5 Best Noise Cancelling Machines (REVIEW)

A common problem for many musicians is the damage you inevitably suffer to your hearing. Whether it’s playing a gig, rehearsals or just having the rotten luck of being stuck next to an enthusiastic percussion section, it’s an unfortunate fact that you’ll often find yourself with persistent ringing in your ears. Discovering the best noise cancelling machines may be your saviour. 

You’re probably already using earplugs to try to combat this, but after years of performing the loud volume will eventually take its toll. This is why so many older musicians struggle with tinnitus and hearing loss.

Although these are bad enough by themselves, the extra stress of trying to sleep when you’re unable to enjoy peace and quiet makes things even worse.

This is why getting one of the best noise cancelling machines can be one of the best purchases you ever make as a musician - by filling the background with low level ambient noise, they allow you to make ‘unsilence’. Yes there’s noise, but it has the effect of making everything else seem quieter. It’s for this reason that expensive restaurants will often feature low-volume piano music or running water features in order to create a hush in the venue to allow for private conversation.

The best noise cancelling machines are very relaxing in themselves, so even if you haven’t got any problems with hearing or aggressive tinnitus, they’re an excellent way to unwind after a gig. If you’re a parent, or are soon to become one, they’re one of the best ways to get a little ‘un to sleep too.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Noise Cancelling Machines On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: Why You Need A Noise Cancelling Machine

  • Noise cancelling comes in a few different forms, and you’re probably already familiar with noise-cancelling headphones. These use a microphone to detect unwanted sound and add the opposite soundwave to whatever you’re listening to, thereby balancing the unwanted noise to 0
  • Some noise cancelling machines can be adjusted manually, typically through either a dial or digital interface that allows you to set the frequency and volume, although a rare few are able to automatically adjust to the level of background noise
  • Dedicated noise cancelling machines often have extra features that help with sleep. Beyond simply producing a frequency of white noise, you can often choose to add other sounds to create a more relaxing ‘soundscape’, such as a beach or jungle
  • Currently there are a number of apps available that seek to do the same thing as a noise cancelling machine. However, they tend to be of low audio quality, require additional costs for basic functionality or are filled with ads that interrupt the experience
  • Likewise, using earbuds to cancel out background noise when trying to sleep is quite uncomfortable. They also don’t provide any assistance if you’re having trouble sleeping due to internal problems such as tinnitus or need to be able to listen out for a crying baby without being bothered by your sleeping partner’s snoring
  • However, noise cancelling machines can’t do magic. They are generally effective at cancelling out noises such as human voices, snoring and other distracting elements of modern living - but high pitches and excessively loud noises will still cut through

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Noise Cancelling Machines

1. Marpac Dohm-Ds Dual Speed Sound Conditioner

 Marpac Dohm-Ds Dual Speed Sound Conditioner

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The Marpac Dohm has been around for a long time, and it continues to provide excellent noise cancelling to this day. In fact, 73% of over 10,000 purchases on Amazon alone gave 5 star ratings, which shows the immense popularity of this particular noise cancelling machine.

  • Extremely small and lightweight, making it ideal for taking on a tour or trip where you could reasonably expect to deal with noisy neighbours
  • Very simple settings allow you to fine-tune the frequency, tone and volume in order to better combat the unwanted noise
  • The sounds created are truly random, which assists with sleeping as you won’t start recognising patterns that are often a problem with digital noise cancelling machines
  • Lacks the option to program a timer
  • No ‘soundscaping’ options such as birds, fire or waves
  • Cannot be battery powered, and it will only be suitable for use with US mains power supply or others that use 120V as a standard

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep Mini

 Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep Mini

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A more recent addition to the world of noise cancelling machines that uses everything digital audio technology has to offer to help you get to sleep or just block out the neighbours and is also usable on the road, making it one of the best noise cancelling devices around at this time.

  • Reacts to noises to automatically cancel them out
  • Can be used on battery or powered by USB or mains supply
  • Has multiple settings allowing full control over tone, volume, time and soundscaping
  • Can be plugged into a laptop via line-in jack to be used as a speaker, and can also be used with headphones for extra sound cancelling
  • The sound quality is slightly lower compared to the non-mini version, but gains portability instead
  • The adaptive mode can be too fast or too slow to adjust the settings, although this particular parameter can also be adjusted
  • It’s a little expensive, but compared to even a mid range guitar pedal it’s very affordable

Let's take a look at this product...

3. HoMedics Sound Spa Portable Sound Machine

 HoMedics Sound Spa Portable Sound Machine

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The HoMedics Sound Spa is a very budget friendly noise cancelling machine. Despite the name, they aren’t the best noise cancelling devices for travelling, although they are very small and lightweight.

  • Very simple to use, dedicated buttons for each of the sounds (White noise, thunder, ocean, rain, summer night and brook) plus volume and timer
  • Low price
  • Can be powered by battery or adaptor
  • Volume is able to go surprisingly loud for such a small device
  • Sounds are very short loops so you’ll quickly begin to pick out the patterns which can become more annoying than anything else
  • There is no headphone jack, so you can’t use it on a plane or on a coach without potentially bothering others

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Sound Oasis Travel Therapy White Noise Machine

 Sound Oasis Travel Therapy White Noise Machine

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The Sound Oasis Travel Therapy is a handy little tool for business travel, but also works great for a musician on tour or even if you’ve just got a long trip to make. They’re also super useful to have on you if you have a sudden surge of creativity as you’re winding down at the end of the day.

  • Extremely small, battery powered, headphone jack and travelling pouch make it excellent for use on the road
  • Has an alarm function so you don’t oversleep, an adjustable timer to save power consumption and the sounds gradually reduce in volume to help you sleep
  • Has a memo function that allows you to record up to 15 minutes of audio
  • Works as a travel clock as it auto adjusts for time zones
  • One of the more expensive noise cancelling devices out there
  • Many of the sounds are unappealing (although this will vary for every person, and there are 19 to choose from, plus the option of recording your own)
  • The volume reduction over time might be a problem rather than a feature for some users

Let's take a look at this product...

5. LectroFan Micro

LectroFan Micro

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The smallest noise cancelling device you’ll find, it’s tiny size and long battery life make it perfect for travelling purposes, and it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that put it ahead of many others.

  • The speaker can be tilted, rather than just facing straight up, to ensure that it has the best sound projection
  • The volume controls are very responsive, and capable of being much louder than anything so small should reasonably be
  • Battery life is up to 16 hours
  • Can also be used as a bluetooth speaker
  • The sounds have an undetectable loop
  • This noise cancelling device is one of the flimsier ones, and can easily be damaged when the speaker is tilted
  • Over time the rechargable battery degrades and using it as a bluetooth speaker dramatically reduces the length of battery life from 16 to just 6 hours - although this should be more than enough for most trips

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best noise cancelling machines?

​Each of these are among the best noise cancelling devices, so the quality of sounds is not in question. No matter which you choose, they will perform just as expected.

Choosing between them will largely depend on three things, whether it’s within your budget, whether it’s portable enough for your needs and if any of the additional features make one a clear winner.

Our personal favourite was the Sound+Sleep Mini, as we loved the options to create just the right tone we needed to block out the unwanted noises around us that changed throughout the day and night.

On the other hand, if we had been in need of a noise cancelling device that would be able to double up as an alarm, then the Sound Oasis Travel Therapy would’ve been the winner. Thankfully, we don’t often have to get up early!

The LectroFan Micro also caught our eye, as it’s one of the only noise cancelling machines that had an adjustable speaker, and the extremely well disguised loops thanks to its advanced algorithms were a particularly pleasing feature that make it a close contender for being the best of these noise cancelling devices.

Featured image source: daliscar1CC BY 2.0

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