What is white noise?


The term “white” is used to characterise this form of noise because of the way white light functions. White light is light that is made up of all of the many colours (frequencies) of light united together (a prism or a rainbow splits white light back into its component colours) (a prism or a rainbow separates white light back into its component colors). In the same manner, white noise is a collection of all of the distinct frequencies of sound. You may think of white noise as 20,000 tones all playing at the same time.

Because white noise encompasses all frequencies, it is commonly employed to hide other noises. If you are at a hotel and sounds from the room next-door are seeping into your room, you could switch on a fan to drown out the noises. The fan creates a reasonable imitation of white noise. Why does it work? Why does white noise block out voices?

Here is one way to think about it. Let’s assume two persons are chatting at the same moment. Your brain can generally “select out” one