What is a White Noise App?
A White Noise App provides Smart Phone users with sounds to fall asleep to. If you’re like me, and have trouble falling asleep and/or happen to be a very light sleeper, you are likely to agree with me that a White Noise App is the most useful and healthiest utility you ever owned for your iPhone, Droid, iPad or any other mobile device. It was by no accident that I discovered how useful it would be to download sleep sounds for my iPhone. While staying at a couple of Hotels this past summer and fall I noted how easily I could be woken up by the slightest noise. One Hotel I stayed at in New Mexico this fall had a particularly noisy room heater. The fan drowned out those subtle, but startling noises like doors closing down the hall, footsteps, running water, etc. I slept like a rock that night and then it dawned on me: I needed a white noise app for my iPhone! Finding sounds to fall sleep to at night would be the easiest thing in the world for my iPhone and stereo dock. I browsed the online Apple applications and found everything I needed and more. In fact, there are so many apps that provide sleep sounds that it would be impossible to try them all. Under the category of white noise app there are tons of things: Sleep Noises, Sleep Sounds, Relaxing Ocean Sounds, music for sleeping, rain storms. Thunder, oscillating fans, chimes, airplane travel, pet noises, birds, crickets, trains, car traffic, city sounds, beaches, waves, wind, waterfalls, vacuums; and on and on – there is even a white noise sound for your white noise app. You would be hard-pressed to name the number one sleep sounds application because they all have slightly different advantages. The good news is that there are many excellent white noise apps and you don’t need to pay much if any for them. Let me explain my experience with a few of the more highly rated ones from the Apple application Store.
Sleep Sounds to Fall Asleep To…
This one is a sentimental favorite of mine because it is the first white noise app. Naturespace comes with 6 sleep sounds themes: Song Birds, Summer Valley, Infinite Shoreline, Riverwind, Rain Into Water and Night at Lake. All of the sleep sounds are very high quality and effective, but if you want more you have to buy them. Also, there is no possibility of customizing these sounds or changing the mixture, balance and volume. One other huge drawback that I discovered through personal experience: My first couple of times using Naturespace, I noticed that I would always seem to wake up right around the time the music or sleep sounds were timed to turn off. Hmmm, I wondered if there were any other types of white noise apps that addressed this. The limitations of Naturespace could have something to do with the fact it is a free version, but I was unable to find any upgrades for it other than additional sleep sounds. Obviously, a good white noise app should provide more than just sounds to fall asleep to. I was pleased to find a great number of apps that addressed these limitations.
I downloaded Sleep Machine by SleepSoft LLC because it was very highly recommended. The free version is very impressive. My number one issue with waking up abruptly when the sounds stopped is addressed with a programmable sleep timer that actually fades the sleep sounds out gradually over time. Problem solved – on my first use with Sleep Machine, I didn’t wake up when the sleep music or sleep sounds stopped. Sleep Machine is far more powerful and customizable than NatureSpace. You have 13 different sounds with the free version and you are able to mix these sounds, 3 at a time. Also, you can save your favorite combinations of sounds. Sleep Machine comes with 7 pre-mixed favorites: Beach House, Sci-Fi Movie, Stormy Beach, Summer Porch, White Noise Blast, Spring Rain, Train Ride. For $1.99, you can add dozens of more sounds and a full featured alarm clock. Sleep Sound apps don’t get much better than this – or do they?
Nature Sound comes with 35 Sleep Sounds and a Mixer that allows you to combine a dozen or more sounds at once. The free version is limited to just 11 mixer settings, but for 99 cents you can add 100 Soundtracks on to your sound board as well as 30 photos and 6 lullabies. You can assign a picture to each of the sounds in your soundboard. Additionally, you can mix sounds from your own iPod Library. Nature Sound is an impressive product. Sound quality is probably not quite up to par with Naturespace, but you would never know it on a small, iPhone Dock. Once you add, combine and balance the sounds the way you want them, you can save them onto an icon for quick play back. Even the free version of Nature Sound is flexible and powerful. If I have one minor complain it is that the interface is a bit confusing. Between Sounds and Soundboards, it took me a little while to figure out the system.
The WhiteNoise white noise app seems to be the most configurable of them all as far as tweaking sleep sounds. Functionally, WhiteNoise by TMSOFT is very similar to Nature Sound, without the photos and icons. The difference with WhiteNoise is that you can do more with the actual sound. In addition to volume and balance you can also change the pitch. Like Nature Sound, it seems that you can mix an endless number of songs with White Noise. Without having the chance to spend a few nights with each of these sleeping sound programs, it’s hard to say which one is my favorite between this one and Nature Sound. Perhaps, the difference will be in the quality of the sounds.
The bottom line is that you cannot go wrong with Sleep Machine, Nature Sound or White Noise for helping you get to sleep and stay asleep. Having programmable sounds to fall asleep to is a luxury that I didn’t know existed prior to the iPhone and its endless opportunities. It is important to choose one that has the fade, sleep timer. If you need a better night’s sleep, the answer is a white noise app. Wait..not so fast!
I spoke way too soon before I found yet another white noise app yesterday evening that I like better than them all. Relax Melodies (Premium Version) was priced a little steep for an iPhone application ($2.99), but after using the free version of Relax Melodies I instantly appreciated the user interface which is extremely intuitive and much more enjoyable to use than the rest of the sleep sounds apps. I have never been so eager to spend $2.99 in all of my life to get all 82 sounds that come with the premium version. As much as I love both WhiteNoise and Nature Sound, the interface for mixing sounds, setting the timer and other settings are a bit confusing and just not as pleasant and fun to use as Relax Melodies. With Relax Melodies, it is not only possible to choose from an unlimited number of sound combinations, but choosing them, using them and saving them to your Favorites is actually easy and fun. All 82 sounds are visually grouped on pages which you can scroll through by swiping left or right with your finger. You select and preview each sound by simply pressing it once with your finger. You can adjust the volume balance of each individual sound by sliding the top volume bar to the left or right. Once you’ve selected the combination of sounds and balance you like, you simply press the favorites button at the bottom of your screen; select the “Add Selection” icon on the top right of your screen, type in your name and press the “Save” Icon – Very Intuitive!
Go go back to the sounds, simply press the “Home” button the bottom left of your screen. Each page, includes between 9-12 sounds and there is great depth and variety. I believe the variety, depth and quality of the sounds on Relax Melodies is better than all of the others. The basics are all there: Rain, Waterfalls, Sprinklers, Thunder Storms, wind chimes, birds, crickets, flutes, oceans, etc., etc., but there are also some very beautiful melodies that blend quite well with them all. My favorites are Orchestra and Drama. There are also some meat and potatoes white noise sounds: Pink Noise, Brown Noise and White Noise. If you want to get scientific about sleep sounds, Relax Melodies also includes something called, binaurals beats which are produced using a beating tone between the ears. This is meant for headphone use only and includes 6 different sleep levels: Deep Meditation, Dreams, Dreamless Sleep, Concentration, Relaxation, Pre-Sleep. I plan on experimenting with some of these at certain times of the day/night.
Supports Air Play
Monoprice Headphones is Air Play ready, so you can stream it on your television and/or high quality stereo system. Streaming to a really good stereo is a great way to experiment with Mixings and Save new Favorite Sleep Sound combos.
Timer and Alarm
Relax Melodies, by Ipnos Soft, also has that ever-so-important fade-out alarm which can be adjusted from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. If I’m asleep, I’m going to always use the maximum fade-out of two minutes. Why not? Relax Melodies also has a full featured Alarm Clock, Timer and a digital clock display for night. What’s not to like about Relax Melodies. If I had to think of one complaint it might be that the name is a little misleading. It was not easy to find this app, because I was searching for things like Sleep Sounds, Sounds to Fall Asleep To, and White Noise Apps. Though Relax Melodies certainly does make melodies to sleep to, the name is a bit misleading. It’s a full fledged Sleep Sounds Machine – and a darn good one at that. For my 2 Cents, or $2.99, Relax Melodies is the best Sleep sounds app available.