When it comes to white noise machines, some brands are definitely better than others. Adaptive Sound Technologies and Marpac are certainly one of the most famous ones. In fact, AST even compares their LectroFan device to the Marpac Dohm in their promotional materials, as you’ll see in the conclusion of this article. So today, I’m going to take the same route by comparing two of their most well-known white noise machines: LectroFan and Marpac Dohm.
These two are pretty representative samples of each of these brands’ product lineup. However, in order to have a fair comparison, I’ve also decided to present each of the company’s histories as well as a couple of their other products. But first, let’s take a moment to talk about white noise machines and how they can help you.
About White Noise Machines
If you’ve been following my other articles, you probably know the definition of white noise by heart. But if you don’t recall, here’s a refresher: white noise is an amalgamation of frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz. So, all frequencies humans can hear. According to theory and quite a bit of anecdotal evidence, listening to this noise mix can trick the human ears into not hearing other distracting noises.
If you’re just starting to get into white noise, you might benefit from checking out some of my past articles on the topic. I suggest starting out with my article about the various colors of noise if you’re curious about what other noises exist. As you’ll see in this article, LectroFan can actually play pink and brown noises as well, so you can read up on those before I review the product here.
So, aside from masking noise, what are some of the other benefits of listening to white noise. Well, many people rely on white noise to fall asleep, and some even use it to boost their productivity at work. In fact, there are several ways in which white noise can affect you in your workplace:
- Because it can make the other sounds in your office less noticeable, it might allow you to concentrate on your work
- According to some studies, listening to white noise may actually sharpen your memory
- Finally, white noise can also allow you to be more creative at work
I’ve expanded on all of these benefits in the article I’ve linked to above. In fact, you can also read about some of the possible negative consequences of listening to white noise in that article.
AST White Noise Machines
Adaptive Sound Technologies, Inc. has been operating out of Silicon Valley since 2008. Although the company seems to be fairly young, the people behind it have long histories in the technology industry, having previously worked at NVIDIA, Intel, and Acer.
At ASTI, they’ve mostly focused on making white noise machines, with the most famous lines being the Sound + Sleep products and the LectroFan. I’ll mention the company’s other products later on. For now, let’s focus on the machines we’re here to break down and compare.
AST LectroFan Review
Out of all the white noise machines I’ve reviewed, LectroFan is probably one of the most fully-featured ones. Not only does it have plenty of sound profiles to choose from, but it’s also pretty convenient.
The device has a 4-inch wide heptagonal base, and it’s only about 2.25 inches tall. Between the clean, sharp lines and the white or black exterior, it’s very professional-looking. That’s exactly why I featured it in my reviews of office white noise machines. But then again, I also featured the Marpac Dohm in that article, so they’re pretty equal there.
Unlike the Dohm, this product is an electric white noise machine, which means that it plays recordings. The whole top of the device is overtaken by the speaker, and the little control panel is on the side. There are 3 elliptical buttons, 2 vertical and 1 horizontal. All of them perform two functions depending on whether you press one end or the other.
So you can use the power button to set the 60-minute timer. The second button can toggle volume up and down, and the third one gives you your noise controls. There are 20 sound profiles in total, 10 of which are various fan sounds, while the rest are various ambient noise. As I’ve mentioned, LectroFan can even play pink and brown noises which are even more soothing than white noise.
- 2.25 inches tall and 4-inch wide electric white noise machine
- 10 fan sounds and 10 other noises
- USB power cord with an AC adapter
- 1-hour timer
- See the price on Amazon
Electric machines tend to have an audible loop in the track. But, as far as I’m aware, that shouldn’t be an issue here. Lastly, this product comes with a USB cable with an AC adapter, so you can use a portable charger to power it.
Other AST Products
In addition to the LectroFan Classic device, Adaptive Sound Technologies also make other products in the LectroFan line. Some of them, like the LectroFan Micro, also double as Bluetooth speakers. In fact, the Micro is really a thing of beauty: it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and it feels absolutely great to the touch. The surface of the machine is soft and rubberized, and the speaker on top can rotate around the base, so you can position it exactly the way you like it.
As I’ve said before, the LectroFan Micro has Bluetooth connectivity and even a built-in microphone, so it’s actually perfect for making calls. Still, it retains the basic white noise machine functionality we want, with 5 built-in fan sounds, 4 types of white noise, and an ocean sound. It also has a rechargeable battery that should last you 2 nights by my calculations.
There are also plenty of other items in the LectroFan lineup. One of the best ones is this LectroFan Kinder. Additionally, Adaptive Sound Technology also make products for the Sound + Sleep line, one of which managed to make it onto my best white noise machines for offices list.
Marpac: The Brand & Their Devices
Unlike Adaptive Sound Technologies, Marpac has been around since 1962, so let’s see if that’s given them the edge in this competition. The company’s headquarters are in Wilmington, North Carolina — so not quite Silicon Valley.
Another thing that distinguishes this brand from the previous one we’ve looked at is that they’re not just focused on producing white noise machines. In addition to these types of devices, they also sell mattresses, aromatherapy oils, and diffusers. Basically, they’re your one-stop-shop if you’re shopping for an insomniac. In fact, that’s supposedly how the company came to be: its founder was trying to help his wife sleep more soundly.
The Marpac Dohm is supposedly the direct descendant of the machine Jim Buckwalter (the founder of Marpac) created for his wife. We call these types of devices mechanical, acoustic, or natural white noise machines. Essentially, it has a metal casing and an internal fan that makes the recognizable Dohm sound.
The Marpac Dohm devices only have a single button on the side — the power switch. You can use that switch to choose one of two fan speeds which also result in slightly different sounds. Additionally, you can twist the top part of the metal case to adjust the tone and volume of the sound. The cap has little vents on the sides which are regulating the amount of sound that can escape the case.
So there’s no timer here. Indeed, this device doesn’t have any fancy sound profiles and features. It’s just a 5.8-inch wide circular metal box that manually makes the noise. It’s an incredibly smart design, as far as I’m concerned. Seeing as this machine is a real crowd favorite, I’d say that most people agree with my observation.
- 5.8-inch wide circular mechanical white noise machine
- Makes the Dohm noise at 2 speeds
- Adjustable tone and volume
- 8-foot AC power cord
- 1-hour timer
- See the price on Amazon
Despite its simplicity, or perhaps even because of it, I’ve previously featured this product on my list of office-appropriate devices, but it’s also great for people looking to block out the sounds of snoring.
Other Marpac Products
As I’ve previously mentioned, Marpac makes several categories of products. In fact, they have several Dohm-series devices, all of which make the patented Dohm noise. Additionally, they have electric machines that have more sound profiles, as well as some great options for travel.
If you want to know more about Marpac, their history, and some of their other products, I recommend checking out my article about them. I’ve even included an audio sample for those who want to hear what the famous Dohm noise sounds like.
Marpac Dohm Vs. AST Lectrofan: The Final Verdict
If you go to the LectroFan Amazon page, you’ll see that one of the product pictures actually referenced the Marpac Dohm machine. In the picture, they laid out the comparison as follows:
- LectroFan has 10 fan sounds while Marpac Dohm has only 2
- There are 10 white noise profiles in the LectroFan while Marpac Dohm has none
- LectroFan allows you to change the volume and Marpac Dohm doesn’t
- The LectroFan machine has a timer and Marpac Dohm doesn’t
- While the LectroFan can use both USB charging and AC, the Marpac device can only use AC ports
- The Marpac Dohm is larger and it uses 18 watts, whereas LectroFan uses only 3
Well, these statements aren’t technically correct, are they? And, even if they were, they certainly don’t make the Dohm device inferior to the LectroFan one. So let’s suss out the truth and explain the false statements here.
The last several points are all true. The Marpac Dohm doesn’t have a timer. It’s also larger than the LectroFan, and it powers differently. Those are facts. However, the first few statements are pretty confusing.
The Marpac Dohm doesn’t have 2 fan sounds — it only has the one sound. You can adjust the tone and the volume, as I’ve said, and you have 2 speeds to choose from. I assume that’s the point they were trying to make.
Still, in this case, I find it impossible to proclaim a winner for one simple reason: these two aren’t the same type of device. Unlike the LectroFan, which plays sound recordings, the Dohm is physically making the sound you’re hearing. Some people will definitely prefer one over the other, but as far as I’m concerned, both of these are excellent choices.