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

Author: Gina Cunsolo


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

In 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 

White noise, pink noise, and brown noise are three types of sound that differ in their frequency characteristics and power levels.

White noise sounds like a hissing or static sound and is the same loudness at all frequencies. Pink noise sounds like a heartbeat and is louder at lower frequencies. Brown noise sounds like a rumble or thunder and is louder at even lower frequencies.

See the full definitions for white, pink, and brown noise below:

White noise: 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. Examples of white noise include the sound of a static radio or TV channel, a running box fan, or waves gently crashing on the beach.

Pink noise: Pink noise is a type of sound that has a balanced energy level across different frequencies, with lower frequencies that are more boosted compared to high-frequency white noise. Pink noise can be described as a hiss mixed with a rumble. Examples of pink noise include the sound of steady rainfall, a heartbeat, or a rushing stream of water.

Brown noise: Brown noise boosts the lower frequencies and reduces the higher ones even further than pink or white noise, creating a rougher sound similar to a low rumble. Examples of brown noise include 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, especially in open office layouts.

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

White, pink, and brown noise for office privacy

The VSP-2 increases the background noise level of varying colors 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 VSP-2 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.