The Colors of Noise: White, Brown, and Pink
White noise has been a commonly used tool for years for a variety of functions. People can use it to meditate, sleep, focus, and relax. It's used to calm sleepy babies and to settle anxious pets. White noise is also a label that can apply to soothing background noises, like spa music, nature sounds, or gentle lullabies. However, white noise isn't the only option available. There are many different "colors" of noise that you can choose from, and their differences may make them even more effective for the situations in which you need some soothing ambience.
What is white noise?
While some might refer to lullabies and nature sounds as "white noise," that's not entirely accurate. White noise is a steady humming sound, where the sound's energy is evenly distributed across all frequencies. This distribution makes it feel steady, calm, and neutral. White noise includes sounds you might be familiar with, like the whirring of a fan, the static on the radio or television, or the background hum of an appliance like a fridge or radiator.
What is brown noise?
Brown noise is a more specific kind of sound. Also referred to as red noise, Brown noise has higher energy at lower frequencies. That makes a deeper and more robust sound than you would find with white noise. Brown noise might feel more similar to low roaring sounds, like the crash of a strong waterfall, a clap of thunder or the ocean.
Brown noise is great at soothing busy minds with its deep rumbling. If you're an insomniac or have difficulty relaxing, Brown noise might be the best fit for you to listen to when you're ready to let go of some tension.
And here's a little fun fact. The name, Brown noise, wasn’t derived from the color spectrum, but from Brownian motion. And Brownian motion was discovered by Robert Brown, a Scottish botanist. (And it's the only sound in the color spectrum that is capitalized.)
What is pink noise?
Pink noise is the "middle ground" between white noise and Brown/red noise. Thus, its clever in-between name! Pink noise is not as deep as the low rumbling growls of Brown noise but still is slightly deeper than white noise, with more of its energy distributed on lower frequencies.
Pink noise might be a great fit for you if you have difficulty sleeping but prefer something lighter than Brown noise. Pink noise is especially a great fit for babies, who are especially soothed by lower noises but who can also find the depths of Brown noise overwhelming at times.
There can be a considerable amount of variability within each of these three categories, however. There are many different styles and sounds of white, Brown, and pink noise. Experiment with each different category and try different sounds to find the one that will work best for you. You may even find that steady, static noise isn't what works best for you, and you prefer soothing spa music or the sound of rain falling at the window.
To hear the difference between Brown, white, and pink noise or to browse our catalogs of other ambient soundtracks, check out our selection here.