Whether you want to drown out background noise or help create an air of relaxation, a white noise machine for office cubicles can be a great addition.
In this article, I review the top 5 best white noise machines for therapy offices and office cubicles. I’ll also cover some information on why white noise can be beneficial in these settings.
Before we go over my top picks, though, I’ll provide a comprehensive guide discussing the main things to consider when buying a white noise machine for office cubicles. Hopefully, by the end you’ll have your perfect choice or will have the right information to make a decision.
What is White Noise?
White noise is a term used for sound emitted at every frequency audible to the human ear. This is a range of 20Hz to 20kHz and basically sounds like a “shhh” sound. Think of it like TV picture static but for your ears.
A white noise machine plays these frequencies in random order at the same amplitude. White noise is one of several “noise colors”, which I’ve discussed in a previous post in more detail.
Another way of understanding white noise is in relation to white light. White light is made up of every visible frequency of light, and the same is true for white noise and sound. You can check out the video below on white noise if your’re interested.
Frequency and Amplitude in White Noise Machines for Office Cubicles
Above I used the terms frequency and amplitude. These are common terms when discussing sound, but it’ll help to define them so we can understand how white noise machines work.
Frequency (also known as pitch) is the number of times per second that a sound wave repeats itself. Sound waves are, unsurprisingly, waves that oscillate. This means they move back and forth in a regular, repetitive way.
We measure frequency in Hertz (Hz) and a high-frequency wave oscillates more than a low-frequency wave within a set duration. As mentioned, humans can typically hear between 20Hz (low frequency) and 20kHz (high frequency).
Amplitude refers to a wave’s strength, which we typically perceive as its volume (or loudness). Various other factors impact volume, but amplitude is the main one.
We measure amplitude in decibels (dB), which refers to the sound wave’s pressure level (intensity). Decibels are logarithmic, which means that every 10dB increase results in a doubling of perceived loudness.
Here’s a chart of some common sounds in decibels.
|Noise Level (dB)
So, when it comes to choosing a white noise machine for office cubicles, you obviously need to ensure it’s louder than 50dB.
White Noise Effects on Productivity
So why does white noise help in situations such as offices or therapy? The main reason is that white noise “confuses” your brain and helps to block out distracting background noise.
Playing every audible frequency not only masks existing noise pollution, but also gives your brain something indeterminate to focus on. This helps with concentration but also with relaxation, which is why it’s useful in therapy offices.
Similarly, white noise is shown to help productivity. In 2014, the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience published a study on this subject. It found that white noise helps memory retention and improves learning in loud environments.
Both of these factors are necessary for improved productivity, so the link should be obvious.
Finally, another important factor is privacy. Using a white noise machine for office privacy helps to mask the sound of conversation in essentially the opposite way to the benefit described above. Provided it’s loud enough, people outside the room won’t be able to hear your conversation.
Positioning a White Noise Machine for Therapy Office
A key factor in getting the most from your white noise machine is putting it in the best place. Consider the following:
- Positioning it on a desk will allow the sound to fill the space more effectively.
- If you want privacy, position it between the speaker/listener and the door.
- You’ll need the machine’s volume to be louder than speaking volume (70dB).
These are just some general positioning points. I’ll discuss them in more detail in the guide below.
Features to Look for
These are what I consider to be the main deciding factors when choosing the best white noise machine for a therapy office or office cubicle.
Generally, white noise is the most important. But for blocking out talking, you might want to consider pink noise, too. It focuses more on lower frequencies so can be useful for masking deeper voices.
Brown noise is another low frequency option; it’s similar to the rumble you get inside the cabin of an airplane. It’s my personal favorite for using while working because I find it provides the best concentration.
Most white noise machines will come with some soothing sounds; usually nature sounds.
While this might not be helpful for office productivity, it’ll be a useful feature in a sound machine for a therapy office. For example, playing the sound of rainfall or bird song will help a client to relax before their session begins.
Sound quality is determined by the quality of the speakers built into the machine. Lower quality speakers will have an issue playing some frequencies (particularly low frequencies) at high volumes.
If you want a white noise machine for productivity in a loud environment, ensure it has quality speakers. Crackling speakers can be incredibly distracting.
Some white noise machines have sound looping, which means there’s a noticeable break in the sound they emit. This might be distracting for some people and will break concentration. If this is you, choose a non-looping machine.
When choosing a white noise machine for office cubicles, an AC power cable will be the most logical option. Some devices also have USB power cables, meaning you could plug them into your computer.
Similarly, some models are battery powered, but this would only be helpful if you move around a lot.
Ease of Use
I imagine the last thing you’ll want in a white noise machine is a complicated setup. Many are plug-in-and-play and have memory functions. This saves your settings from the previous session and makes them much easier to use.
But some models will be more complicated, particularly as you start adding on extra features.
A headphone jack is probably the only extra feature worth mentioning when choosing a sound masking machine for the office. If you work in an open-plan office, it might be polite to plug headphones into the device. After all, not everyone will share your love of white noise.
Our Top 5
So, here are my top picks for best white noise machines for office environments. They’re based on the factors listed above and will be suitable for both therapy offices and office cubicles.
1. Top Pick: Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine
This white noise machine from Marpac is ideal for offices because it’s simple to use and produces high quality sound.
Unlike digital white noise machines, this model uses a real fan to produce sound. Importantly, this means the sound is entirely natural and of good quality. It has 2 speed settings and multiple volume options.
It has a 6-foot power cable, making it suitable for most office cubicles. Also, you just need to plug it in and turn it on so you can get almost immediate relief from distracting sounds.
One downside is that, after a while, the fan might start rattling. This is a risk you take using natural white noise. That said, it’s simple enough to fix by cleaning the fan. And, if that doesn’t work, it’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
Another con is that it doesn’t play soothing sounds. This means it might not be suitable for use in a therapy office but will be fine as a noise canceling machine for office cubicles.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Produces white noise naturally.
- 6-foot power cable.
- Good volume and sound quality.
- Can start rattling after frequent use.
- Doesn’t play nature sounds.
2. Top Budget Pick: Elesories White Noise Machine
If you need a white noise machine on a budget, this one from Elesories might be the choice for you. It plays a range of white, pink, and brown noises along with 7 nature sounds.
The machine uses a 52mm hi-fi speaker, which gives it good sound quality even at high volumes. Also, it has a headphone jack, which is useful for shared office spaces.
It’s really easy to set up; you can simply plug it in and go. You change the settings using the buttons on top, which allow you to cycle through the various sound settings. You have the option of either an AC power cable or USB adapter, too.
Some users reported issues with the power cable remaining in place. But, providing you don’t move it around too much, this shouldn’t be a massive issue.
My major issue with this white noise machine is that the speaker is located on the bottom. While its maximum volume is quite high, this does reduce its spread. As a result, it might get drowned out in larger spaces.
- Easy to use.Good sound quality.
- Plays nature sounds – suitable for both offices and therapy offices.
- 2 power options.
- Power cable can get wobbly.
- Speaker is located on the bottom – affects volume.
3. Sleep Plant White Noise Machine
Although appearance isn’t that high on the list of buying factors for a white noise machine, this one looks great. Sleep Plant has designed it to look like a potted plant, meaning it won’t look that out of place on an office desk.
It has a standard white noise setting and 10 other sound cycles. Unfortunately, there aren’t any natural sounds, but it’s still suitable as a white noise generator for the office.
This white noise machine is surprisingly loud for its size, and you can adjust the volume using a dial. It also has Bluetooth functionality so you can connect it to your smartphone.
You power it using a USB cable and it also comes with a wall adapter. In the past, some users reported problems with the USB cable but this has recently been fixed.
The only other downside is that it hums slightly when plugged in. While not everyone will find this distracting, it might be an issue for some, particularly if you’re trying to mask distracting noises.
- Looks great for a white noise machine.
- Simple to set up and use.
- Has 10 sound settings.
- Bluetooth functionality.
- No nature sounds – perhaps not suitable for a therapist office.
- Hums when plugged in – might be distracting.
4. Big Red Rooster White Noise Machine
This white noise machine has 8 sound settings, including nature sounds, which makes it perfect for both concentration and relaxation. It’ll be suitable as a sound machine for therapy office and for use in an office cubicle.
It has a maximum volume of 100dB, which is incredibly loud. Luckily, there are loads of volume settings and it’s enough to know that it could mask distracting noises louder than heavy traffic. In short, it’ll be ideal for office privacy.
You can easily set the sound and volume using the buttons, and it also has a memory function that saves your previous settings. It comes with an AC power cable but you can also use batteries. This makes it ideal if you don’t have a suitable power outlet in your office.
One downside to this white noise machine is that its sounds loop. While this isn’t as noticeable with the white noise setting, you can really hear it with the nature sounds. Some people might find this distracting, particularly if they’re trying to relax.
Another slight issue is that there’s a noticeable drop in sound quality at higher volumes. But setting the volume at 3 is enough for masking office sounds, and you won’t hear any crackles or static at that volume.
- Gets very loud.
- Has 8 sound settings.
- Easy to set up and use.
- AC power cable or battery powered.
- Loses sound quality at higher volumes.
- Nature sounds loop after 15-20 seconds.
5. Serene Evolution White Noise Machine
While a simple white noise function is fine in a sound masking machine for the office, this one has 60 different sound functions! More than anything, this gives you loads of control over the type of sound you play, whether it’s for concentration or relaxation.
It has 3 white noise settings, 13 fan sounds, 5 brown noise settings, and a wide range of natural sounds. This makes it ideal as a white noise machine for a counseling office or for office privacy.
One great feature of this device that others lack is a remote control. Although not necessary, this does make changing the settings much easier. You can change the settings directly on the device, too.
It uses non-looping sounds and plays at a very high volume. The device remembers your previous sound and volume settings, which is helpful for frequent use in the office.
One downside is that some users reported a drop in sound quality at high volumes. However, the middle settings are loud enough to mask voices and general background noise, so hopefully this won’t be a massive issue.
An issue I noticed was that it’s not great at masking low-frequency noises. I imagine this is due to speaker quality, which would also explain the above problem. If you need to go very loud or drown out low-frequency noises, it might be worth choosing a different white noise machine.
- 60 different sound settings.
- Remote control with 50-foot range.
- Non-looping sounds.
- High volume settings.
- Issues with sound quality at high volumes.
- Not great at masking low-frequency sounds.
Hopefully this article has helped you find the best white noise machine for a therapy office or office cubicle.
My top pick is the Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine. While it doesn’t have the same kind of functionality as digital white noise machines, it’s enough for most office settings.
But if you’re buying on a budget, the Elesories White Noise Machine is a good choice. It’s simple, functional, won’t break the bank, and the few trade-offs for the price are not that big of a deal.
Do you have a white noise machine of choice for using in the office? Let me know in the comments below.