What is White Noise?
White Noise: "What is White Noise?"
White noise is sound that covers the full range of pitches audible to the human ear. Every frequency or tone possible is contained within a single white noise sound. Because pure white noise contains every frequency, it is often used as a masking solution, to drown out unwanted sounds and noises.
Think of it this way: imagine one voice speaking alone. You could make every word that was said. Now imagine three voices speaking at once: making out the details would be more difficult as more sounds overlapped, until the words were very difficult to hear. Now imagine a hundred voices speaking at once (but at around the same volume as the single voice). The words would be impossible to understand, and instead of hearing any single voice, you would just hear a wash of noise, something like a fan or radio static. This is the idea behind white noise -- a white noise sound is a little like a hundred voices: a smooth wash of sound with no distracting features.
White noise is a smooth sound that conveys almost no information. It has no pattern or distinguishing features, since it is composed of continuous sound at all frequencies. The human brain isn't able to get any information from this sound, and so real white noise is very easy to ignore; when white noise is used as a sound masker, it simply fades into the background, taking any unpleasant or unwanted noises with it.
White noise can be produced in several different ways. The most common forms of white noise are the white noise machine or white noise generator and the white noise cd. A white noise maker like these can be used anywhere: at the office, in noisy dorms, or to provide white noise for sleeping. White noise cds can provide a source of portable white noise for travel. White noise serves primarily as a concentration or sleeping aid, since its main function is to mask unwanted sounds.
White noise is available in many different varieties. Pure white noise is real white noise; that is, pure white noise is the equalized wash of sound throughout all the audible frequencies. This kind of white noise is often best for simple noise masking; often, white noise for sleeping is the best solution. Other types of white noise are available, however; pink noise, for example, is basically white noise that has been equalized differently, with an emphasis in the bass and midrage and less high-pitched sound, providing a richer overall sound with the same basic sound masking qualities of white noise. White noise with ambient sounds (ranging from simple sounds like rain or surf, to chirping crickets, to a summer night on the lake) are also popular. These sounds provide a background of white noise that blocks unwanted sounds, while providing an ambience that is pleasant to listen to. Still, as far as sound masking goes, real white noise (or pure white noise) is probably the most effective.
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Pure White Noise
Rain White Noise
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White noise is best heard through hi-fi speakers or headphones. If you are listening to these white noise clips through laptop speakers, keep in mind that the sound you are hearing may not be pure white noise.