There are times when you just need to concentrate. However, there are also many times when noise gets in the way. You might be working in a busy office, or trying to study in the library. Noisy interruptions can often make it difficult for you to focus. This post looks at ways to block out unwanted noise and hopefully even increase your concentration. I looked at 15 sites that might just help you with the above. That’s quite a few different sites to digest. To try and make it a bit easier, I’ve grouped these into three different categories: ambience; noise; binaural patterns.
Ambience creates a soothing ambience that can help tune out the background noise through the creation of sounds like an ocean or a camp fire crackling.
Noise creates different types of “white” noise which can actually come in different “colours” such as pink noise or violet noise.
Binaural patterns somewhat controversially are said to affect your brainwaves to induce different states such as increased focus or creativity.
I looked at 15 sites and attempted to define them using the above three categories. For my own personality, the ambience sites work best. They allow me to concentrate on what I’m doing whilst keeping out unwanted chatter. Using music doesn’t work for me as I end up listening to the music rather than focusing on what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Noise generators hurt my ears but I’ve heard some people swear by them. For this reason alone, I’ve included some noise generating sites that you might want to check out. Finally, I tested out some sites using some binaural rhythms but I’m not convinced as to the claims and benefits. I had to combine the binaural beat with some ambience for it to be bearable and even then I’m not sure my focus was increased. Of course we are all different and re-act in different ways. Feel free to experiment with the list below and post your findings!
Before we continue, some of these sites come with warnings relating to people who are prone to seizures or epilepsy. If you feel that this might include you, then please use extreme caution when using noise generators or binaural generators.
Here’s a quick list of the websites researched:
- Sound Sleeping – ambient, binaural
- Coffitivity – ambient
- Rainy Cafe – ambient
- Soundrown – ambient
- Noisli – ambient
- myNoise – ambient, noise, binaural
- simplynoise – noise
- Nature Sounds for Me – ambient, noise
- Rainy Mood – ambient
- Endless Storm – ambient
- A Soft Murmur – ambient
- iSerenity – ambient, noise
- TMSoft White Noise player – noise
- Play Noise – noise
- Moodturn – ambient
This free tool has quite a lot of features. Firstly, you can mix upto 5 different sound elements. These also include Binaural beats (focus, meditate, relax or sleep) which are supposed to help you with the desired setting. It also comes with the option to mix in ambient music which works well with the different sounds. If you are prepared to create an account (which is free) you can save your mixes for later use.
Based on the idea that people are most creative when they visit coffee shops, this site provides a gentle background hum similiar to that found in a coffee shop. This then eliminates the loud noise of your workplace. Comes with a few preset sounds, and also has several free downloadable apps. Not being a coffee drinker, this app didn’t really work for me. However, if you spend a lot of time in a coffee bar, then this might just be the one for you!
3. Rainy Cafe
Very similiar in concept to Coffivity, but with just two channels to mix: a cafe and/or rain.
The volume doesn’t work so well in Internet Explorer 9
A very nice looking site, clean and simple. Select from a wide range of sounds, and adjust the volume of each channel accordingly. The background image changes depending on the sound you have last chosen.
One of my favourites, Noisli is a very well presented site, simple pastel colours that slowly change (which the site claims to benefit you through chromotherapy). You can select from a variety of channels and adjust the volumes for each channel. Includes some ambient noises such as a fan as well as White, Pink and/or Brown noise. For those budding writers out there, Noisli comes with a free plain and simple text editor so you can happily type away whilst blocking out distracting noises. For iPad users, there’s a paid app available.
In my tests. I noticed that when using Internet Explorer 9, the colour transitions are not smooth – the site flicks from one colour to the next rather than blending from one colour to the next.
An excellent site, covering a wide range of different sounds to help you concentrate. Sounds are grouped into different categories and provide a lot of different moods. The site includes a range of binaural patterns as well as noise generators. Lots of presets, and you can save your own channel mixes. The one downside is the site is focused on using preset soundscapes. You can tweak these but it can be a bit random to know what you are changing as you are presented a selection of sliders but with no information as to what the sliders are. For iPad users there is an app available.
As the title says, this site provides access to either white, pink or brown noise. You can adjust the volume using the simple slider control. There are downloadable apps for this service as well. The simply rain version has almost identical controls – you can adjust the intensity of the rain as well as the volume. All in all, two very well presented and well executed sites.
4 mixers with a variety of different channels. Sounds vary from nature sounds to animals as well as some music clips and brown/pink noises. When you pick your sound there are several options, like volume and frequency the sound is played. A nice site, with decent quality sound clips. You can save your mixer settings for later use. Available as an iPad app as well.
9. Rainy Mood
The sounds of rain (with thunder mixed in). You can adjust the volume, choose between an animated desktop or a still image and you can select a song from a list of Youtube videos. When tested in Firefox, it didn’t respond so well – there were no volume controls and no animations. Also, there was no volume control when tested in Internet Explorer 9. Available as apps.
Almost identical to Rainy Mood, but with just a volume control. If you are wanting a no-frills, but nicely presented site to make rain noises then you might want to look here.
11. A Soft Murmer
Ambient sound mixer, with about 10 sounds to mix. The volume of each sound can be mixed to your preference. There are a some nice options, like the “Meander” option which randomnly adjusts the volumes of your selected sounds as well as a timer and alarm. The option to “share” your mix allows you to save your settings for a later date although it remembered my settings when using the same browser. With a nice clean interface, good quality sounds, this is a good option to use.
Simple controls (select the sound you like, adjust the volume) make this quick and easy. However, the interface leaves a bit to be desired. There are no mixing options, for example. Once you’ve selected your ambience, there’s a link back to the home page but the home page is very minimal (perhaps too minimal) and littered with adverts. The sound quality is also not fantastic and so I’d have to say that this was not a favourite.
Not just white noise, this site contains a wide variety of noises (white, grey, brown, pink, blue and violet). It also contains some interesting reading about the potential benefits of noise so if nothing else, this is a good site to go to if you’re curious about what all those different noises are for. As with many other sites tested, this comes in a variety of apps.
14. Play Noise
A very basic noise player (White, Brown and Pink). Its biggest selling point is that it has been created in HTML5 so should work on most devices. It also loads up very quickly. Other than that, there’s not much more to say about this website.
15. Mood Turn
11 preset atmospheres (such as Rain or Bonfire) that come with a nice wallpaper to represent the specific mood. The wallpaper rotates and you can change the picture from a set of related images. There are no mixer settings, and no volume control on the site. You can stream a player which plays rather some music. Personally, I found the music rather bland and plodding and turned it off. The ambient clips have a high sound quality and combined with an clean interface make this a nice choice.