What is white noise?

White noise is a specific type of sound that is created by combining many sounds of different frequencies. Imagine taking all possible tones that a human can hear and merging them together – you would get white noise. The term “white” is used to describe this type of noise because of how white light works. White light consists of all the different colors (frequencies) of light combined together – it contains red, green, yellow, and all other colors. Similarly, white noise is a combination of all different frequencies of sound. You can think of white noise as 20,000 tones playing simultaneously.

White Noise and Sound Masking

Because white noise contains all frequencies, it is often used to mask other sounds. For example, if you are in a hotel and voices from the room next door are penetrating into your room, you can turn on a fan to drown out those voices. The fan produces the sound of “white noise.”

Why does this work, and why does white noise drown out voices? You can understand this through the example of a conversation. If two people are talking simultaneously, your brain can usually “pick out” one of those voices and actually listen to and understand it. However, if 1,000 people are talking at the same time, there is no chance that your brain will pick out one voice. It turns out that the sound of 1,000 people talking at the same time sounds very similar to white noise.

Applications of White Noise

White noise is used to mask other sounds. It can be used to aid in falling asleep, to drown out noise from a party or other event, or to calm a restless person. The term “white noise” is used to describe the noise that is produced by combining all audible frequencies together. This type of noise is often used to mask other sounds and can be used to help people relax or sleep. Parents often use the sound of a hairdryer, for example, to help their children fall asleep.


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