baby-centric sound machine /soother with four sounds and six lullabies from which to choose. We love the cute chicken under a half-shell design and the semi-disguised buttons on the back that kids may not notice for a while. The shell has a star pattern design that projects on the ceiling and has three color options or rotating colors. Little ones find the lights mesmerizing and most of the sounds soothing. This product has three timers and turns off automatically.We don't like that this product lacks a wall plug component. It assumes you either have one or you have modern outlets with USB ports. Also, the heartbeat sound is downright frightening, and our testers grew anxious and upset while listening to it. It might be okay if you like horror movies, but otherwise, we think it is a hard pass. Also, the songs are a bit tinny sounding, and we believe they could be better produced. However, overall, there is much to love about this cute option, and we know little ones will agree with us.
The Baby Shusher is a small and portable noisemaker that emits a soft shushing sound almost akin to a rainmaker stick. This simple sound maker is travel-friendly and has shorter timer options. We think it would be good as a cue that sleeping time is happening, but it doesn't run all night, making it a good choice for parents who don't want or need an all-night solution.This sound machine has no variety, it makes one sound, and that is all. If your little one doesn't have an affinity for the sound, then you're out of luck. Also, it only has two timers and no long-term play option, which could be a deal-breaker for those who like ambient noise all night to stay asleep. Overall, we think the Shusher has limitations, but it makes an excellent cue in a nighttime routine that could get little ones prepped for sleep and dreamland.
The Skip Hop Baby Sound Machine has something for everyone with various lullabies and nature sounds from which to choose. It also features a dimmable nightlight in the owl's belly and a projection of the moon and stars for the ceiling. The user interface is intuitive, and the buttons are easy to press. We like that it has different timers or can run infinitely. Little ones like the owl design, but be forewarned, this design might increase demands to hold it as they get older, and it isn't intended for holding.We didn't love the sounds on this machine. The lullabies have a tinny quality that can be harsh on the ears, and the heartbeat sound is not soothing, even if it isn't frightening like some of the competition. Also, the fabric on the owl wings over the speakers collects everything, from dog hair to dirt; ours were dirty within two days of unpacking the bird. Overall, we like the concept of this machine and think some parents and babies will love it, but much like other all-in-one products, we don't think it does any one thing particularly well and is mediocre at everything.
The HoMedics Sound Spa harkens back to the golden age of sound machines as they rose to popularity in the early 2000s. This machine has a button for everything, and better yet, they tell you at a glance what is happening and are super easy to use; no instructions necessary. We like the simple look and basic features and think adults might like this easy, straightforward choice.This sound machine has no features for the baby. While it has a handful of sounds and timer features, there are no lullabies, nightlights, or cute designs. While this alone isn't a deal-breaker, the sounds might be. While a competitor's thunderstorm was so convincing, we could practically smell the rain; during testing, this unit sounded like a new foley artist giving it his best shot for auditions for cartoon noisemaker. In short, it can meet expectations if you don't compare it side-by-side with the competition. Unfortunately, for this Homedic option, we did.
The Zonpor White Noise Machine is a UFO-shaped noisemaker with various sounds to choose from. It also has different projector options include two with stars and a white glow. The User interface is simple and easy to sort out, but we wish there were more buttons, so it was easier to toggle through it. We like that it can be portable with a battery and little ones like the color-changing projection.This machine advertises 28 sounds, but the manual says 20, and some are so similar we couldn't tell you how many are there. This lack of consistency and clarity is problematic in a product. The projection is also not bright enough to reach the ceiling in any useful way, and it ends up looking like fuzzy blobs instead of stars.
The LectroFan White Noise Machine is a basic white noise machine intended for a broader range of users than babies hoping for continuous sleep. This fact makes it less bay-centric, and it only has white and fan noise selections. This machine has a 60-minute timer or constant use, and the user interface is very user-friendly.Unfortunately, the tone of almost every sound option is not easy on the ears, and adults in our tests were somewhat agitated by the pitch for many of them. Even the dogs in the testing area were overly stimulated by the sounds, and we wonder if babies will find them soothing or stimulating. Also, there is nothing to indicate what sound you are playing, and while the unit will remember from time to time what you played last, it doesn't retain this information if you unplug it. With 20 sounds to choose from, it could make it challenging to find the one you like. Overall, we think this is a fine sound machine, but it wouldn't be our top pick for babies or kids.
Why You Should Trust Us
Since 2013, BabyGearLab has been testing all sorts of baby gear and kids' products. We spent hours researching products before buying and using them side-by-side to find the absolute best options in each category for every kind of family. To find the best sound machines and white noise makers, we started by researching the top and most popular products available. We narrowed our selection to those we felt had the most potential to impress during testing. From there, we bought the top 10 competitors for testing. Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, mom of two, led the noisemaker team with a long history of using fans and other white noise generators for blissful sleep. Wendy and her children used each product in this review to give you the details you need to find the right one for your family, needs, and budget.
We used each product for at least two nights each and assessed any features from the variety of sound or musical options to timers or nightlights if they offered them. Each tester reported their findings and feelings about the products and which offered the best quality, features, ease of use, and more.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased and used the most popular sound machines on the market, from truly baby-centric products to those with a more generalized purpose. We have the details you need to find the device that best meets your needs.
Ease of Use
We thought these sound machines would all be relatively easy to use. While they all come with only a handful of buttons and icons that seem intuitive, most of them requiring toggling through all the options in a rotation, so you have to flip through the sounds multiple times to find what you want. You may not know what it is or how to get back to it should the sound be changed at any given point. Without any information on the device (which is true for most of them), you are sort of flying blind, and we didn't think that was the best choice, even if it likely kept costs low.
The sleepyMe might be adorable, but it isn't the easiest option to use. We had difficulty with the buttons being something you don't push but only touch, and they only work part of the time. Also, the projector control doesn't seem to work well as the dimmer results in only minor changes. Alternatively, the V-Tech Mila Monkey has super easy-to-use buttons that are touch-friendly and press easily. The interface is user-friendly and straightforward, which means you can skip the manual.
Almost nothing is easier to use than the Baby Shusher as it has two twisting parts, one that gives you the timer and the other the volume. However, this simplicity also translates to limited features with one sound and only two timers, so if you want all night or a sound other than white noise, then forget it. The hardest to use are the more adult varieties that have very few buttons and make you press them repeatedly to switch sounds that are almost identical, like the LectroFan White Noise Machine that only has different pitches, none of which are pleasing to listen to long-term.
Everyone wants different features depending on their goals for using a sound machine. A night light might feel like a great feature for those with younger infants as it can help you see better when providing nighttime feeding. Or, your little one might relax quicker with a ceiling projector show. While the primary goal of a sound machine is to help create a peaceful environment conducive to sleep, that doesn't mean you need to settle for a boring white noise maker with no bells and whistles. In fact, we disliked the basic noise machine in this lineup, not for its lack of features but for the harsh pitches of its sounds.
The LectroFan has limited features, and none are genuinely baby-centric. With ten different pitches for white noise and fan sounds, this option has no nature or lullabies. Also, the sounds are somewhat painful to the ears depending on the settings, and a few even caused dog howling in our test area. Having no other features was just the nail in the coffin for this basic product.
Alternatively, the Skip Hop Owl has almost every feature a parent might want, including a nightlight you can dim, a ceiling projector with stars, lullabies, nature sounds, and timers. However, during testing, compared to the competition, we felt this option didn't do anything very well. The sounds are sort of sub-par, and the ceiling projection isn't strong enough to show more than fuzzy light blobs on the ceiling and walls.
The V-Tech Myla Monkey is a favorite with multiple features. This cute little monkey comes with a nightlight, has various sound options with timers and two attachment methods to keep it nearby. The sounds are relatively good, and we like that it is rechargeable, so you don't need to continuously purchase batteries or keep them on hand. We also like the features of the Letsfit White Noise Machine. This straightforward model might look sort of boring compared to a monkey (that is stiff competition), but it offers more sounds, including lullabies and the best rainstorm we've ever heard outside of a real rainstorm. It also has a nightlight, timers and comes with a wall plug, something not included with all competitors. Overall, we think it has the features that are truly useful. While it doesn't offer a light show, you can find that in a separate product that focuses on making projections well instead of trying to do everything and failing.
Selecting the best sound machine for your goals can be more challenging than you think, depending on your requirements. Should you choose one with nature sounds or lullabies? Both? Are the sounds natural? Does it include timers, or will it run all night for uninterrupted sleep? Luckily, in this review, we purchased and tested each option for you. We believe there is a machine in this group for everyone in your family. Whether you are considering a portable device with an adorable monkey face or you want nature sounds and nightlight, there is something for everyone in this lineup.
— Wendy Schmitz