Due to the ever-increasing loudening of the universe, white noise is now a multi-billion-dollar-grossing industry. I just made that fact up! It's probably not true in the slightest! But there are a TON of albums, apps, websites and purveyors, all devoted to white noise. That is because some of us cannot sleep without it, due to exterior noise and/or snoring, or because of our fear of silence and/or death, or also because we are tired of babies crying.
The best way—with a few exceptions!—to use white noise at night is with an iPhone or iPod docked in some kind of speaker-thing. Or from your computer to speakers! (As long as everything else is shut off.) Whatever is in the room, it'll work. Don't go crazy. Don't try to "game" the "system." You go to sleep war with the sleep aids that you have. You set that puppy to "repeat one" track and turn off shuffle and boom, done. I personally find that if I turn my speakers away from the bed, so that sound is bouncing off the walls and around the room, I get more out of it. And then I use it on headphones on planes. Here is my guide to everything in my white noise rotation.
From Simply Noise
Nice, but very flat. Doesn't have gradations in tone. Does a decent standing fan imitation though. But slightly forceful. Their white noise and pink noise are not ideal.
White Noise Blowdryer
From "White Noise"
Do you like hairdryers? Well, here's a heinous, irritating recording of a hairdryer for you!
This has a nice "wide scope" sound. The waterness of it is not distracting. The full 66 minutes of this "quasi-binaural field recording" has both low and high tones, which is important, but is concentrated in the medium spectrum. Because it's "real audio," it is actually random noise, and patternless, which is terrific. Feels like: sleeping in a hammock without all the discomfort and bugs. Downside: you might wake up having to pee desperately.
From "White Noise Baby Sleep Care Masters"
This is the rhythmic raygun sound you use to turn darling little Crevasse and Piton into mass murderers.
Empty Conference Room
The dystopic title is correct. This is a very cold, unfeeling white noise. It has terrific bassy, rhythmic undertones however. It's not one you'd want in your regular rotation but it's nice on planes.
Air Conditioner White Noise
From Lullaby Land, White Noise No. 1
Extremely hostile. I bet this works on stupid babies. It makes me aggro.
Large Hadron Cuddler
Everyone involved in the production of this white noise should be put behind bars. DO YOU WANT TO WAKE UP IN TERROR EVERY FIVE MINUTES? Then try this! (Seriously, click through and listen. It's like the TARDIS in a blender!)
3 Hour Nap
From White Noise Therapy Volume 2
Oh man. This is deep. It's not good for snorers. But it is great for sleeping on your own. Best possible use for this is actually playing on your iPhone from under your pillow. It's a dreary kind of drone, but when close to your head at low volume, it's extremely soothing—the way you'd imagine a train ride should be, but never is, here in disappointing real life. Can be weird on planes, as it's very similar to wind noise and actually somehow embeds with the plane noise.
Sleepy Jet Cabin
Speaking of. Ugh! I don't really want my plane to sound MORE like a plane.
Deep Sleep Therapy
From Deeper State: White Noise for Infants
This is like a frosty white cocoon of deep noise. Excuse me I'll be righ zzzzzzzzzzz. Best for sleeping alone. Some of the other cuts on this classic album are decent too. (See also: "Safe and Sound" and "Snugglebug." Avoid "Goodnight Moon" and "Counting Sheep." Too shrill.)
3Hz Delta Sleep and Lucid Dreaming
From "White Noise Meditation"
Bright, brassy, enveloping. Thin but permeating. This is the ultimate tape to use when sleeping with a snorer, or in an apartment with traffic noise. You may find it offputting at first! And you'll hear ocean behind the static, and then you'll hear static on top of the water. And then you'll be face-down in your own drool. Warning: most of the other mp3s on this "album" are too oceaney.
3D Waves for Sleep
From "3D Ambient Sleep Atmospheres"
This is like white noise from the future. One thing that's terrific about this is that it cycles in, uh, waves. It's a little scary though! Not as much a favorite as the two above. I think I had an engrossing dream about being a sardine once with this playing. Oh but it's good. Except every once in a while there's like a weird sort of evaporating hiss, which is a little scary. Um, fun fact: they want to sell you 1 hour and 13 minutes of this for $9.99. If only it were possible to get a small chunk of this and loop it! Oh well, someday we'll have the technology to do that….
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WHITE NOISE? UPLOAD IT IN THE COMMENTS. JK do not, we don't have that technology.