If nearby noises make it hard for you to get to sleep or concentrate on tasks, here’s a sound solution. White noise—whether it be from an electric fan or television static—can help mask other sounds. The ‘LectroFan line of gadgets from Sound of Sleep do just that. I had the opportunity to try out two models, the ‘LectroFan EVO and the ‘LectroFan Micro2.
The ‘LectroFan EVO ($49.95) is a desktop model: it’s 4.4 inches across and must be plugged into an outlet, so it’s best for a dedicated space like your nightstand or desk. It includes a headphone jack, though I’m personally not sure I’d want to deal with a wired headphone while sleeping, but it could be useful if I’m using it to block noises while working.
This model is controlled with a few clearly-marked buttons: a power switch turns it on and off, and volume controls are at the bottom. In the center there’s an hourglass button to set a sleep timer: with each press, it will play a little tone and add an hour to the timer, up to 8 hours (at which point it plays a different tone), and then it will automatically shut off after that duration.
The other two buttons let you choose the type of noise you want. The left button cycles through types of noise, with 10 options from brown to pink to white noise, and then two ocean waves options. White noise, the one you may be the most familiar with, is an equal mix of all frequencies and sounds like static. Pink noise is a more consistent frequency and tends to have less of the higher frequencies. Brown noise is the lowest frequency and is almost more like a rumble. As you push the button, it will start with the lower frequency noises and move up as you click.
The other button, with a fan icon, plays fan noises: there are 10 different sounds, from industrial fans to box fans to an oscillating fan (though I admit I can’t identify fans by sounds—these are just listed in the manual). I can hear the difference in the fan sounds, and I tend to prefer the lower-frequency fans myself.
The ‘LectroFan Micro2 ($34.95) is a pocket-sized cylinder, and while it doesn’t have quite the same output as the ‘LectroFan EVO, it’s still pretty loud for its size. It charges up with the included USB-C cable (you’ll have to provide your own power brick, or plug it into a USB-A port), with a battery that lasts 40 hours for sleep sounds or 20 hours for Bluetooth audio. I haven’t tried using it for Bluetooth audio for that long, but I can confirm that I’ve been able to run it overnight for a few nights between charges, so the 40-hour estimate seems accurate.
There’s a small switch on the back above the charging port to choose between Bluetooth and the white noise. If you use the white noise option, you can control the volume with the two small buttons at the bottom, and scroll through the noises with the “skip forward” and “skip backward” buttons. This doesn’t have quite as many options as the ‘LectroFan EVO, but it’s still a wide selection: 4 white noise options, 5 fan types, and 2 ocean waves sounds. My wife has found she likes the ocean surf sound, and I like one of the lower fan noises. You can stop and start the sounds using the “play/pause” button in the center as well.
The speaker is on top of the device, and can pivot so you can direct the sounds. If you have two of the ‘LectroFan Micro2, you can also pair them together via Bluetooth, and then connect to them as a single Bluetooth device to use them for stereo sound. While I think the Bluetooth connectivity is sort of a secondary purpose to the white noise, I was quite impressed with the sound quality just playing some music from my phone. Obviously they don’t have quite the sound range as my larger Bluetooth speakers, but I had been expecting them to sound tinny and the sound is a bit more robust than that. While I don’t see using them as a primary speaker, they make for a nice, ultra-portable stereo system that you can take anywhere.
We’ve been trying out the ‘LectroFan for a couple months. We live on a busy street and there’s often a lot of traffic noise, plus since we live near a show venue it can be pretty noisy on the weekends as people are walking back to their cars and chatting outside (particularly in the summer when we have the windows open). My wife had taken to running an electric fan at nights to help mask sounds, but in the winter when it’s chilly, I’d rather not have a fan blowing at full blast! The ‘LectroFan is a nice compromise, providing that white noise without the actual fan. I’ve also found that it can be useful to help shut out some outside noises when I’m working at home—my office is in our street-level basement, and so I’m right near all of the daytime traffic, both street and sidewalk.
Of course, not everyone likes white noise or finds it relaxing. My middle kid dislikes fan noise—running a fan at night in the summer can be necessary but apparently the sound is very irritating, even though it does help cover outdoor sounds a bit. So, your mileage may vary and you may want to try out some white noise sounds found online first to see how you react. But if you do find the sound of a running fan soothing, the ‘LectroFan gadgets could be a great option for you.
You can find out more about the ‘LectroFan models, as well as how the various types of noise work, at the Sound of Sleep website.
Disclosure: I received samples of these devices for review purposes.