Back when I was a writer on my college newspaper, I once accidentally unplugged my headphones from my laptop, letting the entire newsroom hear what I was listening to. Thankfully, it wasn't a super embarrassing pop song or the soundtrack to a weird movie – it was the gentle hiss of white noise. Of course, all the other writers laughed at me for listening to what basically sounded like robot music; but I had the last laugh, because white noise is amazing for helping you focus while working or studying — and science can now back me up on that one. According to a recent study, researchers have found that nature sounds are the best things to listen to when you work.
The world is filled with people like me who get easily distracted, whether by other people's nearby conversations or random thoughts popping into your head. Even putting on music when you sit down to work, study for a test, or get creative can sometimes pull your mind away from the task at hand. But lucky for us ambient noise lovers, we're alive at the perfect time: More and more single-purpose sites are now devoted to playing sounds like falling rain or crackling fire popping up all the time.
Have some work on your plate you need to really hunker down for? Make some popcorn, seek out the coziest corner of your house, and crank out the robot jams with these incredible sites:
1. A Soft Murmur
The minimalist ambient noise site A Soft Murmur lets you mix all sorts of different noises together at different volumes. Set a loud crackling fire with soft crickets in the background, for instance, to conjure up an aural campfire scene. Then choose the "Meander" function, which will cycle through noises at different volumes for a constantly evolving experience. My favorite noise is the singing bowl – it makes me feel like I'm somehow getting work done in a yoga studio.
When I worked in an office, this was my jam, because I liked to imagine I was some hipster freelancer working from a coffee shop (and now look at me, Ma!). Coffitivity offers a bustling array of cafe noises, from "Lunchtime Lounge" to "University Undertones." (But don't worry, none of them are distracting.) I personally like "Morning Murmur" the best — it includes lots of clinking plates, which I find very satisfying for some weird reason.
Noisli includes a lot of the ambient sound standards – thunderstorms, waves, wind, birds, white noise – while also including a few I haven't found anywhere else. Technically I take a train every day since I live in New York City, but somehow listening to the soft pull of a train over the tracks on Noisli is far more romantic, like I'm on the Hogwarts Express or something. It's a very good atmosphere for some Hermione-like reading.
Just one of Soundrown's many ambient sounds includes a playground, which is nice to listen to but also a little strange, you know what I mean? Still, nothing says "it's almost fall!" like the sound of bouncing dodgeballs and the playful shouts of kids chasing each other around a slide (just don't get distracted by your own inevitable nostalgia).
Rainymood has only one sound – rain, duh – but they do it really well, and I can't resist the animation of the raindrops falling against a window. Or its slogan, for that matter: "Rain makes everything better."
Still, though I like to choose my site based on mood, the great thing about ambient noise is that it doesn't really matter what you choose – the effect is such that in a few moments, you'll be so absorbed in your work and forget you're even listening to anything at all.