TL; DR: myNoise allows users to mask undesirable noises with a range of background sounds designed to improve everything from focus to sleep. The impressive audio catalog, created by a research engineer and sound designer, empowers users to adjust the frequencies within each soundscape to ensure optimal sound quality. Ultimately, myNoise’s mission is to offer ambiant audio that puts users in a ideal headspace without being intrusive.
Pink noise, a close relative of white noise, is a mixture of sound waves in which there is equal energy in all octaves of frequency. It has more low-frequency components than white noise, which makes it a popular choice for blocking audio distractions in the workplace and beyond.
But while some consider a manufactured stream of low-level sound helpful for focus or even sleep, others find the constant noise overwhelming.
According to Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon, Research Engineer, Sound Designer, and Founder of myNoise, nature offers less intrusive sources of sound that closely resemble pink noise, such as steady rain, whipping wind, and crashing waves.
“Why should we restrict ourselves to white or pink noise? As an audio engineer, I think it’s boring, and I can’t imagine people listening to it all day long,” Stéphane said. “I knew there was a way to be more clever. My idea was to take natural noises and resynthesize them to have that flat, pink noise type of spectrum.”
That’s just what he did with myNoise, an online catalog of ambient background noises and interactive soundscapes featuring real-world sound recordings. myNoise generators cover the entire human audio spectrum (20 hertz to 20,000 hertz) across 10 color-coded sliders, with options to calibrate special noise generators for individual hearing thresholds.
myNoise’s audio mixes can help users work, study, relax, and even sleep by drowning out the noises they don’t want to hear — no noise-canceling headphones needed — and replacing them with more enjoyable sounds. The result is higher sound-efficiency and quieter masking levels. Ultimately, myNoise’s mission is to offer ambient tracks that put users in an ideal headspace via high-quality sound.
Where Audio Engineering Meets Sound Therapy
Stéphane told us that the idea for myNoise was inspired by his experience growing up as the internet came into being and began to spread.
“I lived the internet revolution,” he said. “When I started my studies at university, email was the new thing; then came the web. I would compare it to the invention of writing about 4,000 years ago, which allowed for perpetual memory. It wasn’t until Gutenberg came around more than 500 years ago that we had mass printing, but it was local coverage and expensive.”
He said the internet revolution is the last piece of the communication puzzle, giving people across the globe the ability to share information and ideas for free.
“I decided that I had to take the opportunity of having a worldwide audience to share my knowledge,” Stéphane said. “I started a lot of websites, but the one that got the most success was AudioCheck.net, a website for testing audio equipment online.”
The site featured a page that included pink noise audio and explained how it could be used to test and equalize equipment. Stéphane noticed that the page attracted a lot of attention traffic-wise but had high bounce rates.
“I realized then that my audience was no longer just audio engineers — it was people just coming for the pink noise to solve problems like tinnitus and anxiety,” he said. “At that point, I said, ‘OK, I have the internet at my disposal. I have to use it to offer the world something more efficient.’ That’s how myNoise started.”
Options to Help You Focus, Boost Productivity, Sleep, and Relax
Today, myNoise has evolved from a simple noise generator to a vast source of combined sound experiences.
Users can enjoy a melody of intricate sounds from a fish tank — air pump, bubbles, flowing water, and all — without the maintenance or cost of a physical one. With Northern Woodland: A Moose Cache, they can soak in sounds recorded during a May 2019 trip to Finland’s forests.
Looking for a creativity boost while social distancing? Café Restaurant is a good bet, offering real-world background chatter, clinking cutlery, and other lively audio cues. As with all myNoise mixes, users can adjust each element as needed to create the perfect auditory environment.
Stéphane told us that myNoise has attracted a diverse audience over the years — and although he’s an engineer through and through, he works hard to cater to their varying needs and tastes. For example, many visitors come to the site hoping to improve sleep, meditation, or nervousness. He said writers, on the other hand, seek a solution to remove creative blocks (Stéphane suggests the crisp sounds of Autumn Walk or the eerily inspiring Oblivion for this use case).
“We have many different communities,” Stéphane said. “myNoise is funded entirely by donations from users, so if I want people to donate, I need to pay careful attention to their needs and requests.”
myNoise’s community of role-play gamers inspired several soundscapes, including RPG Medieval Village, complete with trotting horses, carriages, and a blacksmith. But even though the overall catalog is broad, all offerings are united by Stéphane’s passion for audio engineering.
“Even in the medieval village, you can shape the frequencies of the audio stream,” he said. “If you need high-frequency components, raise the slider with the blacksmith. You also have the watermill for a low rumble. I always want to cover the full spectrum.”
On a Mission to Create Sounds the Human Mind Can Ignore
Stéphane’s general philosophy is that the best soundscapes are never intrusive. The key is to provide pleasant noises that mask the outside world but aren’t too entertaining that they serve as a distraction.
“I work hard to ensure the sounds bring you a little bit of happiness, but your brain should be able to ignore them — they should recede into the background of your consciousness,” he said. “There’s an art to coming up with audio that is interesting to hear but transparent, in a way.”
Take our friendly village blacksmith, for example. Instead of programming him to evenly tap away with his chisel and hammer, Stéphane has arranged a life-like variety of sounds in the craftsman’s day of work.
“These sounds have to be regular without being in a loop, because your mind will try to find the loops and you will not be able to focus on anything else,” he said. “That said, some sounds can be very annoying for some people and delightful for others, which is why users have the option to turn off a specific slider completely. Everyone has different tastes.”
This is also helpful for people with phobias. For example, if you suffer from ranidaphobia, the fear of frogs and toads, you’ll want to make a few adjustments to certain nature-based soundscapes. “That’s why it’s important that we keep certain sounds on separate sliders,” Stéphane said.
A Clear Passion for Audio Engineering
Today, myNoise attracts approximately 15,000 users a day with periodic spikes. Stéphane said he suspects his audience is a niche population within the larger ambient noise market in that they want a solution that contains the full spectrum of sounds.
“A lot of people want a very simple solution like those provided by many of our competitors — they use stock sounds, don’t record real audio, and don’t care about the spectrum,” he said. “Still, these solutions work well with very little effort.”
The myNoise audience, by contrast, seeks a broad selection of soundscapes that users can finely tune to individual preference.
“I have everything from binaural beats to blacksmiths and monks,” Stéphane said. “It’s a big toolbox, but among that diversity, there is a common factor: love and craftsmanship.”