Recently, in an effort to get a more peaceful sleep while on the road, I investigated a few sound system options that would be useful for travelers. In my research, I came up with several companies that focus on relaxing therapy, some of them a bit too large for the mobile warrior however some of them which we may get into at a later date, could be useful for summer homes or people who go back and forth to a few destinations on a regular basis and can leave units in various locations.
In the meantime, let’s dive into some options that we decided to review: The SOUND + SLEEP Home Machine (as well as their Nomad Travel Version) and the Sound Oasis Travel sound therapy machine.
The SOUND+SLEEP Sound is unique in that it offers a unit for home and one you can carry on the road. Since I travel so much, I decided to keep one in one location while keeping the other in the ole suitcase which never seems to be completely empty, as its always waiting for its next journey. Lately, I’ve noticed that its been harder to sleep on the road. My BOSE headsets died recently so I no longer have a great set for airplane travel (though we plan to review a few headsets for travel soon). Insomnia seems to be on the rise in general and it’s even worse for travelers. Apparently over half a billion people in the world suffering from occasional or chronic sleep disorders, many turn to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aides for help.
The nomad unit (above) is singularly unique, and the result of serious efforts by sleep, audio, electronics, and software specialists. The unit is ideal for travel at 5.4″ x 4.6″ x 2.5″, which can easily fit into a purse, backpack, briefcase or carry-on. You can also listen to music and movies. On the device, natural sound ecosystems were captured with professional recording equipment and are reproduced in real-time using the latest in advanced electronics. This convenient sleep therapy system, with a compact yet rugged design, provides a truly enjoyable listening experience whether you are sleeping, reading, or relaxing while on the road.
The nomad has four distinct features: the ability to listen to the noise in your environment and adapt its sound generation accordingly; the ability to create dynamic sound compositions that do not repeat; a new power management system allowing battery only or AC operation with battery backup; and the capability to conveniently listen to your music, movies, etc.
It utilizes patented Adaptive Sound technology that “listens and responds” to each user’s environment for unwanted and disruptive ambient sounds. By featuring real-time compositions of high-definition, mostly natural sound recordings, ultra high-quality SoundStories are produced with no noticeable repetition. The unit offers six relaxing SoundStories to promote a deeper sleep, relaxation and renewal: Waterfall, Ocean, Meadow, Rainfall, Brook or Noises (White, Brown, Pink, and Fan).
Additional features include:
- Three operating modes for ease of use: Adaptive, Manual, and External
- With External mode you can listen to your mp3 player, movie soundtracks, etc.
- Flexible power: Two AA batteries and/or AC adapter, or USB cable
- Sleek, rugged, compact design ideal for travel; fits in purse, carry-on or briefcase
- Upward facing digital filter compensated speaker for full room sound
- Gradual shut-off or continuous play for all night use
- Optional sleep timer – 30, 60, or 90 minutes
What’s unique about their technology is that they include different modes so you can tune (up or down) the richness of the sound itself. Richness adds character to each SoundStory by dynamically mixing sounds to avoid repetition. I found the sound much more relaxing and most importantly for me — calming — than other units I’ve experienced in the past. You can adjust the richness to high, medium or low, low being the setting which is designed for sleep. My preference so far for sleep has been the Ocean SoundStory, which sounds like a soft swaying of waves in the background with a few soft birds….so easy to sleep to.
There’s also a sleep timer as indicated above in features — sometimes I go with the 30 minutes option and other times 60 minutes. So far, I haven’t needed a longer duration. Their External Audio mode becomes a “two-stage” timer, which can shut off gradually or switch to Internal Audio Mode when it expires. You can if you choose, have it play all night.
Here’s what else is cool – if you are listening to music in External Audio Mode and set the timer to 90 minutes, with the Timer Mode set to “01”, the unit will play your music for 90 minutes and then slowly ramp down the music and switch to Internal Mode, slowly ramping up and playing whatever SoundStory you have selected for 30 minutes. After that, it will gradually go off. Sweet!
Below is the larger unit which is ideal for home or office use, a bedside table or desk. It has a few more options for sounds, with ten soothing high quality SoundStories, all using adaptive sound technology.
A built-in computer and microphone continuously “listen” for intruding noises such as barking dogs, automobiles, overhead airplanes, or loud roommates. In Adaptive Mode, the unit dynamically adds sounds to the SoundStory and automatically adjusts volume to offer superior sound masking or neutralizing capabilities. All that’s left to hear is a soothing natural sound that minimizes disruptions that disturb or interrupt sleep. As intrusive noises subside, the unit gradually and automatically returns to normal playback settings.
The SOUND + SLEEP Sound Profiles (the sounds) are implemented with ASTI’s proprietary SoundStory technology. Each SOUND+SLEEP SoundStory is recorded the hard way — apparently their sound engineering and design teams climb trees, sit up all night waiting for frogs to croak, and stand outside in thunder storms with high-quality sound equipment to capture the best quality sounds – the authentic sounds of nature. All of their SoundStories employ recorded natural sounds except for the Meditation and White Noise themes. Yes, really.
For example, the Rainfall SoundStory is augmented by various thunderclaps, wind sounds and more. SOUND+SLEEP measures the ambient sound in a room using its built-in microphone to determine the appropriate mix of sounds to play. ASTI calls this real-time sound composition. When there is a sound that briefly repeats over and over again, it can actually become irritating — keeping you awake rather than helping relaxation and sleep. SOUND+SLEEP recordings are longer than any competing sound machine and have hundreds of enhancing sounds that are randomly and algorithmically mixed into the base sound story in real time.
Sound Oasis Travel is a unique sound therapy product that combines high performance digital sounds with a full-featured travel/alarm clock. Incorporating 18 digitally recorded sounds, an exclusive jet-lag reduction sound and a voice memo feature, Sound Oasis Travel allows users to drift off to sleep with soothing nature sounds and wake up to one of four alarm sound types (sound, jet lag reduction sound, voice memo or buzzer). Powered by 4 “AA” batteries or the included worldwide AC adapter, Sound Oasis Travel is ideal for use while traveling or at home. Its compact size allows the unit to comfortably slip into briefcases, carry-on luggage and even one’s jacket pocket.
Sound Oasis Travel incorporates a multi-position timer (with 4 selections: continuous, 30, 60, and 90 minutes), a unique “gradual off” volume reduction feature for a peaceful decrease in sound volume, a rotary on/off volume control, headphone jack and a one-touch off/resume button that stops the unit or repeats your last played sequence. It also comes with a carrying case/pouch.
- 18 authentic, high fidelity built-in sounds: Ocean Surf, North Woods, Thunderstorm, White Noise, Night Train, Spring Rain, Island Surf, Bonfire, Stream, Hidden Cove, Wind, Asian Garden, Song Birds, Harbor Swell, Bamboo Chimes, Summer Night, Cooling Fan, Rain Forest. There’s one called jetleg also which isn’t included in the sampling of sound images below.
- Jet Lag Reduction sound developed by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson helps the body sync to new time zones. (see above).
- Voice memo for recording your own alarm or memo
- Dual time (home & away) jumbo backlit alarm clock & calendar with buzzer or sound alarm and snooze
- Timer with 4 positions: continuous play auto, 30 min., 60 min. and 90 min.
- Rotary volume control with a gentle shut off
- Memory button replays last sound
- Headphone / Sleep pillow jack
- It is powered by 4 “AA” batteries (not included) for portability or the included global adapter set that works in any country worldwide
- Travel pouch and time zone map included.
I’d strongly recommend both units depending on your needs — they both delivery on their promise. Sound Oasis Travel is slightly more compact for travel purposes so a great option for frequent and shorter trips, whereas I think the nomad Sound+Sleep Travel Version is great for bringing on car trips or longer vacations. Both do come with handy carrying cases however. If you DO opt for the Sound+Sleep one, splurge and order both of them — one for home and one for travel. Isn’t a decent night sleep worth it?