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White Noise

February 13th, 2011

What is White Noise

The word “White” in White Noise is used to describe this type of noise because of the similarity with white light  which is produced when all the visible frequencies of the colour spectrum are brought together.


White noise or White Sound is the sound created when all the audible frequencies of sound, incorporating over 20,000 frequencies, are produced at the same level of intensity and energy per cycle which produces a flat frequency spectrum. this is like taking all the imaginable tones that you can hear and playing them simultaneously at the same volume with this being white noise.

White Noise Frequency Output

White Noise Frequency Output

Generally speaking, a signal is considered to be a “white noise” if it has a flat level of intensity over a defined frequency band such as the frequencies within the human hearing range.  A bit like having 20,000 people all talking at the same time and at the same volume, making it near impossible to be able to distinguish any individual conversation.

White Noise can be a good noise or sound masking agent and is commonly used as a sleep or relaxation aid.

Fans and radio stations with no broadcast are often used as white noise simulators, providing a soothing sound that blocks out other background noises. While these methods do not produce true white noise, their effects are a good example of practical uses for white sound. The main drawback to using this variety of white noise, however, is that the user has no control over the volume or frequencies produced in this manner.

What is White Noise Used For?

As White Noise combines all frequencies of sound ranging from very high pitches down to very low tones it is commonly used to mask other sounds and noises as well as being used as a sleep or relaxation aid.

When using a white noise generator to mask a sound or noise it is usually best to use just enough sound or volume to just mask rather than totally try to drown out or overpower the noise.

The Marpac Sleepmate 980A is one type of white noise machine used to help people sleep.

White noise devices don’t remove outside noise they simply mask the sound so that you can’t distinguish one particular noise from the mass of sound and desensitises the ear from the outside sounds.

Because, unlike music, white noise does not add to the clamour of the sound environment it tends to have a more calming effect than music.


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