Whether you’re trying to study, sleep, or just read a good book, noise from the outside world can be both distracting and irritating. This is where white noise can be useful. Simply put, white noise is a type of sound signal that is even throughout its frequencies and can be used to mask or cover background noise so you can pay less attention to your surroundings and focus on your work.
For Linux users there are multiple white noise apps for Linux you can download to keep your mind on the right track. Try these four apps the next time you find yourself straying from the story or when you just want to relax.
Perhaps the most pure Linux white noise generator in this group is SoX (Sound eXchange). It is powerful enough that when you finish relaxing, you can explore its many advanced features such as applying effects to audio clips and processing multiple files in batches. Those tasks, though, are beyond the scope of this short article.
The reason it is pure is that it can apply white noise, brown noise, and pink noise in its operations. Those types of sounds are built into the application, so you can play them as standalone audio files, like the following image.
play -n synth whitenoise
The syntax here first allows you to use
play instead of
sox so you can output audio directly to your default sound device. Then use
-n to specify that you don’t require an output file.
synth will tell SoX to play an audio file instead of writing one. Finally, tell SoX which type of noise you want to play —
pinknoise — by typing your preference as the final command parameter.
Tranqil offers a simple GUI so you can play the “soothing sounds of nature.” Looking at the image below, you can see its three built-in choices: Forest, Night in the mountain, and Sea.
The learning curve here is minimal. Playback starts and stops when you click the image corresponding with the soundscape. You can also control the volume level by scrolling up or down on the playing image.
Built in Python, PyScape lets you play multiple sounds simultaneously. PyScape, like Tranqil, focuses on soothing sounds, rather than simple white noise or brown noise. Its graphical interface, as you can see in this screenshot, includes a wallpaper and a number of audio files (listed 1 through 6 in this shot) you can click for playback.
The buttons at the bottom of PyScape’s graphical interface let you load a sound directory which ranges from beach to rain to jungle sounds. The files in all the directories you see there come with the default installation.
If you have a particular sound collection you like, you can make your own presets and load custom collections for playback. There is even an option to change the GUI’s wallpaper and to have the graphical sound clip circles moving around the screen.
Gnaural proclaims itself an “open source programmable auditory binaural-beat generator.” In short, binaural beats occur when two similar tones, such as a 530 Hz and a 520 Hz, are both played at once to a listener. As just one example, when you hear the 530 Hz tone in your right ear and the 520 Hz tone in your left ear, you should hear the illusion of a third tone of 10 Hz, which is the difference between those frequencies.
The continuous playback of binaural beats is supposed to help with meditation. This is where Gnaural steps in. Although the project’s website claims to be neutral regarding any hypothesis on meditation, the creator appears to have developed the application to assist with meditative practices and the exploration of the work of Gerald Oster, who studied the effect of sound on the brain.
The base installation of Gnaural comes with multiple types of waveforms you can play back through your headphones or speakers. In the screenshot above, you can see the “Binaural Beat” and “Pink Noise” defaults. Several others exist in the GUI’s menus. You can also build your own waveforms, and you can save the defaults or custom beats to audio files for playback on other devices.
If you’re looking for a stand-alone Linux white noise app, it doesn’t get better than this collection. Give them each a try, and find what works best for you in the study hall and where your head hits the pillow. Happy listening.
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