Pink Noise and White Noise and Brown Noise, Oh my! The Differences Revealed

Author: Gina Cunsolo

shutterstock_454016317.jpgIn our increasingly noisy world, office workers are looking for any edge they can find to help them stay focused and productive. Many believe that listening to music or ambient noise can help achieve this, but what type of noise is best? And what if you're not sure which kind of noise will work for you? Most of us have heard the term "white noise," but we may not know what it means. Noise comes in other colors, including pink noise and brown noise.


Let's explore the differences between pink, white, and brown noise and determine which one may be the right type for your situation. 


White Noise vs Pink Noise vs Brown Noise 


Although it may sound complicated, pardon the pun; defining the color of noise isn't as difficult as it seems.


You can best compare white noise to the noise of a radio tuned between stations. In much the same way as white light is composed of all the visible spectrum wavelengths, white noise is all the frequencies audible to the human ear combined at equal intensity.


Because of how the human ear works, the sound of white noise is dominated by higher frequencies. Boosting the lower frequencies and reducing higher ones results in pink noise; in much the same way, increasing the red component and reducing the blue component of white light would result in light with a pinkish hue. Pink noise can be described as a hiss mixed with a rumble, like the sound of steady rainfall.


Brown noise boosts the lower frequencies and reduces the higher ones further, creating a rougher sound similar to that of thunder, a waterfall, or strong wind.


Pink Noise, White Noise and Brown Noise in the Workplace


Now that we've described the differences between these noise colors, it's worthwhile to consider how the various types of noise can be used in the workplace. Companies often add noise to the workplace in the form of a sound masking solution to help reduce distractions and improve workers' productivity.


Which one is best? Comparing the benefits of white noise vs. pink noise vs. brown noise depends on what you hope to accomplish. White noise is helpful when trying to drown out background distractions like traffic or construction sounds. Pink noise will improve focus and increase productivity, while brown noise can decrease stress and help workers relax. All three types of noise have been shown to enhance sleep quality.


Companies frequently introduce noise into the office, not only to help workers be more productive but also to help keep conversations private.


Yamaha Unified Communications recently introduced its VSP-2 Speech Privacy System to aid companies in that effort. 


The VSP-2 increases the background noise level to cover nearby conversations and prevent accidental listening in small open work areas, conference rooms, or executive offices while creating a relaxing acoustic environment free from distractions.


The tabletop control unit connects to speakers via wire and includes three easily adjustable sound elements:

  • Speech Sound Masker: Made from elements of a human voice

  • Environmental Sound: Forest Sound, Murmuring Brook, Urban Clatter, Room Air Conditioner

  • Sound Effect: Guitar, Piano, Music box, Digital Device

The VSP2 provides up to 65% higher masking performance at the same sound level as other conventional sound masking methods, creating a relaxing acoustic environment free from distractions.


No matter which type of noise you choose, it should benefit your company. If you want more information about how Yamaha UC can help you use sound to improve your workplace, reach out to one of our experts. To learn about the many other audio solutions we offer, visit our Products page.