What is a Sound Conditioner?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A sound conditioner is a device which generates noise for the purpose of sound masking. Sound conditioners are used to drown out unwanted noise, making a space more pleasant or private. These devices are sometimes referred to as white noise machines, in a reference to a common type of noise which is generated by sound conditioners. They can be obtained from home suppliers, office supply companies, and electronics stores.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Sound conditioners work by generating noise which is capable of drowning out other sounds. The noise is usually unintrusive, and often unremarkable enough that people do not notice it. Sound conditioners can utilize recordings of natural sounds, like water or wind, or they can generate artificial noise which is suitable for sound masking. In either case, the sound can usually be adjusted to meet specific needs.

One could think of a sound conditioner as a sort of noise box. The device is designed to be positioned in a corner or on a desk, blanketing the surrounding area in sound. Sound conditioners make a space feel more quiet and calm, because noise pollution cannot enter, or it is significantly filtered before it reaches the ears.

A classic use for a sound conditioner is in a building where privacy is required, such as a medical clinic. Rather than trying to soundproof, sound conditioners are used to mask the sound of private conversations inside appointment rooms or in the doctor's private offices. Therapists, lawyers, and other professionals who require confidentiality may use sound conditioners as well. Sound conditioners are also used in noisy spaces, like open plan offices, which can get rather chaotic without the use of some form of sound masking.

People also utilize sound conditioners at home to make the home more peaceful. Especially in a bedroom, a sound conditioner can be extremely useful, helping people to sleep through loud external noises. Home offices may be made more private and comfortable with the use of such a device as well, allowing someone at work in the home to filter out the sounds of pets, family members, and external noise like passing traffic.

The noise from a sound conditioner should not be very noticeable, especially after a few minutes of use. If the noise becomes obtrusive, the device may be needed to be adjusted to meet the needs of the user. The volume level and type of sound can be altered to allow a sound conditioner's noise to blend in more with the room.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My eye doctor’s office is located on a busy street in a shopping plaza full of activity. He uses a sound conditioner in each room to block out the noise from the surrounding area.

It plays noises that you would hear if you were outdoors by a river or pond. You hear the gentle flow of water, combined with crickets, birds singing, and even frogs croaking. The noises are all subtle, so they don’t overwhelm you.

He even has a couple of fish aquariums inside. These go well with the river noises, and I think they might be there for that reason.


My bedroom is positioned right beside my carport and adjoining utility room where the dogs hang out. They actually sleep during the day and do most of their playing at night, so I needed something to drown out their little noises.

I got a sound conditioner that plays the constant sound of ocean waves. Even after one crashes on the beach, I still hear the whoosh of it being sucked back out to sea, so there are no breaks in sound.

This sound machine does a wonderful job of masking the noises outside. I no longer hear the sound of my dogs’ toenails on the concrete or them dragging the rug and their toys around. I can sleep all through the night.


I cannot sleep without my sound conditioner. I got it to drown out the noise of my husband’s heavy breathing, and now, I have to have it. I had to sleep without it when the electricity went out during a storm, and it took me a long time to finally fall asleep.

When he sleeps, he makes a noise that doesn’t quite reach the level of snoring, but it is loud enough to keep me from falling asleep. The gentle white noise of the sound conditioner blends in with his breathing, and its like one wall of sound that is not annoying, somehow.


The spa that I visit for massages has a sound machine in the room. It is a subtle yet vital part of the relaxation process. It plays the gentle sound of ocean waves and seagulls, and when I close my eyes, I really feel like I am on the beach. It sounds very natural, and I imagine it is made from an actual recording.

Something about a good back massage can make me go from totally tense to completely serene in seconds. The sound machine fits my mood, and I think it subliminally makes me happier. I know that when I leave there, nothing bothers me for awhile.

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