Marpac Sleepmate/Soundscreen 980A Review

Is it Soundscreen or Sound Screen, or Sleepmate or Sleep Mate? The only issue we discovered with this equipment was one of uncertainty over its name. This is the white noise machine that began it all, and because of the clever engineering behind it, it continues to be the industry standard. Even though it’s been around for half a century, the Marpac Sleep Mate is still considered the gold standard in the world of white noise.

There have been a number of revisions, the most recent of which occurred approximately a year ago and resulted in a “whiter” hue, a little modification to the proportions, and the addition of a “A” to the model number. Marpac will apply either a Sleep Mate label or a Soundscreen label to the product depending on the order that was placed by the reseller. These devices are also used at doctor’s offices to prevent patients from overhearing the condition that another patient is discussing with their physician while they are sitting in the waiting area. The introduction of the Soundscreen label was a direct result of this. Who would want a gadget in their waiting room that says Sleep Mate, after all?

First Impressions

It seems strange to me. It is unlike any other sound machine that can be purchased today. The length of the power chord is eight feet, and the colour of the unit is dazzling white, in contrast to the ivory hue of the model that came before it. You are free to choose whatever colour you choose, provided that it is white. The plastic is substantial, and the whole thing has a satisfyingly weighty quality about it.

How it works

The “cap” on top can be rotated to either reveal or conceal a series of tiny holes, which results in a change in tone and loudness. The “collar” may be rotated to either uncover or conceal open slots on the side, which results in a tone- and volume-shifting effect. We use the word “slightly” because, while there is a shift in volume, it is only very minor. Although the 980A comes with a power switch that can toggle between low and high speeds to help with volume control, the most effective approach to adjust the volume on the unit is to move it closer to or farther from where you are in the room.

There is also a variant with a single speed that goes by the same label designation, the 580A. The maximum volume that can be reached with such unit will be equivalent to 85 percent of the maximum volume that can be reached with the two-speed 980A. At a distance of 18 inches from the 980A, the loudness registers at 65 dB.

The guts

The fact that it has a real motor that rotates a rotor sets it apart from any other kind of music machine that has ever been created. It functions in the same way as a fan (which is something that many people currently use for sleeping), but it won’t gather dust or become out of balance, and it won’t circulate the air in the room.

The CRIs that we work with have informed us that these devices still work after more than 25 years! These are high-quality products made in the United States. This particular model has a faulty rate that is lower than.01 percent, which sets an all-time record for having the best original quality. The standard for the rate of faulty products in the electronic industry is 2%.

The total weight of the unit is 1 pound and 10 ounces. It has a height of 3.5 inches and a diameter of 5.5 inches at its base. Although still light enough for travel, the Marpac Marsona TSC-330 is noticeably less in weight. A 220v-240v variant with a two-prong power chord is available from a number of different resellers for use in Europe. In contrast to the 330I, this item is not intended for usage inside the United States. At full volume, the maximum level registers 69 decibels when measured 18 inches above the device.


Retail prices are as follows: $56.95 for the two-speed 980A model, $46.95 for the single-speed 580A model, and $61.95 for the international variant that operates on 220v-240v. On the internet, you can get these models for the corresponding prices of $49.95, $49.95, and $54.95; in addition, some dealers provide free delivery. Due to the fact that Marpac has instituted a ‘MAP’ policy (minimum advertised price), it will be difficult to purchase them at a lower price elsewhere.


If it’s white noise you’re after, then there is no better machine on the market.

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