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Home Improvement Article

Noise Masking Machines

We all deserve to live in peace and quiet, free from the prolonged barking of dogs, loud music, etc.

But living as close as we do to each other it's unreasonable to expect to live in a noise free environment. So we tried out two different noise masking machines for our bedrooms and office area.

First we tried the Sound Screen 980A for less than $60. Quiet but effective, the electromechanical Sound Screen 980A produces the smooth sound of rushing air with a pleasing unobtrusive shush. The tone and volume of the sound are controlled by simply rotating the "cap" and "collar" of the housing. And the device uses less than 20 watts so it doesn't heat up the room or run up the electric bill.

Then we tried the Sonet Acoustic Privacy System for about $170. The system includes an electronic base unit and two speakers that are connected to the base unit by ordinary telephone wire. The Sonet System produces a sound like the gentle whoosh of a high-quality HVAC system. Since the sound is absolutely constant but has no structure, the brain simply tunes it out - just like you have tuned out the noise from the fans in your computer and your paddle fans. The volume is infinitely adjustable and at the mid setting sounds about as loud as your paddle fan when set to it's highest setting. As for power, the system uses just 4 watts which is less than most night lights.

Of the two, I prefer the Sonet System because it better simulates the sound of moving air at all settings from low to high and the two speakers produce a stereo effect that floods the room.

Bottom Line: I'd recommend either unit if you want to reduce the distraction of unwanted noises while working at your desk or sleeping. But of the two, I prefer the Sonet System.

Note: I do not recommend machines that produce "cute" sounds like the sound of the ocean, rain, waterfalls, etc. as I don't think my brain would ever be so easily fooled and thus I think, at least for me, sounds like these would be hard to get used to.

by Peter Schulz

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